Exclusive: Kiltwalk crisis as charity partners withdraw


Four major charities have informed organisers they no longer wish to be main charity partners of the sponsored walk events

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20th February 2015 by Paul Cardwell 43 Comments

Four major charities have withdrawn as main partners of the 2015 Kiltwalk.

Aberlour, Sick Kids Friends FoundationClic Sargent and Cash For Kids have all ended their agreements with the charity which aims to raise funds for Scottish children’s charities through a series of sponsored walks.

Teams of five walkers or more can nominate a children’s charity to receive a share of the money they have raised as a team with the remainder being shared among the main charity partners.

As they are no longer main partners the charities will lose access to the larger pot of money and only receive a share of money raised specifically for them by groups of walkers.

Clic Sargent fundraising manager Jill Robinson said it had made the decision to stop being a partner as it was receiving less money despite more money being raised by the charity.

In 2015, we are embarking on a refreshed events portfolio which means we have decided that we will not be a main partner of the Kiltwalk

She said: "Regretfully Clic Sargent has decided to no longer be an official charity partner to the Kiltwalk.

“We are sad that we've had to make this decision, but we faced a situation in the last few years where despite the increase in walkers and money raised, less money was actually getting to Clic Sargent to be used on our work.

"By making this move we will be able to put the time and resources we had previously put into supporting the Kiltwalk in to other fundraising activities for young people with cancer.

"Our decision to withdraw as an official partner does not prevent anyone who has already signed up to walk on our behalf from taking part. They will still be able to nominate Clic Sargent as their beneficiary charity it they want to."

As well as the four charities to have pulled out TFN also understands one other major charity is currently in talks with organisers about withdrawing as a main partner.

A spokesperson for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, which benefited from the Edinburgh walk said walkers could still walk for it to raise funds, but added: “We’re no longer able to commit the resource required to being a partner charity of The Kiltwalk.”

A spokesperson for Aberlour said: “In 2015, we are embarking on a refreshed events portfolio which means we have decided that we will not be a main partner of the Kiltwalk.”

The Kiltwalk charity was born in 2011 out of the Tartan Army Children’s Charity Kiltwalk which first held the sponsored walk in 2010.

Since then it has grown from 400 walkers at one event to over 12,000 in 2014 at walks in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Speyside and Dundee.

Its most recent annual report for 2013 showed that £1,272,935 million, sponsorship income including Gift Aid was raised and the Kiltwalk paid £776,406 to charities as grants.

The Kiltwalk chairman Michael Ure told TFN while he was “disappointed” the four partners had chosen to withdraw themselves he was looking forward to all six events in 2015 in the belief that the charity will be able to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands more children.

He added: “Sick Kids Friends Foundation, Aberlour and Cash for Kids have simply chosen to focus their attentions on their own events rather than The Kiltwalk, however they are still incredibly supportive.

“While Clic Sargent were disappointed that their grant was smaller than previous years when the events have grown in size, they too will still support teams who enter in their name.”

“In three years The Kiltwalk has distributed more than £2.4 million, including £1.2 million to 165 other causes in 2014 alone.

“This increase in grants to nominated causes does mean that the share for partner charities has naturally reduced with team grants being the biggest opportunity for fundraising while the partnership grant is an added bonus.

“Last year our top level partner charities – including Aberlour, Clic Sargent and Cash for Kids – shared £166,000 through team grants generated by their walkers and are due to receive their partnership grants in March.

“These charities contributed just 15% of the donations through walkers nominating and will receive 34% of the grants.

“Our participant donations in 2013 total £1.133 million, excluding Gift Aid.

“£776,406 of this was paid in grant to charities, equating to 69% of that money."

20th February 2015 by Andrea

The way the Kiltwalk is run is a joke! So much potential for the organisation to support lots of great Scottish charities but they are more interested making money to pay their staff big salaries!

20th February 2015 by Helen

I can't say I'm very surprised. The organisation is badly run and they don't seem to have an idea about how to manage a charity partnership. Far too much pressure is put on the charities with very little in return.

20th February 2015 by Jenny

Makes you wonder just exactly what they're doing with the other 51% of funds raised!!!

20th February 2015 by Linda

I hope this triggers an investigation into the running of the KW and the very low dispersal of funds. Unbelievable it's taken this long for the alarm bells. What about that ridiculous "trek" to NYC??!

20th February 2015 by Tess

Having worked in the sector for many years, as I am sure you all have, annual accounts can be misleading. They now have to include things like Gift In Kind which can bump figures through the roof. So what might look like £1m of income actually included things like media sponsors, water or anything else that might have been donated. Personally I know a few of this years partners, who have only to provide walkers and entertainment at one event, no food etc. So it's good to see that the Kiltwalk are addressing those concerns. I think the article is a bit sensationalist to be honest and I am sad that they haven't given the Kiltwalk the right of reply.

20th February 2015 by Abbie

The Kiltwalk Chairman is quoted so surely that is a right to reply opportunity Tess. One concern I have is the increase in paid staff at The Kiltwalk which has not been reflected in partner charities having to contribute less in manpower.

20th February 2015 by Patsy

Have been hearing rumours about this charity for a while. I am not surprised that respectable charities have withdrawn their Partnership. Have heard about staff trip to New York and other freebies, totally unbelievable !!!

20th February 2015 by Tess

Nice to see the article has been changed. This makes much more sense now. 69% is pretty good compared to some in the sector.

20th February 2015 by Tess

Hi Abby, totally agree that the Kilt Walk has relied on charity manpower, but I guess that where they were as a fast growing event. I know that the charities this year have only to provide entertainment at their pit-stop and the walkers. Look at Pedal for Scotland, most Charity partners had to pay vast amounts to be a partner. With the Kilt Walk now able to cover lots of the responsibility I am just sorry the charity I work for isn't a children's one or I'd be all over this.

20th February 2015 by Helen

Hi Tess,The difference with an event like Pedal for Scotland is that it is run by the events company, not another charity. And I don't think Pedal for Scotland only offer the charity a participant wishes to support 50% of what was raised, do they? The Kiltwalk acts as a grant giving charity but offers funds to so many charities, that the "top tier" charities end up with a very small piece of the pie, in spite of them committing to so much, including a full time staff member. I know the ask of top tier charities has been lessened this year, but I think there are better and more transparent event partnerships for charities to engage with. I just don't think it works as a charity event model.

20th February 2015 by Emma

Looks like and feels like an events company with highly paid officials masquerading as a charity. Lots of money given out to charity which is great but also huge amounts of publicly donated funds spent to pay fixed costs salaries. National charities don't walk away if it's as good as the chairman says. Something stinks with the Kiltwalk model and I think this is it coming to the public attention. Well done TFN for breaking this story it'll be interesting to see what other skeletons are in the closet.

20th February 2015 by Tess

Hi Helen, I guess the difference is that unlike Pedal and the London Marathon, the Kiltwalk is trying to be Not for Profit. They could have set up as an events company I'm sure and charged high entry fees like marathons or even the Moonwalk. I think they have grown fast and are trying to get the model right, hopefully they have this year.

20th February 2015 by Jane

This is a clear manipulation if figures suggesting 69%. Gift Aid needs to be added which equates to what has been published via 2013 accounts. If they can manipulate figures, makes me worry what else the Kilt Walk are lying about.

20th February 2015 by Mikela

Tess, the 69% figure is wholly inaccurate. Gift Aid should be included in both figures, not just the donations/grants. This conveniently loses a significant amount of revenue for the Kiltwalk. The true figures including Gift Aid in both shows Kiltwalks costs and overheads as 52%. Compare this with Aberlour, which is 8%. Jane and Emma are both correct. If they are distorting these fairly simple figures that everyone has access to, can we trust anything else the Kiltwalk say? Worrying times that need some honest explanations.

20th February 2015 by Mike

Jim's post makes sense 50 per cent to the charities is ridiculous; no wonder they have withdrawn their support. I saw a post earlier that might explain where the money goes but, it seems to have been removed. Questions need to be asked. Feel for all those people who walked with good faith they are to be applauded. This charity should be ashamed.

20th February 2015 by Sheena

Having had an involvement with the kiltwalk for several years I can truthfully say that the support given to both families & partner charities is enormous. They have grown at an alarming rate and it takes time to get the model right but every year they give thousands of pounds to Scottish children's causes...how can that be a bad thing? I, for one will not be withdrawing my support from this organisation whose main aim is to help Scottish children above anything else.

20th February 2015 by Emmy

I think things need to be put into perspective here. Clic, Aberlour and Sick Kids are all pretty large charities in Scotland. Yes they may be unhappy at the funds they have received but they have more opportunities to put on their own events throughout the year than the smaller charities who are also partners at their events. I'm not saying they don't deserve the grants because they absolutely do but I don't think either the charities or TFN have realised the impact negative press has on the smaller partner charities, as the negative media could impact walkers who will provide vital funding to the smaller fish in the pond and most importantly the children in Scotland who rely on fundraising for a number of different reasons.

20th February 2015 by Mikela

Sheena, this isn't a question about whether money goes to good causes. It's a question about how much of the money raised goes to good causes. 50% costs are excessive and should be challenged. There's a lot of money that has not gone to good causes that probably should have. Of that missing £800,000, how much good could have been done if a significant proportion of that money had also gone to the charities? That's the point that we should really be discussing.

20th February 2015 by Mikela

Emmy. Sick Kids total income in 2013 was £1.5m. The Kiltwalks total income was £1.6m. How does that make Sick Kids a bigger charity? I agree that Aberlour and Clic are bigger, but there are also many smaller charities that have much lower costs. I would like to know why the costs have increased so much in one year and where all that money has gone, rather than taking it at face value.

20th February 2015 by Emmy

Mikela, by bigger I was referring to public profile not financial income apologies if I wasn't clear there. There has been rapid growth of the Kiltwalk over the last few years in respect of the number of events, number of walkers and number of partner charities. The business side of things therefore would have to grow to accommodate this by increasing staff numbers and ensuring that they have the resources needed to run this sort of organisation. 50% may seem high at the moment but over the next few years overheads should significantly reduce as they streamline their business model to reduce costs where they can and allow more to be passed on to the partners.

20th February 2015 by Mikela

Thanks for your reply Emmy. It could be the creation of a bigger public profile comes at a cost, but that is at a cost to the charities, why else are these well known charities walking away?. The staff numbers have grown as have the number of walkers, but the costs should not grow proportionally.In 2012 the Kiltwalks income was £462k and they donated £352k with costs of £116k. In 2013 the income grew to £1,614k and they donated £776k with costs of £838k. 2012 covered 15 months. That means that their costs grew more than 9-fold (when you pro-rate the 15m figure). That's what needs to be questioned.I have done many Kiltwalks and I believe and support the objective of what they have been set up to do. That does not stop me questioning the management and management decisions for the accounting period in question.My understanding is that the costs would have gone up further for 2014 as a lot more staff have been added to the wage bill and yet only one more walk added to the calendar.

20th February 2015 by Sarah

It is so sad to see a charity getting so much negative feedback! As Emmy has said charities growing so fast need to invest in infrastructure to survive and grow. The Moon Walk is a similar model, giving grants from events. According to OSCR they give about 60p in every £ which isn't far off The Kiltwalk. Its important to remember unlike us they don't run a service or have general donations. internal events don't have a huge profit or ROI so it's a bit double standards In opinion.

21st February 2015 by Malcolm

This figure manipulation isn't anything new, and it is in part why the partners have jumped ship.The Kiltwalk made several verbal commitments to raise £250,000 for all partners in individual meetings. This was based on the parters committing substantial amounts of money to the running of these events. At least one charity spent £25,000.After the events, the £250,000 very quickly became a thing of the past, with the sum shrinking, at first to £200,000 then £150,000.In the end, the payment was £100,000. However, this was split over two payments. The reason? To help with their accounts.This isn't just simple spin. It is a deliberate fraud.

21st February 2015 by Simon

I've read both sides of this now and it's beginning to stink a little of sour grapes from the charities involved. The charity world is tough enough as it is without the constant snipes. The Kiltwalk brings together charities and now all I can see are these charities turning against them because they didn't get enough money. It's all a little pathetic. I didn't know much about the Kiltwalk before this but having read some of the support on their social media I can see that it is important to the people that matter rather than the people who just want to poke holes. The fact that the power and control of money is more in the hands of the people who actually walk it and fundraise - the people who put in the maximum effort; more than the charities or even the Kiltwalk itself, I should say - then I can only see this as being a good thing.

21st February 2015 by Tess

Wow you've made that sound salacious! My understanding is that these charities we are asked to get a target amount of people and some only recruited 2 people to some events? It's hardly surprising the figure went down, and a bit disgusting that they would expect that kind of share when they clearly didn't put in the required effort. As for spending £25K and getting a £100k I would be thrilled with a 1:4 ratio. Yet again its the big boys not appreciating opportunities and not putting in the effort of smaller charities. I honestly wish you could appreciate what smaller charities, like ours, have to do to get those kind of funds. But then again maybe it just your own personal targets your worried about. Sorry for the harsh response but you just come across as incredibly uncharitable!

21st February 2015 by Sarah

Malcolm, I appreciate you are very upset and if this is the case then I do understand why people are upset. It sounds to me though the charity trustees will be fully investigating all of these accusations. I would though say from one third sector colleague to another please be careful what you say on public forums like this as you will be held liable and can be asked to back up your accusations with facts. Also remember hundreds of small charities rely on the kiltwalk- you don't want to ruin them in the process.

21st February 2015 by Cameron

Well said Simon Tess & Sarah. The resounding success of the team system where walkers come together and nominate community groups and small charities close to their hearts to receive part of their sponsorship has obviously eaten into the grants that the bigger charities receive once the pie is sliced up and it appears some don't seem to like it much. I am a trustee of a small children's charity who I think does amazing things for seriously ill children. Since our amazing team started Kiltwalking 2 years ago the knock on effect for our charity has been remarkable. In financial, awareness, profile and development terms it has blown away any expectations we had and it has all gone hand in hand with our association with The Kiltwalk. We are disappointed that these 4 big charities have withdrawn as it they that we aspire to be like. The Kiltwalk provided a level playing field for small charities like ours to come together with the household names and learn from them & work together & share our common goals. They were once small charities like us. Kiltwalk Sundays are so special - tears, smiles, laughs, amazing stories and inspiring reasons for walking, old friends, new friends, Kiltwalk friends and every now and then during the day you catch sign of a child's face on a t-shirt and in that moment you would walk through a wall for that face and that in that second is the Kiltwalk.

21st February 2015 by Helen

I have to say, a lot of what Malcolm writes is true. Charities of any size must decide what makes sense to invest in and the top tier charities were told they would receive a lot more than they did. To this end, they employed staff, and spent money to make the event a success. They were asked to provide food, drink and entertainment for up to 6000 walkers at a time (a tall order for any charity), to carry out risk assessments of the route, marshal the routes, etc as well as recruit a huge number of participants: 200 per walk. So, these charities received 50% of what their walkers raised, and then a vague share of a pot which kept lessening as the Kiltwalk hired more staff, bought more merchandise, etc etc. The pot wasn't specifically reserved for charities - it was the Kiltwalk spending pot and then the charities got whatever was left (far less than they were promised). The last walk was in September I believe and many charities are still waiting for their income. Any charity would wonder if they could run their own event with the amount of time, money and effort they put in but get 100% of the fundraised income - a much better return. And it seems 4 very well established charities have now come to this conclusion. It's no coincidence. Tess, I (like you) thought this was a wonderful opportunity for a charity. And I'm sure the event came out of good intentions to help charities who help children, but this quickly changed. With no hidden agenda whatsoever, I would warn any charity about getting involved at partner level. The smaller "nominated" charities stand to do a lot better.

21st February 2015 by Simon

Helen i'm not sure why any charity partner would need to carry out any risk assessments of the route? That doesn't make sense. Perhaps you mean they had to carry out risk assessments on their operation for the day which I believe is standard. Regardless of what they had to provide - food, drink, staff etc - we are still talking about a massive amount given to these charities - i'm using malcolms figures of £25K spent to receiving £100k. And why wouldn't they have to recruit large numbers of walkers? Isn't that what the event is about? Are you saying that they should just be able to sit back, do nothing and wait for the money to come in without putting in the effort. Again, this is all just sour grapes from bigger charities. I think Cameron's comment hits the nail on the head - the smaller charities are benefiting from it massively. Perhaps the larger ones are too complacent and resting on their laurels.

21st February 2015 by Helen

Charities had to walk a section of the route each to risk assess for things like traffic, trip hazards, flooding, etc. and also had to look at where marshal points should be. This made up the full route risk assessment. I believe the event organiser should be responsible for this?

21st February 2015 by Helen

By the way, Simon, I agree with what you say re smaller charities. It definitely supports them which is great! but doesn't work for the partner charities, hence this story. Maybe Kiltwalk should just run for the smaller nominated charities?

21st February 2015 by Tess

Helen you clearly either work for one of these disgruntled charities or you did? I spoke to one of the 2015 charities and they are not expected to do any of this, just provide some entertainment and get walkers. Risk assessments and food are being provided. Maybe your one of the charities that recruited 6 people for one event and 2 for another? Seems the Kiltwalk have figured it out this year. Shame you're so bitter.

21st February 2015 by Helen

Hi Tess, sorry if I seem bitter. I have real concerns, that's what this is about, not any agenda. What I wrote is what I know from last year so it may have changed, I honestly couldn't say. I'm not trying to bring emotion to this so please don't attack me for what I know and what I believe. I'm sure everyone has a different standpoint.

21st February 2015 by Tess

Sorry to offend not my intension. But now you know the expectation has changed, you can be less eager to criticise something that is helping so many charities. It might not have worked for you but it is for so many others.

21st February 2015 by Stewart

I think some people missing the point here; only 50p in the pound is going to charities, which is quite frankly immoral.

21st February 2015 by Sarah

Stuart most charity events are at that sort of ratio. I have organised lots of events both third sector and commercial and that ROI isn't bad. The kiltwalk is similar to moon walk which is 60p. You can even see now the kiltwalk is getting more sponsors and support to help cover the costs. I have to say I have worked in the third sector for over 10 years and I have never seen anything like this, it's actually embarrassing seeing so many horrible comments that seem quite unfounded, bitter and lacking sector experience. I have read so much about the kiltwalk the past few days I have to say I do understand some of the concerns but at the end of the day they are doing an incredible job for great causes and their annual accounts make sense to me

21st February 2015 by Mikela

There seems to be a lot of blinkered people posting on here. Stewart has asked the obvious question. Why is 50% of the money going to the Kiltwalk and not the charities? That figure is staggering. I have looked at the published accounts of many charities in the last day or so and I cannot find any charity that retains such a high percentage of the money raised.The issue is not the fact that money goes to good causes. The issue is how much of the money goes to good causes. Is the charity managing their funds correctly and efficiently. I don't see much evidence of this. A 9-fold (pro-rated) increase in costs in 12 months is staggering and demands an explanation.This is not the Kiltwalks money. They manage the events and distribute the money. We, the walkers, raise the money and as such are accountable to the people who donated it. We are obliged to ensure that as much money that is raised is going to the good causes. From what I see in the accounts, the Kiltwalk could do better. A lot better.I know for a fact that the Kiltwalk have over-promised and undelivered for all charities both small and big. I am in touch with people from quite a lot of charities. Some who have left and some who have remained, for now. The anxiety from them is clear though. They are not comfortable with what they see from the Kiltwalk and are asking questions and not getting answers they like. People on here appear to be blindly following the "it raises money for good causes and so it's above criticism" mentality. That's naïve and irresponsible on behalf of your donators. The Kiltwalk has done a lot of good for charities, but the question is "are they doing good enough"? In my opinion, looking at the hard data - No.

22nd February 2015 by Teresa

I can see points on both sides and initially thought the bigger charities were leaving as they somehow believed they deserved more than smaller causes by virtue of the fact they are bigger and regardless of number of walkers recruited. It seems likely that the Kiltwalk will continue to be supported by smaller charities as it gives them access to a huge fun event and the potential to raise a lot money they otherwise would not have the potential to. I really do hope the trustees of the KIltwalk will look closely at the massive rise in costs. 50% going on costs is unacceptable and my concern is that smaller charities will be so grateful for what they are receiving that they will not question the way in which the organisation is being managed. After all they will become the main steak holders of this organisation - I hope it's not lost on the Kiltwalk that they exist only as long as charities support them. They are partners and not overlords. All in all I believe the Kiltwalk is a wonderful event that has captured the public's attention and instead of demonising it we should all hope that it sorts out how much it's spending and goes on to help smaller causes raise funds and get profile they otherwise wouldn't.

22nd February 2015 by Sarah

Mikela I do understand your point but you dont seem to get what others are saying- 1. The cost has shot up but so has the Walker numbers. I see 6000 people did glasgow. That will mean massive cost increases in security and event logistics as well as tshirts etc. 2. You can only compare the kiltwalk to charities who raise money from events and give grants as no other model is comparable. the only one I can think of is the Moonwalk - check their OSCR record they are 60p in the £. They have had a few more years to get this right too. Like I said before there is obviously concerns I am sure the kiltwalk trustees will look at all of this. I just think its unfair to attack like this when all I can see is people trying to do good. Give them a chance!

23rd February 2015 by Mikela

Sarah I try only to reply using facts, so bear with me. Also remember that I only have access to what is in the public domain as does everyone else. You quote the MoonWalk. and state that they donate 60p in the £. I looked for those details on the OSCR site. For the benefit of others they are known as Walk the Walk Wordwide SC029572. Their figures are; income for the year - £9,060,257 with charitable donations of £7,678,400. That means that they gave out around 85% of their income. Now from the Kiltwalks 2012 Accounts. "Cost/Income - In the short term while we develop a professional and sustainable operational model, with investments in infrastructure such as staff, offices, equipment, database and website development, the target is for 80% (donations). In 2012 the ratio was 87%". So by their own admission the Kiltwalk are failing their own targets and by quite some margin. That is in the space of one year. Sarah, you nor I set those targets. The Kiltwalk did. The Kiltwalk also knew their plans for growth. Why should they not then be held accountable for missing their own targets?

26th February 2015 by Douglas J A Roxburgh MBE

Whether we like it or not a professional, safe and well managed event needs to be projected and conducted for all the right and proper reasons. My experience of event production, management and participation is the scale a nationwide and popular event demands, an equitable reflection on all of the factors that are involved need to be considered. That's were the tight rope walk begins, the balance as we know is essential. I don 't and have never taken a penny for what I do, I am a genuine volunteer in every respect and that's my choice, but the work that paid Charity staff undertake is equally essential and should not be forgotten or discredited without justified means. Open, honest and transparent communication underpins an effective and positive organisation, the Kiltwalk should be no different and any challenge to how they perform should be equally open to scrutiny. Just put all things into the right context and perspective.

3rd March 2015 by David

Does this allay any of the fears shared above: http://www.thekiltwalk.co.uk/faqsPersonally I believe the Kiltwalk is a fantastic organisation which is beginning to establish itself as a Charitable Force to be reckoned with. Whilst I also understand the some of the concerns outline above, I also believe that this need to be tempered with a little business acumen.An organisation in growth and with ambition needs to ensure that it future proofs itself, I understand that anyone who donates to charity has the expectation that all funds are donated to the good cause. Unfortunately when this is tied to an event that nirvana is an impossibility mostly as a result of bureaucratic red tape.Given that the accounts people are referring to are for 2013, I think the proof will be in future accounts. The Kiltwalk Leadership team will be brought to task in review of future accounts, Kiltwalkers and Charity Partners will be examining on whether or not the finances are comparable and the organisation is establishing itself as it has outlined.I also believe there is a little bit of sensationalistic coverage on this topic, firstly because I have discussed this very issue with Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation and found no evidence of concern about the Kiltwalk. Actually quite the contrary, SKFF made it clear to me that they were withdrawing due to the impending move to their new hospital and that they could not give The Kiltwalk the focus, commitment and attention it required.Secondly, as a Kitlwalker and someone who has had their loved ones story told via the Kiltwalk Team. I could not be more complimentary of the support, care and attention that has been given to our cause or to the memory of my loved one. I have participated, organised, hosted and volunteered in a number of charity events and intiatives over the years. I have never encountered or been embraced by such a professional and dedicated team. The ability for one organisation to bring together families and friends of disadvantaged children across the country and given them a platform to share their stories in such a positive and supportive manner is I believe unmatched.This is a fun, family, team orientated organisation that has an ambitious plan, that wants to make an impact on the lives of children in our countries lives. There is no corruption or collusion, just caring charity and good business practice.

6th March 2015 by Douglas J A Roxburgh MBE

David, you have encapsulated the positive and beneficial effects of the Kiltwalk, to it's already established and developing family. You are right - there are impacts that financial donations can't and don't reach. The best possible context and perspective to give in why the Kiltwalk is so valuable in every way.