I will be on the Scalp walk this coming Sunday, 13th May. In fact, I go almost every year. There are several reasons. The first is that it fundraises for Concern, which is my favourite charity. Concern does superb work supporting people in poor communities around the world to improve their own lives, supporting self-sufficiency and reducing aid dependency.
For me, the annual Scalp walk is also a social occasion. Typically I meet several people I know. But those of us who go every year know to pack waterproofs – it often rains, even in May.
But, selfishly, I also go up Scalp for the view. The mountain’s landowner once told me that on a clear day you can see Scotland, the Isle of Man, England and Wales from the top. I don’t think I ever have, even though I’ve been up many times. But it would take a very misty day to prevent you looking down upon the fields below, the coniferous forests, the River Foyle, the Swilly and beyond to the Atlantic.
The walk up Scalp is not particularly challenging, with most of it on tarmac. It does, though, give people an easy opportunity to understand why hill-walking is such a magnificent pastime. I’ve walked coast-to-coast across England; from Dublin to Clonegal on the Wicklow Way and around the coast of the Isle of Man. In 30 years of journalism, my most emotionally rewarding experience was as the contributor of a monthly walking column for The Independent newspaper. There is not much in life that is better than having deadlines that force you to go into the countryside, witness its beauty and keep fit.
So I will be walking up Scalp once more on Sunday. I hope to see some Derry Journal readers doing the same – and we can all witness the beauty of the Derry and Inishowen landscape from the very best vantage point that is possible. From the top of a mountain.