Charity aims to have a walker on top of every Munro in one weekend
Photograph: From left at the Munro Challenge launch are Katriona Harding, of Rock Trust; John Laurie, director of Burn It Fitness; Rebecca Lee and Kate Polson, of Rock Trust, and David Middleton, former homeless teenager, photographed by Colin Hattersley
David Middleton has come a long way since finding himself homeless two years ago â€“ and heâ€™s planning to go even further by joining hundreds of others in a charity event called the Munro Challenge.
He is training to climb Ben Nevis on the weekend of 21 and 22 June, and will be collecting sponsor money for the Rock Trust, the organisation that helped him find a home.
David, 19, who is gay, was forced to leave his motherâ€™s home in West Lothian following constant homophobic abuse by neighbours.
He says: â€œI found myself alone in Edinburgh with nowhere to go or sleep. I had to spend the nights on different peopleâ€™s couches and in an emergency hostel.â€
He was unhappy and under great stress as he tried to keep up with a college course while working long hours in a supermarket. But the charity established him in a supported flat and helped him with life skills and budgeting.
With the help of the Trust he was eventually offered a long-term council flat, and has recently landed the job he had always wanted â€“ as an airline steward.
He says: â€œI feel like Iâ€™ve climbed my own mountain already, coming out of homelessness, so now Iâ€™m going to climb a real one as part of the Munro Challenge.
â€œI go running about three times a week, but havenâ€™t done much hill-walking. I think I need to work on my strength â€“ Iâ€™ve got the will-power already. Iâ€™m really looking forward to it.â€
David, who is pictured at a launch event for the Challenge on the slopes of a slightly less daunting hill â€“ Arthurâ€™s Seat in Edinburgh â€“ will be one of at least 1,000 supporters of the Rock Trust who, between them, aim to climb all 283 peaks above 3,000 feet on the same weekend, aiming to raise at least Â£20,000 to help the charityâ€™s work.
With support from Tiso equipment shops and the outdoor training company Burn It Fitness, the Rock Trust is confident of beating its first Munro climbing event two years ago, when about 70 of the summits were reached.
The charityâ€™s chief executive, Kate Polson, said: â€œWe hope as many people as possible will take part in our Munro Challenge. You will know that with every step, you are helping others climb out of homelessness.
â€œThe event is vital for raising funds to support vulnerable young people from crisis point to living in stable, secured housing and either working or volunteering.â€
The charity has helped about 2,000 people aged 16-25 since 2010.
To find out more about the Rock Trust see www.rocktrust.org, and if youâ€™d like to join in the Munro Challenge email [email protected]