A Dunvegan massage therapist is putting his best foot forward in the fight against cancer.
On 1 April, Graham Watt will set off on a gruelling 528-mile hike along the North Coast 500 in the hope of raising over £3,000 towards the work of Macmillan Cancer Support – Scotland North.
Graham, who is a neuromuscular therapist, fitness instructor and owner at The Therapy Studio near Dunvegan has trained people to take on challenges like this. Now, at the age of 63, Graham says he wants to do something that will help support victims of cancer and their families as well as fulfil a personal goal before he is 65.
Graham, who lost both his parents to cancer, and has worked with terminal patients said: "The figures I received from Macmillan shocked me. Apparently 360,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer every year. If cancer was a virus, that would constitute an epidemic.
"I also work with people who have undertaken phenomenal challenges over the years and I wanted to do something before I reached the age of 65. I searched endlessly to do something that felt right for me. The most popular bucket list challenges have been done en masse, so I wanted to achieve something with a local connection. The NC500 just seemed to tick all the right boxes.
"To the best of my knowledge, no individual has ever walked the route unsupported before. There will be no support vehicles following me and, although I may meet a few hikers along the way, I am walking the most part of it completely alone. For me, it will be 500 miles of personal meditation."
Starting at Inverness Castle, Graham intends to take the route, often called Scotland's Route 66, anti-clockwise to Stathcarron, keeping to a strict daily road plan before heading back to Skye and finishing at Dunvegan Castle on 24 April. His intention is to walk an average of 22 miles a day, with the longest day being 30 miles and the shortest being 15 miles.
Graham has said he will be completely self-sufficient, spending the nights in a bivvy tent.
Graham has set his fundraising target at £3,000 but is hoping to achieve much more. He has already secured sponsorship from Dunvegan Castle and Run For It, Inverness, and hopes more organisations and individuals will get behind the challenge.
The entire trip will be covered by a satellite tracker and anyone wishing to find out how he is doing along the road, can follow Graham on his Facebook page "500 Miles for Macmillan", where he will be posting on a regular basis.
Anyone wishing to sponsor the challenge and help to raise funds for the work of Macmillan Cancer Support can do so via Virgin Money Giving "Graham Watt 500 Miles for Macmillan."