On the 21st October this year, a group of runners will set off on a 3-day, 125km race in the West Highlands of Scotland. More specifically they’ll be racing on the Knoydart Peninsula, a stunning, rugged and remote area only reachable by boat or by a hard hike over the mountains. BTU has always prided itself on finding hard-to-reach and uniquely beautiful places to stage our events so bringing our first UK-based event to Knoydart was an easy choice.
Another thing BTU prides itself on is leaving the areas we race in better off than when we got there. It’s a goal we have carried with us everywhere we have raced around the world. We make a point of partnering with local organisations already working for the good of their communities, and Knoydart is no exception. For the Highland Ultra we will be partnering with the Knoydart Forest Trust.
The KFT has been around since 1999 when 17,000 acres of Knoydart came into community ownership, handing control over the area’s future to the people who live there. The KFT manages the woodlands of the Peninsula on behalf of that community. It has, to date, planted over 600,000 trees helping to create over 300 hectares of new woodland. The community has a long-term goal of linking the many smaller woodlands that lay between Kinloch Hourn, to the north of the Peninsula, and Loch Nevis to the south, creating ‘stepping stones’ for plants and wildlife to allow them to thrive.
BTU has now committed to donating a proportion of all race fees across our series to help build the fences and other infrastructure required to create, protect and maintain these new woodland areas long into the future, and of course to plant even more trees. The Knoydart Forest Trust will also be producing bespoke, wooden medals for all the Highland Ultra finishers.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for us to get involved and offer support to a conservation project here in the UK”, says BTU Race Director and Co-owner Kris King. “We plan on getting hands-on to help the Trust achieve it’s aim of connecting woodland across the peninsula. Planting trees is one thing, but we’ll be supporting their work across the board, helping them to make these areas sustainable long into the future.”
Lorna Schofield, the manager of the Knoydart Forest Trust, escaped city life for the remote west coast peninsula over 25 years ago and has been involved with the Knoydart Forest Trust since its inception in 1999. We asked her about the Trust’s work and how partnering with BTU will help.
“Regenerating the woodland on Knoydart is helping to tackle the global climate crisis by locking up carbon and making the habitat for flora and fauna more resilient to protect and increase biodiversity.” Says Lorna. “The landscape is enhanced aesthetically and fragile habitats such as peatland are safeguarded.”
Lorna also says that the expanding woodland areas support the local economy and provide employment, helping to regenerate the small community living there, as well as offering all the physical and mental health benefits of being in woodlands and surrounded by nature.
When asked what partnering with BTU will mean for the Trust, she said “The community through the Knoydart Foundation are guardians of 0.01% of Scotland which may seem tiny but we have the opportunity to make a big difference to the planet by expanding the woodland on a landscape scale. Working with BTU will help the Knoydart Forest Trust and the community to go above and beyond what is achievable with funding streams that are available.”
Runners at the Highland Ultra in October, and in each edition of the race in the future, will have an opportunity to see the woodland projects face-to-face as they make their way around the course as many of the them are dotted along the trail. We’ll also be sure to post regular updates over the coming years as the project develops.
For more information on the Knoydart Forest Trust’s plans for the future, including detailed maps of the projects, click here.