This week we meet with Friend of FINDRA Stewart Wilson, an Innerleithen local who loves to explore the hills of Southern Scotland and the Scottish Borders.
Hi Stewart, thanks for taking the time to chat and to start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
I’m Stewart Wilson and I work for an Edinburgh based Investment Manager and I live in Innerleithen with my wife and 2 young daughters who are aged 3 and 6 months. I have been working from home since the start of the pandemic and am currently on parental leave, both of which have given me enhanced respect and love for Innerleithen and the Tweed Valley.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
My love of hill walking and the outdoors 100% comes from my upbringing, dog walks with dad around Innerleithen and holidays to the Highlands. I think it’s fair to say in my twenties I found inside of a pub more appealing than a hill, but over the last several years that love for being active outdoors has returned with a vengeance and thoughts of getting out on the hills are never far from my mind.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
As a family we travelled to Alberta, Canada last year to attend our cousins wedding. We were really blessed to have had this amazing trip pre-pandemic and the restrictions it has brought on us all. I saw in the Rocky Mountains the sort of outdoor culture and lifestyle that I think we should aspire to in Scotland where access was respected, facilities were basic but plentiful and there was a balance between wildness and tourism.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
First and foremost, my wife is amazing! She allows me the time to go out for hours at a time at the weekend, sauntering through forests or over hills. She appreciates how important time outdoors is for me and is so supportive. I’ve also started giving my wee girl the same sort of outdoor education I had so I hope to be moulding a wee adventure buddy!
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
My dad. Most of what I know about the local hills and valleys comes from when I went walking with dad. I don’t think there’s a better way to have a conversation or to learn than when you are out hiking – they should put it on the curriculum.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Absolutely, I think everyone has ways of staying well and this year the focus on this has been massive, for obvious reasons. For me getting out into the hills and being active even if it’s just for half an hour at lunchtime is a necessity, not a luxury.
What is it about hill walking specifically that you love?
The clear benefits to physical and mental wellbeing are obvious answers, but more than that I think it’s about taking time to appreciate and understand a landscape, whether it’s been shaped by weather or man, and trying to learn more about the world around me.
When did you discover FINDRA?
Living in Innerleithen it’s hard not to be aware of FINDRA and my Bobble Hat has been worn with pride feels like our national dress! I first got to know the company well when the men’s range was introduced a couple of years back and the Leithen Base Layer is now mandatory for any walk I go on and the comfy socks are a working from home staple.
The merino garments FINDRA produce are designed for the outdoors and are truly top class in that regard, but I think more than that what Alex and the team have done is tapped into a burgeoning outdoor vibe, mainly driven by mountain biking, that has helped to bring new energy into this corner of Scotland. The growth of FINDRA has, for me, been in step with the growth of The Tweed Valley as one of Scotland’s up and coming destinations.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My first boss 20 years ago said “be nice to people on the way up as you are sure to meet them on the way down”. For an 18-year-old it was career advice 101, and it is a bit of a cliché, but I took it to heart and have always tried to stick by it. Life is full of ups and downs but one thing you can always control is how you treat people.
In this post, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?
I think the fact that a normal bloke like me, who is not in any way an adventurer (or in danger of ever setting any records for peak bagging) has been asked to write this blog is message enough.
The outdoors is for everyone, it’s not about who has the best kit (though it’s obviously FINDRA!), most expensive bike or the fastest Strava times, it’s about taking time to do what makes you happy. So, what you waiting for?
Thanks Stewart, it’s been really great to chat!
TRAIL OF THE WEEK
Hart Fell Horseshoe, Moffat
As a keen hill walker I am always trying to encourage friends to get out and about and I think the best hike near to us is the Hart Fell horseshoe near Grey Mare’s Tail in Moffatdale. It’s a ‘greatest hits’ of the Southern Uplands – steep climbs, grassy ridges, long views and the trademark solitude that hill walking in the South of Scotland usually provides.
What makes it unique is it gives you superb views into Carrifran Wildwood which is a really special project to restore natural woodland to the South of Scotland.
You can view more details about the trail on the WalkHighlands.co.uk website.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Rewild Yourself by Simon Barnes
I am currently reading Rewild Yourself by Simon Barnes. It’s a really fun, simple book that gives you 23 ways to make nature more visible in your everyday life.
It was written in 2018, so pre-pandemic, but really it has come into its own this year as more and more of us are taking the time to appreciate the natural world around us. I expect his sales rocketed in spring 2020!
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Lost in Yesterday by Tame Impala
I have got quite an eclectic taste in music and it can really vary wildly from day-to-day. Recently when I been walking I have been listening to the album Currents by Tame Impala quite a lot.
I am not totally sure why, but I think it might be to try and trick my brain into thinking it’s still good weather as I find his music is light, vibrant & fun which makes me think of summer – and here’s a track from the album that sums it up nicely.
Tame Impala – Lost in Yesterday