Gus Macleod, who is chairman of the Portobello branch of Legion Scotland and a member
of the Riders branch, tells us what happened when he took on this country-traversing challenge:

The Saltire Challenge involves riding to the four furthest points of Scotland, starting and ending in Stirling, roughly forming a saltire shape on the road map.

“From the Wallace Monument in Stirling you head up to John o’Groats, over to Durness, down to Stranraer, over to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, before returning to the Wallace Monument. The distance is more than 1,000 miles and has to be completed in less than 24 hours. This challenge is made even harder by the fact you cannot use the same roads twice.  

“I agreed to take on the challenge with two other companions, but after postponing due to adverse weather conditions we were unable to organise a date that suited all three of us due to injury and work commitments.

“On the morning of Friday 10 September, I woke up and checked the weather and thought it looked OK! I remember thinking to myself, ‘The bike is ready, you're ready, just go for it and get it done’. After all, people had donated good money to a worthy cause.

“I arrived at the Wallace Monument at 11.40am, where I made a short video to inform everyone that I was going ahead with the challenge and would be doing it solo.

“I departed at noon to begin the long journey up to John o’Groats. The roads were busy, but I made reasonable time up to Inverness where I filled up with fuel, then onwards to John o'Groats. Once I made the obligatory video and took a couple of photos, I fueled up.

“I didn’t hang about and got straight back on the saddle, heading for Durness. The single-track road was made more difficult with the volume of campervans on the road heading in both directions, and by the time I reached Thurso darkness was closing in – as was a little sea haar.

“However by the time I reached Thurso it was pitch black and the haar was now a thick fog. From Thurso to Durness the road was absolutely terrible. Along with the thick fog and pitch darkness, driving rain decided to batter me head on, making conditions extremely difficult.

“My vision was cut to less than three feet. I considered pulling over but there was no place to escape the elements, so I made the decision just to carry on.

“By the time I reached Durness I was tired due to the strain of riding in these conditions and I was well behind schedule. As I headed to Ullapool, I prayed the weather would improve the further south I got.

“The rain eased, the fog lifted slightly and I tried to make up for lost time. But about 20 miles north of Ullapool I came across some 20 sheep sleeping on the road, not willing to move. I slowed right down and, though they were really reluctant to move, I finally got through them.

“About five miles further down the road, as I turned another bend, there was the biggest stag I’ve seen just standing in the middle of the road staring straight at me. I actually wondered who was going to blink first! Then he just walked to the side of the road and let me through.

“When I got into Ullapool, I didn’t hang about. I fueled up and headed for Fort William. Although there were still showers, the fog had lifted and the roads were clear. I made up some good time on the way from Fort William down to Ayr.

“Once in Stranraer I worked out I had been in the saddle for over 17 hours! 

“The next leg, from Stranraer to Berwick, was event free and I made good time. As I filmed my video at Berwick-upon-Tweed, I was overheard by a very kind lady who thanked me for what I was doing and made a £10 cash donation.

“Now for the last leg of the daunting challenge. I only had about 100 miles to go and had about two hours to complete it. I got back on the saddle just as the sunshine broke through the clouds. I’m not a superstitious person but I actually thought that's a good sign, let's get this done.


“I made my way across the border and headed up the A1. I reached the turn-off I normally use when heading home I thought, ‘I’ve got a nice hot shower and a comfortable bed just over there …’ It was so tempting, but I kept going.


“As I pulled into the car park at the Wallace Monument, there was a welcoming party there to greet me. My final time was 23 hours and 47 minutes in the saddle, clocking up 1,078 miles.


“I raised approximately £900 for Poppyscotland and I can’t thank my well-wishers and donors enough. The Saltire Challenge was anything but easy – but if it was, it wouldn’t be a challenge!”