And not just music. It's October 1989, and we're on a family holiday on Arran. I've a new, burgeoning obsession: mountains. Somewhere in the last couple of years I've shifted from being an often reluctant hanger-on trailing after my dad in soggy home-knit pullovers and hand-me-down plus fours, a sort of unspoken apprenticeship. Something has come to fruition, a tipping point has been reached. Maybe it's age, an accrual of confidence, a first secure foothold in the arts of map and compass, whatever - but now I want more than anything to get out there into the hills, alone or with others, it doesn't matter. Oh and there's this list of mountains called Munros.
So, back to Arran. We're in a bookshop and after scanning the outdoors shelves I come away with a little volume called 'Memorable Munros' by Richard Gilbert. Sitting in the back of the car, I start devouring it straight away. It hits me hard and leaves a crater. It turns out to be one of the most inspiring outdoors books I'll ever read, and it's stayed with me for life.
|Monadh Liath, 1989|
|Braeriach again, 1994|
|Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond), 1995|
And that, perhaps, is why 'Memorable Munros' had such an effect on me. It showed me that great adventures were accessible; that human, not superhuman, qualities were needed. All this whilst never glossing over the dangers and difficulties or 'dumbing down' the hills to our level or pretending risk can be obliterated. 'A Diary of Ascents of the Highest Peaks in Scotland' - maybe that doesn't quite cover it after all.
Young Explorers Trust: Richard Gilbert obituary
|The Fara above Dalwhinnie, 2000|