This is a story from one of our customers. Fiona's a senior lecturer at the University of Bristol - and a mother. She gave us a nudge about our representation. Where are the mothers? We believe the outdoors is for everyone. Thanks for the nudge, Fiona! So here's one of her tales of adventure. As a mother.
Either side of the lane were mountains, their tops golden while the valley remained in a deep, warm shadow. We almost missed our first sight of the cabin, five pairs of eyes scouring the hillside for signs of a building. Eventually, a gasp from my middle daughter “Look!” There they were - a pair of small wooden buildings camouflaged against the trees - our home for a week in the Scottish Highlands.
Later, I scoured the OS map feverishly, gazing through the huge window towards the mountains. Which were Corbetts? Which Munroes? Which were the best routes to run? To bike? I could hear giggling as my three girls took it in turns at the rear windows with the binoculars. They swung them wildly from the two deer nibbling bracken to the bird feeder where the final few bright yellow seed-eaters were stocking up before nightfall.
I was itching to be in the hills. It wasn’t enough to look. I plotted my route, imagining the burning in my legs and lungs as my finger traced the tight-packed contours.
I was up and out before the alarm, sneaking a banana from the fruit bowl as I laced my trainers outside. Still stiff from the long drive, I began a tentative jog, leaving the cabin, over the cattle grid, through the gate, out of the farm.
The pine trees closed in right around the narrow path. A few midges nibbled my ears but soon I was up and out beyond the treeline into a fresh breeze. I enjoyed the effort; the sweat trickling down my chest and face, my socks soaked. I watched the colours of the plants, boggy and bright, and glanced up for a glimpse of the broken wall that told me I’d reached the plateau. A final push and I was running along the ridge, chest heaving, early sun picking out details invisible from below; scattered rocks, ancient tracks from gold prospectors centuries ago, tiny farms and toy animals, pools of sky.
Back at the cabin, breakfast was in full swing. “Hello Mummy” shouted three excited voices. “We’re going swimming in the river!”. “Brilliant”, I replied, “pass the pancakes”.
My husband asked distractedly how my run was. “Great”. But there was no time to explain the feeling of peace and freedom from being Up There alone, with a map and a view of endless mountains. And he doesn’t need me to explain, anyway. He smiled as he wiped milk-sodden Weetabix from the little one’s pjs.
And so the week progressed, with my husband and I striking out for a peak or two as the children slept. New routes were devised over glasses of beer in the early evenings after our days of family adventures were drawing to a close, our girls tired from swimming, hiking, biking and exploring in their new playground.
And once, at the end of the week, my oldest daughter came too. We hiked together up the Corbett behind the cabin, sharing the emptiness, and helping each other conquer the trackless, steep descent through tussocks back to the road. Three blissful hours with an eight-year-old adventurer, my heart full as I silently imagined what the future might hold.