Part Boy, Part Mountain Goat
James has always been a good walker. Since he took his first steps at 10 and a half months, he’s not stopped and he’s been on the go ever since. Even when he was little he rarely asked for carries and would happily plod along on our daily dog walks. Ever since we moved to Scotland he’s been desperate to get out into the mountains, “proper ones, with their tops in the clouds”. So far, all our walks in the hill have failed to convince him and he was still left longing to head up a mountain. The boy was ready for his first Munro.
Dom explained if it was going to count as his first Munro, then he was going to have to walk all of it and promise to keep going. James didn’t need asking twice, he was most definitely ready for his first Munro.
James had the Munro bagging bug before they even started, he very quickly decided there was no point spending the day climbing one when they could do a circuit and get a few ticked off. They decided they would make a weekend of it and wild camp, well when I say they I really mean James decided and gave Dom his instructions! Now this invoked a whole new list of challenges and made route choice even more challenging. We were fairly confident James would cope with the walking but we wanted to make it as easy as possible for him and that meant Dom would have to carry everything. It’s fair to say Dom is a little out of practice from his mountain marathon days so when faced with the prospect of carrying a huge pack with everything they’d need for a couple of days camping all on his own, he very quickly decided a nice easy route was vital. They decided on the Glas Maol circuit at Glenshee, taking in the munros: Cairn an Turic, Cairn of Claise, Gals Maol and Creag leacach. With the ski centre carpark they could start quite high up limiting the amount they had to climb and with just 12 miles of walking they could tick off 4 munros.
As I waved an excited James off on his adventure, I must admit I was a little bit nervous it wouldn’t quite live up to his expectations. Would he get fed up and Dom then be stuck trying to coax him back down? I needed have worried it wasn’t long before my phone beeped and a picture of James at his first summit came through. His smile said it all and there was no way he’d be able to argue that these mountains weren’t high enough. They managed to find a lovely camping spot jut down from one of the summits which really helped to add to the camping up in the clouds experience. They had a great time and James had no trouble keeping up, It was definitely Dom who looked the most worse for wear out of the pair of them, on their return.
The only problem now rather than quench James’ thirst for mountains it has instead fuelled his desire to try and climbed them all. He is adamant he’s going to get all 282 munros ticked off before he starts high school. He’s even started his own database cataloguing them all, what can I say he is definitely his father’s son! If he’s going to have any chance of getting them all done, we are going to have to give Dom a helping hand and try and slow him down so he has a slim chance of keeping up with him.
So we’re on the lookout for a rucksack so he can carry a few of his things – what would everybody recommend for a decent child’s sized one suitable for a day In the hills.
About the Author
About Me & Mine
James' family is James' (aged 7 months), daddy - Dominic, mummy - Helena and Jarvis the dog. We currently live in Norwich but head to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lake District as often as we can.
Before James was born we were a very active family doing lots of canoeing, hill walking, camping and snowboarding. Since having James we are determined that having a family and enjoying the outdoors are both possible. We are keen to make sure James can not only join in with our adventures, but that he will be happy and comfortable at the same time.
Favourite place in the world:
It's a tough choice but Arisaig on the West coast of Scotland gets our vote. With the whitest sand and bluest sea we've seen, you have to keep reminding yourself you're in Scotland rather than a tropical paradise. The views out towards the Small Isles and the Cuillins on Skye are stunning; it really is a magical place. With sea kayaks it's easy to find your own private beach - well apart from the odd otter (real ones rather than Spotty ones) and seal to share it with. It's definitely somewhere we plan to take James to as soon as possible.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
We are keen canoeists and love to get out on the water as much as possible - whitewater, flat water touring or sea kayaking; we're not fussed as long as it's wet. We are both qualified instructors and enjoy passing on our love of paddle sports to others at our local canoe club. We have already has our own little bow paddler in the making, James, out in the canoe and are looking forward to many more trips.
We also do a lot of walking. We get out everyday to visit our local woods and parks to walk our coker spaniel, Jarvis. When we get the chance though, we prefer something a bit more challenging and regularly visit the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lake District. James' dad Dom, is a qualified mountain leader and is keen to pass on these skils as soon as possible.