I have always hugely enjoyed the conferences and Open Days hosted by the British Stammering Association and the Scottish Stammering Network and have travelled far and wide to attend events in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester. These tend to be mainly talks, workshops etc and so the Walk’n’Talk events have got a completely different feel.
2019 seen the 12thyear of this brilliant initative, put together by Megan Hart, Carolyn Andrews, David Lilburn and John Mann. In a nutshell, 15-20 people stay in a hostel, go for a hike up, round and over one or more of the fantastic Monro hills, cook together and share a few drinks in a local village pub to congratulate each other in a fantastic days walking!
The hostel this year was in the pretty village of Newtonmore, about ten miles from the ski resort of Aviemore. Fortunately for us at this time of year there is no snow and just beautifully stunning views. Most of us arrived around 6pm, travelling from as far away as London, Plymouth and Manchester. Beds chosen, introductions made, we sat down to dinner and a pub quiz hosted by the organizers which was great fun. Everyone mucks in with cooking, clearing up etc (I was amazed at how good the lads were at doing the dishes!!) and the next morning after a hearty breakfast we all set off on our travels.
I was doing a 10km run instead of the hike up the mountainside and later joined another non hill climber on a low level walk around the very beautiful Loch An Eilien, taking in the lovely craft store and picking up a few pieces to bring home. The others meanwhile were taking on Sgairneach Mohr and Beinn Udlamain. As the day went on the weather just got better and better. By the time the others returned, Paul and I had the bbq going, a few beers chilled and we all enjoyed a well earned dinner! As the weather now had cleared to blue skies we decided to get the train to Aviemore. The scenery along this route is simply stunning, I am always amazed at how we all fall silent at the views. The lively ski resort did not let us down and while others went back to the hostel to relax and wind down, others stayed out dancing until the small hours!
Next morning, after another great breakfast, we set off on the journey home, determined to make time for this weekend again next year.
It may seem a long way to go for just a hike up a mountain, or a run along a road, but we had such a great time just being with people who have a stammer or an interest in stammering, sharing a common interest of the great outdoors. I have always believed it was the steps of meeting others who stammer, that made me really know what stammering was. Even though I stammer myself I soon found out how little I actually knew about stammering, and how it affected others, the therapies available, the good sides and the lows it can bring. By attending various events I soon made great friends, from right across the country and it has really opened my eyes to things way beyond my own experiences. The Walk’n’Talk weekends have to be one of the best, and all of us agree it is a pity they cannot be longer and perhaps more of them rather than just an annual event! It isn’t just the walking, it is the planning, organising your travel, meeting on trains, car shares and sorting a rota for dinner and breakfast. By the end of the short trip you really feel you have been away for ages and to be fair, Scotland, especially in the Highlands, is amazingly beautiful. You will be revitalised, invigorated and ready to take on the world!
Dates for 2020 are now confirmed as June 26-28th – at £70pp
PHOTO CREDITS *MEGAN HART*CAROLYN ANDREWS*ALEKSANDRA SULIKOWSKA