Tusting Talks… to Alistair Tusting
“Tusting Talks” is back, and we’re kicking off the year by talking to one of our own. With January Blues setting in, getting outside for some fresh air to help blow away the cobwebs and get the step count up post-Christmas, is a great defence against feeling glum (and it doesn’t require a gym subscription). From rugged coastlines to ancient hills, the UK is home to some incredible landscapes. We asked Alistair Tusting a few questions about one of his favourite ways to de-stress.
What do you enjoy most about walking?
It’s a little more than walking really, probably better described as mountaineering. From a very young age, I was taken camping in the wilds of Scotland, which always involved a lot of stomping up hills and mountains. There are two main reasons why it ticks the boxes for me now; firstly, most of my walks involve wild and remote places which give you a closer and more intimate experience of the natural world. Secondly, while walking, you can’t really worry about anything else other than putting one foot in front of the other – it makes you forget all of the usual daily worries we all have. It’s a sort of mindfulness-by-default and really restores mental balance.
Where has been your favourite walk?
I have done many really wonderful walks, but probably one of the best is one I have done twice, up into the Lost Valley of Glencoe. From there, it goes onward to the peak of Bidean Nam Bian and then descends back over Stob Coire Nan Lochan and its valley, down into Glencoe. The first time was in a blizzard, and we really didn’t see much, but it was a very wild and wonderful experience. The second time was a gentler walk but one which was better visually as we could see the mountains all around us and enjoy Scotland dressed in its finest autumn colours and flavours.
Any top tips for people starting out exploring Britain’s walks?
There are many wonderful places to walk all over the UK, but my best tip is go as far north and west as you can, it gets more remote but also more visually rewarding with every mile. Aim for the short climb up Stac Pollaidh for one of the finest views in Britain.
What’s in your bag, and what bag are they in?
Always a map and compass, it is quite easy to go a little wrong and that can then often lead you to be really quite a long way from where you want to be. (Paper maps don’t run out of battery.) I also always have my camera with me – it’s weighty, but recording the incredible landscapes I see is another of my passions, I’m always hoping for the perfect photo opportunity. All this is always in a backpack of course, something light and comfortable. Next time out, I’ll be taking one of our new GreyFox Backpacks that we designed with David Evans (of Grey Fox Style) – it’s so light and comfortable, padded too, and it’s tweed, so it doesn’t rustle like nylon ones do!
For trips which require a stayover, my large Explorer bag is my go-to. Spacious enough for all I could need; climbing boots and a set of waterproofs, sometimes even ropes and ice axe, and a complete set of dry clothes (compulsory for the British Isles!). You might think I’d have a new bag every time we do a new colour or tweak, but I use one of our very first Explorers every time I travel – it’s a bit faded now but still going as strong as ever.
Where would your ultimate walk be and why?
Probably my ultimate walk would be a winter traverse of The Cuillin Ridge, with the sun (and the moon!) shining. My son Fin and I did a part of it together several years ago, and we climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle (this is us in the photo). I’d love to do the whole thing, although it would probably take more than a day, and might now be more than my rather older legs could manage. But it is, without doubt, the ultimate mountain challenge in the British Isles.
Stay tuned for more from our “Tusting Talks” series.