GLASGOW-based software developer Chris Lawlor has earned a huge social media after making a string of viral videos on the benefits of hiking in Scotland.
The intrepid adventurer has attracted the attention of people from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds — thanks to his laid-back, positive and approachable style.
Chris shares his love of hiking in Scotland because it has boosted his mental health, and he’s hoping his carefully curated content will help others in the same way. And in doing so, he’s reached more than 10 million people worldwide — earning him the attention of various news outlets and media organisations.
Featuring high-definition video, inspiring background music and friendly narration delivered eloquently by Chris, the clips and images on his TikTok and Instagram pages are as informative as they are inspirational.
Among a string of popular posts is a short video about one of Chris’s hikes to Prince Albert’s Pyramid in Balmoral Cairns. The enthusiastic hiking tour guide not only talks about the best route to take, but he also offers a little historical background to give his adventure some context.
Chris has been blown away by some of the comments and warm wishes he’s received from his growing legion of fans. Just a quick look at the comments section of each video and photograph demonstrates this young man’s popularity with people of all ages.
One Instagram user commented on Chris’s Prince Albert Pyramid video: “Omg, I’m from Dundee in Scotland and I never knew this existed. That is amazing. I love your posts, finding out what’s on our doorstep. This just might be my first trail.”
Another wrote: “Lived in Scotland all my life over — over 30 years, and I never knew we had a pyramid. Class.”
And in an apparent quip poking a little fun at Chris’s trademark presenting style, one commenter said: “Do you take diazepams before filming the audio for these videos?”
And that last comment relates to one of the reasons why these beautiful hiking videos and photos are striking a chord with so many people right now. While the delivery might seem a little crass, the sentiment is particularly relevant.
Mental health is a cause close to Chris’s heart. While many people associate hill walking and hiking with exhausting physical exertion, Chris links it to serenity, physical well-being and good mental health.
At first, Chris’s videos were designed to share his love of hillwalking — particularly in the wildernesses of his beloved Scotland. But they seem to have resonated with millions of people for very different reasons.
Chris said: “People are reaching out telling me that after watching the videos they have rediscovered their love for hillwalking and the mental health benefits it brings to them. What started out as something I enjoy doing at the weekends is now benefitting other people in a few different ways. And that brings me a great sense of fulfilment.
“Even the elderly and those who physically can’t cope with the physical demands of hiking have messaged to say they look forward to the videos every week, and that gives me a huge sense of purpose.”
Of course, like any social media influencer, Chris has experienced a few dissenting voices — but for largely constructive reasons. And it’s not an issue he shies away from.
He said: “One of the interesting things about sharing locations is that there are people out there who ask me not to share these locations as people can ruin places. But I choose to believe the majority of people are good. And by driving more people to these smaller rural villages near the hikes, I like to think I’m helping with the economic viability of these areas.
“The reality is these places will still be here long after we are gone, but we must always remember to care for the environment and pick up after ourselves.”
Chris’s social media success is proof positive that these online forums can be a force for good. All too often, we hear about the abuse and negativity that pervades the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But here’s a chap who is extolling the virtues of supporting rural communities and protecting our countryside. And by showcasing the therapeutic benefits of the Great Outdoors and regular exercise most people can enjoy, he’s playing a small role in improving the health of a nation.
Chris has vowed to continue making his nature-based social media content and connect with people around the world who draw inspiration from his exploits. People can follow him at @chrispaullawlor on Instagram and @chrislawlor on TikTok.