Scottish hill walker, novelist and poet Nan Shepherd

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Scottish hill walker, novelist and poet Nan Shepherd (1893-1981) believed that we walk not ‘up’ mountains, but ‘into’ them.
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“On the mountain,” she wrote, “I am beyond desire. It is not ecstasy… I am not out of myself, but in myself. I am. That is the final grace accorded from the mountain.”
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She also believed that we’d be better to abandon the notion of the summit as the goal, and to instead focus on what she called the “total mountain” — the hope just to be in its company, to sleep high, wander, explore, pry into its hidden corners, to, as she put it, become “a peerer into nooks and crannies.”
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Nan taught English literature at Aberdeen College of Education and lived in the same house in Cults for 87 years. In the 1940s Nan wrote the nonfiction book “The Living Mountain” — an 80-page ode to Scotland’s Cairngorms — though it wasn’t published until 1977. It really is a beautiful book, with wonderful observations like, “Light in Scotland has a quality I have not met elsewhere. It is luminous without being fierce, penetrating to immense with an effortless intensity.”
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Nan is finally being recognized for her writing. Since 2016 she’s been the face of the Royal Bank of Scotland £5 note.

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