skip to Main Content

For press information, images and interviews please contact Diane A Smith at Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival on 07764615517 or

Earlier Press Releases

Thursday 11 May 2017

Local Hero comes back to his old stomping ground.

Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival’s special guest speaker this year is Steve Bate MBE. Steve was a ‘well kent face’ around Moray and the local ‘outdoor scene’ for many years until misfortune demanded a change in direction. Now this rather special ‘Local Hero’ and double gold Paralympian has come back to his old stomping ground to give an insight to his challenges and truly remarkable adventures.

Photo of Steve Bate Climbing El Capitan

Steve Bate’s solo climb of El Capitan. Copyright Andy Kirkpatrick

Steve Bate was told he had the degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa in 2011, which meant he could go blind in four to five years and would have to give up his beloved outdoor sports and being diagnosed visually impaired he lost his driver’s licence at the age of 34. This was a massive blown to such an active adventurous outdoor lover. However, instead of being a major stumbling block, this astonishing Kiwi born lad, with the support of his wife Caroline and close friends, proved nothing was going to stand in his way of living the adventurous lifestyle he attended for himself.

In 2013 Steve became the first visually impaired climber to solo El Capitan, a shear 3000ft rock face in Yosemite Valley, California. He climbed the face 3 times in all, twice with British climbing legend Andy Kirkpatrick. Andy said that Steve’s ascent with his disability could possibly be the most audacious climb on El Capitan. He then headed in a totally new direction. Having never raced a road bike, never ridden in a velodrome, never raced a tandem, he set himself the impossible goal of making the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as a visually impaired cyclist. Paired with Adam Duggleby (sight pilot), the two quickly proved their worth and in a remarkably short time became double Paralympic champions in Rio. Steve returned home with two gold medals, one bronze and a world record in the 4km individual pursuit.

Steve’s journey is far from over and the question everyone’s asking is just what will this character set his tunnel vision sights on next.  Bate said of coming back to Moray for the local annual outdoor festival, “I’m very excited to be returning home to Moray, to share my adventures with the people who have supported me from the outset of my visual impairment diagnosis. The Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival is a fantastic event, and one I’m very proud to be associated with, and I hope the fantastic local community come out and support it in numbers.”

Past speakers have included Scottish wilderness hiker, backpacker and mountain walker, Cameron McNeish, the Midnight Mountaineer, Alan Rowan and adventurer, author and campaigner of micro- adventurers, Alastair Humphreys.  Bea Jefferson, Chairperson of the Moray Way Association said: “We are thrilled to have Steve as part of the programme this year and we are sure that this talk will be inspiring to all ages and abilities.”

The festival, which runs from 16 June to 25 June 2017, has over 50 plus events during 10 days across the whole of the Moray region. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund the event has a ‘heritage’ theme with more events than ever exploring Moray’s built and natural landscape.

Highlights of the programme include two events by Moray based historian and writer of The Making of a Scottish Landscape, Dr John Barrett; Ghost Towns – deserted settlements in Strathavon, where you will be able to explore the remains of a lost culture and, A Royal Burgh: the making of Medieval Forres, a walk tracing the origins and development of the town.  The events are proving to be popular as an extra date has been arrange for the Ghost Towns walk which was sold out in a week. The programme has a wealth of other historical and natural heritage events organised by local community groups like Speyside Visitor Centre, Cullen, Deskford & Portknockie Heritage Group, Forres Footpaths Trust, the Dava Way and Findhorn Village Heritage, alongside organisations such as Wild Things!, Outfit Moray, Forestry Commission, Moray Council Ranger Service and Ace Adventures.

Back again this year is Moray Way Five Day Challenge in which participants walk the 95 miles of the Moray Way over 5 days. The walk, which includes the Dava Way, Moray Coastal Trail and the Speyside Way, provides participants with a ‘park and ride’ service to make it easier to complete the long distance walk with options to just walk sections of the route. Also, returning this year is the famous Dava Way Ghost Train Walk, the Secrets of Pluscarden and Secrets of Spynie which participants rated as excellent last year.

For those who are looking for adrenalin rush then Ace Adventures are running their water sports events every day of the festival at special reduced prices. You can see the River Findhorn from a different view with cliff jumping, canyoning and white water rafting. They are also running their growing activity, Disc Golf.

This year the programme has several firsts.

  • Moray Speyside Film Club are hosting a special “ Outdoor” theme evening of films.
  • A Wild Swim event will be taking place in Lochindorb with Wild Highlanders and Calum Maclean of ‘Wild Swimming in Scotland’ and films by Vivienne Rickman- Poole, artist, wild swimmer and listed in the top 19 ‘alternative rich’,
  • A unique opportunity to spend several hours learning to shoot small-bore rifles in the marvellously unique Olympic discipline of biathlon with The British Biathlon Rifle Club


About Moray Way Association

The Moray Way Association was founded in 2011 with the aim of creating Moray’s long distance walking route, The Moray Way, a 96 mile circular walking trail. Since 2012 the organisation has also organised the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival with the purpose of encouraging walking and other outdoor pursuits in Moray.

Further Information:

For further information, images and interviews please contact Diane A Smith at Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival on 07764615517 or