18 June 2018 by Kathrine Payne
A snap decision to meet Edinburgh Young Walkers for a day out in the hills back in 2012 has provided Andrea Tomečková with a whole world of unexpected adventure.
Andrea, 32 from Edinburgh, only joined up with her local Ramblers Scotland group as she felt that a little more exercise might help her tackle stress-related sleeping problems. But over the last five years, the group has helped Andrea build a vibrant social circle, introduced her to her partner, Seva, and even taken her on walking adventures around the world. Andrea admits she never expected the group would offer so much.
"I was having serious sleeping problems after I switched jobs. I honestly had hardly slept in months, and it was causing me difficulties. I felt really unwell, and started to lose contact with my friends.
"I was looking for a sport to help me get active and stop my sleeping problems. I used to walk near Edinburgh, and a colleague recommended I look into the Ramblers.
"My first walk with Edinburgh Young Walkers was around Roslin, which was a short and flat walk. I got really enthusiastic and signed up to the next big walk, which was a 28km with a really big ascent. I did it. I could barely walk the next day but I loved it."
Andrea has enjoyed meeting fun-loving people who share her love of the outdoors – and who aren’t put off by a bit of rain or bog.
"When people are willing to get wet and cold and dirty, and sleep in a tent, to not shower for days, and camp in whatever weather – they approach the world a bit differently.
"We take ourselves less seriously, and that’s really nice. It makes for a great group experience.
"I like that I can go walking without make-up, or any special effort. Nobody cares about that stuff. Normally when you go out to socialise, you are expected to dress up and behave yourself in a certain way. But on the hill, you’re not out to impress anyone. It was such a relief to find that."
As well as enjoying walks in Scotland’s amazing landscapes, Andrea has also had unforgettable trips abroad with her fellow Ramblers. That includes to Peru, Yosemite National Park in the USA and also to her home country of Slovakia. Her involvement with Edinburgh Young Walkers has given her a new lease of life, and a way to relax and unwind from her demanding job as a financial auditor.
"Joining the Ramblers wasn’t about the social side, as I didn’t even know that was part of being in the Ramblers. All I wanted was to do a bit more sport. But now, my friends from the group are my main social circle.
"Although I still have some trouble sleeping, Edinburgh Young Walkers has made my life so much better in general. It’s such a welcome change from my 9 to 5 world.
"Walking is different from sports like running, and for me it’s a form of relaxing. You can see some amazing sights, talk to nice people and make amazing memories – while getting out in nature and clearing your head."
As well as a lively social life and a partner, Andrea has gained a new appreciation for her surroundings.
"I moved to Edinburgh from Slovakia eight years ago, having grown up surrounded by mountains, but with no appreciation for mountain walking and hiking. I remember thinking, why would I ever want to do that?
"But now I am so involved in it. I’m leading walks, and part of the group committee. I feel I’ve learnt so much from the people I’m surrounded by. It’s nice to feel part of a real walking community."
Despite having experienced so much over the last five years, Andrea says her walking journey has only just begun. She’s already working on a list of more countries for future walking adventures, to enjoy alongside the amazing friends she has met through the Ramblers.
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