Poetry in the mountains

The Arran Mountain Festival is taking place in May and there are still spaces on all coached mountain running sessions. There are also some spaces left on poetry mountain walk, which you can read more about it below. Over the next couple of weeks, the organisers will be posting on their Facebook page about any remaining festival places. Via the online booking system, folk can also register on waitlists for any walks that are full, in case places do become available. 

Poetry in the mountains – walkers invited to collaborate with Scottish poet

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

Whilst the Poetry mountain walk takes in the dramatic summits of North Goatfell, Mullach Buidhe and Am Binnein, walkers will move at a slightly more contemplative pace compared to other festival activities. Journeying through a diverse and dramatic landscape, from old clachan, woodland and corrie to towering granite peaks, there are plenty of sights, sounds and scents, natural and cultural history to draw inspiration from. 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. No previous writing experience is necessary.

North Goatfell inversion views. Credit: Corinna Goeckeritz

Poet and creative writing tutor 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.”

Stuart B Campbell reading poetry at the AMF. Credit: AMF

An Arran Mountain 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.”

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

And for more information about the Festival social events keep a look out on the website and social media channels too. There is a talk about Everest on the Friday night (13th May), and a ceilidh on the Saturday (14th May). Everybody is welcome to attend our social events, whether they are taking part in the day-time festival activities or not.

Featured image shows Mullach Buidhe from North Goatfell. Credit: Corinna Goeckeritz