6 months in Scotland: One man and his dog

Wayne Hall with his dog Jerry celebrate completing their six month wild camp around Scotland. Picture: Wayne Hall
Wayne Hall with his dog Jerry celebrate completing their six month wild camp around Scotland. Picture: Wayne Hall
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Spending six months in a beautiful country with your best friend for company, free to roam at will, may sound like a work of idealised fiction. But in the case of charity wild camper Wayne Hall, aka 6 months in Scotland, the cold hard reality involves an unforgiving Scottish winter, illness and isolation.

For the thousands who now follow the blog via Facebook and Twitter, it is clear that the story is no fairy tale or fantasy narrative, but the developing memoirs of Wayne, from staffordshire, and his canine companion Jerry, during his fundraising wild camp through remotest Scotland for housing charity Shelter.

Raising money for Shelter – a charity close to his heart, Wayne explains his story prior to ‘6 months’ and his reasons for taking the decision to walk the wilds since February of this year.

“Living in rented accommodation, with news that the landlords are about to sell comes as a bit of a shock but I used this opportunity to re-evaluate and make decisions for my future.”

With an existing passion for the Scottish countryside, self-employed Wayne decided on the six month sabbatical and used the opportunity presenting itself, to escape life as he knew it and head for the hills, raising both awareness and money for a charity he not only believed in but now, had a greater empathy for.

A voyage of self discovery lay ahead. Wayne got to know himself better and admits he has learned previously hidden traits about himself and his dog in the last months, exposed by the challenges they faced and his compunction to continue on through illness, extreme exhaustion and isolation.

Their story is a daily heart pouring of both the ups and downs, arousing emotion and evoking mental pictures, such is Wayne’s passion for his writings and a country. His loyal followers have been drawn into an often heart-wrenching account of daily life; a factual diary of struggles. This is also a Scottish love story; a documenting of the beauty and diversity of Scotland’s landscape and wildlife but moreover, of the duo’s tangible love and trust for each other and their triumph over daily adversity.

The effort was, however, worth it with overnight camps established in locations such as Crinan Ferry, The Cowal Peninsula, Isle of Lunga, Mull, Ardnamurchan, Glen Affric, Loch Shiel, The Cairngorms, Isle Martin and Loch Morar, to name a few; etched in his mind forever and geographic testimony to Scotland’s rugged water and landscape.

Stunning scenery and the ability to roam freely amongst unspoilt countryside was their reward, witnessing rare species of wildlife and the changing seasons first hand; narrating with such ease and obvious passion to make the reader wonder if Wayne is missing his true vocation in life.

Documented reports of seals, buzzards, Arctic tern, eagles, puffin, deer and a host of other bird and sea life images shall go on to impress the most avid photographer; and as Wayne maintains he “just points and shoots”, one can only assume the subject matter is to thank for the wonderful portraits appearing within his blog.

When alone in the wilds for an extended duration, it is probably safe to assume that you become one with nature and absorb some of its inherent calm, developing a reflective prowess and contemplative ability. Having met both Wayne and Jerry at their final destination of Loch Ken, it is clear that their six month seclusion has induced more than a passing influence on them both. A sense of shock prevails and just the beginning of a period of re-adjustment to that which we call civilisation, ensues.

Wayne’s passion for a country adopted as his own is infectious to those around him; his reluctance to leave is palpable, emotions high and a revolution is nigh: “life shall never be the same – we have made the changes and life shall now continue down a new path.”

There is no doubt his trip has worked wonders for relations with our compatriots across the border; educating, informing and joining together; Wayne has been welcomed with open arms by the Scottish people, his voyage and purpose, embraced. Thanks to his blog, he has promoted Scotland and all her beauty to a worldwide audience and has left an indelible mark on our country.

For me, Wayne has re-invigorated my pride in my country and seeing Scotland for the first time through an Englishman’s eyes, has presented a renewed passion to promote and share.

We look forward to your return Wayne and Jerry…. May the paths o’er which you wander, be to you a joy each day. Haste Ye Back!

- This feature originally appeared in http://www.mustvisitscotland.co.uk. To donate, visit justgiving.com/sixmonthsinscotland