Episode 48: Elspeth Berry

Meet Elspeth Berry! A talented freelance musician and athlete living in the west of Scotland, who has tested herself on some brutally hard adventures over the past decade. She’s taken her drive to run and explore to another level of endurance, fuelled by a love of trails and mountains and motivated to raise funds by tragic diagnoses in her family.

Elspeth has run the 95-mile West Highland Way Race and many other ultras and completed some monster self-styled adventures such as the Watershed, where she ran the entire 1,100km spine of Scotland's watershed, across over 40 munros and painfully unsociable terrain. This summer, she also ran the 450km Kungsleden trail through Swedish Lapland - a wild environment of bog, bridges, lake crossings and mosquitoes.

Elspeth’s family have been through a lot since 2012, experiencing stroke and Parkinson’s disease and all the changes in autonomy and caring roles that come with these devastating conditions. Elspeth was open and reflective about the impact of these experiences and tells stories about her multi-day challenges that give an insight into the struggle and the joy of solo-powered adventure. Our conversation dug into:

  • What inspired her to plan a solo run of the Kungsleden

  • Experiencing loneliness, anxiety and self-doubt along the trail

  • Toughest, most vulnerable moments on the trail and the outcomes of enduring them

  • Thinking back to her monster Watershed expedition in 2015 - running and hiking over 1,100km across the spine of Scotland – and what she has taken from it

  • The impact of a stroke and Parkinson’s on her family and how they are adjusting individually and as a family unit to such major life changes

  • Reflection on how difficult times can also build momentum for positive changes in life

  • Dealing with ongoing grief and acceptance of such major health changes

Thanks so much to Elspeth for saying yes and talking to me. If you don’t know her you would surely want to; she’s so humble about her achievements and inspiring, adventurous and relatable in equal measure. Show her your love and share this episode with someone who hasn’t heard about it.

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Show notes

Ribbon of Wildness: Discovering the Watershed of Scotland, by Peter Wright

Along the Divide: Walking the Wild Spine of Scotland, by Chris Townsend

BBC article on the Watershed

Elspeth’s Just Giving for the Kungsleden

Kungsleden trail

Funding Neuro

Chest, Heart & Stroke

West Highland Way Race

Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland

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