Poetry in the mountains

Stuart B Campbell reading poetry at a previous Arran Mountain Festival event. Photograph: AMF

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In a first for the Arran Mountain Festival, festival goers will have the opportunity to spend a day in the hills with renowned Scottish poet and mountaineer Stuart B Campbell and contribute to a poem about the experience.

The poetry mountain walk will take in the dramatic summits of North Goatfell, Mullach Buidhe and Am Binnein, and at various points along the way the group will be able to gather their thoughts and contribute words and phrases towards a poem about their day.

The walkers will move at a slightly more contemplative pace compared to other festival activities as they journey through the diverse and dramatic landscape, from old clachan, woodland and corrie to towering granite peaks.

The experience will provide unlimited sights, sounds and scents, natural and cultural history to draw inspiration from and no previous writing experience is necessary.

Stuart B Campbell said: ‘The overriding aim of this event is to have a good day on the hill. As an extra objective there is the opportunity to write up the experience in a collaborative poem “on the go”.

‘As with many outdoor activities, this is a “challenge by choice” – it is an invitation to the group to contribute as much or as little as you want to a poem about the journey.

‘No previous writing experience is necessary – it is just a matter of giving it a go, like climbing a hill, you never know what you will discover.

‘We will write the poem a couple of lines at a time. Every so often we will have a pause (we would be having stops anyway – to take in the views, take a breather, or check the route) and come up with no more than two short poetic lines capturing impressions, thoughts or reflections – spontaneity is the key; first ideas without over-thinking things often work best.

‘To help us focus there will be a different topic, or theme, each time we stop. That way the poem will be built up a little at a time and, come the end of the day, a memorable outing on Arran’s hills will exist in words.’

A festival spokeswoman said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled for Stuart B Campbell to be offering this walk as part of the 2022 festival.

‘Stuart is a distinguished mountaineer who has climbed extensively in Scotland, the Alps and the Himalayas, with many first ascents to his name.

‘Amongst other works, he wrote the poetry for the classic book The Great Mountain Crags of Scotland and for the award-winning film about Scottish winter climbing, Distilled.

‘We have been treated to Stuart’s poetry at the Arran Mountain Festival before, but for festival goers to have the chance to write with him really is unique.’

The Arran Mountain Festival will take place between Friday May 13 and Monday May 16 this year.

In addition to the poetry event there are also mountain running, mountain biking and navigation events, along with their popular guided walks.

For more information and to book, visit www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk.