Outfit Moray rider lives charity's spirit of adventure on latest 220-mile wilderness trek
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TRUE to the adventure spirit of the local charity she chairs, an intrepid long-distance horse rider stopped off at Lossiemouth's Outfit Moray on Tuesday as she neared the end of a 220-mile trek.
Chair of the charity's board of directors, Claire Alldritt (47), and her horses, Yogi and Swift, were following the Moray Coast Trail on the last leg of a journey from Fort William to their home near Keith.
Claire and her companions set off on Friday, June 11, and were taking in the coastal trail from Forres to Cullen.
From the start point the trio headed inwards towards Laggan and Newtonmore, up to Glen Feshie and Braemar, then north through Glen Derry, Nethy Bridge, and Grantown and Forres via the Dava Way before connecting with the Moray Coast Trail.
Over the past decade Claire and her trusty horses have tackled various long-distance routes across Scotland and around the Cairngorms, often covering around 250 miles in two-three week journeys.
Claire rides one horse, although she frequently walks beside them, while the other carries camping gear, food and a portable corral system to contain the animals at night while they wild camp.
Together they have travelled sections or all of the Speyside Way, the East Highland Way, the Dava Way, the Great Glen Way, and many routes following old drovers' routes, old military roads and other historical trails.
The former Outfit Moray outdoor instructor recently featured on BBC Outdoors, Scottish Rider magazine and in The Scotsman. Her book published last autumn, From East to West by Saddle is Best, reached the number one spot in her category on Amazon.
Claire said: "I really wanted to inspire people to do this with their horses. Getting out in the wilds with them is just incredible.
"Unfortunately, there are very few people who backpack with their horses, but it's a fantastic way to enjoy the countryside.
"The horses work very much as a team and they get very close to you doing these kind of trips – much more so than if you're just out for an hour or two a day."
The trio have covered around 20 miles each day, which takes between six to eight hours depending on the terrain.
Claire added: "I was really keen to see how much of the Moray Coast Trail was possible by horse.
"It's been absolutely spectacular. It's been so sunny – and the sea so blue.
"The Findhorn Hinterland Trust put me up for one night and last night we were at Silver Sands campsite – where I got such a welcome. The staff were joking with the maintenance guys that I'd brought two new lawnmowers for them.
"It feels like two different trips because it was really mountainous and out in the wilderness and then from Forres onwards it's obviously more populated and all the trails are flat next to the sea.
"I've been posting pictures on social media trying to encourage people to get out with their horses and particularly come and enjoy Moray as there's so much riding here."
Claire has been involved with Outfit Moray for more than 15 years and is a strong supporter of its aim to provide affordable and accessible outdoor learning and adventure to all young people in Moray.
She said: "I really love the ethos of Outfit Moray and I know how important the outdoors has been for me in my life and want to pass on the same opportunities to others."
Karen Cox, Outfit Moray fundraiser, said: "One of the things we all do as staff and volunteers is to actively encourage other people – so we live the life of adventure to inspire other people. That's one of our values.
"As a charity we're incredibly grateful for Claire's leadership, support and guidance. The board as a whole have seen us through some tough times.
"Claire raising our profile like this is brilliant. She's definitely living the spirit of adventure."
For Claire it's back to a 12-hour shift as a paramedic in Elgin on Friday – but she has plans for another wilderness adventure with Yogi and Swift in August.