Text by Sam Hamilton-Martin
Mhòr Outdoor, in partnership with LEAP Sports Scotland, ascended the Pentland Hills on Wednesday 16th June as part of Festival Fortnight in support of the LGBTQI+ community. LEAP works for greater inclusion for LGBTI people in sport and against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in a sports context.
The group gathered in the morning outside Haymarket Station with many meeting each other for the first time. With the rainbow flag draping from persons, it was easy to identify other participants and a pleasant sight to see people approach with curiosity and smiles. The guide for the day was none other than Rachel May, the Founder and Director of Mhòr Outdoor. She arrived with packed lunches including locally sourced sweet treats and vegetarian Haggis pies. After a round of name exchanging we set off on a bus to Hillend Snowsports Centre to begin our ascent up the Pentlands.
The aim was to reach the summit of Allermuir Hill via Caerketton Hill. This took us past the foundations of an Iron Age fort and a Bronze Age cairn constructed up to 3000 years ago! There was a feeling of nervous excitement and anticipation within the group as we made our way foot by foot. The path was accommodating from years of use however, the Pentlands have a way of tricking you into thinking the summit is just up ahead before exposing another well hidden gradient. Our group was no stranger to a challenge and we pressed on with rainbow flags flying high!
Above us was a cloud splattered blue sky and a strong Scottish summer sun. It was ideal weather for the hike and even more so for photos. We took regular breaks for refreshments and had plenty of time to get to know each other better. We played the “If you had to cook a three course meal for the group what would you cook?” game which rewarded in smiling faces and made us feel closer together.
Our group was no stranger to a challenge and we pressed on with rainbow flags flying high!
Upon reaching the peak of Allermuir we laid out blankets and had a few minutes quiet time. It was quite an ascent and clocked in at around 600 metres! The view of Edinburgh and its surroundings is exquisite and from where we were sitting, Arthur’s Seat looked small by comparison. It was hard to comprehend the amount of visual treats displayed before us but the details weren’t so important as the overwhelming feeling of awe.
The climb up Allermuir presented one of my favourite vistas of Edinburgh as it captured so much of the landscape. It was a fine representation of the beauty of the Scottish capital but that day I couldn’t help but feel that it was marvelling at us.
Mhor Outdoor has partnered with Street Fit Scotland for the ‘Belonging in the Hills‘ Project which will see a team develop their hiking skills throughout Summer 2021. ‘Belonging in the Hills’ is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Scottish Mountaineering Trust.