Walking to the summit of Britain’s highest mountain is a tough enough challenge for people with two healthy knees.
At 40 years old, Grant Williamson, of Aitken Terrace, Camelon, is probably as fit as anyone who has ever scaled Ben Nevis, but is the first to admit he is walking on a pair of knee joints about as reliable as a second hand car from dodgy dealer Arthur Daley.
So why is he heading up the mountain when he knows every step on the way up and the way down could be filled with pain?
He said: “I’m raising funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care and a hillwalk is better than doing something like a sponsored silence or pub crawl.
‘‘The pain in my knees is something I have had to live with for so long, you just get on with it.
“Everyone knows someone who has died as a result of cancer – my wife’s father died from it – and sometimes it’s good to give something back.”
Wife Alison and 12-year-old daughter Linsay are now praying Grant gets to the top and back down without his fragile joints giving out.
The former sprinter first tore his knee ligaments at the age of 13 and then again a year later having a kickabout with his pals.
From then on it was a case of multiple dislocations and operations on both knees, including a painful patella realignment surgery in 1998.
“When I was 17 I was told if I didn’t stop playing rugby and football I would be in a wheelchair when I was 35.”
Now an accounts manager with a firm in Bathgate, Grant keeps as active as his knees will allow through walking and cycling and has completed the 96-mile West Highland Way in four days and St Cuthbert’s Way, from Lindisfarne to Melrose, in two days.
He has reached the top of Ben Nevis on three previous occasions, but accepts his fourth walk to the top will be his last.
“I’m calling it my ‘Final Fling’. At my age and with my knees I know this will be my last hillwalk, so I’m glad it will be for a good cause.”
It will certainly be a long day for Grant when he heads west to Lochaber on Saturday, August 4, to begin his challenge.
He said: “I’ll drive there at 4 a.m. and then start walking up at 7 a.m. I’m looking at three hours to get to the top and two hours to get back down- then I’ve got the fund raising night at Camelon Bowling Club at 7.30 p.m.
“We’re running a raffle, an auction and a sweepstake to see if people can guess how long the walk will take me from start to finish.