Aiming for the Archies – Scotland’s hills over 1,000 metres


Paul Fettes wants you to support his challenge and help the children’s charity The Archie Foundation.

Paul Fettes is a man with a mission – or two, to be exact. He wants to establish a list of the Scottish mountains over 1,000 metres, climb them, and call them the Archies. And he wants to raise as much money as possible for the children’s health charity the Archie Foundation.

Paul is an anaesthetist at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, and also a very fit hill-runner and triathlete. So when the foundation launched its Tayside appeal he decided to organise a sponsored challenge in order to raise money for it.

He says: “It is a metric mountain challenge. UK maps have been metric for decades, and for a while now I have found it a little strange that the collections of mountains are all in feet. I am organising a man-powered relay over all the130 mountains in Scotland over 1,000 metres high.”

He believes the standard Munro list, of mountains over 3,000 feet, is subjective as far as what constitutes a separate mountain is concerned. His own was compiled on the strict basis that there is at least 100 metres of drop on all sides.

paulfettesPaul says: “I realise there are some great hills that don’t make the list, but many of my favourite hills are not Munros either – Ben A’an, Ben Ledi, Suilven, The Cobbler, Ben Cleuch and West Lomond, for example.”

The challenge will be done as a relay, with the baton being a cuddly rabbit, no doubt set to be seen in many a summit selfie. The toy will have a tracker on the back so that people can follow progress in real time on the challenge’s website.

There are three walking stages and one kayak stage, a crossing of Loch Ericht. The rest of the route will be run or cycled.

Paul says: “We are starting at sea level at the north-east end at Dingwall, with a toe dip in the North Sea on 30 May. We are finishing at the south-west end at the Rest And Be Thankful (where better to finish?), followed by a toe dip in the Atlantic. This will be an estimated two to three weeks later.”
The mountains are all on mainland Scotland. The most northerly is An Teallach, the most westerly is Ladhair Bheinn, in Knoydart, the most easterly is Lochnagar and the most southerly is Ben Ime.

Paul believes that bagging the Archies could take off, since it has several advantages over Munro bagging. There are only 130 rather 282; they are all on mainland Scotland; and none is as daunting as the Inaccessible Pinnacle, on Skye, which calls for rope work. The name, for the time being at least, is unofficial.

“It could ultimately promote hillwalking in Scotland,” says Paul.
Ability levels of those in the challenge team vary from outstanding, such as the well-known mountain runner Joe Symonds, to keen and willing.

Paul says: “The idea is to be inclusive and to celebrate the mountains rather than finish quickly at all cost. Nobody apart from the rabbit will do the whole challenge.”

He recalls when the idea first formed: “Last June on our wedding anniversary, my wife Heidi and I had a great weekend away, stayed in Cuill Bay and walked up Ben Starav. While walking up that fine mountain I started thinking about the Archie charity, which was due to launch in Tayside. We had been talking about challenges to raise money for the charity and also raise its profile in the area.

“It occurred to me that it would be fantastic to have a challenge going over all the mountains in Scotland over 1000m in a sort of team relay, and it would be great if this collection of fine Scottish mountains became known as the Archies, and the name of the charity became synonymous with the hills. I realise that that is quite a big step, but I think if we complete this challenge we will at least be able to stake some sort of claim.”


Photography: Andy McCandlish


Challenge facts

  • The challenge involves a total climb of 87,000m – 10 times the height of Everest, and enough to reach the stratosphere.
  • The total length of the challenge is 1,320km.
  • Data on prominence of the hills was gathered by Alan Dawson, Eric Yeaman, Tony Payne, Clem Clements, Rob Woodall, Mark Jackson and Mark Trengrove.

UPDATE: The Archies Mountain Challenge has now been successfully completed, raising about £20,000. It took 16 days and involved about 130 people, including those doing three community walks, up Ben Wyvis, Lochnagar and Schiehallion. To donate to help the Archie Foundation, see the website below.

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One comment on “Aiming for the Archies – Scotland’s hills over 1,000 metres
  1. Tom Fardon says:

    The added snippet of information that Paul didn\’t give out is that on the 14th June, half way through the ARCHIE Mountain Challenge, cyclists in Tayside will convene at the foot of the road through Abernyte and attempt to climb the hill enough times in 12 hours to reach into space – that\’s 100,000m of cumulative climbing, in 12 hours.

    Many of the ARCHIE Mountain Challenge runners and riders will be taking part, but also cyclists from local cycling and triathlon clubs, as well as family members, and anyone who wants to take part.

    Registration is £15, of which £14.40 goes straight to ARCHIE, and everyone gets their very own Archie Rabbit!

    More information on our FB page –

    And you can register here –


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