As MAD Challenges gears up for a new partnership with Flows to the Future, we share what we leant at their fantastic new touring exhibition.

Besides preserving human bodies for thousands of years and puzzling scientists with ancient murder mysteries involving gruesome and ritualistic deaths, what have peat bogs ever done for us? Turns out, quite a lot! Which is lucky for us here in Scotland, as we have the largest expanse of blanket bog in the world up in Caithness and Sutherland!

So few people realise just how much we depend on bogs, which is why we were excited to be invited along to learn more at the Flows to the Future Touring Exhibition launch at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh last Wednesday.

Peat bogs provide water that is clean enough to drink, support some of the best salmon fishing in Scotland and – perhaps most importantly – ensure the quality of our whisky. When it rains they help prevent flooding, and when the sun shines they provide a steady release of water to our rivers – resources much appreciated by fishermen and kayakers alike. Hikers enjoy the wildspace they create and the diversity of wildlife they support – some of which is of international significance – and land owners are happy for the revenues that this wildlife brings, through deer stalking, grouse shooting and angling.

However, one of the greatest services that peat bogs provide isn’t from all of these direct benefits to the people, wildlife and the economy surrounding them; it’s from the huge amounts of carbon they store. Peat bogs provide a globally significant climate regulating service – if all of the carbon stored in Scotland’s peat bogs was emitted as carbon dioxide, it would amount to more than 100 times greater than Scotland’s annual emissions.

Protecting and restoring peatlands is an issue of national and global significance to ensure these important national resources are preserved. This is why the Peatlands Partnership, with the RSPB as its lead partner, have set out to deliver the impressive and ambitious 5 year project, Flows to the Future. This project aims to significantly increase the level of conservation management and promotional activities currently being undertaken in the Flow Country – the name given to the vast peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland.

As part of the local community engagement work that the RSPB are doing for Flows to the Future, we are thrilled to announce that we will be working with a summer school group in July to help them develop their very own MAD Challenge! We are particularly pleased with this partnership as the RSPB’s community engagement work complements MAD Challenges nicely in helping people connect to their local landscape.

This will also mark the launch of our MAD Communities pack – guidance for community groups and other organisations to develop and deliver local MAD Challenges.

MAD Seat 2017 | 28th – 29th July


We are thrilled to share that signups for MAD Seat 2017 are live! Now in its 2nd year, this time the event is bigger and bolder. Dare to join us?

Sign up here

The concept behind MAD Seat is simple…

It’s a straightforward question that requires physical endurance, mental stamina and a whole lot of ups and downs to answer. Starting 8pm on Friday night, our MAD Seat challengers will walk through dusk, dawn and a whole new day, with a new champion recognised at our base camp on Saturday at 8pm.

As always, we have three different challenges to pick from, so whatever your fitness level, there’s something for you. Pick from the following challenges, grab your friends and get climbing!

MAD Starter

6 Hours

 Join us for the final push starting at 2pm.

Mad Mover

12 Hours

Rise and shine early for an 8am start.

MAD master

24 Hours

Go for the record starting at 8pm the night before.

What’s the record?

Last year the incredible Andrew Rigg managed to conquer the Seat 41 times in 24 hours. This year, however, we’re using a slightly different route, so a new record is waiting to be set… Fancy your chances?

The 2016 group completed 157 ascents in the 24 hours. This massive achievement is the equivalent of climbing from the surface of Earth to the ozone layer and back again!

As MAD Seat returns, we thought it was time to set a new target and push ourselves even further. So, for 2017 we’re aiming for over 500 ascents by the group and to reach our goal, we need all the help we can get…

So, whether you’re a seasoned Edinburgh-goer who has climbed the Seat countless times, you’ve never been near it before, or it brings back memories of your student days and a freshers week adventure to see the sunrise, we want you!

You can sign up by clicking the link above and we look forward to seeing you soon. Fingers crossed for good weather, strong legs and a new record!

This Friday, June 9th, we’ll be launching signups for our next challenge, MAD Seat – a gruelling 24 hours of hiking up and down Arthur’s Seat! As far as we can tell, no one has created an event like this before, so we’re rather excited!

Most people who’ve visited Edinburgh have either climbed the Seat or put it somewhere on their ‘to-do’ list. And it’s easy to see why: its majestic rocky features stand proudly on the skyline, offering up a decent hike and some truly tantalizing views of the city, sea and surrounding landscape. But we’re willing to bet that not so many have wondered what it’d be like to hike up and down for a whole day, just to see how many times they could do it, let alone actually tried it…

Well, we were mad enough to wonder just that and to give it a go! Last year we ran a pilot event just to see what it was like… We’re not going to lie, it was tough; a lot tougher than we expected in fact. But you know what they say – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Okay, maybe that’s not always the best rule to live by, but we certainly felt a whole lot stronger afterwards, both physically and mentally (once we had recovered…). And it was such a great experience having so many supporters bringing coffee, cake and chat that we thought that this event was too good not to share!

So this year we’re making it bigger and better – we want more participants, more supporters, more ascents, and, of course, we want to see someone to set a massive new record!

Signups go live this Friday so be sure to visit our website or Facebook page to secure a place before they’re gone!