A journalist, countryside ranger and blogger has been appointed head of the Ramblers in Scotland.
Ben Dolphin was elected to the post of president at the organisation’s annual meeting in Dunblane on Scotland.
Mr Dolphin, who lives in the Lomond Hills of Fife, intends to encourage more people to explore Scotland on foot during his presidency. The 41-year-old is a West Lothian Council ranger and also writes on outdoor matters as well as publishing his Benvironment website.
He said: “Being put forward as president of Ramblers Scotland is a huge honour for me.
“In my personal and working lives I’ve seen first-hand how time spent around nature has enormous physical and mental benefits, whether it’s the blanket bogs of Sutherland or an urban park in West Lothian. Much of my time is therefore spent encouraging folk to get out and about.
“As president of Ramblers Scotland, I hope to be able to do just that by showing people the amazing wildlife and landscapes we have right here at home, not just up in the Highlands but right outside our front doors. I’ll also continue to speak up for our wild places and progressive access rights, which should never be taken for granted.”
The honorary post at the head of Ramblers Scotland is elected annually, with presidents limited to a three-year term. Previous holders of the position include the late conservationist Dick Balharry, award-winning broadcaster Cameron McNeish and most recently Dr Andrew Murray, who was the Scottish Government’s first physical activity champion.
The great outdoors has been a part of Mr Dolphin’s life for as long as he can remember, from exploring the beaches and coves of the Cornwall coast on family holidays, to night hikes with the Scouts over the Malvern Hills, and eventually to solo hillwalking in Wales, Scotland and beyond.
He grew up in the English Midlands and has previously volunteered with the Pentland Hills Voluntary Ranger Service, Falkland Centre for Stewardship and the Fife Red Squirrel Group.
Ramblers Scotland convenor Alison Mitchell said: “It’s wonderful to have Ben Dolphin on board as our president.
“His passion for walking, landscape and outdoor access, together with his respected position within the Scottish outdoors scene, will help us deliver the wide range of exciting campaigns and projects we have planned in the coming year.”
Ramblers Scotland has about 6,500 members and 55 local groups across the nation, run by volunteers. As the representative body for walkers in Scotland and a governing body of sport it works to promote walking, secure and facilitate access, and to develop path networks. It is part of the Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity.