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An Interview with Kathi Kamleitner

More than ever, people want to spend time outdoors and have adventures in new and interesting places around the UK. COVID-19 has forced many to opt-out of their holidays abroad and instead look closer to home for scenic spots to pass their well-earned breaks. That’s why Go Ape decided to partner with award-winning Travel Blogger Kathi Kamleitner, to sponsor the second series of her Podcast, Wild for Scotland.

Wild For Scotland series 2 will let you know about 10 of the best and most beautiful road trips around Scotland. More importantly, it’ll be all about slowing down and taking the road less travelled to discover hidden gems.

If you want to find links to the podcast, head to the Wild for Scotland page , but if you want to find out a bit more about Kathi and learn some top travel trips read on!

Kathi at Go Ape Glentress Forest

Kathi at Go Ape Glentress Forest.

Hi Kathi, tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? 

Originally, I’m from Vienna in Austria, but I always wanted to visit Scotland growing up. Then, in 2013, I decided to come across to Scotland to complete my masters at the University of Glasgow, and I haven’t left! I don’t know where it came from, but I was obsessed with the idea of seeing the rolling hills of the borders and the craggy highland mountains.

How did you get into adventuring? 

Even though I grew up in a town, my parents are both from the countryside and encouraged my siblings and me to spend our time outdoors and appreciate nature. Most of my childhood holidays were spent out in the countryside hiking and cycling, and we spent a lot of time in the garden or outside in general. 

What is your favourite place in Scotland?

It’s such a difficult question to answer! There are so many incredible places that I have visited - and many more yet to be seen. If I had to choose one, I would say that Glencoe is my favourite spot. It’s such a beautiful place, and there’s so much history tied into the land. I also spent one of my first weekends away with the University of Glasgow Mountaineering Club in Glencoe. That weekend I tried rock climbing for the first time and had a fantastic trip climbing near the “Three Sisters” and overlooking the Aonach Eagach ridge just as the sun was setting. I will never forget that burnt orange sunset over the valley and the feeling of sharing a beautiful moment with friends.

Glencoe was one of the places that made me fall even more in love with Scotland, and, fittingly, my husband and I chose to get married there. 

Glencoe, Kathi's favourite place in Scotland

Glencoe, Kathi's favourite place in Scotland.

Do you like being out of your comfort zone?

I think it’s really important to seek out new things that you’re not used to doing. I recently visited Go Ape Aberfoyle, and the Tarzan Swing was near the edge of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I tried it.

I brought along my partner, who also managed to take on the Tarzan (despite a fear of heights), so I wasn’t backing out! Standing on the edge felt very reminiscent of a bungee jump, but after that split second of free fall, it was amazing swinging through the trees! 

Whether you’re planning an adventure or putting yourself in an unusual (and even a little daunting) situation, stepping outside of your comfort zone can help you grow as a person. However, I would also say that you should know when to give a step back and stop. It’s all about making sure you have the toolkit of skills to manage the situation.  

"I recently visited Go Ape Aberfoyle, and the Tarzan Swing was near the edge of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I tried it."

How can we be socially and environmentally responsible when travelling? 

There are lots of elements of being socially and environmentally conscious when travelling. If you’re talking about protecting the land itself, I would say that you should always make sure you know how to care for the environment directly. For instance, if you are going remote, you should know what water is safe to drink and, importantly, how to go to the toilet in an environmentally friendly way if there is no toilet around (remember a trusty trowel!) 

One area that does not get talked about enough is the responsibilities to the local community. Whenever you visit somewhere, remember you are also visiting a home. Try to think of the ways that you can support the local community while you stop by. It could be as simple as buying a couple of souvenirs, eating out at a restaurant or shopping at the local market.  

If you want to give back to the community and understand your visit, remember to talk to people! Why not join in a local activity like a beach clean? It’s all about a mutual exchange of taking away an experience whilst also giving back. 

What can listeners expect from Season 2?

Across the 10 episodes in season 2, I’ll be taking you along for a ride through some of Scotland’s gorges, glens, peninsulas and islands. We’ll be travelling along some of the more well-known roads and discovering some hidden gems along the way. And there’ll be plenty of stops!

Kathi on the Outer Hebredes

Kathi on the Outer Hebredes.

"Across the 10 episodes in season 2, I’ll be taking you along for a ride through some of Scotland’s gorges, glens, peninsulas and islands."

What are some of your top road trip tips?  

It sounds cheesy but, when people set off on a road trip, they are often so focused on the end destination that they forget to appreciate the journey. When you travel by car, you have so much more freedom to take the journey as it comes, and you can stop when you want. 

Instead of setting yourself a journey with a mammoth mileage, try focusing on a smaller area and actually explore it! Leading back to being more socially and environmentally friendly, journeys with fewer miles mean you can also better support the community in each location. 

One other tip is to get off the main roads! Some Scottish A roads probably wouldn’t be considered A-roads elsewhere but breaking free from the motorways reveals so many places you wouldn’t even have considered seeing. Even today, I took a side-stop off onto a minor road and ended up discovering a beautiful flower field and farm! 

What has been your most magical Scottish moment? 

Again, there are so many incredible moments to choose from!

One of them has to a moment mentioned in the first series of Wild Ford Scotland, which was all about Island Hopping. I was visiting the Isle of Colonsay, which is between the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Jura and had just enjoyed the beautiful 2.5 hour crossing from the mainland. 

When the ferry arrived on Colonsay, everyone drove off onto the pier as usual, but before we reached the road, I was amazed to see that every car was stopped by a local person who welcomed the passengers to the island. As we filed onward, we all shared a small word of conversation, were given a leaflet about the island and offered a raffle ticket for the local raffle.  

This was such a small yet heartfelt moment that immediately welcomed visitors into the local community of only around 130 inhabitants!

There are so many other moments, though (some of which feature in Season 2), and I know there will be many more in the future!

Head over to the Wild for Scotland page to listen to the latest podcast episode.

Wild for Scotland Podcast

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