Through my childhood, I was fascinated by a mysterious volcanic form on the horizon I could see from our garden. I was aware it was something called ‘Ben Lomond’ but never could I have realised what it would bring me 43 years later.
In May 2016, my work colleagues and I ascended this mighty fellow. The climb was relatively short and as we were walkers of all fitness levels, we staggered ourselves taking time to wait for the dawdlers (that would be me!) Several expletives were released from my mouth that day along the lines of “who’s bloody idea was this”, “for fuck sake, will this ever end” and of course, that old favourite “are we there yet”… We arrived safely at the top. Visibility was clear, the views were spectacular and the wee tot of whisky added some ‘charm’… For the next 48 hours, every muscle shouted disapproval, my knees stabbed with every step and my feet endured a constant pulse. However, something got under my skin that day and it wasn’t a tick. From then on, I was hooked; I couldn’t wait to get out and do it again. “I’ll stock up on plasters and Ibuprofen.”
For a few years prior to this climb, I was unsatisfied with life. Not depressed or particularly miserable, just unsettled and in constant search of something better. A better job, a kitchen extension, a tidier house, slimmer, just something… The more I walked and climbed, the less I was bothered about ‘stuff’. My achievement was still being alive once on ground level and it fuelled my contentment and acceptance of being me. I love being out there, even in the rain. The weather is spectacular in whatever it’s mood brings. Even seeing only 3 meters in front of you is an experience in itself. It’s serene. It’s unsettling. It’s another planet. I am lucky to have such accepting friends who appreciate and listen quietly to my raptures without considering that I am having a breakdown. They allow me to gush unashamedly at the cloud formation, at the silence of the scene, the monotones of a misty forest on a distant hill: it’s all so humbling.
It has taken 47 years to find my happy place, emotionally and spiritually. I have never accepted being me, always wanting to be someone else. Something about being in such a huge space, with few people around, everything makes perfect sense. It recharges what I never knew was depleting and once on ground level, the world is right and I am me again. If I haven’t been up a hill in a few weeks I have been known to wear my waterproof jacket to work for the smell and the feel of outside. Yes, I know that’s weird but it works for me!
I am working my way through Scotlands mountains with a small achievement of 16 munros but many more little hills in between and loving every step, even the ones that make me swear. My problem is now I have stepped out of my comfort zone, I am yet to find that boundary and things, scary things have been planned for the following years while I can. Rock climbing, mountain wild camping, and long distance expeditions are just a few but bloody hell, I am 47 years old, who do I think I am? Aucht well, age is just a number as is munro number 17… So I’m going to jump into my wee camper van and take the next left…