WE’RE a right miserable lot when you come to think of it. In fact, some of my fellow walkers make Goldilocks seem positively agreeable.
They moan when the weather is wet and yet they moan when it is dry and hot. They moan when it’s windy and they moan when there is no breeze. This is Scotland. It rains here. Get over it.
I don’t mean I dance with joy with the idea of trudging round the hills in torrential conditions. But there is something almost therapeutic about walking in the rain, something akin to a cleansing of the body and soul.
If you are properly geared up then wet weather can produce some of the best mountain experiences. Those days when the mists swirl round the glens keeping a lot of the treasures hidden for so long before clearing just enough to give you a glimpse of something special.
The slow reveal is always far more rewarding than having the whole picture in front of you for hours on end. That’s probably why my idea for a strip club which reversed the process never caught on. No one wants to see a naked person getting dressed.
Many years ago when I used to go out once a week with a group of friends, we used to pick the day with the best weather prospects. But it was one day when the forecast went awry that turned out to be one of the finest.
Instead of the expected sunshine and clear skies, we had shifting mist and dampness. Yet when the conditions cleared and we saw the until-then hidden slopes of Beinn Ime towering above us, you could hear the collective sound of awe. This was truly magnificent.
I had a day like that recently on Beinn Mhanach near Bridge of Orchy. Just a few miles down the road the sun was splitting the sky but here it was damp and closed in and it stayed like that all the way up the glen.
The track crosses and re-crosses the river several times, and each one seemed to present a bigger hurdle with every raindrop. I got glimpses of clarity back down the glen as I ascended the grassy slopes and when I hit the summit the dancing clouds provided a stop-start theatre of beauty.
On the walk back out, there was an opening of the heavens which seemed of biblical intensity and it left me soaked through. But after it passed and the sun finally made an appearance, it all seemed worth the drenching and the sometimes calf-deep crossings of the now raging river.
The wet rocks and slabs on the sides of the hills glistened in the new light and the waterfalls pouring down from every gully sparkled a brilliant white. Light had triumphed over darkness, the terrain and the air had been cleansed and reset.
It’s no surprise many health experts agree that walking in the great outdoors can be therapeutic, a huge plus in any battle against depression.
Whenever I have taken the black dog for a walk, I have always returned the better for it. Being out clears the mind and washes away any stress. The tiredness you have is a good tiredness, a physical tiredness that helps you sleep easier.
Long may raindrops keep falling on my head.
(First published Daily Record, August 7, 2014)