FOOTSORE yet elated, a Kendal teacher celebrated ‘bagging’ all 282 Munros with plastic cups of champagne and whisky on top of his final summit.
Dan Duxbury, 39, wore out five pairs of running shoes, end-ured collapsing tents and burned 8,000 calories a day as he waded through ice-cold rivers and thigh-deep peat bog to complete his ‘lifetime ambition’ of climbing every Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet.
Accompanying Dan on his final early-morning climb to the summit of Ben More, the most northerly Munro, in bright sun-shine were 15 friends and family including his ‘amazingly supportive wife Helen and daughters Emma, six, and Ruby, five.
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“It feels fantastic,” Dan told the Gazette after his epic adventure of 42 days, 23 hours and 52 minutes. “It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
“The most amazing thing about it for me is spending so much time in that landscape. The Scottish Highlands are a stunning place to be. That became my home for 12 hours a day and it was really special to be up there all the time. The extraordinary became ordinary.”
Dan slept just six hours a night – wild camping, staying in bothies or the family campervan – and covered the miles between the Munros by bike, kayak or on bruised, blistered feet.
He had hoped to finish inside the current 39-day record, but two weeks into the attempt he suffered a badly twisted ankle that ballooned as he crossed rough, boggy terrain.
“It was a real roller-coaster of emotions,” he said. “I got through the pain thanks to non-stop painkillers, the company of friends en route and messages from pupils at Ghyllside Primary School.
Fuelled by sand-wiches, pork pies and chocolate bars, Dan described the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye – with its notorious Inaccessible Pinnacle – as ‘particularly difficult’.
Experienced climbing friend Matt Reedy joined him for the treacherous traverse.
“It’s a six-mile ridge with 11 Munros on it and lots of climbing and scrambling,” said Dan. “It was windy and wild and claggy, so we had to split the ridge into two days. Even doing that, it was pretty exciting getting it done.”
Keen to thank all his supporters, including Wheelbase of Staveley, and Ambleside’s Climbers Shop, Dan has so far raised almost £2,000 for the John Muir Trust, which protects wild places, and around £1,000 for Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
Meanwhile, his hill running-friend Steve Birkinshaw, 45, of Threlkeld, is aiming to run all 214 Lake District Wainwrights in seven days.
Steve, a hydrology researcher, is hoping to beat the record set by the legendary Joss Naylor 27 years ago, and will raise money for two MS charities on the 320-mile route, setting off on June 14.
l To donate to Dan’s charities, visit www.danmunro2014.blogspot.co.uk.