A father and daughter who both have autism have spent the year trekking over 1,000 miles – raising thousands for charity.
Ian Alderman, 43, and daughter Eve, 9, vowed in 2023 to complete all 29 of Scotland’s Great Trails. It is a series of challenging treks across the country with a combined distance of 1,950 miles.
The pair began planning their adventures after the success of their 2022 fundraiser, a walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats. During that trip became the youngest person to complete the journey – and raised £20,000 along the way.
Mom Sarah and Ian were thrilled to see their daughter fall in love with the outdoors and were eager to help her plan the family’s next big adventure. Now, the father-daughter duo are just 800 miles from completing their adventure, and the family have raised a whopping £4,000 for Scottish Autism so far.
“In 2022, we walked the length of the United Kingdom, and Eve became the youngest person to do that. We had a really good time and Eve wasn’t really ready to stop! She was already making up lists of what she wanted to do next, so we just carried on from there,” said Ian, from Aberfoyle, Scotland.
“We just wanted to try and give her some experiences that most children don’t get. Myself and Eve are both autistic, so we wanted to do something to raise a bit of funding. We want to help challenge some of the stereotypes and stigmas around autism, and raise much needed funds for Autism Scotland.Eve’s homeschooled, so she doesn’t have the schedule that most children have by going to a formal establishment, and it gives us more leeway to do more adventurous stuff,” he added.
“For her, and with her autism, being outdoors is really where she excels and where she feels happiest and most comfortable. When she’s outdoors, she really comes into her confidence and her ability to learn and absorb information, and her communication and interaction just improves,” he explained.
“If you saw her in a domestic environment versus an outdoor environment, you’d probably think she was two different people. And as a family, we’re quite outdoorsy anyway. We’re not homebodies – we’d much rather be outdoors getting a bit muddy!” said Ian.
The pair began their challenge in March 2023, and have since completed 20 of the 29 trails, with the aim of reaching their goal in March 2024.
They have raised an incredible £4,000 so far, but the family are still hoping to reach their target of £10,000.
During their journey, they have been followed by documentary crews on the West Highland Way, trekked from Glasgow to Edinburgh, and even hiked through a blizzard on the Cross Borders Drove Road.
Ian, Sarah and Eve have been sharing their progress online, under the handle Our Spectrum Adventures, where they provide regular updates and handy tips as they journey on. The family have just over 800 miles left to walk – but they’re enjoying every step of the way.
“We continued walking right up until Christmas, and we’re going to start back up within a week or so. We did the Cross Border Drove Road during the recent cold snap. We were walking in blizzard conditions, and snow was falling and piling up just before Christmas. It felt so challenging but also so quintessentially perfect for the time of the year,” said Ian.
“One thing that pushed the boundaries more than we expected was when we were filmed for a documentary by University of Stirling students for the BBC. We were on the West Highland Way being followed around by film crews, and when you’re walking around with a film crew, you attract a lot of attention!” he added.
“We had people coming up to us and asking for selfies – I don’t think they had a clue who we were, they just saw there was a camera there! That was an odd experience, and I think it pushed Eve out of her comfort zone a little bit. She rolled with it quite well and ended up bonding with one of the camerawomen,” he explained.
“That was quite an experience! We’ve had some awesome donations and it’s going well. In 2022, we raised around £20,000, and this time, we’re aiming for £10,000 overall and we’ve raised £4,000 so far. This challenge is a lot harder than walking the length of the UK, but it might not have the appeal of John o’Groats to Lands’ End!” he comtinued.
“We’ve still got our fingers crossed that we can meet the £10,000 target by the time we finish this. We’re hoping to be finished by the end of winter – and we’ve only got 841 miles left!” said Ian.
Donations can be made to the family’s JustGiving page.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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