Having captured all of Scotland’s Munros – walking and kayaking in between – followed by a non-stop round of Scotland’s Corbetts and battling three different cancers, Lorraine McCall might have been ready for a break.

She’d already achieved far more than most: her Munros were bagged solo throughout a four and a half months’ trek that covered 1600 miles during weeks of wild wind and rain.

The first woman to do it, she followed it by taking on Scotland’s 222 Corbetts - peaks between 2,500 and 2,999 feet. Travelling again under her own steam, it the first time a woman had achieved such a feat, never mind someone entering their 50s and fresh from cancer treatment.

Now with her 60th birthday on the horizon and treatment for bowel cancer and breast cancer having left a mark on her fitness, she plans to usher in her milestone year with another remarkable first: this time she aims to complete every one of Scotland’s 231 Grahams in a single non-stop trip.

At between 600 and 762 metres in height, although Grahams are smaller they can be trickier to get to, their slopes are often less well-walked meaning they can have poor quality paths and sometimes none at all.

But what makes her 60th year challenge even more impressive is the vast distance she will need to cover just to reach each Graham. It will take her the length and breadth of the country on foot or bike, with just her backpack, tent and a few essentials.

If she succeeds, she will become the first person to complete a continuous round of Grahams: a feat for someone in the peak of health, never mind one still feeling the impact of three brushes with cancer.

Although now recovered, two separate bouts of bowel cancer and then breast cancer have left her weaker than she once was.

The Herald: Having fought cancer, Lorraine McCall is now taking on all of Scotland's GrahamsHaving fought cancer, Lorraine McCall is now taking on all of Scotland's Grahams (Image: Contributed)

It’s now a bit harder to catch her breath when walking uphill, and toilet problems as a result of her bowel cancer treatments mean she usually has to plan carefully when venturing out.

She also has a heightened susceptibility to sunburn – meaning while the rest of the country hopes for blistering spring and summer sunshine, she will be yearning for something a little duller.  

Now within weeks of setting off, she is busy putting final touches to her route using her tried and trusted old-fashioned method of plotting it all out on huge paper maps using pen and paper.

“This hasn’t been done before and it’s a bit of a minefield,” says Lorraine, who plans to set off on April 16, her 59th birthday.

“With some of the Munros, you can do six or seven in a single day.

“But Grahams are so much more spread out. They are dotted right around Scotland and the distances between them are much further.

“Plus, I’m not nearly as fit as I was, I’m much slower,” she adds.  

“But there’s something about being out there still doing it. You don’t have to be the fastest, it’s the journey.

“And the big thing for me is about being in the moment.”

She will set off from her home in Beauly on a Scotland-wide route that will take in virtually every corner of the country.

The first stage will span the Highlands, the Western Isles, Mull, Rum, Jura and Arran, climbing each Graham on the way, hiking, cycling and ferry hopping in between.

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She will cover the west coast and venture into the central belt – taking in Grahams within the Trossachs and the Ochils - the Southern Uplands, including the Ettrick Hills, and the Borders.

She’ll head back north following the east coast, taking in summits in the Cairngorms, Easter Ross and Sutherland. Still to be decided, her challenge will reach a conclusion at either Suilven or Stac Pollaidh.

Among the well-known summits she aims to complete on the way are Morven in Sutherland, Tinto Hill near Biggar, Cappel Fell in the Ettrick Hills, and Meall Mor, Glencoe.

The trek is expected to take at least four months and take her further than the 3,000 miles she covered during her 2014 non-stop round of Corbetts.

But she says planning it kept her going through her last cancer treatment for bowel cancer, spotted early thanks to having taken an NHS at home ‘poo’ test in 2022.

Her first bowel cancer diagnosis came in 2012, followed in 2016 by a diagnosis of breast cancer.

“Luckily they have all been primary and not secondary cancers,” she says.

“I had just finished my first bowel cancer treatment, and while it sounds crazy, the Corbetts walk was part of my recovery: it was easier to be out doing something simple like walking than trying to focus on work.

“I was slow but I did it.”

If the cancer treatment took its toll, the outdoors are where she has often encountered the most kindness and support.

The Herald: Lorraine McCall is aiming to be the first person to complete a round of Grahams in a single outingLorraine McCall is aiming to be the first person to complete a round of Grahams in a single outing (Image: Contributed)

“Anyone who has done any journey has probably found that when they’re doing something positive and that feels right, people want to help,” she adds.

“I always say, if you ever wonder about humanity, just go for a long walk. You’ll see people at their best.”

No stranger to the great outdoors, Lorraine has a long background in working as a walking guide in Scotland and abroad. Part of her career was spent working with the Venture Trust, which supports young people facing a range of challenges by giving them experience of outdoor personal development programmes.

She also worked as a guide in the Atlas mountains, China, Tibet, Nepal and Kilimanjaro, and sent five years working on a sail training vessel off the northwest coast of Scotland.

Yet she was raised a ‘townie’, surrounded by the housing estates and roundabouts of Cumbernauld in the era of Gregory’s Girl, without even knowing what a Munro was.

It was only as a mature student in her mid-20s while studying social policy and psychology at university that she discovered the mountaineering club. She ended up running it.

Inspired by other walkers’ outdoor challenges, she set out in 2005 to tick off all Scotland’s Munros, travelling with as low a carbon footprint as possible. Starting on her 40th birthday, she covered around 1600 miles, sea kayaked  100km, and spent nights mostly in her tent, sometimes in bothies and on occasions bunking down with people she encountered on the way.

“I just walked and sea kayaked to the islands – it was wonderful, so simple. I didn’t need to rely on anything, there was no machines that could break down,” she recalls.

“People think it’s difficult to do something like this, but the reality is life becomes really simple.”

Now she just days away from setting off, she is putting the final touches to her giant map. “I the love planning,” she adds. “It’s a massive jigsaw puzzle and one of the hardest parts of doing it.”

Her challenge is being supported by donors to her Crowdfunder page, along with a number of business sponsors including Summits Outdoors Paisley, RAB Equipment, UKHillwalking, Fatmap, and Terra Nova.

She adds: “The body is older and a bit more worn out after dealing with three different cancer diagnosis over the past 12 years.

“It has changed my life and made somethings more difficult but there is strength in dealing with life's knocks and if that helps one more person get out there, then of course it’s worth it.

“A sense of humour and a little stubbornness can go a long way.”