“Will there be beer?” The meaning of wilderness in a crowded world

Photo: Dave Craig

A common question I’m asked is “why did you leave Canada for Scotland to study outdoor education?” Fair enough. Canada certainly has a well-deserved reputation for natural beauty and wild spaces. Not to mention it’s big.

Oh hi there, United Kingdom, I didn’t notice you there. Yeah that’s cool, you can just chill in Hudson’s Bay.       

This question, though, exposes some interesting assumptions we tend to make regarding the outdoors and wilderness. Before coming to Scotland, I didn’t realise how important my own concept of ‘wilderness’ was to my enjoyment of the outdoors. I very much took for granted the fact that there were relatively wild spaces nearby (even in Southern Ontario) and that to the north, there was essentially very little else but wilderness. Continue reading