It’s a dog’s life for former Ardrishaig man Alan Stewart

Alan and Fiona Stewart with one of their 19 working Alaskan Huskies.

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Off-road adventurer Alan Stewart is coming to the end of the latest chapter of his action-packed life story, but you can bet his very worn boots there will be something else on the horizon.

Raised in Ardrishaig, Alan, and his wife Fiona, are currently based in Aviemore, at the foot of the Cairngorm mountain range, where together they run the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre.

Climate change, however, has thrown up new challenges for the sport in this country and the 63-year-old, who now has to travel to Europe to train and run his dogs in competitions, has decided to call it a day.

‘Sled dogging is unlike any other other outdoor adventure you can experience in the UK, but the dogs require cool conditions when they are out on a run,’ he told us.

‘That’s not so easy to do now and the dog welfare is paramount, so I will keep the 19 working Alaskan huskies but once they come to their natural end I won’t be replacing them.’

For the Stewart’s dog sledding is not just a hobby, ‘it’s a way of life’, said Alan, who never raises his voice to his canine friends, instead he whispers instructions into a mini radio, the other end of which is attached to his lead dogs harness.

‘I will miss the daily routine we have established over the 18 years or so, not to mention the dogs, but maybe it’s time to slow down a bit and treat Fiona to a bit of a break.

Fiona however, is not holding her breath.

‘We ended up here because I said that I thought it would be nice to have a dog,’ she said.

‘I dread to think what is coming next, my request was for an extended holiday!’

For Alan, their are no limits.

Having spent his youth shellfish diving with local diver Sandy Munro, he trained as a commercial deep saturation diver while living in Sydney, Australia. His offshore work took him to the Middle East, India, China, Norway and the North Sea.

In 1982 he returned to Scotland where he underwent a saturation course at Fort William and became a member of the ‘Broady Bunch’, a deep dive team led by superintendent Chris Broady. Alan continues to work as a dive rep during the summer season.

When he’s not working, Alan enjoy off-road Safari racing and remote motor bike trips in crazy places. A keen motocross and safari buggy enthusiast, one of Alan’s ambitions is to bring a safari racing championship to the Kilmartin area where he spent many happy years racing with the mid Argyll motocross club.