I spent today taking a walk up Ben Lomond via the Ptarmigan Ridge in the company of Wendy Young from Christian Aid. Wendy contacted me a couple of months back about an event that she was planning to mark the 70th anniversary of Christian Aid called the 70 Munros Challenge, having been passed both my and Adam’s contact details by a mutual acquaintance who thought that Wendy might benefit from our ability to express an opinion about absolutely everything mountaineering-related. In the intervening period we’ve somehow managed to avoid boring her to death and, with winter fast approaching, I suggested to Wendy that it might be good to meet up ‘on the hill’ for a blether about how her plans were progressing.
We managed to pick a real ‘bluebird day’ for the trip, and after about 20mins, I was acutely aware both that I was in the company of a marathon runner, and this was my third day on the hill out of five. Despite this, I managed to avoid expiring on the side of the hill and I was happy to reassure Wendy that fitness was unlikely to be a major issue for her! Along the way, we chatted over a fairly eclectic selection of topics from the virtues of Paramo through to ordination, liberally seasoned with the difficulties of what to leave out from a list of 70 great Munros, and some of the organisational and environmental issues relating to encouraging potentially large groups of people out onto the hills.
I’ll confess that I’m not normally a fan of charity challenges in the mountains – I’ve turned down several offers of work on 3 Peaks events – but Wendy’s passion for her cause, the creativity she’s bringing to the individual elements of the overall challenge, and her mindfulness of the environmental consequences of the choices she’s making have proved very infectious, and I’ve found myself becoming more enthused by the challenge each time I’ve spoken with her. If you have an interest in Christian Aid’s work and the issues it addresses, or if you’re interested in how our spirituality can be inspired and informed by time spent outdoors, I’d encourage you to keep an eye on the Challenge website and consider getting involved – I suspect you’ll not regret it.