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Coming down from the mountains can bring you greater perspective


s a young hiker, especially in my childhood, height and distance were all. True, I preferred walks that were picturesque and that took in decent views. But what I really wanted to know was miles covered and feet climbed (feet being better than metres because you’d get a bigger number).

Conquering a 10,000-footer in the Austrian Tyrol was an obvious manifestation. But even if we walked through local countryside to a pub for lunch, I would want to know exactly the distance covered.

And almost every outing would be accompanied by a member of the family warbling the chorus of that famous Scottish folk song, “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”, as I took whatever I could find by way of a “high road”: usually a bank running parallel to the path, or even rocks that I could jump between.

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