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Christmas Crackers 9: Another friar's passion

Monday, January 03, 2011

I was first taken into the hills by my father when I was a young boy and I have loved being there ever since. As a family, we used to holiday in Ayrshire and then on the Isle of Arran which gave great opportunities growing up to enjoy this and gain the skills in walking and climbing on different terrain, taking the right equipment, map reading, interpreting the weather, and so on which mean I am still alive now without too many mishaps. School trips to Snowdonia and the Lake District stretched me further – with some walks we did probably now ruled out by health and safety considerations!

I studied in Italy for 6 years and walked with friends there. I then lived in Scotland and completed my Munros in six years (the 280 or so separate mountains and hills over 3,000 feet ) and did half of the Corbetts (hills between 2,500 – 3,000 ft) before joining the Dominicans. I am not sure how much chance I will get to go into the mountains from here on in but one can live in hope and with fond and grateful memories.

To those with some knowledge of the terms I am happiest walking and scrambling and prefer not to dangle very much: scrambling means using just about any part of your body to help you get over rough or rocky, often steep, terrain: dangling requires the use of ropes. I am very happy walking on my own and very often do, but enjoy good company as well. I find being in the hills is good exercise for body and relaxation for the mind. I love nature and being away from the city and everything man-made. I like the sense of solitude and the outer and inner space being on a hill gives, allowing the mental clutter of life to fall into a clearer perspective. It is amazing how often a problem or decision resolves itself without attention while I am out walking! I love the views, especially from the peaks, and the peace and sense of communion with creation. To be honest, hill walking points me to and brings me closer to God. For all this I am most grateful.

Andrew Brookes OP


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