I learnt for the first time what it was not just to be amongst nature, but to be part of it. Boots had left me stumbling blindly across the ground, oblivious to what lay on it. My clothes had insulated me, not just to the elements, but to the whole environment. Was I really not tough enough to handle a bit of wind, maybe an occasional spot of rain?
And while paths are often rough and gravel strewn did I really need boots for grass strewn slopes? While the climate of Scotland could be harsh, I realised there would always be days when nature welcomed me, when clothes, maybe even boots might not be needed.
However, you can sometimes get a little too close to nature. One particular example of this takes me back to a hot summer day on the north coast of Scotland. We had thought about finding ourselves a secluded beach to take advantage of the warm Gulf Stream waters, but instead we decided to climb a mountain, Ben Hope, one of the largest of the isolated peaks of the far north. Parked at the bottom of it, the weather seemed so good that for a moment I briefly considered leaving my waterproof jacket behind. But then I remembered this is Scotland, and we have a saying here – “if you don’t like the weather, just try waiting fifteen minutes.”
Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Stuart Pitsligo