I grew up in Argyll, where my parents ran a small hotel; so, as youngster, I met a whole range of different folk who came to stay over the summer months, each looking for a different part of the highland experience.
Among the more exotic residents were a helicopter pilot, who landed his aircraft in the front garden, and the Antarctic explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs. The helicopter pilot earned a place in my own personal mythology when he took me and my brother for a flight over the local lochs and hills. Sir Vivian came every summer with his wife. They spent the days sailing in a dingy on the loch and the evenings playing cards in the foyer lounge with me and my brothers, regaling us with tales of icy blizzards and dangerous crevasses that Sir Vivian encountered on his trans-Antarctic expedition.
As a teenager, I developed my own passion for exploring, hitchhiking to Glen Coe and Skye to climb the peaks there. At the age of fourteen, I even managed to hitch a ride on the end of a climbing rope for an ascent of the Cuillin's famous Cioch. I was initially inspired to take to the hills by a book my father gave me: WH Murray's classic Mountaineering in Scotland. This beautifully written volume became my bible, full of exciting accounts of amazing first ascents, inspiring me to climb ever higher. At the age of fifteen, I hitched to Switzerland with my mate Gus, where we failed to climb the Eiger's infamous North Wall. We got about five hundred feet up before we realised that this mountain was far beyond our capabilities. Discretion being the better part of valour, as the saying goes, we lived to climb another day.
Ever since those early days, when I managed to hitch rides all across Europe as far as Istanbul, I have been bitten by the travel bug. But the further I stray from home, the more I realise how unique Scotland is. For such a small country, we have such amazing riches, which is why making Grand Tours of Scotland for the BBC has been such a joy.