Teacher pals took on massive hike down the country

Friends Sean Fallon, left and Darren Burns. Picture: Comp
Friends Sean Fallon, left and Darren Burns. Picture: Comp
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CLIMBING a rubbish dump and saving a sheep in the middle of nowhere were just a few of the strange situations faced by two men who embarked on an outrageous straight-line trek down Scotland.

Edinburgh teachers Sean Fallon and Darren Burns returned to the Capital on Thursday after completing a 570-kilometre charity mission.

The two men, who have known each other since they were students at Moray House, took 17 days to cycle and hike in a straight line from Mersehead Nature Reserve on the Solway Firth to Redpoint in Caithness.

They finished the exhausting effort with a celebratory abseil down the North Caithness Cliffs.

It was a journey that took the close friends over some of the country’s most spectacular scenery. They cycled through Mabie Forest, kayaked across the Moray Firth and swum the waters of the Lower Glen Devon Reservoir and the River Spey.

But the greatest surprises came in the form of a tip in West Lothian and a railway line that had been put back into use. Mr Burns said: “We had to go through some less salubrious environments. It wasn’t all trekking through beautiful scenery. We had to walk over the top of a rubbish dump. It had been filled in, but it was pretty horrible to get across. That was at Whitburn.

“We also discovered a re-instated railway on the same day, which wasn’t very nice. We’d intended to go across. We had to go back, retrace our steps and find a crossing.”

The pair had embarked on the trip to mark turning 40 and raised almost £3000 in the process.

The funds were split between St Andrew’s Hospice, which provided care for Mr Burns’ mother before she died last year, the RNLI and Woodlands School in Currie. They crossed the Cairngorms and the ­Galloway Hills – at one point coming across a lone sheep stuck on its back.

Mr Burns said: “We got it back on to its feet. For some reason sheep get stuck when they’re on their backs and they can’t get back up again.

“Everyone was really 
helpful. We had been worried about farmers with shotguns, but cows and bulls were more worrying.

“I’m hoping they were more curious than having any evil intent, but we did have a few sprints towards a fence to make sure.”

A GPS system and their support crew were on hand to get them out of most other scrapes.

The adventurers were also blessed with the weather.

“It would have almost been impossible if the weather hadn’t been so nice,” Mr Burns said.

“Some of the marshland has been dry up here for months. The bogs were still wet enough having not rained for three weeks. If we’d had a wet ­summer, it could have been very slow and very difficult to get across.”