Man smashes record after walking 500 miles - but has to walk 16 more after ferry cancelled

A man who set a new record for walking the 500-mile length of Scotland had to walk another 16 - after his ferry was cancelled.

Sunday, 13th June 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th June 2021, 10:59 pm
Matt Girvan, picturd here at Sandwood Bay, who smashed the record for hiking 500 miles and the length of Scotland - but had to walk another 16 miles with trench foot to catch a bus - after his ferry was cancelled.

Matt Girvan, 29, was suffering from trench foot and in excruciating pain when he completed the epic 537 Scottish National Trail.

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His blistered feet were swollen by a shoe size at the end of his record breaking solo unsupported time of 13 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes.

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But when he completed the record he discovered his ferry was cancelled - and he had to walk another 16 miles – back the way he came – for a bus.

Matt, 29, said: "I had been pounding along 40 miles a day for two weeks, lancing blisters and in crippling pain to reach the finish line - so to find out the ferry was cancelled was almost unbearable.

"I was in agony from the throbbing pain in my feet and I felt desperate.

"The time I had spent on my feet had caused them to swell from all the blood rushing to them and they had been so wet I had the onset of trench foot."

The Scottish National trail stretches 537 miles (864kms) from Kirk Yetholm, near the English border, to Cape Wrath in the north.

The route, created by Cameron McNeish in 2012, links up sections of Scotland s best-known walking routes.

Matt, a Scottish Water Mechanical Engineer, shaved more than three days off the previous record set by Graham Nash, who was supported in his attempt.

He said: "It was amazing to really test myself to my limits too, and to attempt something when I thought I had at best a 50 per cent chance of pulling it off.

"I had a gigantic blister on my toe after only two days, and wet weather and exhaustion on day six brought me to the point of tears and really questioning what I was doing.

"Getting to see all that wild Scottish scenery was a real highlight.

"I remember a stunning evening near Fort Augustus - I crossed over the Corrieyairack Pass just in time to see the sun setting behind all the mountains to the north that I'd be walking through next."

The last leg of Matt's hike was along such remote terrain that there was no path.

Matt had to go back along 16 miles of the route that he had walked just hours beforehand, to catch a bus from Kinlochbervie.

He had originally been planning to catch a ferry from the finish line to Durness, where he could catch a bus back to Edinburgh.

Matt also recorded hours of video footage during the journey, which he later edited into a 20-minute film, called Dawn till Dusk.

That film has now won the best solo film award at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival.

It will be screened at a five-day-event later this month before being part of a national tour of New Zealand, where Matt grew up.

Matt, who moved to Scotland from New Plymouth, New Zealand, two years ago, said: "It was really a dream come true just to be included in the festival - it never occurred to me that I might be in the running for an award.”