Member spotlight - Stuart Nichol

blog-img BDHC WHY?? When I came to Scotland, from Birmingham, to University in 1969 I became friends with Ian from Aberdeen who was already into hills, so in November the following year I did my first Munro with him, Broad Cairn, from Glen Clova.. Well kitted out we were not, a yellow cagoule and some cheap boots from Millets store in Edinburgh, a jumper or two and some cord trousers. I guess that stirred my interest and over the years we became much better equipped, learned how to behave on the hills in terms of navigation etc. and we have had many adventures over the years and enjoyed our walks immensely, not just for the pleasure of the outdoors but the chat, the micky taking and all of that nonsense of which makes life good.

I have also done several Munros with my son Moray, as well as on my Birthday in September, when we did several birthday walks, which always involved Moray producing a small cake and a candle at the top. (Only on one or two occasions did the candle stay alight!)

So I was already a “Hillwalker” when I retired 12 or more years ago, and on retirement you lose a network of colleagues with immediate effect so the attraction of joining the club was to do more walking, but also to meet a new set of people, who would be from all walks of life, but brought together with a common interest. More chat, a bit of fun and new people to meet and get to know and sharing in their greater knowledge than mine of the flora, fauna, history and geography of our magnificent landscapes.

The club also has the huge advantage of having a bus, not just enabling a ride to and from the walk, the chance to be part of a group on the bus but enables through walks without the hassle of two cars, or public transport etc.. The early morning start are sometimes a challenge and did have an adverse effect on my Saturday night socialising, when it was more boisterous than it is now.

Walking in a group often with a range of abilities does also bring a sense of a day out to enjoy, rather than a route march to a top, and although I can walk on my own in the knowledge that I do know what I’m doing, there is a sense of comfort, confidence, and camaraderie that comes with walking as a group. Walks in blizzards, howling gales that standing up became an issue, the occasional lashing of the rain and frequent hill tops with nothing but a damp misty view are all part of it, as are the glorious days when the air is clear, and the views go on for miles.

Winter also has its advantages of being in the club, the fun of the annual photograph displays to compete for the 12 shots to appear in the calendar, talks by club members about their separate adventures and the major celebratory dinner when we had Mark Beaumont as our guest speaker was particularly enjoyable.

And then I left!!! I made an error of judgement. On retirement I intended to do some voluntary work, and I got involved in many local things as well as being on the board of Keep Scotland Beautiful. My problem was I kept saying yes to things until I was spending more time working voluntarily than I was when I was at work!! So in order to give more time to allow for some social activities with family etc.. I thought that giving a whole Sunday to my hobby was a bit much, a bit selfish, so I stopped coming.

More than 12 years have passed since retiring and my target was to do 10 years of voluntary work. It is very difficult to withdraw from voluntary work once you’re up to the neck in it, but I succeeded and was free of it all, so time to focus on getting on with a proper retirement, and at the age of 72, its time to do many things when your still able. Rejoining the club was an obvious first, for all the reasons I joined in the first place. The club also gives a discipline and a routine if you like. Its every third Sunday, the walk options are laid out, you just have to turn up and enjoy which is the benefit of having a well organised club with a very good team driving the club on.

So now I’m back amongst you, I am delighted to see that there are many new members, again of all ages and abilities and a focus on walks for all abilities. That gives me the hope that I can walk with you for many years to come, and enjoy the camaraderie that the club affords.

I think its also notable that when many clubs are struggling to keep numbers, this club has a growing membership, a sure sign of a successful formula. Stuart Nichol