Why I Climb…

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.

2017-06-23 11.37.21It 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…



About Rambling Scotland

Driver of Harvey. Walker of the wilds. Quaffeur of Prosecco. ... In that order
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5 Responses to Why I Climb…

  1. Gavin Mascall says:

    Nice blog and an inspiring story, l’m sure it resonates with a lot of people as it did with me. I struggle to get away from myself all week with not a single moment of quiet within my head until I get outdoors on a weekend and just emerge myself in something infinitely bigger than me that finally gives me that peace I’m looking for. As you say age is just a number, my wife climbed her first 4000m peak at 52, did her first Alpine ascent at 54 and a year later we’re off to Nepal. Keep doing what you’re doing an never stop exploring!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A bit annoyed i didn’t ‘discover’ the hills sooner Bryan but making up for it now!! Did my first solo hill today and didn’t come across any murderers!! 😊 Enjoy your time at home, it’s ‘where the heart is’


  3. Bryan says:

    Excellent piece Tracy. Seems like a lot of people are getting out and discovering the wilds these days, even if it is to photograph and video it for online content.
    I too have recently ‘got into’ hillwalking having lived away from Scotland for around fifteen years it was time to come home and discover where I’m from more.
    A great little read and good to see I’m not the only one who has experienced the unhappiness with the normal slog.
    Keep going and bag those hills 👍🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tracy Thomson says:

    Kate – your beautiful description has moved me to tears – I too have recently “found ” the Scottish mountains – and at the not so tender age of 44 have only completed 4 munros but I am booked to do the Inca Trail ( yes horrified doubters “by myself “!) and I have found the solitude and beauty out on the hills unsurpassable- which has surprised the girlie girl in me- ( I’ve never even camped out in the garden !) but I now wax lyrical about our country, the hills, the weather, and the feeling of achievement coupled with the insignificance of little ole me versus the whole wide world is amazing ! Thank you for writing this – and good luck on the hills !!


    • Tracy, thank you so much for your lovely words. I am SO envious you are heading out to do the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu is on my bucket list although I don’t think that will happen soon! You will have an amazing time I know it, how could you not?? I think life starts when you least expect it and to hell with what anyone says! Please let me know when you’ve done your trail, I would love to see your pictures. Happy adventuring. Kate 🙂


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