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My Outdoors Q&A: Paul and Helen Webster, WalkHighlands

By John Davidson

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Paul and Helen Webster run the popular WalkHighlands website.
Paul and Helen Webster run the popular WalkHighlands website.

Name: Paul and Helen Webster

Age: 46 and 50

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you normally do.

We’re really passionate about Scotland’s outdoors and spend most of our time writing online guides and books to help others get the most out of our landscapes and nature.

Where are you based/where do you live?

Near Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms National Park.

How have you been filling the void of the great outdoors during lockdown and what has been the biggest change for you?

We’re lucky that our exercise walks from the door can include going down to the banks of the River Spey. Helen has also been watching the development of tadpoles in the garden. Work-wise we’ve been doing daily photo posts on social media, taking requests for favourite landscapes from NHS, careworkers and other people experiencing lockdown all around the world. On our website other walkers have been reliving their past experiences on the hills by sharing trip reports and photos on the forum.

What are you missing most about the freedom of the outdoors just now?

Being able to get up onto the high plateau of the Cairngorms for a long walk or camp. There’s been some fantastic weather recently and we can see them taunting us in the distance on our exercise walks.

Have you found any positives in lockdown?

We’ve explored some hidden corners of our local patch, and have seen many more other locals out and about than usual. We’ve made more of our garden – we’re usually racing off in good weather, but have been able to appreciate what we have more than usual.

What is the first place you plan to visit, or route you plan to do, once lockdown restrictions are eased to the point we can travel more freely?

We’re supposed to be on the Isle of Skye right now researching a new book. It’ll be fantastic to be able to finally get back there and we’re imagining some dramatic ascents in the Cuillin or striding out along the high coastal cliffs.

What event or events are you looking forward to once things are up and running again, whenever that might be?

Pie night with our friends in the local pub – the Craig Bar – in Grantown. We’ve also got a friend who has had to cancel his Munro compleation, which will be a big meet-up on Mull when it finally goes ahead.

Do you have a favourite outdoors book or author?

Paul: Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold – in my opinion, the finest work of nature writing. There are lots of beautiful passages I often return to.

Helen: I’ve been re-reading Calum’s Road by Roger Hutchison, such an uplifting true-life tale of endurance, hardship and sheer stubbornness on Raasay; it’s proved a real tonic in these uncertain times.


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