River City actor Iain Robertson says Scottish long-distance walks 'deepened friendships'
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River City star Iain Robertson has been striding out on some of Scotland's long-distance footpaths, including the Speyside Way.
The Govan-born actor, who plays Stevie O'Hara in the soap opera, believes getting out into the countryside has not only benefited his mental health but also helped deepen his friendships.
A new series of his BBC Scotland TV show, Iain Robertson Rambles, began last week with Iain setting off on the Southern Upland Way. He had previously walked the West Highland Way for an initial series in 2019 and viewers can see him tackle an extended version of the Speyside Way from later this month.
Iain said: "If you're anything like me, and you go to the gym, I would do 20 minutes and say that'll do, I'm away up the road – but when you go and climb a Munro, for instance, you can't stop until you reach the top. Then you've got to head back down, so the physical benefit is immediate.
"I also found that my friendships, my bonds with my friends were getting deeper because rather than meeting then going for a meal and maybe the cinema, where you sit not talking to each other and staring at a screen, you're climbing the hills and you're talking and making memories and having fun.
"Also, there's nothing like an astonishing view to take you out of your own head. I think I remember saying in the last show [on the West Highland Way], when you walk through a place like Glencoe – which feels so huge and you feel so small – it makes you realise that your problems aren't that big in the great scheme of things.
"So, my mental health is vastly improved when I'm regularly walking, but also my friendships have benefited, and then you've got the physical element as well."
The double-Bafta award winning actor is a passionate advocate for sharing the outdoors, and he reveals his favourite spot is on the Moray coast. His source-to-sea Speyside Way walk continues along the coast to finish at Cullen.
He explained: "I'm mad daft on Cullen skink, so I knew I wanted to get to Cullen for that, but more importantly one of my favourite sights in Scotland is the Bow Fiddle Rock.
"I think if you're going to hit that Moray coast, you really want to take in a bit of that coastal trail because there are nice wee bits of scrambling and you get to see the Bow Fiddle Rock, which to me is just one of the most beautiful sights in the whole of Scotland."
Iain is keen to revisit many parts of Speyside after being inspired on his journey, which saw him walk more than 130 miles from Turret Bridge in Glen Roy to Cullen.
"On the Speyside Way, what was really quite amazing was the wildlife that I saw as well. That second day I was seeing herds of deer, and when I hit Loch Insh, there were nesting ospreys, which was just incredible and we even managed to get some footage of them."
* Iain Robertson Rambles is on the BBC Scotland channel on Thursdays at 8.30pm. Also available on the iPlayer. The programmes featuring the Speyside Way are scheduled to begin on January 27.