HitchHoppers Notch Up a Whopping 100 Islands!

20 July 2011

HitchHoppers Notch Up a Whopping 100 Islands!

How many islands can you set foot on in the space of two weeks?

Two friends who embarked on a hitch-hiking island-hopping challenge on the west coast of Scotland have launched a final fundraising push after managing to visit exactly 100 islands in the space of 14 days. If you wish to donate, Jim and Brian's fundraising page for the RNLI can be found at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/hitchhop.

Jim Campbell and Brian Ferguson, who started "HitchHop" by setting sail from Glasgow on the Waverley paddle steamer on July 1st, had decided to try to set foot on as many islands as possible en-route to the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Lewis, a flagship event for the Year of Scotland's Islands, in aid of the RNLI.

They notched up the 100th island by setting foot on the tiny isle of Tannaraidh, off Stornoway, the day before completing the final leg of their journey by hitch-hiking to the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis.

The pair, both from the Leith area of Edinburgh, had set several rules for their challenge, including both having to set foot on an island for it to count, only allowing ferries as public transport, accepting any form of lift on land or sea, and including all kinds of islands, even those that are un-named.

Jim and Brian had raised more than £1,400 for the life-saving organisation via their fundraising website and through donations collected during their travels by the time they reached Lewis, but are now hoping to further boost their tally after breaking the 100-island mark.

Local TV and radio stations and newspapers throughout the islands featured the pair, who were accompanied by a tartan trolley bag on their travels which helped stage impromptu raffles in aid of the RNLI.

Tiny passenger-only ferries, tour boats, RIBS and fishing boats were all deployed during the challenge as islanders rallied round to support the challenge. The two fundraisers recorded their travels on social networking sites, generating 350 followers on Twitter and 170 on Facebook.

Brian, 38, said: "We're sure no-one else has done anything like this before and it was an amazing feeling setting foot on islands which are rarely, if ever, visited by anyone. We had huge support from boat operators and owners who bought into the idea of HitchHop, but we were also amazed at the help we had hitch-hiking through the islands."

"After a bit of a struggle during the rush-hour in Largs on our first day, we were a bit worried about what we'd taken on, but we never had to wait that long for help. We were a bit surprised we didn't meet any other hitch-hikers, until the final minutes of our challenge when we met a couple who had just visited the Butt of Lewis."

Jim, 39, added: "This really was a trip of a lifetime, standing on many remote islands. The trip would not have been a success if it wasn't for the goodwill of others. We are both so grateful."

"Being in so many diiferent boats made me realise just how crucial the RNLI is in saving peoples lives. I am so glad HitchHop is raising funds for such an important organisation."


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