Bute is first stop for island ‘hitch-hoppers’

Brian Ferguson and Jim Campbell sailed to Rothesay on board the Waverley on Friday on the first leg of their HitchHop - a 14-day island-hopping challenge to raise money for the RNLI
Brian Ferguson and Jim Campbell sailed to Rothesay on board the Waverley on Friday on the first leg of their HitchHop - a 14-day island-hopping challenge to raise money for the RNLI

TWO friends aiming to set foot on as many of Scotland’s west coast islands as possible in the space of just 14 days arrived on Bute on Friday afternoon.

Jim Campbell and Brian Ferguson, who are raising funds for the RNLI during their hitch-hiking island-hopping challenge – ‘HitchHop’ – began their adventure by sailing ‘doon the watter’ from Glasgow to Rothesay on board the Waverley to help boost the campaign to keep the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer afloat.

The pair, from the Leith area of Edinburgh, who are carrying out the challenge en route to the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway, had been scratching their heads for a few weeks, trying to decide how to start the challenge – and decided that a trip on the Waverley would be the ideal way to kick things off.

Said Brian: “We only heard about the Waverley campaign last week and thought it would be the perfect way to start the HitchHop.

“Neither of us had ever been on the Waverley before, and we’re hoping to set foot on a lot of places we’ve never been over the next two weeks.

“We wanted to set ourselves a challenge, and to raise money and awareness of a cause everyone would have an affinity with, so the RNLI seemed the perfect organisation.”

The pair, resplendent in bright orange HitchHop T-shirts and carrying bulging back-packs, are also taking a fetching tartan shopping trolley with them on their trek.

“You’ve heard of Round Ireland With A Fridge?” Brian added. “Well this is our version – round the west coast of Scotland with a tartan trolley.

“We’re hoping to collect something from each island we visit, but the trolley’s already full!”

After less than two hours on Bute, the pair were on their way again via the CalMac ferry to Wemyss Bay, hoping to fit in a visit to Cumbrae en route to a bed for the night on Arran.

The HitchHop will have five key rules:

* Both Jim and Brian have to see foot on an island for it to count.

* All islands will count, whether or not they are inhabited – and even if they are connected to another island or the mainland by a bridge or causeway.

* Although Jim and Brian will be using ferries, they will be mainly relying on the goodwill of others to get around during the challenge.

* They will accept an offer of a lift, either on dry land or across water, on any form of transport.

* Although they may make some travel plans in advance, they will not accept any lifts until the day they are travelling.

Jim added: “After coming up with the idea for the challenge we were keen to raise money for an organisation that would mean something to every island community.

“There’s loads of islands we’d like to visit during HitchHop, but a lot will come down to where our lifts take us, either on dry land, or on water. Whatever happens, we’re going to need a bit of luck along the way.”

You can find links to Brian and Jim’s fundraising webpage, and to HitchHop on Facebook and Twitter, to the right of this article.