Sheffield hiker shares her ‘breathtaking but painful’ six-month hillwalking adventure

Sheffield woman climbs 282 of Scotland’s highest mountains in six monthsSheffield woman climbs 282 of Scotland’s highest mountains in six months
Sheffield woman climbs 282 of Scotland’s highest mountains in six months | Other 3rd Party
It’s been quite a year for Nicola Hardy.

The Sheffield hiker likely raised a few eyebrows when she revealed, back in April, that she was quitting her job and selling her house – in order to embark on a year of adventure.

And six months on, Nicola has proven that fortune really does favour the bold, after she successfully climbed all 282 ‘Munros' mountains over 3,000ft in Scotland.

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Together with her boyfriend, James Forrest, 35-year-old Nicola has walked more than 2,000km and climbed a staggering 150,000m of vertical ascent, starting with Ben More on the Isle of Mull on April 16, and ending with Ben Lomond, in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, on October 19.

Nicola Hardy takes in the breathtaking sceneryNicola Hardy takes in the breathtaking scenery
Nicola Hardy takes in the breathtaking scenery | JPIMedia

Nicola said: “I’m so proud of the achievement, there were times when I thought I wouldn’t make it to the end. I feel exhausted after six months of intense physical exercise. It’s certainly a long way from spending eight hours a day sitting behind a desk, five days a week.

“Living out of my Ford Focus estate car forced me to limit my material possessions and it’s been truly eye-opening.

“I feel like the stresses and strains of daily life have slipped away and been replaced by freedom, adventure, fresh air, and a real sense of fulfilment. Both my physical and mental health have improved significantly since I started hillwalking.”

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In the past six months, Nicola spent 109 full days walking, 52 nights sleeping in a tent, and once climbed seven Munros in just one day. She once walked 20 days straight without taking a break, and averaged nearly 30,000 steps a day.

Nicola walked over 2,000km in six months - photo by Edward FitzpatrickNicola walked over 2,000km in six months - photo by Edward Fitzpatrick
Nicola walked over 2,000km in six months - photo by Edward Fitzpatrick | Other 3rd Party

She added: “The beauty of the Scottish wilderness has been breath-taking, but it’s also been painful, tiring and exhausting. I’ve waded across raging rivers, had close encounters with poisonous snakes, walked on pathless terrain in the dark, been attacked by swarms of angry midges, slept high in the mountains in my tent, been truly soaked to the bone, removed 17 ticks, trudged through knee high snow in May and had hail whipped into my face in 70mph winds.

“But it is all forgotten when the sun comes out and reminds me why I love spending time in these wild and rugged mountains so much. It's been out of this world and I have no regrets.”