It’s that time of year again, when many Scots make New Year’s resolutions to exercise more.
And River City star Iain Robertson hopes his new BBC show will encourage them to get out and about.
The actor, who plays Stevie O’Hara in the Scottish soap, is an avid hillwalker and would often share videos of him hiking, creating a buzz on social media.
He later offered his footage to BBC Scotland to make the series Iain Robertson Rambles.
Returning for season two on January 6, the new six-part series will see Iain tackle two popular Scottish walks: Southern Upland Way and Speyside Way.
He said: “The first time we did it it was just me and a GoPro and we were making it up as we went along, so it’ll be interesting to see how people react when we’ve actually gone out to make a television show on purpose this time.”
The actor said they filmed Iain Robertson Rambles over the course of 2021 – in between River City shoots.
“We filmed the Speyside Way in April and I think it was late July to August that we did the Southern Upland Way – they’re going out in reverse,” said Iain.
Southern Upland Way and Speyside Way
The first episode will kick off with Iain taking on the daunting 215-mile challenge of the Southern Upland Way.
Trekking Scotland from the west coast to the east, he will be joined by fellow actor Joe McFadden.
Iain, who got his breakthrough role as Lex in Glasgow gang film Small Faces, hopes Scots will enjoy the second series and then set out to explore the sights themselves.
He said: “There was a nice reaction when I did the West Highland Way.
“People got in touch and there were a lot of nice tweets from people who were inspired to actually go off and do the walk.
“Even if it doesn’t encourage people to do the whole walk, there are lovely spots and highlights that they could do as a morning or afternoon walk.
“Hopefully it inspires people to explore parts of Scotland that aren’t as well known as Loch Lomond.”
Good for physical and mental health
In addition to the physical benefits of hillwalking, Iain believes hiking and going on walks is also good for one’s mental health.
He said: “I love how when you enjoy these incredible views in Scotland, they give you that headspace.
“I suppose when the mind clears and it’s just you in the park, it’s a wonderful experience.
“I also enjoy that you can get physically fit without thinking about it.
“I don’t go to the gym because I would last 20 minutes and think ‘that’ll do me’ whereas you have to make it to the top.”
Personal connections to Speyside and Moray
The last three episodes of the series focus on the Speyside Way and since the walking trail starts almost on the doorstep of Iain’s 99-year-old aunt, Mary MacDonald, the actor pops in for a quick cuppa and a crash-course in his family history.
He said: “Mary was the housekeeper of Ardverikie Estate, where Monarch Of The Glen was shot. She worked there for 80 years – from 16 to 96.”
Despite being from Glasgow, Speyside and Moray are areas Iain knows very well.
He said: “My father regularly took us to see Mary and every New Year I was in Elgin with my friend Kevin.
“I also spent one summer in Portsoy, filming Whisky Galore. I have a lot of connections there.”
Stunning hidden gems in Iain Robertson Rambles
So Iain was keen to show viewers many hidden gems, including remote and charming bothies and some diversions off the beaten track.
“There were a lot of little things along the way, like standing stones,” said the actor.
“On the Speyside Way south of Buckie, Craigmin Bridge is a bridge on top of a bridge.
“It was a wee diversion that I took and there’s kind of a fairy walk (from the nearby village of Drybridge) up to the bridge where the locals built these small fairy houses along the path which a lot of love and care has gone into.
“For me, because I tackled a bit of the Moray Coast Trail to Cullen, the Bow Fiddle Rock is just one of my most favourite sights in Scotland.”
River City actors, fiddler and Strictly winner take part in Iain Robertson Rambles
In episode four, Iain is joined by his hillwalking chum Colin McCredie, best known for his role as DC Stuart Fraser in the drama Taggart, and actor Barrett Robertson.
“Paul Anderson who is a renowned fiddle player also joins me (in the final episode),” said Iain.
“We push on extra miles to get to Craigellachie Bridge, where he played the famous tune about the bridge.
“Also, I turned 40 this year and the Speyside Way also turned 40 this year, so Paul composed a tune in my honour and for the walk as well.
“Sally (Howitt) who plays my mum on River City joined me too – we took a wee diversion in Aviemore on the steam train.
“And on the Southern Upland Way, I was joined by Grant Stott, who plays my dad. So both my telly maw and telly da get out and about with me.
“Every time there was a bit of downtime on River City, I was doing these walks.”
Iain Robertson Rambles will premiere at 8.30pm on Thursday January 6 on BBC Scotland.