Solas set to take the High Road for Katie

They say every dog has his day. However, in the case of Solas the Irish water spaniel, make that a week.

By John Smail
Thursday, 29th April 2021, 4:47 pm
From left: Andrew McKerracher, David Lunn, Solas (wearing a Katie McKerracher Trust cycling top), Gill Lunn and Ann McKerracher. Photo: John Smail.
From left: Andrew McKerracher, David Lunn, Solas (wearing a Katie McKerracher Trust cycling top), Gill Lunn and Ann McKerracher. Photo: John Smail.

For in June, Solas will be joining two Ettrickbridge couples as they walk the West Highland Way to help raise money for a charity close to all their hearts.

The idea to tackle the walk came from aeronautical engineer David Lunn, managing director of Fineunit Ltd.

Last October, he heard an episode of BBC Radio Scotland’s “Scotland Outdoors” programme that featured an item on the West Highland Way.

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“It’s something I’ve always fancied doing,” said David, “and my wife Gill also thought it a good idea.

She mentioned it to our friends Ann and Andrew McKerracher, who said they’d be more than happy to come along.”

The couples agreed to combine their walk with raising money for the Katie McKerracher Trust, a charity established in 2009 in memory of the McKerrachers’ 11-year-old daughter Katie, who died that year from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a brain tumour on her brain stem.

Solas the dog was named after the small crofting township of Solas, situated on the coast of North Uist, which was one of Katie’s favourite holiday spots.

“That’s one of the reasons we wanted Solas to come along,” said Ann, who is an achievement coach at Borders College.

“He’s great company, and will definitely lift everyone’s spirits if the going gets tough!”

“It’s going to be a challenge,” added Gill, a retired midwife currently back on NHS duty assisting with the Borders’ Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“However, we’re all really looking forward to the experience, and over recent weeks we’ve each been working on our fitness levels.”

The four walkers will set out from Milngavie on Saturday, June 12, and, with Solas leading the way, expect to reach the Fort William finishing point on Friday, June 18.

“It works out at about 15 or so miles a day, which shouldn’t be too much of a stretch,” said Andrew, who is head of supply chain with pharma group Kyowa Kirin in Galashiels.

“Midges might be a factor, but I believe August is the month to avoid, so hopefully things won’t be too bad in June.”

Since its formation in 2009, the Katie McKerracher Trust has assisted DIPG patients and their families in numerous ways – sending out copies of the trust’s DIPG information booklet, helping with practical day-to-day issues, and working with health professionals to seek to improve the treatment of DIPG patients.

Anyone wishing to sponsor Solas, and her accompanying humans, can do so by following this link –