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Bringing it home for the ‘boats

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By Donald Turvill
Dumfries and West
Bringing it home for the 'boats

TWO HAPPY hikers have raised more than £2000 for local lifeboats after completing the Southern Upland Way.

Evan Keir, from Dumfries, and best friend Ryan Carroll, originally from Brydekirk, reached the trail’s eastern end point last week after trekking 214 miles over 15 days — each carrying 20-kilogram rucksacks.

In doing so, the duo collected £2372 – and counting – for the Dumfries-based independent lifeboat charity, Nith Inshore Rescue, which is funded entirely by donations.

Evan explained the pair had considered walking the Southern Upland Way, which stretches from Portpatrick to Cocksburnpath, for some time.

“We’ve undertaken bits of it before,” he said, “We had done most of the middle sections around Moffat, but never the whole thing end-to-end – it’s always been a bit of an ambition of ours so we thought we’d tick it off and do a fundraiser as well.

“We did it over 18 days carrying all our camping equipment along the way. On the whole, from a hiking and physical effort point of view it was alright, we’ve done quite a bit of camping and long-distance walks before but nothing as long as this, but it was more just the weather. We walked through a kind-of drought period, very hot, very dry through the afternoon but also humid at night and that probably took more of a toll than the distance and any of the climbing.

“There were some pretty staggering views along the way. We had good weather with us most of the way, there were a few really awful points though, particularly when we were up at Green Lowther at Golf Ball and the cloud base was really low. We spent about 20 hours just up in the clouds, soaked and cold.”

The 28-year-old, who joined the Nith Inshore Rescue crew around a year ago and actively responds to calls along the river emphasised how essential the emergency service provided by the charity is.

“This upper area of the Solway and further inland doesn’t have dedicated coverage and a lot of people think the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) are the main lifeboats,” he said, “but about 20 per cent of lifeboats are independent like us and rely solely on donations and their own fundraising efforts.”

Evan added that hiking partner and long-time friend Ryan, 25, also knows first-hand the importance of a well-funded local lifeboat service.

“Ryan used to work offshore and now works on the Thames’ barges and tugs,” Evan explained, “so he’s a merchant seaman and also really appreciates the hard work of volunteers and lifeboat services.”

Commenting, Nith Inshore Rescue chairman Ronnie Clark called the pair’s efforts “absolutely fantastic”.

He added: “We’re not funded by the RNLI, we’re freestanding so we’ve got to raise our own funds, so for these guys to come on board and do that it helps a hell of a lot.”

*Evan and Ryan are continuing to accept donations, which can be made by visiting www.hikefornith.com.

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