Quick & Quirky Questions with Cameron McNeish

Cameron McNeish is an award-winning writer and television presenter whose fields of interest include mountaineering, hillwalking, backpacking, cycle touring, mountain biking and Scots and Irish traditional music. He is also an avid campervan man!

For twenty years Cameron was editor of The Great Outdoors magazine, and he now edits Scottish Walks and Scottish Cycling. He also writes a monthly column in the Scots Magazine

Cameron is an experienced television and radio presenter whose successes include The Edge: 100 Years of Scottish Mountaineering; two series of Wilderness Walks; and The Adventure Show. He is a vice-President of Ramblers Scotland and Patron of Scottish Orienteering and Mountain Aid.  

He has written over 20 books on outdoor matters and is recognised as one of the UK’s leading commentators on outdoor affairs. 

In 2010 Cameron was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from PPA Scotland (Professional Publishers Association Scotland) for his services to magazine publishing and in 2015 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Adventure Awards. In 2016 Cameron was presented with the Oliver Brown Award by the Scots Independent newspaper for his work in showcasing Scotland.

In February 2018 Cameron was given the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture and was entered into the Hall of Fame at the Fort William Mountain Festival. 

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and lives in the Scottish Highlands in the shadow of the Cairngorms.

Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:

  1. I have been married to my wife Gina for 50 years
  2. I have two sons and two granddaughters
  3. I have written 22 books
  4. I am a writer and former television presenter who climbs mountains and explores wild places

What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?

I think I enjoyed my forties most. I was secure in my career, I was very, very fit, I was happily married with two sons, and I had really just started to travel to the likes of the Himalaya, the European Alps, North America, Central America and Africa. I had climbed all Scotland’s Munros – mountains of over 3000 feet – by the time I was forty and I was ready for new challenges.

Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60?

Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings. He is wise, fit and strong with a firm knowledge between right and wrong, good and evil. And he was a profound influencer.

You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?

I would have to say my wife Gina, or she would never forgive me! I couldn’t leave my computer behind, it has virtually all my working life on it, and I would definitely grab the keys to my campervan. If my house burned down, I would live in my van – the open road, van life, the whole world to explore.

What’s your favourite creative pastime?

Reading, but it’s something of a luxury. Most of the books I read for research purposes but there’s nothing better than settling down with a good book. I read every night for about 20 mins before I put my head down and sleep.

Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected.

If I had the chance to re-think my career, I would have liked to have been a folk singer. I like the idea of the Bohemian lifestyle, just me and my Irish bouzouki, living in my campervan and touring constantly like Bob Dylan, the Never-Ending Tour!

Thanks so much to Cameron for taking the time out to talk to us at Autumn Voices. If you’re not doing so already, you can follow him on the socials. Hopefully he’s inspired you to take part in our monthly flash submission on the topic of walking or illness.

Our monthly flash theme for May was Walking or Chronic Illness

In May we celebrate National Walking Month with some blogs from keen walkers and ramblers aged 60+, accompanied, hopefully, by some of their photos. We also honour World MS Day with a blog focused on multiple sclerosis and looking generally at how chronic illness and creativity intersect. We would love to read your flash submissions in honour of either or both of these themes. Would you like to tell us something about your experience of being an older person who loves to hillwalk or ramble? Are you an older person managing a chronic illness which has had either a positive or adverse impact on your creativity? Send us your flash submissions!

Entries will be accepted until midnight on May 31st and flash submissions can take the form of a poem, short story or flash memoir. The winning entry will be chosen by the Autumn Voices staff team and the winner will receive the books Walking For Creative Recovery, by Christina Reading and Jess Moriarty and Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.

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