Well, summers here, and what a mixed up bag of delights it is. Seemingly endless rain which can defeat even the most expensive of waterproofs, snow in Airdrie in the middle of May, with one day of sunshine last week sandwiched in between.
I headed off to Ratagan near Glen Shiel with Glasgow HF Outdoor Club for the recent bank holiday. I planned to cycle from Kyle of Lochalsh to Ratagan, and on paper the journey looked fantastic, taking in the spectacular scenery along Loch Alsh and Loch Duich, as well as the stunning Eileen Donan Castle. I had hoped to get some good photos, but within minutes of leaving Kyle I was utterly drenched. A dream is only a nightmare with better scenery, and the dream jouney was not to be. Instead it became an endurance test against the cold and wet, and if you passed me on the road you’d be mistaken in thinking I was smiling. That was my gritted teeth you saw! The return journey a few days later was little better, and while I did manage to snatch a few photos of the castle, they won’t be appearing on any postcards soon, not with it clad in scaffolding and netting for roof repairs.
I did manage to get two walks in, although the weather meant Munros were out of the question, so I trod a path less well known instead, trip reports to follow. In the meantime I’m reproofing all my gear, waterproofing my boots and in general preparing for what the rest of summer will throw at us. Roll on autumn!
Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis
There is something about the story of George Mallory which attracts even those who are completely uninterested in climbing. As you can see from the title though, this is far bigger than just the story of one man. It examines the role of the British Empire, and how the race for Everest became for Great Britain a national obsession, and for Mallory a personal one.
Full review here: Into The Silence.
Doesn’t look that angry…
With Scotland seemingly twinned with Narnia and locked in perpetual winter, I threw off my crampons, discarded my snow googles and replaced them with sandals and sunglasses, before flying out to Spain for some time on the beach in Benidorm. Last year I did the Sierra Helada, and had hoped to return to climb Puig Campana, but this holiday was really just a short break, and baggage limitations being tight I wasn’t bringing walking gear on the off chance. So this time I had to give Puig Campana a miss. Well, almost…
For the full trip report click here: Benidorm Island.
Some of the anti-independence brigade have hinted that should Scotland become independent there would be border checks and a need for passports to go to England. So where better to go then than the original border set up by the Roman Empire almost 2000 years ago? I checked the train times, packed my gear (minus passport) and readied for the off.
Read the full trip report here: Hadrians Wall: Haltwhistle to Bardon Mill.
An application was recently submitted to construct a windfarm near Harthill and Eastfield by Eneco. The website promoting the proposal can be viewd HERE. You can lodge objections to this at the North Lanarkshire Online Planning site HERE. The application number is 13/00501/FUL.
Looking at the plan it would appear that one of the turbines will be located only a few metres from the monument known as Lord Peden’s Stone. Erected in the 1800s this is an important historical monument to the Covenanters, and it is visited regularly. There is a danger of ice which forms on turbine blades being thrown a considerable distance, making this a risk during winter. If you are making an objection please mention this important fact. It may not stop the development, but could mean that no turbine could be sited in the immediate vicinity of the monument.
The weather hasn’t been kind these past few weeks. Icy winds laden with snow have made things unpredictable, so I’ve gave the big hills a rest until conditions are more settled. Low level local walks have been the order of the day, but my itchy feet got the better of me and I decided to go where I haven’t gone before…England. According to some should Scotland gain independence in 2014 there will be border patrols, barbed wire, full cavity body searches and a need for a passport to go to Carlisle. Bearing that in mind I decided to go south while I still have the chance, and what better symbol of border control could there be than Hadrian’s Wall? I’ll post a full trip report when I get the chance.
News is breaking tonight that the contract for UK Search and Rescue is about to be awarded to US company Bristow. Despite thousands of signatures on an online petition against the move, the UK government will be pressing ahead with their plans to privatise SAR operations. This at a time when SAR helicopter crews are working round the clock to bring aid to the civilian community in areas such as Arran, which have been hit by heavy snow. Whether it’s soldiers in Afghanistan, or helicopter crews here at home, the governments attitude seems to be “Thanks for your help, don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out”. Time will tell whether it brings the supposed improvements to SAR. Don’t be surprised if it has more wide reaching consequences. Anyone for compulsory hillwalking insurance?