Real lives: Malcolm set to stride out on latest epic fundraiser

Malcolm has raised thousands for CHAS
Malcolm has raised thousands for CHAS
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A pensioner from Midlothian who has raised thousands of pounds for charity on long-distance walks is preparing for his latest adventure.

Malcolm MacGregor, 78, from Dalkeith, will take on a 205-mile trek from Inverie in the Highlands to Aberdeen next month.

The gruelling coast-to-coast adventure will see him take in some of Scotland’s highest mountains, including five Munros.

It will be the retired taxi driver’s 13th fundraising walk in eight years for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

He first caught the bug by doing the Marafun Walk in 2004 after seeing a CHAS advertisement in a newspaper, and hasn’t slowed down since.

He joked: “I’ve nothing else to do with my time since retiring, so every time I leave the door I decide to go for a long walk.”

Despite nursing a bad back at times, Malcolm carries equipment and clothing weighing 50lbs.

Whenever he starts to feel the strain, he pitches his tent on the side of mountain for a rest.

“Sometimes I wake up and wonder how I’ve managed to stay on the hill,” he said.

Nicknamed “a rucksack on legs” by some of his close friends because his bag towers above his head, the divorcee prefers to walk alone.

“Most of my pals, like my best friend Cliff who I’ve known for over 30 years, are married, so it’s not fair on the wives for them to come along with me,” he said.

“It’s OK for me though, I’ve no-one to answer to and I meet a lot of people on the way and have a blether.”

The father of eight has plenty of memories from his travels and plans to continue walking into his 80s.

“On one walk I got chatting with these office types from England,” he said. “They were on a course and their leader noticed I never had a sleeping bag in my rucksack, I only had what’s called a sleeping bag liner.

“So he gave me one of theirs and we arranged to meet at Fort William. When I returned it he handed me £100 for the charity with a note reading ‘well done Malcolm – you’re an inspiration’.”

Many people he bumps into in the Highlands are also from the Lothians, and often they will have heard of Malcolm’s exploits.

Malcolm began gathering his sponsorship money for his latest walk on April 1 and has already raised more than £300. In total, the pensioner estimates that over the last five years he has rounded up £5500 for CHAS – which provides the only hospice services in Scotland for children with life-shortening conditions that have no cure.

His efforts have seen him complete the Rob Roy and Southern Upland ways. “Most people walk for cancer charities, but as I read all about CHAS it feels like it’s a worthwhile cause so I always get donations in for them.”