FINDRA Ambassador Graham Kelly (AKA ‘Beardy’) reflects on lockdown easing and what it means for his approach to the outdoors and life ‘coming off pause’.
Back in March, I wrote the Finding Balance with Adventures post. It wasn’t a considered or crafted post but more of a head-and-heart dump with a few bits edited out to protect the guilty (me).
Reading it back now feels a bit strange, and whilst it reflects exactly how I felt at the time of writing, it now seems tinged with regret rather than a simple wider reflection of some past fun. I was lucky to grow up in the era of Joe Strummer songs and always loved the title of the documentary of his life “The Future is Unwritten” – the idea of a blank canvas is exciting!
It would be easy to revert to kind but that isn’t the plan – for one, international travel is off the radar for me for what is left of 2020. It has been a privilege to be able to hop the Atlantic as often as I have done but in addition to the obvious environmental impact, each trip takes three days of leave which is precious time that could be better spent. If lockdown did anything positive, it gave an opportunity to look closer to home.
So, coming off pause then . . .
A pal and I bought paddleboards within a few days of each other. Since then we have taken baby steps learning the skills and developing a degree of confidence on the Forth and Clyde Canal, Abie’s Loch out by Milngavie and most significantly, Loch Lomond.
It was after an evening paddle from Balmaha to the island of Inchcailloch and a subsequent morning trip to the smaller island of Clairinsh that the idea of visiting all 23 main islands of Loch Lomond came about. Exploring each island gives an insight into what some of Scotland must have looked like at one point and each gives a unique view of the surrounding landscape. Future trips will involve an overnight camp or two at least.
In recent years, the Lake District has held a place in my heart. A larvae of a plan for a Bob Graham attempt has been in the making but clearly months of living in Glasgow with a five-mile radius was not conducive to being hill fit for a 66-mile run that has 26,900ft of ascent. Once a good level of strength and fitness is back in the legs, I am aiming to backpack the route over a weekend in either late August or early September as preparation for a 2021 sub-24-hour attempt. I’ll also do another run round the Abraham’s Tea Round route as a warm up.
There are also a bunch of other Scotland-based adventures in the mix, including a social run over the main part of the Glencoe Skyline race route (basically the Coe circular part), the Cairngorms 4,000s (missed out on a recent opportunity for that) and some Skye Scrambling (hopefully a full Cuillin traverse). But possibly the most exciting and least planned is some shared adventures with friends – a mix of jumping on things that others have planned and also, creating opportunities for them to explore a little with some bearded support where required.
If I've learned anything, it would be finding a new appreciation for the familiar, a new sense of perspective and seeing places that I know through other people's eyes – braw times indeed!
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
This week for musical inspiration Beardy’s picked a couple of tunes with some folk inspired Americana from The Wailin’ Jennys and Guy Clark. Enjoy.
The Wailin’ Jennys – Light of a Clear Blue Morning
Guy Clark – The Cape