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Following the success of last years sponsored run to Geilenkirchen, where 8 Sqn raised in excess of £4000, it was decided that the Sqn should take on yet another arduous challenge.

CT Al ‘The Eiger’ Cameron came up with the idea of having 8 members of 8 Sqn, climbing the 8 highest mountains in the UK over 8 days, notice the common theme.

The team consisting of CT Al ‘Its an early start tomorrow’ Cameron, Chris ‘flip flops’ Angell, Jason ‘The Hobbit’ Dark, John ‘Tops’ McGowan, Matt ‘what time are we leaving’ Brunton, Mark ‘The Kite’ Hollywood and Ian ‘sorry I am late’ Woolley congregated in the 54, oops, I mean the 8 Sqn car park on the 5th July with an air of anticipation and excitement.  The astute amongst you will have realised that the team only consists of 7, this was due to a late refusal from Paul ‘ooh my back’ Lobster who was concerned about whether or not they deep fried the Tronky bars in that part of the world.

Once Ian ‘Seiko’ Woolley was ready, we set off for sunny Scotland and the comfort of Feshiebridge lodge.  On arrival the team meticulously set about preparing all their gear for the first days walking.  Once Chris Angells flip flops were suitably waterproofed and the handkerchief for his head had been ironed, he gave Matt ‘Casio’ Brunton a hand with the pre-mountaineering BBQ and ensured that all team members were suitably hydrated for the next day!

Ben Macdui Sumit
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Ian's & his carrier bag!
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As the sun rose over base camp, the team surfaced and were well on their way to the first challenge of Ben Macdui (4295ft), although 1 hour late due to a Local/Zulu faff by the clockwork twins, ‘Tick & Tock’.  The team were greeted by some unusual weather for the region, as the sun shone relentlessly.  Despite the heat, and with the thought of some ‘pure genius’ refreshment later in the day, the first climb was completed in no time, although there was a couple of compass faffs from the shorter member of the group.  Once on top of Ben Macdui, the team were treated to an awesome kite display by Mark ‘Red Arrow’ Hollywood, which put the sparrows display at this years air show to shame.  With Ian Woolley being a fellow member of the flight deck, and one never to be out done, he produced his own kite, which in all fairness can only be described as an Asda carrier bag, and showed off his kite flying skills.  Once the rest of the team had stopped laughing at the engineers display, it was off towards Cairngorm (4081ft), which is where Matt Brunton’s desert boots really came into their own, and the hot spots began forming.  With the team still buoyed from Ian Woolley’s Red Canaries Display, the ascent of Cairngorm was relatively straight forward, with the team only stopping to take in the magnificent views that this part of the world has to offer.  Well earned refreshments were enjoyed half way down Cairngorm in the Ptarmigan restaurant, which is in fact the highest in the UK, and they could only be described as ‘Pure Genius’.  In the evening the team were treated to a fantastic curry, Mark Hollywood style.  I am not saying it was hot, however, everyone was jealous of John ‘Coo Coo’ McGowan’s Lager Tops, which has never been known before.

Cairn Toul Sumit
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Day 2 saw the team taking on the toughest challenge of the week, with the daunting task of scaling Braeriach (4252ft), Angels Peak (Sgor an Lochain Uaine, 4127ft) and Cairn Toul (4236ft).  Fortunately, the weather was yet again fantastic and we were treated to some more fabulous views.  The day was very hard going as we were walking for over 10 hours, especially for Matt ‘Timex’ Brunton who had decided to ditch his beloved Desert boots in favour of his Jungle boots.  The hot spots were now wet and beginning to ooze curry from the night before.  Al ‘The Leader’ Cameron did point out that there were neither Deserts nor Jungles in Scotland, but this fell on deaf ears.  At this stage, The Angell’s flip flops were still going strong, as was his breathing!  At the end of yet another hard day Al Cameron knocked up a cheeky pasta and an early night was had by all!

On day 3, and with 5 peaks under our belt, it was decided that we would have a slightly easier day so that we would arrive in Fort William fairly refreshed.  Unfortunately, Matt ‘I wish I brought my Flip Flops’ Brunton had got to the stage where his feet looked like they had been savaged by a Rottweiller, and therefore medical attention was sought.  Luckily for Matt, the Doctor managed to get him patched up and he took the day off to rest his feet.  However, at this point it is important to point out that as per last year, the only injury happened to an Officer, read into that what you will!  The walk to Loch Morlich was fairly relaxed and the team even managed a dip.  In the evening, the team was treated to a fine Chilli, which had a plethora of Scotch bonnets in, which perked us all right up.

On day 4, the team left base camp and set off for Fort William on the West coast to conquer the final 3 mountains and to do battle with the midges that inhabit that part of the world.  Bearing in mind that until this point we had not seen any precipitation, the minute we started putting our tents up, it lashed it down.  Therefore, once we had established camp, it was off to Fort William to take in the local sights and watch the World Cup final.  As you can imagine, the locals were chuffed to bits at the sight of several English football fans and we went down like a rather ill tasting brown sandwich!

Bridge Crossing
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Day 5 began with yet more rain, however, we had now managed to get away only 30 minutes late, which was a record for Tick & Tock.  The ascent of Aonach Beag (4049ft) and Aonach Mor (4006ft) was relatively straight forward despite the weather, however, the temperatures on top were dramatically reduced and the kite flying was very much short lived, especially for Ian ‘Carrier Bag’ Woolley, who had to let go at the last minute before being dragged of the mountain when a sudden gust of wind enveloped his beast.  Further heroics were witnessed on our descent where a river crossing was necessary.  Under the strict guidance of Al Cameron, the necessary rope techniques were put in place for the safety of the team.  However, this did not stop John ‘Coo Coo’ McGowan from launching himself into the ice cold mountain spring water to save one of his many cherished Mars bars.  The evening was spent attempting to get our kit dry, however, we did manage to pop into town for a deep fried curry where Matt ‘Rolex’ Brunton managed to devour everyone’s food.

Ben Nevis Celebrations
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The final day on the hill was to be spent ascending the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis (4409ft).  We were hoping to route via Carn Mor Dearg to make the ascent more challenging, however, due to gale force winds and reduced visibility, the team elected to traverse back round Ben Nevis and follow the tourist route up.  Whilst the team were disappointed, we successfully ascended Ben Nevis, bagging our final peak.  The celebrations on top were legendry as once again, Mark Hollywood flew his kite and we slipped into our Children With Leukaemia t-shirts for our final photo shoot.  During our descent, BBC Radio Lincolnshire managed to make contact with the team and John ‘Coo Coo’ McGowan, proving once again that he has a face for radio, gave an awesome interview.  Celebratory refreshments were enjoyed at The Ben Nevis Inn, where we returned later that evening for solids.

The trip was a resounding success for all concerned and we even managed to raise around £2000 for our chosen charities, Children With Leukaemia and St.Francis School in Lincoln.  Our thanks go to CT Al Cameron, who put in all of the work to ensure the expedition was a success, the Stn PEd staff and MT for their support.  Finally our thanks go to all those personnel who kindly gave money to such a worthy cause.  Any ideas for next year’s challenge?  Answers on a postcard to John ‘Coo Coo’ McGowan, who has suggested a 24-hour ‘Tops’ session!

Frodo & Coco