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Adventures to help lift up the soul

By John Davidson

The Active Outdoors team have had another busy year exploring and experiencing the north of Scotland at its best (and occasionally at its worst).

We've been to the tops of mountains, paddled on the ocean, peered into caves, camped in the wilds, climbed up crags, ridden over ridges, walked along the coast and run as far as our legs could carry us.

Some of the highlights for me include trying out Nordic skiing at the Lecht, with debatable levels of success, backpacking through the Minigaig pass and exploring the beauty of the John O'Groats Trail.

Peter Evans and I have had a few memorable mountain days, tackling Bynack More in the Cairngorms and Braebag in north-west Sutherland early in the year in good snow conditions and more recently enjoying a fine day on the ridges of Glen Affric's highest Munros.

I've also completed the training for my Mountain Leader award, which involved a glorious week in the Lochaber hills, and hope to become a fully qualified ML next year.

Jenny Gillies has been pushing herself on the hills too, completing some fine runs and taking part in the Great Wilderness Challenge and the LAMM in Harris.

We've all spent some time in the saddle as well, exploring roads and trails of varying lengths and difficulties.

It's great to keep active, particularly at this time of year when there is little daylight to lift the soul. Activity and exercise are good for mental as well as physical health, so it's important for all-round wellbeing.

I've been struck recently by just how important it can be for people not only to be active but to do that with others. Joining groups such as the Ramblers or taking part in local events such as Parkrun or jogscotland can be life-changing for some people.

We hope we've done our bit to inspire you and others to get outside and enjoy this most beautiful part of the world, whether for a gentle stroll or a big adventure.

Take care out there and here's to an active 2019!

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