Mollie Hughes, world-record breaking adventurer and author of Blue Scotland, recently spoke to the Scottish Parliament in their Time for Reflection segment. Time for Reflection was established at the foundation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, as an alternative to Westminster Anglican prayers, to offer a weekly opportunity for inspirational speakers to address the Parliament. Read Mollie’s full speech to the Scottish Parliament below:
Time for Reflection – 7th March 2023
Presiding Officer, members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
Over the last 15 years I have been lucky enough to experience some of the world’s most incredible natural environments.
From standing on the summit of Mount Everest at sunrise and looking down at the immensity of the Himalayan Mountain range. To skiing alone through Antarctica for 58 days, and on one windless day, experiencing the utter silence of this vast frozen continent.
The wild spaces of our world are humbling, fascinating and inspiring.
Since I returned from Antarctica in January 2020 my need for wild spaces has turned to home, to Scotland. I have spent the last few years researching and writing a guidebook on Scotland’s wild Blue Spaces, from our countless lochs to our extensive coastline, river ways and canal systems.
On this journey, I travelled to every corner of Scotland, from the River Clyde as it flows through Glasgow, to high mountain lochs tucked away in the Cairngorm National Park and out west, as far west as I could go, to the mesmerising archipelago of St Kilda.
Scotland is famed globally for our wild spaces, our rugged coastline, our towering mountains and our wildlife. It is easy to see why – this country has so much to offer. But it is all at risk, the effect of the Climate Emergency on biodiversity in Scotland is already devastating, 11% of our species are facing extinction and 25% of our wildlife is already lost. This is not the legacy I want my generation to leave.
But the people of Scotland are doing something about it. What inspired me most about my journey around Scotland was the sheer number of small-scale, unassuming, community-led projects dotted across the country, focusing on protecting the natural environment.
Projects such as the installation of toilet facilities in beauty spots, funded and maintained solely by the efforts of locals; the presence of information boards educating travellers on the local wildlife; the installation of waste disposal units to help avoid littering; and the community initiatives to protect damaged sand dunes and machair.
These humble projects left me with a profound feeling of hope, that we are moving in a positive direction and that our generation’s enduring impact on Scotland can be to ensure the preservation of our wild spaces long after we are gone.
- Visit the Scottish Parliament’s website to watch Mollie deliver this address live.
- To discover more about Mollie’s trips exploring Scotland’s stunning blue spaces, grab a copy of Blue Scotland!