You can’t miss the big, booming Scottish comedian Scottish Gary Little. I like his sense of humour – that Glasgow night clubs story gets me every time – and I also share one of his great loves: Munro bagging. The award-winning comic chatted to me about his mountain hiking, his dogs and how the Munros give him the space to think up new material for his stand-up routines.
Comedian Gary Little walks Munros
You’ll probably hear comedian Gary Little before you see him when walking in Scotland’s mountains.
Although the Glasgow funnyman is an unmissable man at 6ft 2in and with a skinhead, it’s his voice that greets you first.
For when he climbs Munros, the award-winning comic practises his stand-up routines out loud.
He said: “It’s a strange thing, I know, to be wandering about the hills talking to myself.
“But sitting down to think up new stories for my stand-up is no good for me.
“I have to be up and about and by far the best place is when walking the Munros.
“Being away from it all, with my dogs, and surrounded by amazing countryside helps me to relax and that’s when the best ideas come.”
Gary, 51, is a regular sell-out at comedy shows and festivals across the UK.
He was the biggest selling Scottish act at the last two Glasgow International Comedy Festivals and a double winner at the 2014 Scottish Comedy Awards.
His demanding schedule and animated storytelling requires a good level of fitness.
He said: “I get carried away with my stories on stage and then I start dancing or running around like an idiot.
“At my age I’d collapse within seconds if I didn’t keep myself in good shape.
“I was a gym goer before but now I just walk my dogs and I walk Munros.”
Gary’s Munro bagging started three and a half years ago with a stroll in the Arrochar Alps.
While the mountains north of Glasgow are popular with city dwellers, they were a first for the comedian.
He said: “My ex-girlfriend persuaded me to go for a walk on a summer’s day and I was stunned by how busy the trails were.
“It was like Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday afternoon and I noticed too that it wasn’t just skinny mountain goats who enjoyed Scotland’s mountains.
“I didn’t have a clue how much effort it would take to actually reach the summit of a Munro but I thought: ‘Yeah, hell, I could be part of that.’ ”
Gary’s first Munros were those closest to his Springburn home. He ticked off Ben Lomond via the “easy to follow tourist track”.
Retuning to the Arrochar Alps, Gary reached the summit of both Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime.
He said: “I walked and I found I really enjoyed it. I liked being out with my two dogs and I got a kick out of ticking off the Munros.
“In my first year I walked 30 or more Munros and now I walk whenever I can and usually close to wherever I am gigging in Scotland.”
Recently he bagged his 101st Munro, Meall Ghaordaidh, and has a goal of reaching 200 Munros in 2015.
Life has not always been so carefree for the sell-out comedian. He has served two jail terms, including one for drugs offences.
He has also suffered bouts of depression and has performed at mental health gigs, hoping to reduce the stigma associated with the illness.
It seems that walking – and his honest, brash style of comedy – have brought about a new happiness for Gary.
He said: “The walking has helped me when times were hard, but I think everyone would feel better in the hills.
“These days I am doing fine and the Munros offer a kind of aim away from the gigging.
“Like so many men I start hobbies and projects but never follow them through.
“The Munros are different. I feel like they are an achievable challenge and the more I do them the more I want to finish a full round.”
These days Gary is an accomplished Munro bagger. He has learned walking skills from navigation courses and Glasgow Hill Walking Club.
He said: “When I started out I was nervous about route finding and stuck to Munros with trails and on good weather days.
“Now I can navigate in all kinds of weather and over difficult terrain.
“I am even getting better with heights although I prefer not to look down on ridges. They give me a sick feeling.
“There is a huge sense of achievement when you make it to the summit and back down and overcome bad weather and fears.”
The more he walks the better he likes the long Munro bagging days.
Gary said: “I recently walked five Munros in one day in the Braemar area.
“And I was a lot faster than the guidebook said it would take. It is brilliant to think what I can now do.”
One recent walk also provided the material for a forthcoming comedy festival.
Gary said: “I wasn’t sure I had enough new stories to sign up for the Glasgow International Comedy Festival in March.
“But then a new story from my childhood came to me while I was walking Glas Maol and Creag Leacach from Glen Isla in Angus.
“It’s a funny story about my mum sending me out on errands and timing me to see how fast I could go.
“You never know what life will bring, do you?
“Me kitted out as a fully booted hill walker. Who could have ever predicted that?”
* Gary Little will play The Stand in Glasgow from December 15 to 20. His will also be at The Cottier Theatre in Glasgow on March 27 as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival March 12 to 29, 2015. See
www.biggarylittle.co.uk and www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com
What is a Munro?
The Munros are the 282 Scottish mountains with a summit of more than 3000ft.
The list of mountains was first compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891.
To date, records kept by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, reveal that some 5600 people have walked a full round of Munros.
- Here is the interview that was published in my Sunday Mail column. Read the pdfs left and right PS The headline in the Sunday Mail is not mine. I can only apologise 🙁