A Petersburn man who first took up hillwalking on his 68th birthday just 18 months ago has now conquered the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales – and is celebrating the achievement with a donation to St Andrew’s Hospice.

James Bergin scaled Ben Nevis, Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike in the course of a month during the late summer before the second coronavirus lockdown.

He told of great camaraderie among walkers on his adventures, as well as wrong turns on both pathways and roads in his quest to reach the three summits; and says his challenge has given him “a great sense of achievement”.

James told the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser: “All of them were great experiences; it was a roasting day when I climbed Ben Nevis and everybody was in T-shirts as they queued to get their pictures taken at the cairn at the top.

“I left Airdrie at 11.30pm for the seven-and-a-half hour drive to Snowdonia national park – it’s a massive area so at first with the satnav I ended up in the middle of nowhere, but when I got there I just started climbing straight away that morning.

“At Scafell Pike, I took a wrong turning looking for the right pathway, but I met a guy who showed me the right route to the summit and chatted away to him as we walked.

“I met brilliant people on all the climbs; I was talking away to lots of people, like a professor at Snowdown and a dad and wee girl on Ben Nevis.”

He added: “It took me a good few hours to walk down from Ben Nevis and I’d left one of my drinks bottles in the car, which was a big mistake – I met a young couple who insisted on giving me their flask and some suncream; they were fantastic and that just blew me away.”

Since first being introduced to hillwalking last year, James has climbed peaks in the Trossachs and Campsies and joined walking groups in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

He decided to challenge himself to complete the Three Peaks challenge, with the promise of donating £200 to the Airdrie hospice upon completion, which he now plans to hand over at the earliest opportunity.

James – who has previously featured in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser for his clean-ups of the North Calder heritage trail and his anti-litter campaign which last year took him to the Scottish Parliament – added: “St Andrew’s Hospice is a great cause and does such great work.

“I didn’t ask for sponsorship but just decided I’d make a donation to mark to completing the challenge, as I wanted to have a go at it and I’m delighted that I achieved my goal.

“The hospice is fantastic; I’ve known people who have been cared for there and anybody could end up there, and I wanted to support the great things they do.”