Off to a flying start…

It’s been back to SiMY duties lately, with a little sequence of three hill walks designed to offer the young people who attend the ‘Micro-Adventure’ group the chance to experience a day out in the hills. We began with a visit to Tinto Hill; a Graham on the south side of Glasgow, then took on a more challenging trip to Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro. With the clocks going back last weekend, the shorter daylight hours meant we opted for Ben Ledi as a more modest final objective to try and avoid the need to be out after dark; walking at night is a lot of fun, but better experienced in more benign conditions to start with.

I’ve been really impressed with the young people who’ve taken part in this series of walks; most of them hadn’t done any serious walking before they set food on Tinto, and several of them found Ben Lomond, and Ben Ledi, a significant challenge physically and mentally. Despite that, each and every offer to call it a day and turn round has been knocked back, and every one of them has made it to the top of the hills they took on. It’s a genuine privilege to watch young people flourish before your eyes as they discover qualities of resilience and determination within themselves that they were previously unaware of.

It’s no great revelation to me that taking young people from the city into Scotland’s wild places helps them thrive and grow; generations of young Glaswegians before them crossed the ‘Khyber Pass’ towards Loch Lomond and trod the same hills, finding a sense of freedom, a space to think and explore new ideas, and a place to forge friendships within which those ideas could be brought to life. By taking these young people out into these same spaces, our hope is that we can help fan into flame the same radical passion for a better, fairer world that burned in the hearts of their predecessors. I’ve recently been reading the biography of one such man; Jock Nimlin, who penned a beautifully concise description of his own hopes for a better world from the context of his own work in the Clydeside shipyards during WWII.

“For me, or for people like me in the future, there will always be the open country. War can’t stop the trees from budding, or birds from singing, or spoil the beauty of a sunrise over Loch Lomond. But all that beauty will be of no use unless there is peace and confidence in the hearts of those who see it.”