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From Dunnottar and Eilean Donan: Castle manager’s Poppyscotland expedition in memory of war hero grandfathers

Wendy Sylvester had a rather soggy start to her fundraising challenge.

Wendy Sylvester is walking between two of Scotland’s most iconic castles to raise money for Poppyscotland – and to pay tribute to her two war hero grandfathers.

After leaving Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire on Saturday, she hopes to arrive at Eilean Donan Castle by Remembrance Day on November 11.

The walk between the east and west coast will be about 228 miles long.

Her route will take her through the Cairngorms National Park, Aviemore and Invergarry and She will also visit the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge along the way.

There is a personal element to Ms Sylvester’s fundraising, as she is walking in memory of her two grandfathers.

One was Lance Corporal James Stables Thomson, Highland Light Infantry, who served in the First World War. The other was Private John Norman Macleod, Cameron Highlanders, who served in the Second World War.

She will also carry the naval medals of Emily Christie Campbell with her as she walks.

On the train to Aberdeen. Tomorrow I start my walk from the East Coast to the West Coast of Scotland to raise money for…

Posted by Wendy Sylvester on Friday, 29 October 2021

100 years of remembrance poppies

This year, it will be 100 years since the first cloth poppies were sold in Britain as a sign of remembrance.

Poppyscotland set up the 1921 Poppy Pledge to mark the anniversary, encouraging people to raise £1,921 over the course of the year for the charity.

Though her walk is still in its early stages, Ms Sylvester has already bypassed this target, raising more than £3,000.

She said: “The support has already been so incredible we have raised £3,000 and I just hope it continues to snowball.”

Dunnottar Castle to The Royal British Legion. Not the best weather for the start of this challenge with 35mph winds and…

Posted by Wendy Sylvester on Saturday, 30 October 2021

Dunnottar to Eilean Donan

Ms Sylvester is no stranger to the castles she is walking between.

She was previously a custodian at Dunnottar Castle and is currently the manager at Eilean Donan.

Ms Sylvester explained: “I am passionate about our armed forces and the life saving work carried out by Poppyscotland.

“I have signed up to take part in the 1921 Poppy Pledge to raise £1,921 to help Poppyscotland to continue to support current and former forces personnel and their families.

“This is a particularly special year for our Armed Forces because it is the 100 year centenary of the symbol of the Poppy.

“It seemed fitting to walk between my two favourite castles – a total distance of 228 miles over two weeks.”

‘The thought of starting was worse than actually starting’

After her first day on the monumental hike, she was able to finally sit down for food in the Banchory British Legion around 7pm on Saturday.

Having been soaked by the rain and battered by the wind, she was joined for dinner by all those who’d supported her first day walking.

She said: “The thought of starting was worse than actually starting.

“It all seemed like a great idea after a glass of wine on a warmer evening, but I’m glad to be underway.”

When it rains, it pours 😆

Posted by Wendy Sylvester on Saturday, 30 October 2021

With bad weather forecast in the area in the coming days, it’s hardly worth drying off just yet.

Ms Sylvester is ready for the challenge though: “I think after this I will be straight off to bed as we have another long day tomorrow, I hope to be finished in around two weeks with one rest day.”

You can donate to Ms Sylvester’s Poppyscotland fundraiser here.

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