Will Copestake is a Scottish native with a huge passion for the wild spaces of his home country. He's undertaken multiple projects to explore the Scottish wilderness, including paddling the full length of its coastline and summiting all of its highest peaks. This Winter, deciding against his annual migration to Patagonia, Will has chosen to stay in Scotland and undertake a new project he has dubbed #ColdestCorbett. We caught up with him to find out what it's all about.
Q. What is your #ColdestCorbett project?
The idea behind the Coldest Corbett stems from two routes leading to the same goal, the first is to continue exploring Scotland and getting to know my own country by journeying through it’s wilderness. The second and perhaps more important, is to share this wonderful place we have so close to our doorstep and invite those who might otherwise not see it to get out and explore.
A Corbett is a mountain defined between 2500-3000ft with a difference of at least 500ft between, they are the second band in mountain lists after the munros (above 3000ft) and there are 222 of them to climb spread all across the country.
Q. What was the inspiration behind it?
After two winters migrating south to Patagonia where I have enjoyed working as a kayak guide I realised I missed the Scottish light and landscape in the colder seasons. I wanted to come home and pursue another big mission close to home. 'Bagging' another big list of hills seemed a good idea. But this time I wanted to change how I approached the journey. This time I am less concerned about reaching the tops (although I will one way or another) and more interested in allowing the chance for others to join me in doing so.
Q. Why did you decide to make it an open event?
I am lucky enough to be inspired by my own back-yard, not necessarily patriotic but passionate. I hoped that in inviting others to join me that we could enjoy an experience together. After all, the best adventure is an adventure shared.
Q. How can people get involved?
Whenever and wherever I feel I can invite those to join me safely I am welcoming others to join on a hike to the top (or as far as we get…no pressure to summit).
I am tweeting at regular locations my track and where to find me under the hashtag #ColdestCorbett. For those looking to plan ahead, a very rough idea of where I will be and when can be found here.
Q. Where are you up to so far? Any notable experiences on the first few summits?
I am writing from the back of my van near Dumfries in Galloway. I am heading toward the Moffat hills tomorrow and then off to the Trossachs around the northern end of Loch Lomond - there are a lot of summits near there so I might be a wee while in that area.
So far I have sailed to islands, watched dolphins dance in phosphorescent seas and clung to trig points on windy summits. I have achieved my first boot full of mud near Fort William and had the pleasure of sharing my first summit with Mark who travelled all the way over to Arran to find me. Now the snow has started to arrive and the winter is on the way.
Q. What do you expect to be the biggest challenge along the way?
Of course winter brings its struggles be it wet or wind, or both. I have always said the hardest temperature to travel in is between 5 and -5ºC or ‘the damp band’ - Scotland falls right into this category.
But the challenges that are the least expected are always the most difficult, yet in some weird way the most fun to overcome. I suspect there might be a few of these relating to my trusty transit van who splutters a little in the cold. So far the prospect of future good company and many unknowns to come is keeping me smiling and energised for the long winter ahead.