From the Mountains to the Sea by guest blogger Iona Randall
Posted on Thursday, December 05 2019 05:27:00 PM in News by Karen Lee
My adventurous heart tends to be drawn to the rugged and remote mountainous areas of Scotland. I’ve been a hill walker for a few years now and since setting up my own walking group ‘Iona’s Adventures’ on Facebook last summer I’ve been organising hikes all around the country. Most importantly I’m on a mission to connect like minded people and to show that adventure is possible in all shapes and forms.
More and more often I now find myself wistfully planning adventures that incorporate a mad splash into some of Scotland’s chilly lochs, choppy seas or flat calm reservoirs. I’ve started dabbling in stand up paddle boarding too…for those days when the thought of being fully submerged in the water isn’t quite as tempting!
It started when I bought a wetsuit for £10 in a charity shop a few years ago and I thought ‘Well at that price it’s bound to come in handy some time!’ Turns out I wasn’t far wrong. Sometimes it gets put to good use but more often than not it’s great fun just to embrace the refreshing cold and jump in in nothing more than a swimsuit. In fact, I’m becoming quite proud to say that I’m a hardy Scot and I’ll give anything a try. With the temperatures beginning to turn and the days getting a little shorter I’ll be packing away my swimming costume as the winter approaches, but for now I’m still relishing those summer moments.
Some of my favourite memories enjoying the water are both surrounded by friends and on my own. I’ve warmed up with hot chocolate after a chilly dip in the choppy waves on some of East Lothian’s beaches, swam in seemingly never ending lochs, basked in the glorious sun while paddle boarding on flat calm reservoirs near Edinburgh, discovered natural plunge pools in rivers in the Highlands, shrieked as I jumped in freezing swim spots with friends on the beautiful Isle of Skye and laughed while everyone around me stripped off and dashed into the sea while in the Outer Hebrides….of course I then followed them in without a care in the world!
Recently while on expedition in Morocco I got to combine my love of the mountains and my new found love of the water. Hiking in the High Atlas Mountains the last thing I expected to come across was a beautiful turquoise lake but mid way through our trek that’s exactly what we found. The locals thought we were mad for jumping in but when you’re used to the cooler temperatures of the UK not a lot phases you. That day by the stunning lake nestled amongst the mountains is one of my most treasured memories from that trip.
I’ve realised that more often than not I don’t plan adventures that involve the water but when the opportunity arises I find it hard to resist!
These beautiful wild spaces are just so precious and should be enjoyed safely whether in moments of solitude or surrounded by friends. Through my walking group there have been a lot of discussions around litter picks during group hikes and ‘beach cleans’ on coastal walks. If this encourages people to either go along to an organised event or to just pick up litter while they’re out and about then hopefully it will help to preserve and maintain our beautiful wild spaces. Whether that’s the mountains, the sea or anywhere in between, it’s our responsibility to look after it all so we can continue to appreciate and enjoy our spectacular scenery.
Iona Rendall is probably best known as @iona.adventuring on Instagram
Iona is a nurse in both a busy GP practice and hospital wards. Last year she set up a walking group to connect like minded people and encourage others to find their own “every day adventures”, which has also become a 2000 member group and a supportive community built around a shared love of the outdoors. Last month she took a group with her to climb the 3 highest peaks of the Atlas in Morocco.Iona’s based in Edinburgh but the members of her group come from a wide areas. This is Iona Adventuring ‘s Facebook group