Norwegian Blue

I could’ve skipped a stone and hit the shore of that far off land, a land of winter wonder, mountains, sunshine and cold air to nip my cheeks above my face covering.
Well, I could’ve if I didn’t have that damned rotator cuff tear. I miss skimming stones, I was actually really good at it. It comes from living on a boat in Bowling harbour in the 70’s with plenty of open water around and an endless supply of old broken slates from the then recent industrial past to hone my skills.
The last time I skipped a stone was near Luss about five years ago and it undone months of ultrasonic treatment, physiotherapy and home exercise. Oh the tears, the anguish and regret etc
I really don’t care if I never rock climb again, but I really missed skimming stones.

The man in the kayak looked happy and rightly so, the swans flew past him low and graceful, the ducks floated in front of him and we chatted as he passed, the poor bugger actually said “I’m local!”. Good lad.
There must have been nothing but peace out on the water, no engines were heard all the time we were in Balloch Park. It was simply glorious.

The Ben was better seen this weekend, not sure that helped my mental state any.

We put in few hours walking, stopping once to chat to a elderly lady who had a lovely lyrical old school local accent and stories to tell. The pace of life now seems to be slow enough to really enjoy moments like this, nowhere else to be, nothing to hurry to. We only left her because my toes were getting cold in my Converse, that sun might be bright but warm it was not.

Across the burn and through the fence away from the trails is where we found peace to enjoy the views. It’s an amazing place to be on a day like today and although just minutes from my door we’d overlooked it because I just thought it would always be mobbed. It is near the carparks right enough, but just a little further on, where it’s muddier, it’s quiet, almost deserted.

It felt, good.

Linda sent me this from here phone with the words “Look, you’re pining”. Aye maybe, but today we got so close.

Dunk.

The new roof progresses at a pace that looks like they’re doing something above me, maybe not breaking sweat or indeed moving so slow they’ll get hypothermia in this minging weather. It’s a just enough endeavour.
The 1930’s slates are gone and we have black plastic sheeting and wooden batons to keep out the winter weather.
Aye, this is definitely just when you want to be doing a roof.

Dunk.

Dunk.

Dunk.

I thought it was in a dream, it was maybe a really slow version of Iron Man’s bass drum intro being played ironically in a psychedelic dream sequence in a movie within my dream, I was slavering on the pillow amounts of tired, I wan’t reading the situation from a script so confusion was entirely likely.

Dunk.

That’s inside the room. I was back in a movie, Aliens this time. Cool.

Dunk.

I looked up in the dark, I think it was up anyway, it was dark remember.

Dunk.

Ah shite, that’s in the attic.

I put the light on, no water to be seen, I swung my legs out and put my glasses on, still no water to be seen and those legs aren’t pretty. I got dressed with what was on the floor between me and the bedroom door and grabbed a headtorch from the table.
As my senses grinded back into operation like the rusty gears they’ve become in lockdown I realised that the rain was pissing down outside and being driven at a jaunty angle by a howling wind. Oh yes indeed, this is new roof weather.

The fur lined Converse I slipped into were just so damned nice on my bare feet I stopped at the bottom of the attic ladder to wriggle my toes and goo ahhh.
In these tough times I’ll take a little joy when I can get it.
I found the leak pretty quick after some joist hopping, two rotten slate nails sticking through the sarking had near constant drips hitting a bare patch of plasterboard above where me head had been on the pillow. A few inches either way and the drips would have been hitting the insulation silently and the whole thing could have played out very differently.
I thank the dearly departed mice for whose traps I had moved the insulation for. I hope that last taste of Nutella they had was very nice.

A bucket was placed with old t shirt inside to dampen the sound and I was back in bed as fast as I get could get there.
It was half past four.
And I was wide awake. Planning my morning phone call.

Aye, it’s not forever, but I don’t have forever, none of us do. 

Told you so. That about covers it. But karma is a bitch so I’m not expanding on that in case it sees what I wrote.

Living where I do we don’t actually get too much snow on the ground, the river seems to act like underfloor heating and even the patchy heavy snow fall we’ve had late at night this week has come to nothing. It’s melting my head as well as the snow.

I have a feeling this winter is going to slip from my grasp completely.
I’ve not been so enthusiastic or physically and mentally ready to head into the big and far away hills as I am right now for years.
I want to melt snow in my cooking pot, I want to run around at 5am screaming at cold fingers as I adjust the camera on its tripod, I want giggle on the summit like the child I still am, I want to drive home through the night with gritty eyes in damp merino with a head and heart full of joy.
I just want to stop time slipping away from me. I’m too old for this shit, I’ve missed too much already.

Stay close to home, wear a mask, wash your hands. Let’s get this over with ffs.

Outward Bound and Gagged

We had some family business and it took us somewhere local but unexpected.
I knew everything above us was in the clear blue, but the mist, the calm and the cold down on earth suited the day very well.

It wasn’t busy, but the wee kiosk was open and had hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows which warmed my hands and face just nice.
It felt just a wee bit, just for while, like a regular winter’s day out.

I also had a lot of fun with my phone, I know what vignette does now for example.
The robin wouldn’t sit still though, bloody yappy dugs.

The loch was frozen by the banks, most surfaces had frost long into the day. It would have been idyllic in another time, another year.

The wee moments though, I’ll take them.

Chicken Burger

Ohemgee. Going through the old unpublished drafts to clean up the blogs’ cupboards I found this which I’d started writing on 10th February 2018.

Other than misting up seeing my brilliant girl Holly aged 10 and also seeing her as a wee teenager through the kitchen door as I type this, I’m struck by how today looked exactly the same as this day did.
The Ben stark white and the air cold, the broken cloud and strips of pink in the evening light.
But today we can’t be at Luss, on the beach and eating a chicken burger. Not yet, one day though.

Oh, I miss these days.

 

Friday Feeling

We’re watching Paul Murton’s various Scottish Grand Tour series back to back on Amazon Prime telly just now (totally missed it all first time round) and I think it’s making things worse rather than better.

Popular couch phrases include “Haven’t been there in ages” and “Oh, never been there”.
Neither of these points are easily addressed at the moment.
Inspiration is a double edged sword.
Or a cruel mistress. Not sure if either really fit.

Still, it’s Friday and I’m about to drive towards a snow capped Ben Lomond. Stopping short of course to visit a customer.

Lomond means beacon and it’s well named right now. Shining white and standing proud down the loch saying this way.

Inspiration is a bugger.

Put behind bars

Oh this scaffolding is going to severely grate on me if we keep getting these glorious skies.

I’ll suppose I’ll get all my buckets back after it’s all done though, They’re currently all in the attic catching drips.

Those hills over the river are pure white this morning too.
Sigh.

Silverpoint Hunter XL and Scout XL Headtorch Review

This is the first of my reviews of some gear that I’ve had in the works since my sadly brief time with the much missed Outdoor Enthusiast Magazine.

Silverpoint was a new name to me and there’s more to come from them on here too. First up though is a pair of headtorches, the “How much XL120?” and it’s bigger sister  the “Really, how much XL230?”.

I don’t know how much these two torches are in-house spec or a branding exercise from generic models. I found other Silverpoint torch models with other brands on them after a quick search but not these two and to be honest it doesn’t matter. I’d like to think that any brand worth it’s salt puts their name on kit they will happily stand behind, so it all comes down to performance, reliability and price.

First up is the Hunter XL120. It’s just under 100g, takes three AAA batteries has decent sized white LED and two wee red LEDs at each side with an output of 120 lumens.
The headband is smooth with just enough stretch to keep it secure without feeling constricting and with almost a year of regular use the elastic isn’t showing any signs of aging. The amount of adjustment is great too, from bare head to over hats and hoods has been no problem.

The torch part is standard format stuff with a backplate attached to the headband and the rest hinged off of it with the battery compartment backing onto the backplate with the usual thumbnail breaking clip to open it.
The hinge gives enough movement to focus the light well ahead or for detailed shoe gazing as you amble depressed through the dark forest because your flask is in the truck.

The two rubber buttons are quite big, around pinkie nail sized, sitting reasonably proud of the torch housing and have a pretty positive click for scrolling (I’m not sure that’s the right terminology, I might edit that if something better comes to mind) through the light settings.
You can have red on or red flashing with the right button. Right when it’s on your head that is, even if you’re left handed. The left button does full, dimmed and flashing of the white LED. You can have both on at the same time if you want to a) have a disco in your tent, b) drain the battery, c) think the cops are coming, d) have a seizure.

Waterproofness is IPX6 ( for both torches) which is fine for rain and snow, and dropping in a puddle etc. I’ve used them plenty in wet conditions and had no issues.

In use the Hunter is plenty bright for safe navigation on lightless terrain with a nicely sized and bright centre spot with a focused halo around it.
I’ve found battery life to be fine, I’ve not been worried by surprise fading after a few trips up the crags without fitting new batteries.
But that stuff probably as much dependent on whether you buy good batteries as much as anything. I’ve never been able to properly scientifically track this over the years. I think if any torch was really bad it would be immediately obvious as it would dim on it’s first use.

The casing is getting scratched over the lens which might start to diffuse the beam if I don’t watch it, although I can polish this out and likely will.
This is because I give the Hunter a hard life, it’s been loose in my toolbag a lot and has been under quite a few church floors looking for leaks as well so it’s had more abuse than any headtorch just kept for night hillwalking would ever get.
It’s just a tool really and it’s done what I’d expect of any tool, it’s done it’s job reliably and without fuss.

Bigger and brighter is the Scout XL230. Superficially they look something the same but there’s actually a lot of differences.
We’re still just under 100g, still three AAA but we have a big fat main white beam from a Cree 3 watt LED, two small white LEDs and a single red. 230 lumens for owl stunning joy in the nighttime forest.

The headband is a softer more stretchy fabric here which is aging a little, no more than I would expect for the use it’s had so I’m not too fussed. Same good adjustment and comfort whatever.
The torch body is different as well. The backplate and hinged battery cover are attached to the headband so that when you open the cover the torch comes away free in your hand. And can still work as well as the the batteries stay in it.
It hasn’t happened but I do worry about dropping this and getting water inside, or if my luck was really bad losing it if I’m forced to do a battery change in less than ideal conditions.
Not a fault, just unusual.

The big two function rubber button is pretty much flush with the torch casing and while this is fine with bare fingers they’re hard to just find with any gloves on never mind operate. I’ve found myself taking the Scout off to change the settings at times.
The settings are red on and off with the left button and full, dim and flood for right button. I don’t have the flash settings. To be honest I don’t know if I ever did. It’s been nearly a year since I did my initial shakedown and I never use flash at the crags, sure as shit someone will see it and phone the polis. So, I dunno.
The white light is superb though. The main beam projects incredibly far with excellent brightness and the flood is perfect for difficult terrain, setting up camp or crossing flowing water at night. It’s a brilliant mix of functions, in fact an ideal mix.

The casing seems to be tougher on the Scout, it’s taking the same regular abuse as the Hunter with far less scratching appearing on the lens.
Battery life is again an unknown, but I do know that using the big fat main beam means I’ve changed the batteries more on the Scout, but as I’d expect. That big beam is worth it though.

The Hunter is £12 and the Scout is £25. That’s scary cheap for what you get.

Neither is perfect. The Hunter should have a tougher material over the lens and the Scout has the hidden buttons and that puzzling lack of flash mode which I should have noticed and asked about so I’m leaving that one open.
They’re both still in regular service, when I went to get them to take the photies for the review one was in my tool bag in the back of the motor and the other was in the lid pocket of a rucksack at the door.
They are currently still the go-to lights, that’s probably a recommendation to at least have a look at them.

Saturation

I think due to the enforced slower pace of life I saw more of last autumn than I normally would have.
It seems like yesterday, it seems like a lifetime ago too.

I had a lot of problems with downloading photies from my new phone at first. I like downloading, you keep your bubbles and clouds and whatnot.
The existing Sony Media Go app I used on the laptop was excellent until I plugged the new phone in and they just didn’t speak to each other. Sony has discontinued support for a number of their mobile apps which is a real shame, their phone gallery was excellent and now I’m stuck with Google Photos or some other nonsense with adverts.

But after a couple of phone updates Media Go seems to be back on the Christmas Card list and suddenly the photies are appearing in properly dated folders where they should have been all along.

This is magic, literally and figuratively as all this stuff is still beyond me. I mean, how does it actually work? How does it know what to do, is it all actually alive or populated by little guys with their own lives as well as working unseen on ours?
It’s possible and it means that programmers are actually slave masters or completely deluded and as in the dark regarding reality as the rest of us.

Autumn light is a joy, low and warm, it brings out colour and contrast beautifully. The birch by the quarry has polished silver fingers and black boots because of it.

The golden leaves and the crazy wide angled lens are both at work here. That riot of autumn with it’s two stern guardians with an ice cold, pale blue sky. Oh, to have this instead of the current endless grey.

A close up of the leaves completely freaked out the camera sensor by the looks of it. The miniature Sony phone guys were running around inside the lens with stepladders and buckets full of pixels trying to install them in time to capture what I was pointing at. They got enough to make me smile.

Bless my little techno slaves. I switch my phone off for an hour every day now to give them a proper break. I’m tough but fair.

So Low

So Low, solo? Ha.

Loving the new band. It’s a different sound and style for me and they’re make me work harder because of that which brings me much joy.
2020 was a hard year to get anything done but we have songs now that just really needing to be properly recorded and the frustration is real.

This clip is giving nothing away really, I just love the sound of wah and fuzz.

Nor a lender…

I didn’t own the camera I took this with, it was borrowed. I didn’t own a camera at all at the time.

The red LaserComp was a loan from the manufacturer, as was the experimental carbon pole holding it up and Brian was in my own green LaserLite version.
That was thirteen years ago. I think we’ve probably reached an unspoken understanding.

I suppose blogger and blagger is only one letter different.

That red tent is currently optimistically packed and ready, as is that experimental pole (aye, go to production…). And they said lightweight gear wouldn’t last.

Leisure

by William Henry Davies (inventor of the selfie}

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Leisure, from from Songs of Joy and Others pb 1911

 

Toys in the Attic

We’re getting a new much overdue roof. The 1930’s slates have been doing their best but like two dimensional lemmings many of them have been sliding for the edge over the past few years and as amusing as it is to see some of them caught by the gutter and sticking up like sharks teeth, the ones planted into the lawn like ninja stars say yes, let’s fix it.

This has meant much packing and reboxing in the attic to try and keep stuff clean when the slates and underfelt (if anything is left of it) get ripped off. This has been an odyssey into my past with so many mixed emotions, waves of melancholy with breakers of joy.
Years back my first ever words at an outdoor conference were to say that folk didn’t recycle because of laziness or lack of care in the environment, it was because everything has a memory. Obviously I was talking partly from personal experience. The attic confirms this.

Also apparently I used to be a size medium not so many years ago. This seems unlikely looking down at the body typing this, but the labels are there. A lot of dull colours too, who was this man?

I have of course dragged a bunch of stuff down and I’ve been burning through the Nikwax Techwash with gay abandon as I freshen up anything that’ll fit.
This has loosened a few bits of Gore Tex seam tape but I’ve become a dab hand a fixing this now after a couple of years of using McNett (or Gear Aid as it is now) Seam Grip.
Seam Grip works too, I thought maybe some extended light wear and a couple of washes might be the best I could expect but my original repairs on my ’98 Karrimor Summit are still solid and I wear it a lot. I actually just did a wash and reproofing of that with the hand spray Nikwax TX Direct. I seem to remember from years back this this stuff only lasted one trip before you wetted out again.
I might update on that here. Might do a Seam Grip update now I think about it, the rebrand also seems to have made it stickier and faster drying.

I think more vintage or at least old gear stuff is coming up in amongst the new gear reviews I’ll do as soon as I can get somewhere different for some photies.

But, pulling on something from the 90s, even if it smells like a tramps arse after years in the attic, I can feel the wind on my face, I can hear my footsteps and I can smell the tent, damp down, wet grass and freshly made coffee.

You can escape lockdown in unexpected ways, who, what and where is waiting for you in the back of your mind in a rolled up old waterproof?

*This is from last week to illustrate the point. You can’t see how white my beard is so I thought I’d better make the point.

Oh to be young, again?

I’ve discovered something of the human condition in recent times. At 52 things get sprained, pulled or broken so much easier. I suppose I knew this was coming but nothing actually prepared me for it. I think lockdown has accelerated this effect too, I couldn’t keep to the exercise regime I was so enthusiastic about early on and snacking became a nasty habit, so I’m at a physical low of sorts.

But it’s not really that so much as the I had warnings that this would come, old seemed so far away as to be an impossibility when I was under 40 so I didn’t listen, do any of us?
Be prepared physically they said, I did, I stayed active, so I got lots of daft little injuries that would later come back to haunt me.
Eat better they said, I did, then had a donut after it.
Save for your retirement they said, so I did, when can I cash my pension in to clear my mortgage?
Wait till you have children and settle down they said. Well, that’s another story isn’t it.

I find myself being my dad when I tell Holly stuff, but I might as well be the 40mph sign at Taynuilt, she just doesn’t see it. I know she’ll look back and one day and think. “Oh, he was right…”. I do exactly that a lot now. Dammit man.

My mind is as active as it ever was, but now fueled by the content I’ve packed into it. I’m full of enthusiasm and mental energy but when I get in the driving seat and turn the key, so many warning lights come on.

Youth is wasted on the young? Maybe, but burning that energy in a carefree blur is an irreplaceable joy and I’d hate to go back and turn my volume down.
I guess every time of life has it’s light and shade, there’s never a perfect time.
That’s rubbish actually, I’ve had so many perfect times.

Maybe it’s simply making as many days count as you can whenever they are, maybe that’s why it’s all so hard just now, the days are slipping past us.
Is that harder for me at 52 because I know what I’m missing or for someone at 25 who’s just discovering?
Both, you can’t make memories and anecdotes to annoy the next generation with once you’re old yourself if you’re stuck in lockdown. So it’s not just the horrors of right now that Covid has brought, it’s shaping the future too in intangible ways.

We’re not in a political crisis, we’re in a human crisis of health both physical and mental. Young folks might be able to physically withstand the virus better but it’s continued existence is shaping their perspective and future.

Wear a mask, wash your hands. Quite literally, think of the young folks.

Best Foot Forward

A fellow OG blogger John Hee has reached a point where he is archiving his posts and letting go of his domain.

The landscape of blogging has changed so much in the years since I started and I understand the emotions and hassle, indeed weight that comes with maintaining something that can feel like a lifetime’s work.

I’ve come and gone from here over the years and that’s been due to outside influence more than anything to do with my desire or lack thereof to write random pish on here.
Not so long ago running a business and becoming a single parent, both in difficult circumstances instantly limited my time and energy to even click on the bookmark for here’s homepage.

At one time I had a reach that was eyebrow raising, #1 in the world indeed, and look at it now. It’s er, just the same. No adverts, no wee plaques, no attempts to be a resource, no interest in being anything other than a colourful bucket to empty my thoughts and experiences and opinions into.
That’s what OG blogging was, is.
We did this stuff because we wanted to share, not be internet personalities or influencers.

Sure lots of us got careers in outdoor writing and photography of varying intensities out of it, but the blogging I feel stayed simple, even innocent despite any fighting over stats or more likely gear stuff.

I sometimes miss the old days, the banter, the ability to share with and take notes from experienced and knowledgeable peers, but I still believe the best day is always tomorrow. Well, the first tomorrow after lockdown.
I mean, I have review gear to photograph somewhere that isn’t the Lang Craigs.

So I salute the old guard, the workers of words, the initiators of the inspirational image, those who have fallen and those still standing.
I also tip my hat the the new crew of media savvy video and Instagram kids and also wherever comes after you. We’re all transient after all, the mountains, the coasts, the sky, the forests. They’re forever and the joy they’ll bring will be there for everyone to catch and hold and share in their own way.

Also, I’m going nowhere. Indeed, I’ve probably posted more in the last wee while than I’ve done in years. Blogging on your own terms is rather fun.

Places Everyone

I do video now. Maybe.

Linda got me a wee action camera for Christmas and on my first crag trip with it I failed comprehensively and recorded a bunch of blurred silent film.
Luckily YouTube has plenty of throw away soundtrack you can stitch on so it doesn’t feel as awkward as it might.
So, here’s a minute of the Lang Craigs. It brings me joy, even in lo-fi lo-def lo-brow format.

I’ll do better next time. Maybe.

Five Mile Island

The snow transforms the crags and although I was losing the light, nothing was going to stop me getting up there.
I couldn’t park of course, every space was full and every foot of verge had a car on it and every gate had some arsehole’s bumper up against it including the Overtoun access gate where ranger super powers mean I can always get through and parked.
There was enough space for me to squeeze through, just, and the looks I got? Well, if you don’t want me driving an inch away from your expensive metallic finished paneling don’t park like a dick.

It was mobbed. Huge groups, no masks, no social distancing, dogs running around jumping and sniffing one group after another.
It was like looking at a Petri dish with trees.

I took a right away from the heaving masses and into clearer air, deeper snow and more accessible joy. I’d be better on the crag edge, it would give me a chance to check the gates were shut as well.
I’m not flippant about what we do up here, there’s deer getting in and eating the trees so if someone leaves a gate open, we shoot the deer, that’s the transaction.
So it’s up to you man in the wet-out puffa jacket with the carrier bag.

On the lip of the crags was just magic. It was dull but that didn’t diminish the view and the feeling of being in amongst it, and over it too, even at this not very fancy altitude, it makes me glad, always.
It was bitterly cold and getting colder too, I could feel it on my cheeks, just above where the hair stops.
Fog was creeping in, Donut Hill was becoming an island and the forest was being swallowed as the grey oozed westwards towards me. It just made me grin. How can all this be five minutes from my door.

The voices ahead in the murk pulled me out of my wee dwam and then the tone of them had me raising an eyebrow. I walked on to see what was happening.

There were three folk at the highest part of the crags ahead and uphill from me and I could tell there was something amiss. There was a bit of shouting, the trio were spaced out with Mr MountainJacket at the front, Miss NoPack in the middle and Dr Terror at the back, clinging, as it turned out when I got closer, onto the snow encrusted fence.
Oh. I thought. Ah…
I got a bit closer.
“You folks okay?”

No, no they weren’t.

Turns out none of them were local, none of them really knew the crags, none of them knew the route they were on at all, but one of them had seen someone up here from the path below and thought it looked nice so they thought they’d have a go.
What had happened here was that three strangers in lockdown had banded together to survive the Lang Craigs. Christ.

Not as funny as you’d think. Dr Terror was just that, terrified. He was hanging onto the fence in the murk and gathering darkness in a light jacket looking like a casuatly on legs.
Miss NoPack was happy enough, but worried about Dr Terror but not to the extent she wanted to wait and help him or turn back with him.
Mr MountainJacket wasn’t giving a shit, he was walking ahead and seemed quite prepared to leave the other two and continue his expedition.

“You folks okay?”
“Do you know the route and how to get back down going this way?”

This is me being the chatty local more than a Woodland Trust ranger here. There are four ways down from the crags between here and there end.
The first is easy missed, a wide zigzagged gully, the one I’d climbed up not too long before. Full of snow and hidden wee rock steps underneath but hemmed in the first part and after that a slip would see a shorter slide or roll. It’s literally the safest route at that moment.
Second is the narrow buttress. I only do this on dry days, it’s a scramble at the top and likely deadly right now.
Third is the giant’s footsteps around 1.5km away, a well hidden short gully off the crag edge followed by a broken buttress with short, steep grass sections. I wouldn’t risk it there and then without metalwork on my feet.
Last option was the end of the crags, around a mile or more of extra pointless walking with an unpleasant end through the tightly fenced quarry perimeter walkway. It’s shite and I refuse to use it, they can chase me all they want as I cross the open land there.

Even Mr MountainJacket looked a little uncertain now. None of them had any idea about any of this.
The maps are indistinct, the Victorian fenceline leads you over the edge in places. It’s not funny.
I don’t care how urban you might think this is or how low it actually is, in full on winter mode, the terrain right here demands respect, planning, knowledge and skill.
Look at the photie above, it’s not a soft option, even got a wee pinnacle with a chockstone. A mistake up here is no joke. We’ve had the MRT out before, we’ve had helicopters.

Dr Terror started working his way back along the fence, he was going back the way they came and wasn’t waiting for the others or anything else really, he was off.
Miss NoPack wanted Option 1, especially as it really was getting dark now. Mr MountainJacket was brave, he’d driven across two council boundaries and the Erskine Bridge to get here but here knew he was in trouble.

I walked them to the gully and set them on their way before I legged it back to see where Dr Terror was. Behind me in the gloom I saw them at the run out at the bottom of the gully and going towards the gate. They were safe.
Dr Terror was far below on the main track. the speed of panic had carried him fast and far. I’m just glad it kept him upright too.

I stood in the dark and looked down on the now empty Lang Craigs and I did a very loud exhale of breath.

There’s two things.

One is the Lang Craigs. It’s not a soft option, weather can make getting off the waymarked tracks a whole different experience. A dear friend once explained the concept of SMJ to me, sound mountain judgement. It stops you getting into situations, it takes you left instead of right, it makes you think, it makes you look before you don’t leap. It’s common sense, it’s experience and aye, it’s what I’ve learned and earned and what I didn’t see this day. I saw people walking into trouble.
Laugh all you want, but I know this place better than the route to my own fridge, and on the crags in winter you’re in mountain territory and you need the skills.

Second is all this is taking place in Tier 4 lockdown. I mean wtf. That there’s folk traveling from all over to be here is one thing and then there’s letting stupidity guide them towards an avoidable incident that will involve others, manufacturing interactions that need never and should never have taken place.
I should never have met them, I should never have had to guide them off the crags. but imagine if the timing had been off and things have gone differently, how many others might have been out there that evening instead of being home safe.

This is one reason why covid is still here. Some folk just don’t give a shit, “I’ll be fine” is all they need do do what they like where they like. We’re all fine until we’re not, it’s not always our choice when or where that is.

I was so angry. I think I still am.

I’m still smiling though. This is and will always be my happy place.

But, I do fear where we’re going. The added footfall of the last year is adding too much pressure to the environment, I feel that a lot of visitors are coming not because they want the outdoors but because that’s all there is.
I think being there will develop a love and an empathy for the outdoors, but while that’s growing within you, can you park your car properly?

Also learn navigation, buy a headtorch, read some mountain books, don’t wear black head to toe… But mostly stay home, stay safe and let us get this nightmare finished. The hills will be waiting.