Eight Left: Man Will Climb All 282 of Scotland’s ‘Munro’ Peaks — in His 80s

Nick Gardner of Gairloch, Scotland, is 82 years old and nearing the end of a considerable challenge: bagging all 282 Munros. “Munro” is parlance for any Scottish mountain 3,000 feet (914m) or more high. At the time of writing, the former physics teacher is only eight peaks away from a complete ticklist.

The circumstances that inspired Gardner to undertake such a massive project make his story all the more remarkable.

One 82-year-old man, 282 Scottish Munros

In mid-2020, he and his children made the difficult decision to move his wife, Janet, into a live-in care facility for advanced Alzheimer’s patients. Gardner had just turned 80.

“When Janet went into care, it absolutely shattered me,” he told the BBC. “We were incredibly close as a couple … and now she doesn’t recognize me.

“I was heading into some mental condition, so I thought I have to get myself a challenge, to pull me out.”

Climbing the Munros to raise $12,000 for Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) is what he opted for. Thus, the stoic granddad summited his first Munro in July of 2020, at the age of 80.


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Having never attempted a mountain of Munro caliber before, much less 282 of them, he gave himself 1,200 days to run the circuit. He’s currently 400 days ahead of schedule and plans to top his last pitch before August is over. If so, he’d run the table in under 800 days.

No end in sight for Nick Gardner

By the end of it, Gardner will have climbed the equivalent of 17 Mount Everests (8,848m) and walked more than 3,200km. He’s raised over $60,000, far surpassing his goal, and made a bevy of friends along the way.

“[A]fter the first two or three Munros, I just started stopping people on the hill to tell them what I was doing…and they started joining me and donating money. Now, when I am walking, I regularly hear, ‘Nick’ shouted.”

So far, Gardner reports that topping Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye was the most physically demanding challenge he’s faced along the way.

Of the peaks left on his list, there are three in the Knoydart region, four in Glen Dessary, and, finally, the pride of the Highlands — Cairn Gorm. He’ll make that ascent in the company of family, friends, and the head of the ROS.

But, as far as the spirited Nick Gardner is concerned, Cairn Gorm will not be his last hike. “I will keep walking when I’ve finished this challenge, as long as my legs can carry me,” he said.

Below, a film that students at Stirling University made about Gardner’s quest.