Waters of Mars

This feels like a lifetime away. We found ourselves in Arbroath with a little time on our hands and weather that was keeping everyone else in their cars on the seafront looking at the waves crashing over their windscreens from the restless North Sea.

The clifftop path was pretty exciting at times, wind and spray were constant and there was so much noise we had to shout at each other to be heard.
It was glorious.

The red rock, the leaden skies. Looking back from here and now, we might as well be on Mars.

Run Deep

Still just playing at home. But that’s okay.

Covid was started in mystery, spread by ignorance and now perpetuated by stupidity.
I’m not playing a part of that last phase and staying off of outdoor social media helps me keep my cool as dumb bastards gad about the countryside regardless because “we’ll be fine, and we don’t have the virus anyway”.
Aye, until they slip and mountain rescue comes out, the police come out, then people are out of place without choice and that’s when there’s unnecessary contact and the associated risk.
If you have kids at school or you’ve been to any shop in the last ten days you’re an infection risk and should just suck it up and stay home.
If folk had wore masks, washing their hands and not been arseholes nine months ago we wouldn’t be where we are now. Makes me mad.

Still, just playing at home isn’t too bad. West coast skies are the best, and it’s cold now, dark so early too.

It’s getting popular here, cameras and drones are here most nights when I had the place to myself a year ago. How did folk not know all this stuff was here already, that every setting sun was a potential breath taker? 2020, it’s changed so much.

I had to run down the waters edge waiting for the floating balls to line up just right. I was so pleased when I caught it and I did a wee Whoop. I got looks from the proper photographers. So many humourless bastards out there.

The mist never really formed properly, it stayed just a haze and the lighting was subtle. You don’t always need the fireworks though, I liked the quiet mystery of it, the softness and the calm.

I like this phone, the Xperia 5 II camera does okay in low light. It doesn’t bear up on laptop screen size, but blog size smooths it out just nice.

Aye, still just playing at home.

And Baby Makes Three

Perhaps not a classic sea of cloud vista, but the possibility of just that had me diverting to the crags on my way somewhere else.
I wasn’t disappointed at all, it was cool with bright blue skies and some of last week’s snow still lingering here and there.

It was frozen underfoot too and I had a well worn pair of old Keens on, now entirely gripless but very comfy. There was frequent unexpected, speedy and barely controlled lateral and horizontal movement throughout the journey.

I met a couple on the crag edge who had often wondered how to get up here having seen the silhouettes of the few stravaigers who take the high road to avoid the increasingly busy trails below.
When they asked about it, I tried to explain how to get down from various points in the direction they were heading and of the three options I would usually take myself, two were steep, frozen and a long roll to the bottom and the other one was about three miles extra walking. I think they went back the way they had came after I was out of sight.
Which was a long wait with that jumper I was wearing.

Met a crumbo* of runners doing a route I used to run on the early pages of this place, up The Slacks from Old Kilpatrick, round Loch Humphrey, down through the crags and along the cycle track to the start. Every version of this is 20km± and it’s a lot of fun, what a glorious day for it.

Then I sat in a frozen church hall for two hours waiting for an inspector. I think that’s what they call paying the piper.

*That’s the imperial measurement of a group of three runners.

A Tale of Two Donuts

I had taken some time out. A niggle in a tooth early in lockdown had turned into pulsating agony from the top of my head to my neck. I was advised to take painkillers until my emergency appointment, over two weeks later.
I was close to a bottle of whisky and pliers. I have never know the like of this, and I’ve been blown up and set on fire in my career.

Then suddenly five days before my appointment, the pain ebbed away overnight. Oh aye, we were heading out while the sun shone and I was smiling.

No looking at council borders, no counting five miles on the map, just turn a corner and we were there. A different goal in mind, for all the time we’ve been up here together, we’d never climbed Donut Hill.
Low winter afternoon sun, a chill wind and a joy in our steps. And a flask full of Kenco 3in1.

It’s scary muddy on the main, so many folk are coming up the crags now. Lockdown has brought people outdoors somewhat paradoxically.
I don’t know quite how to process that, folk should be out there seeing what I’ve spent my life being enriched by, but ffs, is basic stuff like not dropping litter or leaving shitty hankies by the track not something you learn in a city, do you have to be told not to down in the outdoors?

My eternal love/hate relationship with humanity has entered a critical phase of negotiation.

Wind stinging our cheeks the wee summit was an island of joy.
The views from here more than you paid for, the loch stretches north to the oh so familiar tops I increasingly long for.
But this grassy lump isn’t second best, it’s not just enough, it’s glorious. Smiles, cuppas and cake before a descent where arse touched mud on more that one occasion.
Aye, that path is ruined. So much dried red mud in the porch now.

Four days, still nearly pain free. I looked across the rover at the Hill of Stake, there was snow, quite even looking snow too.

Of course I was going.

The arrow points to adventure after all…

The sky was so blue, eyewateringly so in fact. But it wasn’t clear, snow clouds moved across the plateau and caught the wee tops and the ridges bring an atmosphere that takes the crags into another level.

I love it when it’s like this, it does feel wild, it’s instant accessible winter mountain fun and it’s round the corner. Rarely have I been so pleased to be trapped in West Dunbartonshire.

I never went to Donut again, I took a right onto the edge of the crags as it disappeared under the cloud again. Only the fence reminds you that you’re almost urban exploring.

A few conifers cling onto the crag edge. They’re a few feet inside the Woodland Trust border so they survived the onslaught of the Forestry Commission on the other side of the fence. Christmas tree, ooh Christmas tree.

I lingered, the pace was slow and the level of joy remained high. Linda should have been here I think, that would have book ended our week just nice.

I write this after the first dental work installment. There will be more to come on that.

But how so I know this wee corner of the world is for me? Because it smiles at me. And you.