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Expedition one: Show the love

Heart graphic

Route plan

Read Mark 9:2-9.

Ascent reflection

It's been said that Scotland does not have any holy mountains. Holy islands, but not holy mountains.

This is true in a way, but if Wendell Berry's sentiment 'there are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places' is to be heeded, then we can view all Scotland's Munros as holy.

The first ascent of the 70 Munros challenge is planned for Valentine's Day. The walk will include both Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas.

Ben Lawers is the tenth highest Munro, falling only 20 feet short of 4,000ft. (This is despite attempts by Malcolm Ferguson to have a cairn built to take it over 4,000ft in 1878.) (1)

The beginning of the 70 Munros challenge coincides with the weekend when some churches will be reflecting on the ultimate 'mountaintop experience' - the Transfiguration, as recounted in Mark's gospel.

Jesus the mountain leader guides Peter, James and John up the mountain and 'stands in the tradition of those who encounter the radically undomesticated God in the wilds'. (2)

Holy islands are often described as thin places between heaven and Earth; this holy mountain is a place where heaven does not just come close, but tears through the thin veil and dramatically touches Earth.

It's reassuring for those of us who will encounter many cloud-covered summits that transcendent experiences are not conditional on good visibility.

And we do hope for transcendent experiences amid the hard graft that will take us beyond our comfort zone - transcendent experiences that will 'fuel our struggle for true justice in the world'. (3)

We unapologetically hope for new levels of awe and wonder throughout this challenge that might 'inspire new behaviour, nourish new dreams, and bolster a new kindness towards the earth'. (4)

  • We seek to show our love for the Creator and creation by walking ... raising funds and raising our voices as we go.'

Whether you'll be taking in the view from the summit of a Munro, or engaging with nature some other way, it's our hope that all who participate in this literal and virtual pilgrimage will have a renewed experience of our relationship with creation and Creator.

Scottish poet Edwin Muir gives us a vision of this re-creation in The Transfiguration. The poem was written in the aftermath of the Second World War when dreams of another kind of world, responding to the disfiguration caused by conflict, were imagined. The same dreams that birthed Christian Aid those 70 years ago.

The love that God declares for the Beloved at the mountaintop is echoed in our decision to begin the 70 Munros Challenge on Valentine's Day. We seek to show our love for the Creator and creation by walking as part of the 'Show the love' climate justice campaign. 

It is to show our love for mountain communities across the world, whose livelihoods and lives are threatened by the effects of a changing climate, that we walk, raising funds and raising our voices as we go.

It is love that compels us to leave the transcendence of the mountaintop experience and venture down, refreshed and renewed, into the challenges of the valley below. 

Summit prayer

Light of the world,
shine in our hearts
a love for creation
shine in our hearts
a love for how things can be
shine in our hearts
a love that will not stay silent
shine in our hearts
a love that cannot remain
on the mountaintop
but returns renewed
to the valley below.
In the name of the Beloved we pray,

Descent actions

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(1) http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/279696/details/ben+lawers/ accessed 29 January 2015.
(2) Ched Myers, Transfiguration and Disfiguration: remembering Ladon Sheets, accessed 28 January 2015.
(3) Ched Myers, Transfiguration and Disfiguration: remembering Ladon Sheets, accessed 28 January 2015. 
(4) Leonardo Boff, cited by Susan Durber in Song of the Prophets: A global theology of climate change, p26.

Mountaintop experiences

See all the steps of our online pilgrimage so far.

Walk with us

Read about the challenge

We climbed 70 Munros between February and October 2015.


70 Munros

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