It was about this time last year when I first had my mind opened to the mind-blowing skiing on offer in Scotland. We’d gone up to a last minute ski product test organised at Glenshee Ski Centre, hastily arranged by the brands in response to a certain global pandemic, that shan’t be named, putting pay to a testing event that was originally scheduled to be held in northern Italy. It was all part of the initial steps on the path to us producing Mpora’s first ever ski 100 (shameless plug alert).
I’d been holidaying in Scotland with my family a number of times growing up and had, more recently as an adult, frequented the land above Hadrian’s Wall a bunch of times. From getting my comedy kicks at the Edinburgh Fringe in August on a semi-regular basis to attempting to get down Fort William on a mountain bike, via long photography walks on the Isle of Skye (an island my dad now calls home), I considered myself to be well versed in what Scotland had to offer.
“It was about this time last year when I first had my mind opened to the mind-blowing skiing on offer in Scotland”
Yes, I was at heart an Englishman (“It’s coming home” and all that) but I believed my knowledge of the travel possibilities in the land once known as Caledonia to be pretty well dialled. Better than most non-scottish people’s, at least.
Then, well, everything changed. I spent a week being shown just how good skiing in Scotland could be and had to totally reassess how I viewed the country. With a bunch of fresh snow falling just before our arrival and bluebird days for most of the week, we undoubtedly lucked out on the conditions but that’s sort of beside the point really. I’d experienced amazing skiing without the hassle of getting on a plane, having my ski bag misplaced by British Airways (again), and leaving the United Kingdom.
This, our Scotland Issue, is dedicated to looking at Scottish adventure with fresh eyes. It is, quite often, simply about observing a country you might think you know already from new, sometimes completely unexpected, angles.
Take Hannah Bailey and the story of her Highland skate fling, for example. It’s skateboarding, but not as you’ve seen it before. Then there’s Stuart Kenny, an Edinburgh man through and through, who was so keen to discover more about the stretch of land between his city and Glasgow that he hopped on his bike last summer and rode the John Muir Way.
“This, our Scotland Issue, is dedicated to looking at Scottish adventure with fresh eyes”
Elsewhere in the Scotland Issue, there’s tales of big sacrifice and big efforts on projects that are close to people’s hearts. Stephen Jones, for example, has taken a deep look at Fort William FC – the “worst football team in Britain” – and the efforts of club legend Olly Stephen to raise some much needed funds for it. Sam Haddad, meanwhile, has talked to the people at Trees For Life about their time living wild and how they spent the first national lockdown restoring nature to a remote corner of Scotland.
Speaking of remote, how far would you walk for a pint right about now? In a year when pubs, and the joyous spaces they can be, have been cut off from us it felt only right to set Robin McKelvie loose on a piece about Knoydart and The Old Forge. The Old Forge is Scotland, and the UK’s, most isolated public house. On the subject of adventurous alcohol drinking, we very much enjoyed reading about Kirsten Amor’s scotch-soaked shenanigans while walking along the Speyside Way.
There’s also an interview with the Danny MacAskill, where he tells us more about how he’s a product of his environment, and a chat with record-breaking Ramsay Round runner Finlay Wild. Wild tells writer Howard Calvert: “Running is the balance in my life.”
“Let’s pour out a dram to the spirit of adventure. One day, we’ll travel again”
And finally, in a transparent attempt to underline to you just how superb the shred up north can be, we’ve also done a whole bunch of stuff around Scotland’s steep skiing and backcountry offering. Massive thanks to Blair Aitken and Rob Kingsland for their help with those ones.
2020 was rubbish. God knows how 2021 will turn out. In the meantime, however, let’s pour out a dram to the spirit of adventure. One day, we’ll travel again. And when we do, and we should only do it when it’s safe to do so, let’s seek out the amazing possibilities on offer in Scotland before jetting off to the other side of the world. Look after yourselves.
Jack Clayton || Editor of Mpora
Featured image credit: Hamish Frost
Read our Scotland Issue here