My plans turned out to be the sponge at the bottom of the trifle that was this weekend. Originally a free standing independant force, soon trapped by liquid poured from above. The callout to fix a boiler yesterday is probably the layer of custard over the jelly, but we won’t dwell on the detail of this for too long. Suffice to say, slipper wearing and extra cuppas this morning were the cream over the custard and indecision was the Chocolate Buttons and Jelly Tots.
However I did get out. The weather was terrible, really. Windblown rain in sheets with occasional spells of still damp greyness. Bloody marvellous.
I knew it would be like this, so I dressed sensibly: winter weight waterproof, waterproof pants and er, Inov8 X-talons. The jacket was a good choice, a Haglöfs Crux, it’s got an outstanding hood and pockets that you can put your hands in (!). Not used to that. However I was thankful as I was sheltering inside it as much as I was wearing it. At times I felt overdressed and was glad that no one could see me, at other times I was smug at my coziness and hoped to catch the eye of an angler shivering in his Barbour jacket. All I got were sheep, and one of those just stared at me as it peed.
High moorland in foul weather is a marvel. Even ground that’s familiar takes on a new ambience, distances flux and direction skews. Time took a right when I went left towards the lochside, I never looked at my watch again. I was watching my feet and the drips of rain falling from the peak of my hood being caught by the wind and finishing their downward journey somewhere else.
The Lochside always looks dramatic in low cloud as the far bank is invisible, a few hundred meters become infinity and the tongue of land takes on the look of a Roger Dean album cover from the 70s. If a little fuzzier…
Entering the forest is like opening the porch door and closing it behind you. If feels a bit indoors. That doesn’t last, the clattering and swaying of the pre-pulpmill wallpaper all around keeps my steps regular. I don’t care how close they’re planted, there’s still plenty lying flat having been pushed past the limit by previous high winds.
It’s dark in the trees as well, various fungi are still springing up, all brown ones now. It’s as if they know that can’t compete with all the glamour sprouts and just wait until the hoohah has died down and they can do their thing undisturbed. Even here the rain has turned parts of the trail into a quagmire. The Inov8s and Sealskinz Merino socks performed with quiet confidence all day and kept my feet dry and warm.
The light was fading, and although I had a headtorch, instead of heading for the trig point, I took a diversion at the old fence and headed along the crags towards home.
I’d been out for hours and it was time for dinner. I hadn’t seen a soul all day since the start of the track when a fell runner with a long white beard came out of the grey and whistled past me. People don’t go out in bad weather. It’s probably a good idea, there’s all the wet stuff to wash and hang up, there’s muddy shoes.
But there’s the joy of it, the sound of the rain on the back of your hood as you cinch it in, there’s splashing in puddles without guilt or embarassment, there’s being in the weather instead of looking at it through double glazing.
But, now I’m indoors, dry and fed. I’m a happier man for going than I would have been for not.