I’m sitting at my desk acutely aware that in the last few hours, the only movement other than rattling a keyboard in front of two LCD monitors, was to make a mug of coffee. Looking to the right, a double-glazed window and a view of a grey concrete wall. To my left, the rest of the one-person cubicles that divide up the open plan office. The temperature is carefully controlled and has no relation to what is happening outside. Various surrounding conversations create a steady background of white noise that is difficult to escape (although pretending to be on a conference call and a selection of alt-country tracks being streamed provides an occasional diversion) – all in all, an unhealthy and unnatural environment to be stuck in.
But escape is possible!
Five o’clock …I grab the wee rucksack that has been sitting under the desk. Quick change out of the corporate uniform in the staff toilet with a quick sniff of the base layer and still unsure if it made the wash after the last adventure. Dress trousers and shoes replaced with my favourite shorts and a rather worn pair of fell shoes. Quick dash along Argyle Street to catch the train that will take me to the base of the Kilpatrick hills. Sitting surrounded by fellow commuters it is easy to wonder about their lives, heading home to loved ones glad to see them and a relaxing evening. I’m kind of envious but also in the knowledge that I tried that once, but it simply wasn’t sustainable. The daydreams continue until the train pulls into Kilpatrick station. Puffy jacket stuffed into the pack and eyes look upwards towards the Slacks – clear summits!
The first kilometre up the tarmac always hurts. Not steep enough to justify a walk but steep enough to get the heart rate up and breathing a tad on the desperate side. Over the cattle grid and onto the open hill, time for a walk break and to take note the studs on the fell shoes are blunter than optimal! At the gate time to pause, look back over the river Clyde and catch breath - the stresses of the day are somewhere far below. A walk / run / walk / run follows until I reach the trig point that marks the start of the ridgeline. The westerly wind dries the sweat and blows the beard over my shoulder. The gradient allows the stride length to increase, the perfect antidote to the hours of sitting earlier in the day.
At the far end of the ridge, time to stop and grab a photograph. Despite being stood there many times and having grabbed many photographs, every moment is different. Short sharp descent to the track that leads back to the station and a return to “normal” life.
A bag of chips on the way home, sweaty shorts and top hung over the radiator (washing can wait until REALLY necessary) and a wee bit of reflection. Some struggle with the choices I sometimes make, but down through the years I’ve found getting outside pretty much the only way to stay healthy and sane. It comes at a cost mainly to those whose lives surround me but there really isn’t an alternative. My explanation of choice these days is simple:
“being on the hill, in the wild and lonely places makes me happy …and that is all I have to say about that”