The Loop Cycle Challenge - ride for Romania

The congregation of Gairloch Church of Scotland are taking to the road again this year in a cycling event to raise money for tow charities in Romania working with children and young people there. All are welcome to join in on this challenge in stunning scenery.



first published 11/02/10


The next Loop Challenge (the seventh running) is schedule for -

Saturday 8th September 2012

The Loop PictureThe Loop sponsored cycle ride is held each year to support the work of two charities, the Acts Trust and the Csemete Foundation.

Both charities have been working to transform the lives of children and young people in Romania for over ten years. So far over £30,000 has been raised for these charities.

Hedley Calvert, one of the organisers from Gairloch Church of Scotland, has written:

The 2009 event, on September 12th, was the fourth riding of this challenge. Each year we have more people entering and enjoying the atmosphere and the aims of the event, perhaps more so now that we encourage team/relay participation in both the full loop from a Gairloch start and finish by way of Braemore Junction, Garve and Achnasheen (109 miles), and a shorter route from Gairloch to Kinlochewe and back (40 miles).

We are pleased to welcome all and especially those from other churches in the Highlands and invite you to visit our web site where you will find more information together with contact details and application forms..

In 2010 the Loop will be held on Saturday 11th September, and the organisers are looking forward to seeing lots of new faces then. The route is run over some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery.
General event and route information can be found here.

The Loop Route

Robert Johnson has written of  The Loop 2009:

The 109 miles that form the route of “The Loop” combine some very demanding cycling, including hill climbs totalling over 5,000 feet, exposed stretches of road where wind can either help or hinder, some fast downhills and some of the best scenery in the world. Cycling 109 miles in a day is not something to be taken lightly, but completing the loop is well worth the effort.

Starting at Gairloch, the route begins with several significant hills separated by some very fast descents down to sea level. It then heads generally eastward to the half way point via a major climb of about 1000 feet, but it’s a fairly consistent gradient so not too difficult, just long. The second half of the route heads west toward Achnasheen and back to Gairloch.

It’s much easier terrain, but is prone to headwinds on the section to Achnasheen that can make it very tough indeed. A few miles after Achnasheen there’s a long downhill section with wonderful views and then you’re on the way to Loch Maree. If you get that far, you’ll get all the way round. The route is fairly simple to follow and very well signposted both for the benefit of the riders as well as a warning for drivers. Generally the roads are fairly quiet with some of the single track sections at the beginning and end being pretty much free of traffic.

The middle section of the route after Braemore Junction is the only mildly busy section. Support is very well organised with five checkpoints along the route where water and food is available, and soup and sandwiches are provided at the finish back in Gairloch. Although everyone wants to set a good time, it’s not a competitive event and there’s great camaraderie amongst the riders and a friendly welcome at all the checkpoints.

It’s a really enjoyable event to take part in and of course it raises money for a worthwhile cause, but you need to be well prepared for a challenging route if you want to go all the way round.

The memorable moments of the 2009 event for me would be:
  • Finishing the event in a respectable time
  • Passing very close to a herd of red deer on the early morning climb out of Aultbea
  • The view from the first checkpoint
  • Battling against the headwind on the way to Achnasheen
  • The home baking at the checkpoints
  • The soup and sandwiches at the end
  • The exhausted riders at the finish saying “Never again!” knowing full well that they’ll probably be back next year.

Isabel Seaton writes of her experience during the 2011 Loop Challenge:

On the morning of Saturday 11th September three friends and I left a very wet and windy Inverness to drive to Gairloch to take part in the Loop Cycle Challenge. I was slightly apprehensive, two in the group were good cyclists but two of us were novices and had only managed out to train four or five times.

I had planned to cycle the route beforehand to mentally prepare for the challenge but never quite managed. We made a pact that we would all cycle together whatever happened. So with bags of jelly babies and Haribos we set off on our cycle.

The longer route, 109 miles from Gairloch and back via Braemore and Garve, was way too daunting for amateurs like ourselves, so we settled for the shorter route of 40 miles. The less taxing route took us from Gairloch to Beinn Eighe and back.

We were hoping to do this in beautiful autumn sunshine and able to enjoy the beautiful countryside and views of Loch Maree as we cycled to the Beinn Eighe car park. We all managed to complete the cycle but unfortunately due to the inclement weather we never did see Loch Maree or Beinn Eighe until we drove home later in the day when the rain had cleared and the sun was shining!!!

We all had a really great day out and in fact we might think of doing the 109 miles next year as part of a relay team. If anyone thinks they might be up for the challenge do get in touch with the organisers to help a very needy and worthwhile cause in eastern Europe. If 109 miles does not appeal I would recommend the 40 miles. I did very little training and managed to get there and back and more to the point enjoyed it.

Visit the Loop Challenge website for further information.

Catriona MacLean, 12/08/2010

(Guest) 20/08/2010 15:08
We The Loop has, over the last 4 years from 2006 - 2009, raised the following amounts of money:-

In 2006 we raised a total of £4,500
In 2007 we raised a total of £15,342.24
In 2008 we raised a total of £7,639.08
In 2009 we raised a total of £11,292.21

A grand total of £38,773.53

The monies were given to The ACTS Trust charity, who dispersed it to the following places in Romania:

Csemete Nursery
Lupeni Childrens Home
House of Hope, Baru Mare

Newsletter 2010 (Guest) 25/08/2010 12:59
The ACTS Trust Newsletter Summer 2010
Aid, Care, Training and Supply to Eastern Europe

Economic Crisis - Romania

Romania, like most other European countries, now faces the problem of dealing with its debt. The Romanian government has taken decisive action in cutting pensions, benefits, public service salaries and public services by, I am told, as much as 25%. For many people living on an income of between £100-£200 per month, this represents a serious reduction. The impact of these cuts on the local funding of our children’s homes has been to reduce the income from our clothing and chinaware shops and to reduce the income from charitable donations within Romania. To maintain the current number of children in care and to keep care staff employed, the contribution by the Trust will need to increase by as much as £1000.00 per month.

Lupeni Children’s Home

Vasile Nemes, the manager of the Lupeni Children’s Home has recently been inundated with requests from the local council to take more children. This need arises for two reasons; parents being made redundant and unable to feed their children and, perhaps more disturbingly, parents finding work abroad and abandoning their children to social services. Vasile continues to operate a daily soup kitchen for an average of 35 families per day. He has does not have sufficient funds to take any more children into residential care.

We need to find new ways of raising funds and my appeal in this newsletter is to ask for ideas as to how this could be achieved.

Sebastian and Delia are just 4-years-old. Their parents were made redundant and they resorted to alcohol, neglecting their children and failing to feed them adequately. Their neighbours reported them to social services and they were taken from their parents, who cried at the loss of their children. Delia told her mum not to worry - ”at least we will be fed!” Both children are now thriving and happy at Lupeni Children’s Home.

David and Mario’s mother asked for her children to be taken into care. Their father now works in Poland, mother has been arrested and imprisoned. David has psychological problems and wakes screaming in the night.

These stories could be repeated many times over. The children we have in our care are fortunate only in the sense that the care they now receive is exemplary in every way. The transformation effected by Vasile and his care team is life-changing and heart warming.

House of Hope - Baru Mare

The dynamic Mayor of Baru Mare, Danny Reducanu, has secured agreement to install a industrial biofuel plant which converts rubbish into fuel. This should provide local employment opportunities and generate cash for the village.Danny has been particularly successful in accessing European money for projects in his village. His next proposal is to create an airport at Baru which would serve the Hunedoara county. The nearest commercial airport with international connections is Timisoara which is more than three hours drive away.

Although Danny’s projects will bring eventually bring prosperity to the area, he still struggles to finance the care of the children at the House of Hope. Like Lupeni, his biggest outlay is the payment of care staff. The Romanian authorities insist on certain minimum staffing levels without which they would close down the home - regardless of the the excellent levels of care provided there.

Danny initiated a project with local schools whereby children would create their own programme of music and poetry and compete with each other. The winners are given a extra day off school. The children collect gifts and then present them to the homeless and abandoned children in the village.

Csemete Nursery - Cluj-Napoca

I did not visit Csemete Nursery on my visit due to illness in Lehel Leszai’s family. However, we are told that, once again, the economic problems have resulted in job losses and a consequent reduction in the number of children attending the nursery. Working parents were a main source of revenue at the nursery and partly subsidised places for less well off children. This again will impact on the ability of Lehel to retain child care staff. The usual number of children attending the nursery is 60 per day but this is now halved.

Cash from the sponsored “Loop” cycle ride last September was donated to Csemete to help create a new outdoor play area. Most of this work should now be complete and we hope to have pictures for our next newsletter.

ACTS Trust - Expansion

For many years, ACTS Trustee Dr Tony Sargent has had projects in Africa and India that have been administered through the auspices of the International Christian College of which he was Principal. Having retired from the college last year, Tony’s projects will now be administered by ACTS as a separate branch of the Trust. We now, therefore, have two branches - the Eastern Europe and Africa/Asia divisions. Funding may be designated for the general work of the trust, for either of the divisions, or for specific projects. Donations currently given for Romania will remain designated for those projects only.

The Africa/Asia projects include homes for destitute children in Calcutta, housing for lepers, a school in Kenya, hospitals and clinics in Hyderabad and Bombay and the meeting of many individual needs as they are presented.

Tony travels extensively to visit and monitor these projects and to raise awareness and fund raise around the world. He will provide his own reports and bulletins and I shall include them with future newsletters.

West Highland Cycle Challenge - The LOOP

Our sponsored cycle ride is a vital part of our fund-raising calendar. You could participate and combine a beautiful day out with some healthy exercise! Take a look at the website for details. If unable to take part, please consider sponsoring a biker.

On September 11th, our stalwart cyclists will once again start out on either the 109-mile LOOP challenge from Gairloch to Gairloch via Braemore and Garve, or on the less taxing 40-mile ride from Gairloch to Kinlochewe, skirting the shores of beautiful Loch Maree. Organised by members of the Gairloch Church of Scotland congregation, we expect a record entry in the event as word spreads of this great day out. Relay teams are welcome and all participants can visualise the array of home-made cakes that await the finishers in the Church Hall. Contact me for details - we need your legs or your money! Or look at

Change of Address

The registered address of the charity is now “Ashlinn” Brackley Farm, Lochgilphead, Argyll, PA31 8NH.

Your support enables us to continue – Thank you

Isabel Seaton (Guest) 29/03/2011 10:30
The LOOP Cycle Challenge 2010

The accounts of the fifth cycle ride which took place on Saturday 11th September 2010 have now been finalized. The sponsorship money received and transferred to the Acts trust is £8333.70 of which £5965.90 is eligible for Gift Aid amounting to £1682.69.

The overall total which will be sent to Romania will be in the region of £10016.39.
Over the five years of this event a total of £48,789.92 has been raised.

On behalf of The Loop Cycle Challenge and The Acts Trust the local organizers wish to thank again all who contributed in any way to the successful outcome of this event.

One for your diary the sixth running of the Challenge will be Saturday 10th September 2011.

For more information please visit:- and

Martin (Guest) 29/03/2011 22:24
I can't log in tonight, so this is me.

Where may I contribute to the funds raised, please.

I've been out in some of these countries and want to help.
(Guest) 03/09/2011 15:05
The ACTS Trust

Aid, Care, Training and Supply to Eastern Europe Ashlinn, Brackley Farm



Romania - Summer 2011

The Loop Challenge 2011
The sponsored Loop cycle ride has raised £50,000 over the last five years and makes a vital contribution to the funding of our children’s homes and nursery in Romania. This year, the ride will take place on September 10th and in addition to the 109-mile circuit, we will repeat last year’s option to ride the attractive shorter route from Gairloch to Kinlochewe. Our target is to match the average yearly sponsorship of £10,000 and take our total to £60,000. Details and entry forms can be found on the Loop website at “”.
Funds raised by ACTS Trust for Romania support three main projects for the care of disadvantaged children. This Newsletter focusses on some of the individuals whose lives have been transformed by the support that you have given since the Trust was established in 1993.

Csemete Foundation Nursery, Cluj
The Csemete nursery, (‘Csemete is Hungarian for ‘sapling’), is a Romania registered Christian charity run by Prof. Lehel Leszai and his wife Emoke. Csemete continues to provide high quailty pre-school education and is working to raise local and national standards in this field. Monies raised by the Loop cycle ride recently enabled Csemete to meet the legal requirement to provide a safe play area for the children. As you will see from the picture, this has been achieved to a very high standard. The economic downturn has reduced the number of children attending the nursery to 40; the nursery’s capacity is 60.

Registration in Scotland Agreement between the charity regulators in Scotland and England to permit dual registration means that we are now officially recognised as a charity in both countries. The Scottish charity registration number will be added to all Trust documents.

Your Sponsorship Changes Lives - The stories below are from Vasile Nemes, Director of Lupeni Children’s Home, otherwise known as Papa!

Lupeni Children's Home - Alexandra
Twelve years ago an old lady from our church came to us and she implored us to take into our children’s home her three grandchildren who were all living in a state orphanage far from Lupeni. The children would be easier for her to visit and on Sundays they could meet, too, at the service in the church – she said. We agreed, and that is how Alexandra, Alexandru and Marius got to us. We never regretted the decision that we had taken with regard to those children because, on one hand we could witness the immense joy of the old lady having the grandchildren close to her and well looked after, and on the other hand, we could watch the children growing and getting better and better at school with a desire to get knowledge and succeed in life. And out of the tree of them, Alexandra proved herself to be the most conscientious with best results at school and prizes every year. She graduated the college and in parallel, the music school, having thus become a professional guitar and piano player. Alexandra then gave her life to Jesus. She got baptized and proved herself to be a very active member of our church. And at the right time God gave her a good young man who became her husband and with whom she left to work and live in London. That was four years ago. Both Alexandra and her husband worked hard in London and with the money they got there bought a house in Lupeni – the first home of their own! And last year, just before Christmas, they were blessed with a baby, too, a baby that both parents are very proud of. So now, Alexandra has got it all that earlier in her life she could hardly dream of: a house and a family of her own!
Whenever she comes to Lupeni, Alexandra always comes to see us, too. She brings sweets and goodies to the children in the home now, she plays and talks to them and gives them good advice. And only the good Lord knows what would have happened to Alexandra if she had not been taken in this home. But we believe that our love and care together with all that support and prayers that we have got from the ACTS Trust and their sponsors, have helped a this girl a lot – and others like her…

Seby and Delia
“Stop crying, Delia! At least here we’ll have something to eat…”
Sebastian (Seby) is nine years old and his sister Delia, five. They came into our home two years ago. The parents were left out of work when the mine that they both had worked in closed - a situation that led the two people to alcoholism. Thus the children were more and more left hungry and generallyneglected. After a while the neighbours brought the case of these children to the attention of the authorities of the town and that is how Seby and Delia got into our home. The little girl was three at the time and she was crying but her older brother, Seby, was trying to sooth her by telling her: “Stop crying, Delia! At least here we’ll have something to eat…” It’s June 2011 now as I’m writing this down. Seby has graduated with very good results his second form at school. As for Delia, she is a happy kindergarten child who with her sweet and cheerful nature just charms everybody around her.

David and Mario

“Tell them there is child with a box coming!”

David was born in Oradea in 2004. Then his parents moved to Hunedoara where in 2007 Mario was born. Soon after that, the father left his family to go and work abroad and get them out of poverty, as he told them. But he never came back or called them on the phone or gave them a sign that he was still alive. As she did not have a house of her own and did not have the means to pay the rent either, the mother would then take the children and move from one place to another. She used to keep everybody’s belongings into a box. A box that they would carry wherever they went. And then one day they all moved into a social care home. Once there the mother abandoned the children and went… no one knows where. That is how the authorities in charge approached us for our assistance. Our first contact with the children was through the phone to David who was five at the time. “Tell them there is a child with a box coming!” he kept insisting on the phone when I told him that other children in our home were waiting to welcome him and his brother. But “the child with the box” is now just a joke that even David likes to laugh at. Both David and Mario have been with us for almost two years. And though here they are surrounded by much love and attention from us all, the traumas that these two children lived in their first years of life have not completely disappeared. They often get frightened in the night and cry in their sleep. So they both get specialized counselling as well as psychiatric treatment.
Still, despite all that hard life they had before, David and Mario never stopped thinking of their mother or loving her. At Mother’s Day, David, who has a brilliant singing voice, dedicated the song he sang “to my dearest, dearest mum, for her to know how much I love and treasure her…”

Tina is twelve. When she was just a few months old her parents divorced. Thus Tina was left in the care of her grandparents. But when Tina was six her grandparents became very ill and could not look after Tina anymore. Her only hope seemed to be, the Lupeni Children’s Home, where she still is today. She is a very good, lovely natured child with excellent results at school - she has graduated first in her class! We tried to trace Tina’s parents but we could only get hold of her father – a very poor man who is also physically handicapped. From time to time he comes to visit Tina in the children’s home and we are pleased to see that father and daughter love each other and enjoy spending time together.

In Conclusion
These are just a few examples of how your generosity, along with others, can transform the lives of young people and help them to reach their full potential. The alternative for many was abject poverty, misery and possible exploitation. Your continued support and encouragement is a vital part of our quest to help these precious young people. I would like to express our special thanks to the members of the Church of Scotland in Gairloch who give their time, energy and expertise to make the LOOP cycle ride such a wonderful day out for the participants. Please encourage your friends to take part if they have not already done so. The ride provides a fitness challenge that leaves you feeling great for the rest of the year! If you have any questions about the work of the Trust please contact using the details in our header.

Thank you.

Len Gruber

(On behalf of the Trustees)


ACTS Trust is a registered charity in England & Wales Registration No. 1021042; In Scotland Reg. No. SC042294
Trustees: Dr. J A Sargent BD; Mr. L W Gruber (Treasurer); Dr A W Black
Tel. (00 44) (0)1546 602471

Marcus Simpson (Guest) 06/01/2012 15:33
SATURDAY 8th September 2012
Marcus Simpson (Guest) 06/01/2012 15:35
Money Raised so Far for The Loop's Supported Charity
We The Loop has, over the last 6 years from 2006 - 2011, raised the following amounts of money:-

In 2006 we raised a total of £4,500
In 2007 we raised a total of £15,342.24
In 2008 we raised a total of £7,639.08
In 2009 we raised a total of £11,292.21
In 2010 we raised a total of £10,016.39
In 2011 we raised a total of £8,518.05

A grand total of £57,307.97

The monies were given to The ACTS Trust charity, who dispersed it to the following places in Romania:

Csemete Nursery
Lupeni Childrens Home
House of Hope, Baru Mare

Marcus Simpson (Guest) 06/01/2012 15:37
If you did the ride and want to make a comment or write a piece about your day and experience please email me your contribution to (website admin.)Thank you.

The Loop Cycle Challenge 2011 by Marcus Simpson (From the Organising team)

The week prior to the event was spent watching various weather forecasts. Decisions had to be made at the latest by the Thursday prior to the event as safety signs would have to be put in place, marshals appointed and of course the riders had to be updated. With the forecast predicting strong winds plus rain in the afternoon it was decided to cancel the 109 mile route. (We were mindful of the cold, rain and wind of the 2008 event and also similar conditions in 2009 and 2010). All the entrants accepted the decision and we are grateful that they all agreed to do the shorter route, to some this was much less than their frequent training stints.

On the day, although the weather in Gairloch appeared fine, the winds inland were as predicted and riders arriving for the event from Inverness reported the same from Garve.

17 riders took part and they all returned safely. This year it was great to welcome some new faces. We had some from the east (Inverness area), a father and son from Loch Carron, one chap who travelled up from Dumfries plus our regular entrant from Uddingston. Some of the “girls”, disappointed after all their training, planned to go it (the 109 miles) alone later but on two occasions the weather let them down. There is always next year!

The accounts of this the sixth cycle ride have now been finalized. The sponsorship money received and to be transferred to the Acts Trust is £7364.05 of which £4,616.00 is eligible for Gift Aid amounting to £1,154.00 giving a total which will go to Romania of £8,518.05.

Given the economic circumstances we all live in this is very much appreciated by the organizers. On behalf of The Loop Cycle Challenge and The Acts Trust the local organizers wish to thank again all who contributed in any way to the successful outcome of this event. One for your diary:- the seventh running of the Challenge will be Saturday 8th September 2012 and so far the weather forecast is promising!
Date for the diary Saturday 8th September 2012.
Editor 19/07/2012 22:09
Just a reminder for anyone planning the forthcoming Loop Cycle Challenge - see above note and link to website in main article.
Len Gruber (Guest) 09/08/2012 10:17
The 2012 Loop cycle ride has been cancelled due to lack of entries. It is hoped that the event will be more successful in attracting riders in 2013, when the ride is scheduled to take place on the 14th September.

The needs of the children’s homes in Romania that have been supported by the Loop sponsorship are as great as ever. The Romanians are suffering from the effects of recession just as we are.

If you wish to donate to the Trust in support of the children, please do so through Marcus Simpson (Torhof, Pier Road, Gairloch IV21 2BQ telephone 01445 712115).

Your support and encouragement over the years is much appreciated.

Len Gruber
Trustee - ACTS Trust

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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Archive > Around the Region > Wester Ross > The Loop Cycle Challenge: ride for Romania