Weir’s Way Reprint

I can count the outdoor writers that I’ve enjoyed reading on my fingers. I’m not counting guide books in that, which are always worth a flick through when my mind draws a blank. I have stuff going back to the 50’s and they’re all an absolute joy.
I’ve enjoyed Ralph Storer, Ernest Shackleton, Ian Mitchell’s Scotland’s Mountains Before Mountaineers, Hamish Brown (re-prints also coming soon) and Tom Weir. Hmm, maybe that’s the fingers of one hand then?

Tom Weir’s books are being reprinted by Steve Savage Publishers and I’ve just read the new Weir’s Way (below). It’s hard to know where to start talking about this book as it chimes so many notes for me.
What has a huge personal resonanace is his love of Scotland, and his love of his local area, just a few miles from me. He had an appreciation for what is around him, which I often think is missing from modern works which concentrate on drama and glory chasing. Even when Tom was hanging off of an ice route in poor weather and a woolly bunnet, he remains matter-of-fact and would rather tell tales about his climbing partner and the wildlife he saw on the day.
I think this is a common trait from the old school, they did it all first and had different motives for being in the hills than most of us these days, and it was other people who awarded them the status of explorers and heroes.
These days folk have to break their legs or roll down Everest on a log or whatever to find something new to write about and attract attention or sponsorship.
Tom’s words are those of a man at one with his lot, but there is still passion in there, when he sees that sunset, the golden eagle, Ben Lomond on a beautiful morning he slips into a different style as he tries to convey the moment as his senses perceive it, I can feel the warmth of such memories in myself. But when he speaks of sights as yet unseen to me, it lights a little flame in the back of my mind which creates a desire to go out and make that memory for myself.

There’s a vision of a Scotland throughout that’s vivid in my mind, but somehow now just out of reach. The “chapters” follow some of the TV series, but rather than just double-up on content, the book is full of connections to people or places featured in the programme or side-stories, so the links are sometimes tenuous, but always fascinating. It’s made the content in many ways historical, talking of the possibility of national parks, the new West Highland Way, the lives of people and places in the Highlands, and of course many of the names featured in the book are now gone.

In some ways this book, with it’s short chapters, disjointed narrative and Tom’s personal unnassuming tone, is like the best blog you’ve ever read. It’s like your pal down the road, there’s no distance between the reader and the writer, there’s wisdom, experience and confidence but not a hint of superiority. There’s a lot of humanity in there in his attitudes to other people and their points of view, an understanding and accepting of differences. We could do with more of that these days.

I realise that much of the content appeals to me because of where I am and all the references that link into my own timeline. But it goes far beyond that, it’s page after page of  pure joy brought from a love of the outdoors and all that it means, not just the tops of mountains.
There’s so much to take from this book, and I can’t recommed reading it enough.

Dodgeball

I was in no hurry. I thought about doing the XXL loop, but with shoes just-out-the-box I didn’t fancy pushing my luck with that much tarmac.
I parked at Overtoun House, jumped the fence and made a beeline for the crags. I was in an exploring mood.
I can still find new routes, new track combinations, new gaps in the trees to squeeze through, and it’s that happy marriage of familiar and new that will keep me climbing the Kilpatricks until my legs give out underneath me.

I took the trail under the southern end of the crags and wound my way through the tumble of boulders enjoying the cool air and the snapping gusts of wind which nipped at my fingertips and ears. It might look like Spring is here as the snow recedes, but winter is still in the air, and on the ground too. All the reservoirs are still frozen and big white chunks of snow lie at every turn, their edges becoming rounder and thinner each day.

Greenland reservoir is full again, the fine new overflow culvert and bridge still look shiny and out of place, but they’ll fade quickly enough.
The water occupies a clearing, surrounded by tall plantation, and it’s silent apart from the constant trickling of water from the deep culvert. But walk ten feet into the trees and the quietness is almost a physical presence, standing there with it’s hands on your shoulders. Today it was benign, but sometimes, I swear to you, I think it’s reaching for my wallet.

The tracks are starting to heal. The works vehicles from the culvert and Loch Humphrey track operations are gone and a more usable surface is returning. I hope when the greenery sprouts we’ll get a huge mohican of grass down the centre. The ruts are deeper than ever and it’ll look gallus.

Out on the open hillside again it was cold, and getting a little dark. But Doughnot Hill was just over there, so I had to go.
I’m glad too, I took a big sweep across the moor to miss the worst of the bog and climbed to the top from the east side. It’s a good plan because you can’t see what’s on the other side until you’re right on the top. Ben Lomond’s napper was just in the clouds and every slope to the north was a streaky patchwork of white and dark brown.
While I might mourn winter’s passing, spring is the best time to be out in a tent. It’s still cool on the tops, but with longer midge-free days and the joy of seeing the hills come back to life before all your senses if you have to time to stops and notice.
I thought that over, I thought about my plans as I had a wee snack, ifs, buts, maybes and musts.
But it was getting awfy cold, so I packed up and jogged downhill to cross the burn and rejoin the track back to the motor.

I walked through the trees near Overtoun and a blackbird burst into song. That made me smile. Ootside and inside.

Kingdom of Mongo

I don’t think I can remember such a cavalcade of colour as we’ve enjoyed this past wee while.
Every evening has been a blazing display of felt tip pen tones drawn onto blue gel paper placed onto an overhead projector with a 1000W bulb in it.
It stops me in my tracks, and on some occasions, in mid sentence.
It’s like living in the 1980 Flash Gordon Movie and I absolutely love it.
Freaks my camera out too.

St Kessog at Luss

Joycee spent the day in Luss finishing off her sculpture in time for it’s dedication at 1500hrs, and in true Macfarlane style she did it in the nick of time.

The 10th of March this year is the 1500th anniversary of St Kessog’s arrival from Ireland to the Luss area where he was a missionary until his death ten years later death at the hands of druids. He trained under St Patrick and was the patron saint of Scotland until the 10th Century.
He played an important part in our national and local history and it’s good to see an effort being made to raise his profile. We’ve got so much else to learn about our past beyond the popstars such as Wallace, The Bruce and Rob Roy MacGregor.
Joycee was commissioned by Dane Sherrard, the minister as Luss Parish Church to make a sculpture in time for the anniversary.
And like so many of my stories on here, it has a familiar opening line. It was late when I started…

Joycee tries to use reclaimed and recycled materials where possible, and our workshop has that stuff in spades. Three ex-Clyde shipyard keel blocks were picked out (our workshop used be part of Scotts shipyard, these keel blocks are old) , chalked up and chainsawed into rough shape.
Jimmy lent a hand with some of the rough stuff, and indeed at one point that hand got a little close to the action resulting in it needing six stitches, which he got out yesterday, and immediately burst again when he got back from hospital by getting straight ack to work. You can’t stop the man.

Over the past two weeks a 7 foot tall pile of rough wood has become a figure, and the tools used to do it were often over 100 years old, belonging to a carpenter from Dumbarton who used them back at the turn of the last century.
How many of us will be passing on our Argos battery powered drills onto future generations to benefit from?

Dowelled and epoxyed, St Kessog went in the pickup and we took him up the road to get him into place. He is a heavy boy indeed, even chiseled down he’s still a six-footer, and he went by sack barrow and cart to his spot by the trees, and there was welcome help waiting from the church folks too.
The soft pink evening light lit him up and he was suddenly, starkly, red and white, the red pine and douglas fir looking highly contrasting. Joycee and I both knew that by this time tomorrow it would look very different, but I’ll bet there were some worried thoughts in Luss last night. It just goes to show that you should never view an unfinished job!

By the time Holly got to say hello to him today, St Kessog was the right colour and was standing there in the sunshine looking quite pleased with himself.
The dedication was well attended by local folk and school children, the press were there too, even a fella over from Russia to film the days events.
It was a good day, there had been more on besides the sculpture, lots of smiling faces on happy folks. I got to meet some folk I don’t see too much, including my headmistress from primary school in the 1970’s! 
Good on the organisers for doing something when it’s easier to do nothing, but most of all for me, well done the wife.

I’m bored of vampires

It’s a big day tomorrow. Joycee has biggest of the bigness though, it’s the unveiling of her sculpture of St Kessog in Luss on Loch Lomondside. There’s a whole day of events leading up to it, and she’ll be burst by the end of it. We dropped him into his hole earlier tonight, he’s looking good for a 1500-year-old. Both Holly and I shall be waving and grinning as Mummy does her stuff.

Me? I’m expecting answers, although to be fair I might have to wait until Thursday for them. Whatever those answers are will mean I’ll have to do one thing or another. It’s a bugger not being able to bluff my way through everything I do.

The Loch Lomond Wild Camping er, demonstration(?) is now confirmed, we’re just looking at A and B dates, April or May.
A couple of folks from the Park HQ will be joining me on a wild camping trip on Loch Lomondside, we’ll be looking at where and how to pitch, water, waste, and all the ways to make wild camping low-impact and responsible, and maybe most importantly possible. That of course is the easiect thing in the world to do, we all do it, but with good coverage it’s a chance to show the man in the street what the difference is between wild campers and informal campers.
Maybe the difficulty will be scaling that difference down enough to fit it onto even the biggest wide-screen TV?

Insert Unrelated Title Here

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week with maps and books, even looking back through the blog and packets of my old photies for ideas for new Trail Routes. And you know something, my enthusiasm and excitement for this stuff has never been higher.
No matter how much gear I get sent to test, or how many outdoor-related distractions appear, none of it is taking anything away from the simple joy of heading out there.
Something changed for me last year, and it was on that final successful trip to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. I had that feeling of re-discovery, an awakening of sorts after a long doze maybe, and it hasn’t gone away.
I’m planning trips where I’m pointing at the map and walking through the contour lines in my mind and grinning away to myself, I’m thinking about what colour that lochan will be, indigo or algae green, where will I pitch to feel the sunrise warm the tent and waken me gently. I’m sitting here typing, but if I blink I’m also on a top breathing in the cold air and pulling up my hood as the light dims and thoughts (once again) turn to hot cuppas and dinner.
I can be awfy faddy at times, but the Highlands have been a constant for me and as I grow older their grip is tightening. No, not a grip, an embrace.
To find a little thing like that in life, that feels like it’s just enough, I just couldn’t ask for more.

Doctor Who and The Daleks

Holly loves Doctor Who. How this came about we’re not too sure, but add to that, that she asks to hear Hampstien (Rammstein, her current favourite is Sonne from Mutter) when she’s in Dad’s car and Joycee is increasingly shaking her head at the pair of us comparing notes on our shared hobbies.
There is an another element to this, I don’t have to buy anything, my folks still have a loft full of my old Daleks, Cybermen and more that I can bring out one at a time and maintain the ideal position as the girl’s hero.
Best thing I’ve ever seen in my life? Holly putting out a bowl of cereal for K9. That’s my girl.

Out to Play

I went out in the cold sunshine of the Kilpatricks to take some shoe shots, but that really didn’t go so well. Instead I found myself jogging around the trails, gearless and grinning. I ended up tearing along the edge of Lang Craigs as the sun slipped down, arms waving in the air as I skittered down the rocks then across the field to arrive back at the motor, breathless and chuckling.
Somtimes it’s good when it all goes horribly wrong.

Note to self: Sew that kick patch.

I knew I was going, I just didn’t know when. I had booked in meetings and site visits on Monday and Tuesday and then I looked at the weather. Wednesday morning was looking good. Bugger, that meant an alpine start, miles of driving and less fun that it should be.
Phil knew the score and as he stepped off the return flight from Iceland he was texting to see if I’d been.
“Naw”
“We should go up and camp on Tuesday night”
“That’s a possible, it’ll be later on though…”
We had a plan. Of sorts.

I got back to base late in the afternoon and started packing carefully, everything laid out on the living room floor. It looked like it was going to be properly cold and as much as I was in a hurry, I didn’t want to leave anything behind. I’ve got previous of that to be taken into account.
Phil appeared before I was ready of course, then there was some faffing around as I had to reunite Joycee with her car keys at my folks house, during which Holly said “Daddy, back from the mountains” and started to pull my jumper off. Ach.
Then we were on the road. The A82 in fact.

It was clear and it was cold. We kept watching for clouds, but it was all stars and optimism. We had to drive through Tyndrum, there were no lights on and no dinner there for us. Ft Bill also had the shutters down, Morrisons was shut, McDonalds was shut, I’m not on speaking terms with the chippy and the only other option was the Morrisons garage where we got sammidges, snacks and some gay badinage with the wummin in there who was from Cumbernauld it turns out. The lesson is, that after 2100hrs Scotland is shut on a Tuesday.
Spean Bridge came and went, the Fersit sign was next and then we were driving through wind-blown snow on the road. Fresh and unexpected. It was late, were convinced that there was now a cloud overhead, and other doubts started creeping in about night navigation in cloud, will the car park be locked, it’s after ten and we haven’t had any dinner.

The car park was empty, and a skating rink. After a half-arsed salchow we reversed into a snow bank and parked up. Lights on, cold sammidges and Lucozade for dinner.
A wee van pulled in and the sounds were those of racks being assembled for climbing in the morning. That affected our plans, if they were camping at the cliffs we wouldn’t, not totally an anti-social thing, but courtesy, the environment and flexibility in our route made it a good choice. We found out next day that they’d slept in the van, but it was academic anyway. After walking until 2350 we knew we hand to stop, and we were neither on the ridge or at the lochan.
The trail had been iced, but walkable and the mostly clear sky had seen us walking sans headtorches. Very pleasant indeed, if increasingly cold.
We found a cracking spot a little way above the track, my wee tent needed just a little flattening with the Snowclaw to get a pitch, but Phil needed some digging for his winter fortress. After a small mechanical with a pole that needed some McGuyvering we were set and the stoves were soon on as we wandered our little plot.

A beautiful night it was, and nice to be camped below the tops for a change, it gives you a different persective on your surroundings. I’ve had an odd desire to camp on a beach for a while, so maybe this is good mental half-way point?
We both slipped into sleep quite quickly, it was very late, hot chocolate and high loft down will do you in every time.

Zzzzziiiipp! Mmmffff… crump crump crump. I opened my eyes, bloody hell, it’s light outside.
“Mornin'” I shouts, “What time is it?”
“Five past eight!” Says Phil as he pads about outside.
Ah bugger, all the advantages of our drive up last night had been lost if you look at it from a logistical perspective, but we were firing up stoves in the mountains in the sunshine and snow. That’s a Win.

We just hung out at camp for a couple of hours, taking photies, sipping a hot brew, shooting the breeze and waving to the chain of climbers clanking past on the track below. Any notion of having to do anything else all day was lost. I was quite happy where I was.

A front moved across us from the West, like the sunroof being pulled closed. The light was diffused by high wispy cloud and I took that as an omen. We packed to leave.
We rejoined the trail and headed towards the cliffs or Coire Ardair on hard frozen snow, high ridges all round and in air that grew ever cooler.

The bright blue ice on the cliffs began to shine out from the frozen rock faces. And soon tiny black figures on the blue ice became visible, then their movements, then their shouts.
The cliffs had a dozen folk clinging onto them, some in obviously more precarious positions that others. Coming towards us were a pair who’d called off after one had hurt his ankle. He limped after his mate who was carrying both packs and both sets of gear. That was going to be a long walk out for both of them.

Lochain a’ Choire (below left) was frozen and snow covered. It’s a beautiful spot. We could have camped here, but at what time, 1am, 2am? Another time.

Poles were changed for crampons and ice axes. The snow was very inconsistent though, being variously frozen rock-hard and fall-through-up-to-yer-baws deep. This made the climb to the “window” bealach  slow and tiring, but the scenery made every rest stop a joy. The huge cornice to our left looked so precarious, it was cracked, it was weary and it was right above us. The rocks here were iced on their faces as they turned into the Window, ice-falls draped the overhangs and every scree strewn gully was was filled with a blanket of fresh snow. The wind was picking up and the mood was changing as we climbed in to the wide channel and onto the broad back of the mountain.

It was a sea of snow with a ring of dark blue on the horizon. The sky was the same colour as the ground, and just as blank. Tinted lenses didn’t help, this was distinctly odd indeed.
We were both starving by this point but Creag Meagaidh’s plateau isn’t where you want to be stopping for lunch. As time was getting on, and the light was tiring at the same pace as ourselves, we waved to Mad Megs Cairn and turned down to Puist Coire Ardair for some shelter in which to enjoy our pub lunch (Lasagne and Chili Con Carne).
We dug in the snow a little and I got the stove on, cut some chunks of snow and added them to what little water I had left in the pot. the rising steam was like a lost brother coming home. Dinner was gone in a flash, we really did leave it too long and that makes you all upset. I had been sucking on a frozen protein bar, but I think that had been using so much effort that any benefit was cancelled out.
A climber topped-out near us as we were packing up. We were the only folk on the mountain that day who weren’t climbing. I waved to his grinning mate as he too clambered over the edge following a pink rope, and then I turnd after Phil.
I curled my thumbs into my fingers inside my mitts as they throbbed. It was very cold now, it hadn’t risen above -5ºC since we’ve arrived, but it was now properly cold.

The walk along the ridge towards Sròn á Ghoire was exposed to the wind and we had our faces covered and hoods up. The views back to the cliffs of Coire Ardair were wonderful though. By now the cliffs were starting to swirl with spindrift and the snow was moving in behind us. Down was the right direction.

The heathery slopes of Sròn á Ghoire were frozen and there was still much snow, and after that we found the track was iced right back to the motor. So we had the happy task of removing boots with crampons still attached and throwing them in the back.
It was dark with snow lightly falling. The glen where we’d camped was in cloud now and we’d got the timing right, just and no more.

The drive home? Ah, now there was an epic. We had intended to stop at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum but it was closed, and we had been a snails pace as the snow had gotten increasingly heavy and the road had become ever more ill-defined. Had I been alone, maybe there would have been some chancier driving with my new snow tyres, but the presence of a passenger does tend to reel in such tendencies these days.
It was much great relief we pulled into the BP garage a mile from home (my home anyway, and where Phil’s wheels were waiting) and I picked up an Indian Meal For Two for Me.

Just in the nick of time too, I was fading away.

Meteor Girl

I pulled the jacket flat to take a couple of shots to do a first-look of it. I turned round to get the camera, and by the time I turned back Holly had decided that she liked the shiny red seat and sat there laughing at me.
Is daddy not taking any photies then?
“Ah, no no””
I guess she’s geared-out. Wise beyond her years that girl.

Advertising space available at reasonable rates

It’s like visiting a friends house, or your granny. Sure, it might not be exciting this time, it might just be cuppas and some telly, but you know that you’ll be welcome, time will pass at whatever pace it likes and you’ll be immune to any outside influence or interference for the duration.
I watched the mix of snow flurries and sunshine, looked at my watch, filled the kettle to make up a flask. I was heading to Ben Lomond for my first visit of 2010.

The pure white summit ridge swings in and out of view all the way down the road from Drymen, and never seems any closer. It’s a big bloody magnet, and it’s pull on me has never lessened through the years.
I changed into my big thick socks and boots(?!), pulled on a windshirt and headed up the tourist track. It’s been a couple of years since I climbed Lomond this way, and as good as the Ptarmigan ascent is, the views this way are different and I was already enjoying myself as I cleared the woods and stepped into the breeze and cool sunshine.
I met my first descenders of the day, a couple who’d not made the summit, but were just out for the joy of it to see what lay up the track. As with most folk I meet on the hill, they were immediately concerned for my well-being as I was walking in the wrong direction late in the afternoon. I explained myself.

The next meeting was one which will stay with for quite a while. An auld fella was coming towards me, and my first thought was “What the hell is that on his nose?”. It was a bit of tissue to stem the blood.
“Have you taken and tumble?”
“Aye, my crampon came off…”
I surveyed him and my mind raced through the options as I questioned him. He was worried that he’d burst hid cheek, but although his face was swollen, he’d just skinned it. The only blood was from his nose and it looked to be stopping. He was having black eye today as well. He was lucid, sharp in fact, and was moving well.
“Come on, sit down and I’ll get you cleaned up”
“No, no”
“Well, let me walk you down then?”
“No, no.. I’m fine…”
He was edging past me at this point. I let him go. It went against all my instincts, and all my standards as an interventionist, but I watched him walk away.
You know what swung it? I reckon he was well into his 70’s, he had a mix of gear from recent to old-school, I reckon he’d been in the mountains all his life. He’d taken a tumble and he’d picked himself up, sorted himself out and was making his way home. If I’d taken over would it has broken his confidence in his lifetime of experience? I just thought of him staying home next time because of his memory of this “young” fell taking him off the hill.
I felt queasy, it was a very emotional moment.
I watched him descend into the dip where the little bridge is, emerge onto the track at the other side and motor along, as he faded from sight he was almost with the couple I’d met earlier.
I don’t know if I did the right thing, and I don’t know if I’d do the same if I had a second chance.

The next group I met were instructed to watch for the auld boy as they went down. Soothing my conscience or taking precautions? At that moment I wasn’t sure at all.
The next pair were a couple of retired boys, using their free time to good effect with-weekly hill trips. We shot the breeze, talked gear and hills and it lightened my mood.
I went a little farther, but with losing so much time the light was fading and it was time for dinner, and it was time for crampons.

Now it was snow and ice and wind. The moon came out, but it’s bright, clear light was cold and the insulated jacket I’d put on when I stopped had stayed on as the wind fired spindrift into my legs, my mitts stayed on as my finger tips nipped and my face stayed covered as every inhalation ran sharp fingernails over my fillings.
The cloud was patchy and fast moving, the snow was hard and my spikes cut into it very definitely with every step. My headtorch was still in my pocket, the moon cast my shadow long and well defined in front of me as I traversed the wonderful summit ridge.
The trig point was iced and exposed, it was so cold on the summit. A quick refuel and I descended to the little coll to watch the camera constantly get blown over into the snow. But I did get the chance to play about a little.

It’s funny how a long exposure makes the city lights look so bright, it turns Lomond into an urban peak. But standing there, they’re just tiny twinkles to the south and don’t feel intrusive at all.

I took forever to descend. And tired eyes and some patchy clouds brought out my headtorch.
Eventually all the cloud disappeared, the moon rose a little higher and the wind sunk a little lower. it was beautiful.
I pulled up a rock and finished my flask. I had a lot to think about. I often say how easy what I do is, how accessible it all is. But the mix of people I’d met and their varying fortunes had reminded me of how relative it all is. We can all make mistakes, experience isn’t a bulletproof shield, we can all find ourselves out of our depth, and we can all find a little victory from reaching a level that others would scorn at.
So I don’t think there is a right or wrong, or if there is it’s just applicable to you yourself. What’s maybe universal then is the need to have an understanding for the “other”?

The carpark was deserted and pitch black. My feet were glad to be back into trainers, and suddenly the most important thing was hot food. I hadn’t realised it was getting so late.
Is a McDonald’s a guilty pleasure? I was the last customer last night, they’d put the cat out, turned down the duvet and were about to lock the door and turn the lights off when I appeared at the counter. I half expected them to just say “Here, just take the assorted lukewarm foodstuff that’s left with out compliments and give us peace”.  But instead I got a Big Tasty with Bacon and onion rings frshly made and fries still with a bit of crispiness about them. Nice.

You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll

It’s bloody miserable out there. Cold too, and not that nice frosty cold, it’s a damp cold that you suck in with every breath, it lingers inside you, sapping your enthusiasm and draining joy reserves.
What of Creag Meagaidh? What indeed. I can’t face the drive without knowing I’ve got a good chance of it being clear, even patchy would do.
It’s such a great hill, and I know exactly the two shots I want for the Trail route (how’s that for uncharacteristic organisation?), but as nice as testing the Berghaus Temperance hood in a blizzard would be, those likely conditions do not help our mission.

So as I’m flicking through the computer at my folks’ I found some photies from a hike-a-bike to Gulvain a few years back. I remember it well, warm sun, cool air, a light haze softening the stark white streaks of snow lying late into the year. A fun ride in and out as well.

I want out. 

Banana Cake Mix

The forecast looked less than perfect for getting photies of Creag Meagaidh over the weekend, so I spent Friday night singing songs with Holly, making up stories and generally keeping her up way past her bedtime instead of packing for an overnighter. 
Joycee got out to play with her pals last night too, and a long lie for us all made it happy times this morning.
We decided to just hang out today and spent the day around the Trossachs, lunch in Callander, a wander here, a shufty there and later on we watched the sun set over Loch Venacher as we skipped stones across the water towards it. Then we drove home to the Flash Gordon (Ah-Ah!) soundtrack which Holly loves as it’s her favourite film…
Magic.

Left unattended

I’m in all on my own, and I should really be packing my bags for tomorrow’s trip down to the Lakes, but I find myself sitting with a cuppa and getting all wistful instead.
I’ve been looking at maps which have been sparking as many memories as they have moments of inspiration. I’ve had a DVD on of the old West Highland Railway Line, engines toiling up Glen Almond or arriving at Ballachulish Station, and now I’m working my way through Weir’s Way.
It’s a timely reminder of where my heart lies and where my inspiration comes from.
In these days where everything is engineered to look like a super sexy product or lifestyle choice that’ll make you better than you were before, be it a simple day’s hillwalking or a £400 jacket, watching an old bloke in a hand-knitted woolly bunnet wandering around Scotland telling a wee story, reaches into me and plucks a perfect note that makes my heart sing.
That’s something that no sponsored athlete exploits, advertising campaign imperatives or completed tick-list will ever bring to me.
It’s just the same feeling as I find when I’m sitting by my tent with the steam rising from the mug in my hand, simple joy. Hold onto it.