A CHURCHWOMAN is a million feet closer to god after becoming the first female minister in the Kirk to bag all 282 Munros.
The Reverend Dr Valerie Allen has taken 19 years to climb every mountain in Scotland over the height of 3,000ft.
The feat included tackling the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye – the only one of the Munros to involve rock climbing.
Rev Allen, from Doune, near Stirling, was officially recorded as a “Munro completist” by the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) on July 2 after scaling Ben Lomond – her final Munro – surrounded by family and friends.
The minister bagged her last Munro 115 years after the first person to record the gruelling achievement – Church of Scotland minister the Rev Archibald Eneas Robertson in 1901.
Rev Allen, convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Violence Against Women Task Group, said: “When I was standing on top of Ben Lomond I felt a real sense of unreality that something that has been such a focus in my life for so long had come to an end.
“I had a quiet sense of accomplishment and a real feeling of joy because this has been a real passion for me – a pastime that captured my imagination for 19 years.
“Overall I have mixed feelings because this particular journey has come to an end and I am now wondering what I will be doing at weekends.”
She added: “There are less than 6,000 people worldwide who have completed the Munros, the majority of whom are men. Although nowadays lots of women are completing them, I have not heard of any of my colleagues doing so.”
The minister said she had never even heard of a Munro until she started working in Arbroath and scaled her first two peaks in 1997.
While climbing on Skye, the minister feared she might not be able to complete the challenge, adding: “At a couple of points I felt like I was stepping out into an abyss – it was so exposed, I didn’t think I could do it.”
The combined height of the Munros is in excess of one million feet and Rev Allen believes the experience has taken her closer to god.
“Imagine sitting in the sun on a snow covered mountain at the head of Glen Affric looking out at blue skies and a mountain vista that stretches for miles,” she said.
“It’s moments like that which draw me to the mountains, moments when I feel God’s presence palpably close and I marvel at the beauty of God’s creation.”
The minister used the challenge to raise money for charities; Christian Aid, The Iona Community and WEvolution in Scotland, and Capacitar in the United States.
To find out more information and to donate visit http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/ValerieAllen