Laura, Kath and Sophie battling busy work schedules and injuries to train for Cairngorms trek

Vets Now clinicians Laura Kidd, Kath Howie and Sophie Bedford are set to take on The Cateran Yomp, a gruelling 54-mile trek in 24 hours across the Cairngorm Mountains, to raise money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

The challenge, which is described as “the biggest, toughest event of its kind” takes place on 8 and 9 June.

Laura Kidd, vet and clinical development advisor for Vets Now’s Cert VN ECC programme, says she decided to sign up, along with her sister Nina Mill, as they are both avid walkers and have been eager to take on a major challenge like this.

Laura explained: “I love walking and the chance to do a big walk in the Cairngorms was really appealing.”

Image of Sophie Bedford and Kath Howie for Vets Now article on clinicians' charity walk

Support Laura, Kath and Sophie


Find out more about their challenge by visiting their fundraising page.

While this will be Laura’s first big walking challenge, Kath, senior vet nurse in Farnham and Sophie, RVN in Reading, completed a 40-mile hike for charity MIND in 2017. They decided the Cateran Yomp was the perfect new test.

Kath said: “We wanted to do something that challenged us further and the Cateran Yomp met that goal! The Cairngorms are beautiful and often the scenery and comradery gets you through these endurance events.”

Sophie added: “I’ve always loved Scotland and its rugged terrain and thought this looked well organised and a slightly bigger challenge than last time.”

When the group realised they were all interested in taking part, they decided to join forces.

Laura explained: “Nina and I were both aware of this charity walk and then I saw on Facebook that Sophie and Kath were planning on doing it too. A couple of messages later and we had all signed up!”

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As well as the personal aspect of the challenge, they are all motivated by their support for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity which aims to ensure soldiers, veterans and their families avoid hardship and enjoy independence and dignity.

“I think what members of the forces do is incredible and I’m in awe of them. We are all delighted to be able to support the vision of the charity,” explained Laura.

The trio are following an intensive training plan provided by the organisers, which they must fit around their busy schedules.

Laura said: “By now we should be doing three practice walks a week (six miles, 14 miles and 20 miles) as well as cross-training, strength training and power walks. These are really helpful but hard to manage with busy work schedules — lots of early morning walks and fitness in the evenings after work and around marking/lecture prep for me.”

Sophie said: “Working nights, I’m lucky that I’m not restricted to weekends for my training walks, I take my dog on the walks so we both get some benefit.”

Kath added: “It’s challenging to fit it all in but if we succeed it will be completely worthwhile.”

As well as dealing with busy schedules, both Laura and Sophie have had to contend with aches and strains which have affected their ability to train.

Sophie is still recovering from a knee injury sustained in January, although, thankfully, she is gradually getting to grips with the weekly training regime. She is also seeing a personal trainer to help with her strength.

Laura is also suffering from knee problems after recently being bitten by a dog on both legs “not while being a vet — on a dog walk”, although she has been able to manage some long walks.

Despite understandable nerves as the date approaches, the team are ready to take on the challenge with the support of their friends and family. According to Laura “they think we’re a bit mad but they’re impressed”.

“I am very much looking forward to it — the route looks amazing,” she added. “I’m slightly nervous too. I really want to be able to complete the course and hope my knees, blisters, etc. don’t let me down.”

Sophie is currently studying for a positive psychology diploma which she hopes will get her through the tougher times. But she joked: “If that fails I know that every five to six miles there will be food, cake and tea!

“I’m also looking forward to getting a furry cuddle with my dog at the checkpoints even though he can’t do the main walk with me.”

Kath added: “It’s a huge challenge and I have not trained as much as I would like but equally, we have set our sights in completing it and that is the ultimate goal”

If you’d like to support the group in their challenge please donate on their fundraising page.

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