Reaching New Heights


hillwalking

I went on a bit of an adventure this weekend!

My old friend – the one I wrote about in my Friendly Faces post, who I met here in Dundee after five years estranged – is a bit of an avid hillwalker. And as I really enjoy the scenery up here and all around the city, I decided I really wanted to join her for a day out on the hills.

“Are you free tomorrow?”

“Um. I suppose so!”

We planned to set off at 6am, but of course that really meant we left 7:30am – as I always need to have a long, poetic farewell with my bed every morning!

My friend does a lot of climbing, so she was up for bagging some Munros. I was eager too, but a little cautious due to my extreme inexperience, and notorious clumsiness.

hillwalking, Sron Mhor mound

The mound of Sron Mhor covered in cloud

This is where full disclosure is needed: I’ve never even climbed a tiny hill, never mind a Munro. I’ll even avoid the stairs if my destinations stretches further than four flights.

But, I’m always up for a challenge. I enjoy learning what I’m made of in different situations. In fact, this full summer, this full year really, has involved me really pushing myself out of my comfort zone. So why stop now?

Naturally, I gave it a bash! Our plan was to climb Meal Greigh up in Lawers, which is apparently 1001m above sea level. I almost reached the top. Almost!

I have to say, when my friend said there was a path, I thought of gravel and stone… not pure mud and grass. And that’s just the naivety of a non-climber.

We began like Indiana Jones, hacking our way through undergrowth, until we reached a wide open glen. After that we began grassy trek, where sheep popped up like daisies from the valleys. Lovely and scenic, a tad bit of effort but nothing too strenuous. All far from what was about to come when we hit the real ascent.

For anyone who doesn’t know, real hillwalking involves climbing incredibly steep inclines where steps of mud, enforced by years trampling feet, are your only footholds. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a shellshock and rather alarming to look down.

On the way up the steep face of Sron Mhor

But, I pushed on, right up to the top of the first mound, Sron Mhor. And this was when I learnt about limits.

As I had never done something like this before, I had no idea how fast exhaustion can consume you. My feet began to tingle in a very unfamiliar way, and my eyes began losing focus a bit as dizziness swam around in my head.

It was also unexpected how daunting the idea of trying to make my way back down such a slippery slope would be. And this was when I thought it sensible to admit I’d probably reached my limit. Strangely, nothing about this made me feel disappointed in myself.

I think learning about my body’s limits and how I personally react under certain conditions is just as valuable as bagging a Munro – I’m glad I collected this bit of trivia about myself.

This lesson I think will be incredibly transferable. It’s also a good reflection of my time here in Dundee as it comes to an end.

Views from the top of Sron Mhor

There’s never any shame in admitting when you need a little help, or being kind to yourself by taking a step back from something that might be a bit out of your depth of knowledge.

I still climbed 3/4 of a Munro and on my first go, which is more than some people. So I’m proud of pushing myself that far. But not every descent is a fall from grace. Sometimes you need to take three steps back, reflect on what you’ve learned, and dare yourself to take an extra step forward next time.

Learning where your limits lie, is the only way to practice pushing yourself past them.

Also, top tip, there are bags of inspiration in the hills – even if you don’t quite bag a Munro!

H

Take a look at my last blog, The Writing Bug!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hannah McLaren

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