An intrepid adventurer who aims to the be first person ever to swim, run and cycle the length of the Outer Hebrides has been warming up with a swim between Mull and Oban.
James Armour, 25, moved to Argyll from Edinburgh in September last year. He plans to raise £10,000 for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) after falling in love with the local wildlife.
While most of us might manage a post-working week run or gym session, James’s Friday night was a little more punishing.
In preparation for his mammoth endurance challenge later this summer, he swam 3.4 miles (5.5km) from Grass Point on the east of Mull through the strong tidal waters of the Firth of Lorne.
He then ran 2.17 miles (3.5km) across the isle of Kerrera in Oban Bay, before swimming 0.31 miles (500 meters) to the Oban mainland.
Boat support was given by Basking Shark Scotland, providing a safe environment for the crossing.
James said the swim was training for the bigger event in July. He said: “This swim was about getting some experience out in open sea. So far all my training had been swimming parallel to the coast.”
He trains at Ganavan beach near Oban where seals have been the largest sea creatures he has spotted to date.
The epic swimmer, who works for a green technology company, said: “I have seen all sorts of wildlife around the world and it is only in the last few years I have become aware of what you can see in Scotland.
“Finding out about whales and dolphins in Scotland made me want to do something to help protect them. I was reading about people seeing killer whales of the west coast of Scotland. I didn’t realise we had that in Scotland.
“Thousands of people take part in marathons and Iron Man competitions. I wanted to create something on my own, not a huge event with a carbon footprint and lots of rubbish.”
He has named his Outer Hebridean challenge the Selkie Race after the mythical seal folk who shed their skins and venture ashore.
Bolstered by more trips like the Mull Oban swim, on July 30 he will set off from Barra Head Lighthouse on the southern tip of the Outer Isles and make his way across land and sea during the non-stop challenge.
He will swim 20 miles, run 52 miles and cycle 112 miles to reach the northern tip of the Outer Hebrides at the Butt of Lewis.
James added: “Our Atlantic waters are blessed with spectacular native species including minke whales, basking sharks, killer whales, harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and much more. Yet unfortunately, these animals are facing many human-driven pressures such as warming seas, plastic pollution and net entanglement.
“My race is an opportunity to give back to the conservation of these species and our precious oceans, by supporting the wonderful work of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.
“The Scottish isles are a beautiful place. The nature, wildlife and scenery are what make them incredibly special, and I want this race to be an opportunity to share the beauty of these islands and encourage all of us to connect with nature once again.”
The HWDT monitors and protects whales, dolphins and porpoises in areas of critical habitat on the west coast of Scotland.
Trust director Alison Lomax said: “James is setting out to do something absolutely remarkable for Scotland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises. We are beyond grateful, and we’ll be wishing him lots of luck every step, pedal and kick of the way.”
To donate visit bit.ly/SelkieRace