So with the snow on the ground I thought I’d reminisce a little about my sprightly teenage years.
As I think I’ve written before I was always one for the great outdoors although living in darkest suburban Hertfordshire as a kid it wasn’t the easiest place to throw yourself into it. Let’s face it, the Chilterns are hardly mountains are they? Which is why I was extremely grateful for the fact that Hertfordshire Scouts, of all people, owned a wonderful place at Lochearnhead in Perthshire, right in the Scottish Highlands. I did several walking/climbing trips up there and had the time of my life! It’s such a pity that the website doesn’t really do justice to it. Maybe I’ll scan in some old photos one day that do!
The place itself was, and still is, an old railway station on a disused railway line that runs along Glen Ogle. The station buildings are used as central facilities with wooden chalets providing the accommodation. The place is hemmed in with trees and despite the village being quite a bustling place it felt wonderfully secluded. Often the trees would be coated in snow when the snow line dropped and when it was warm, as it often could be in spring, the smell of the pine was simply out of this world.
What I loved most of all was that the slog of getting there (10 hours over night on a coach) meant that only those of a similar mindset to me, i.e. love the outdoors and pretty bloody minded, actually used to make it there. I made some wonderful friends there and am in touch with many of them still. The scouts and guides that went up there were typically left to their own devices in the evenings (outside of theory sessions on mountain craft etc) and there was a tangible feeling of growing up but still very young and youthful. You know those moments where you start to spread your wings a bit and everything is a little bit scary and a little about dangerous?
I got reminded of it on the way to work today, a pigeon was cooing in a tree while snow was thawing around me. Very typical of the place when I was there.
I think it’s brilliant that places like that still exist, where kids can go and have a real adventure. Long may it continue!