A Skye local has featured in an online exhibition recognising people who champion the joy of everyday walking.
Charles Harris OBE from Earlish has shared his walking story and love for the outdoors as part of Scotland’s Walking Charity, Paths for All’s “Humans of the Walk” online exhibition, launched as COP26 is underway in Glasgow.
The gallery of portraits and personal stories showcase the immense impact everyday walking can have on our health, wellbeing and the environment.
72-year-old retiree Charles grew up in the West of Cumbria and has felt at one with nature ever since after ever since spending most of the time outdoors in this farming community by the sea. A childhood enhanced by a strong oral tradition of Scottish history, culture and ancestry.
He said: “The outdoors acts as a free therapist for me. Walking helps me clear my head, forget about other things going on and really puts me at ease.
“We’re very fortunate in The Highlands benefits from such a beautiful landscape and an abundance of walks.
“Having previously spent the equivalent of two years mountaineering and exploring the highlands and islands, I’ve now lived here six and a half years permanently and I’m still finding new routes to explore on my own and with my walking group.”
Charles leads a Health Walk in the local area called Step it Up, part of Skye U3A and supported by Health Walks Highland 3rd Sector Alliance, Paths for All and the NHS, it is designed to bring individuals together to walk, socialise and explore.
Images captured by the talented photographer Rebecca Holmes and her team, bring to life individual stories of overcoming challenges, connecting to our natural world and feeling our best.
Nine individual stories have been captured in locations all across Scotland from different ages and abilities.
Charles added: “The outdoors is an integral part of my life and I feel myself spiritually connecting with the environment whilst out experiencing new path routes.
“Over the years I’ve become more environmentally conscious as we can become too used to ignoring the concerns – when we actually need to relate to it and take notice.
“Walking daily isn’t just good for your health and wellbeing it actually has a huge impact on the environment around you.
“Transport and use of cars in a remote rural area is a complicated issue as bus services and public transport are limited however, we need to always be aware of the environmental impact our actions have and strive to create a balance in relation to what is available.”
“Whatever we can do now, will benefit the next generation and beyond.”
Reducing car travel for short journeys is an important step that Scotland must take to tackle the climate emergency, as car journeys are responsible for 39% of transport emissions.
The charity is determined to promote walking and wheeling as the default choices for short journeys or as part of longer public transport journey to make a happier, healthier and greener Scotland.
Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Officer at Paths for All, said: “We can all ‘do our bit’ for climate change by walking or wheeling more often to reduce our carbon footprint, while improving our physical and mental health.
“As COP26 is taking place in Glasgow we want walking to be recognised for what it is – a planet-saving, health-improving force, free and accessible to everyone.
“As a charity, we want to revolutionise the way people use their cities, and stop our spaces from being dominated by cars. Scotland’s towns and cities should be a backdrop for people walking, wheeling, cycling or simply spending time enjoying cleaner, quieter, calmer streets.
“The people who have been featured in Humans of the Walk show just how wide an impact our own individual actions can have – so think of what we could accomplish together.”
Paths for All’s mission is to support people in Scotland to be active every day, everywhere.
The charity works to create more opportunities and better environments for everyone in Scotland, no matter who they are or where they live, to stay active through walking, wheeling or cycling.
To find out more about Path’s for All, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/