On holiday in the far north of Scotland, I joined a walking group. Each day the leader took us a different route across the moorland, up the mountains, and along the beaches. It was wonderful.
One morning we climbed a local mountain for its amazing views of the long coastline with its chain of sandy-beached islands in the distance. Although I was the first to make it to the top after the leader, and was fortunate to catch a glimpse of the famous view, I didn’t linger long. Unfortunately I stumbled, and rolled half way down the hill.
There was no way that I was going to struggle all the way up there again, so I abandoned the walk and returned to our base in the nearby village. My plan was to call into the tourist information office to ask the staff to send a message to the walk leader that I was safe, and ask the location of the meeting point for the group’s afternoon activities.
A member of tourist information staff listened carefully to my requests, disappeared into a room at the back of the office, then returned with a plate of tomato sandwiches. She plonked the unwanted food on front of me, refusing to say whether or not she had contacted the leader, or to give any information about the afternoon meeting point.
She told me that I was effectively banned from participation in any further organised walks. This was on the basis of my track record of poor mountain craft. Today’s misdemeanour was added to another: setting out to conquer Suilven at 5:30pm on a drizzly day. I protested that I had never been anywhere near the base of Suilven, but she wasn’t listening.