Jonathan Brown: How I bared all on a walk with Gough

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The Independent Online

I would like to think it was the power of my reportage that made my naked rambling assignment with Steve Gough in the Scottish Highlands so memorable for so many people.

Realistically, I suppose it was the sight of my lily-white derrière spread across a whole page in a national newspaper that caused so many of my friends and colleagues to remind me of the piece on quite so many occasions.

But I will accept the taunts and my family's mortification (as well as a couple of fierce emails from readers who objected), safe in the knowledge that I confronted one of society's greatest taboos and lived to tell the tale. That said, I was extremely nervous about stripping off that day in 2005. It certainly did not feel "natural" to be striding in the buff through the fir trees, although thankfully the midge season had passed and it was warm for Scotland in October. Sexy it wasn't. When a packed vehicle came towards us and its laughing occupants whipped out their cameras, the real naked ramblers took it in their stride while I felt anxious to the point of collapse.

Anyway, I survived and, after a while, I suppose I could understand a little of what they saw in it – not that it wasn't blessed relief to cover up.

Mr Gough is certainly a man on a mission and most people would never join him in his crusade. But it is hard to see how walking around the way God intended should really be against the law, or what can be achieved by turning the naked rambler into a naked martyr.

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