I was pleased to do a bit of hill walking this week with staff from the John Muir Trust at its site on East Schiehallion in Highland Perthshire. Ahead of going out on the hill I visited the Trusts visitor centre and education facilities at Pitlochry to learn about their work to preserve and promote some of Scotland’s wild places.
It was clear from the number of cars parked at Schiehallion that many people do take advantage of our wild spaces for leisure and fitness – this in turn will lead to better health and well being and it was good to see people of all ages heading off up the hill. The Trust also provides opportunities through its Awards Scheme to get involved with exploring and conserving wild places.
The access to the site for visitors is well managed – with parking, toilets and picnic benches provided by the Forestry Commission whilst the John Muir Trust manages the land and monitors and maintains the natural habitats.
However as I learned from John and Helen our hosts for the day – whilst Scotland’s wild places can and do make a big contribution to Scotland’s energy needs, the Trust is dedicated to protecting wild land, speaks out when it comes under threat and works with all stakeholders to influence policy in that regard.
At the end of the visit I had experienced fantastic scenery, as well as a fascinating insight into the dynamics at play between economic and environmental interests in Scotland. As an MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, it was a useful and interesting day!
If you are interested in the outdoors and issues addressed by the John Muir Trust you can find them at www.johnmuirtrust.org