Wild Moment: David BroomPublished: 20th June 2016
Running through ancient, wind-blasted islands on Britain’s rugged north-western Atlantic fringe...
I visited the Outer Hebrides for the first time as a teenager and was deeply moved by their wild natural beauty.
When I decided in later life to raise funds for the John Muir Trust, I chose to carry out a continuous solo, unsupported run during May 2016 through the hill country of the Outer Hebrides. This took me from the island of Barra in the south through Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray and Harris to the northern tip of Lewis.
My trip took me into landscapes with constant reminders of a long, turbulent and noble history; signs of a time when people moved through these places in tune with the seasons and to play out ancient rituals of spiritual connection with the landscape. Standing stones from the Neolithic, stone cairns from the Bronze Age, monumental brochs from the Iron Age on lonely hill lochs, the remains of tiny medieval monastic chapels, black houses, beehive houses and shielings.
I describe my trip as a run, but had to slow my pace when passing these enigmatic features set within remote bogs and heaths, often at locations overlooking the seacliffs and sandy beaches of the stunning Hebridean coastline.
The island landscapes provide constant reminders of the Celtic language and of Viking invasion and settlement through poetic place names that often combine norse and celtic toponyms. The landscape also contains vivid reminders of more recent darker times of clearance, economic collapse, emigration and fears of war.
My trip through the Outer Hebrides for the John Muir Trust has taken me through some of Britain’s remotest and wildest landscapes. The vivid stories told through their rocks, vegetation, wildlife and human history greatly repaid the time I took to travel, to observe and to contemplate these extraordinary places.
We enjoy the opportunity to have these experiences within Britain’s wild landscapes because of the crucial work of the John Muir Trust. It has been a great pleasure to support the Trust’s work through sponsorship donations raised for my trip.