Louis Ware has a special sort of personality, the sort that makes him the easiest person to speak to in the world. He is inquisitive, entertaining and is a man of true Scottish heritage, originating from the Isle of Bute, but moving to Stirling for his historical studies.
What strikes you most when you see Louis, is his distinctive red hair, with a beard to match. Someone you could easily point out in a crowd. He’s also pretty athletic, a member of the cricket team at the university. But what adventure lies ahead? Only the 1200-mile journey, from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, not forgetting the three peaks he’ll be heading up in the process.
Not to mention, he’ll be doing the full walk in a kilt.
He’s raising money for the MS Society Charity, a charity for a condition close to his heart. Multiple Sclerosis is an illness caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking the brain and nerves. It’s a lifelong disease, but there are medications to ease the progression.
Louis’ grandfather was formally diagnosed with MS in the eighties aged 57, a man he speaks so fondly in admiration for. His grandfather was formerly in the navy, and although he had MS for such a large period of his life, , he never let the illness get the better of him.
“He was really independent… like he had loads of DIY’s to help him stay independent. He had a buggy he’d kitted out; knew exactly how he’d get around his house and down to his local shop. But you’d never know he was struggling, he never grumbled. He’s a massive inspiration to me.”
In preparation for the walk, which he’s estimated will take him 62 days in total, give or take, he’s been heading round Stirling based walks to get him more prepared. Including Dumyat a fair few times now, but also walking to Doune, and to Dunblane, trying to walk around 20 miles most days, to prepare him for the journey. Even the thick snowfall that has settled in Stirling has yet to stop him preparing, he even took a sled for a bit of fun on the walk back down.
“The snow actually adds a bit of something new. It gets sort of repetitive hiking up the same mountain daily, the snow makes you see something new every time you’re up there. It’s really beautiful.”
Although he could use his own personal family kilt, Lewis has opted to buy a novelty, orange one that is already in the post.
“Real kilts are incredibly heavy and very expensive, like £400! I do plan on getting the MS logo stitched onto the side of the one I’ll be using to rally any last-minute donations… And I will be wearing thermals underneath, mainly for other peoples benefits! But also because it might be a bit cold especially up the mountains.”
And where he will be doing most of the walking on his own, he has an army of volunteers ready to cheer him on and provide support on the way, including his girlfriend, Julia Koba Grootaers, who is completing the 3 peaks, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowden alongside him. And not forgetting his cricket team, who have rallied their support behind him.
“I’ve got a few people who’ve volunteered to complete some bits of it with me. Mainly for my own sanity, I don’t quite fancy walking for 62 days with no company or people to talk to.”
So far, he’s beat his original fundraising goal of £1000, and has adjusted his target to £3000, which he is now over halfway to meeting.
“The support has been overwhelming, I thought I’d stick it at an ambitious £1000, and after I’d hit that goal, it was actually my girlfriend who convinced me to go to the higher amount. I never thought it would do so well.”
He plans on setting off around the 29th of June, depending on pandemic restrictions and potentially having graduation ceremonies to attend to first.
If you want to support him and his journey, check out his just giving page
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/louis-ware1 and like his Facebook page, Louis’s Great British Kilt Walk.