Saturday, 20 May 2017
Edinburgh must be one of the most photo friendly cities on the planet and you could easily take a 1000 holiday snaps here no problem without repeating the views. I was actually through here by bus to do another walk but in the late afternoon I still had time to squeeze in this superb balcony trail around the castle, directly under the steep walls.
For those who don't know the story of how a brown bear ended up as a corporal in the Polish Army fighting against Italian and German troops then moved to Edinburgh in retirement here's the short version.
snakes would have trouble squeezing past each other, let alone a six footer with a rucksack descending and twenty Japanese students determinedly coming up. No queues usually- very cheap admission entry and great fun.
Unfortunately most of the local accents I heard came from people sitting hunched up on the pavements begging for money- some very young- so obviously it's a year round thing here and in Glasgow, not just for Christmas/ New Year,where one homeless person dies every week.
In the media recently though it was mentioned it was people's generosity that encouraged them into the city districts in the first place as many can earn good money every day with which to buy drink or drugs. You don't notice them as much in Edinburgh on a nice sunny day because of all the tourists milling everywhere but in less busy Glasgow City Centre they are very visible and must be off-putting to the tourist industry as they do number in the hundreds in both city centres. Like everything else in 2017 it's a complicated picture as presumably folk have different reasons for ending up homeless and on the street and everybody usually has a strong opinion on the matter and what's causing it. Why does nearly every district, village and town in the UK have a food bank now- something unheard of 15 years ago. Just a trend or a need- as folk using them seemed to have doubled or tripled year on year since 2008. Even affluent Milngavie, a well heeled suburb near Glasgow, has a food bank now, something that surprised me on a recent bike ride there although I suppose losing your job or being stuck on low wages with a large mortgage to pay and a family is a burden no matter where you live. Fashion trend or necessity? Why should they exist I wonder, if, as the government says, we are almost at full employment in the UK with more people than ever in work and the 5th richest economy in the world. Something doesn't add up somewhere. Like seven years of brutal austerity measures and service cuts yet the national debt is twice what it was before.
Wednesday, 17 May 2017
May is a fantastic month in the UK. Spring at it's height with a world reborn anew-full of dazzling colour. Rhododendrons and wild garlic here.
As the highest hill in this area Cairnpapple Hill at 312 metres or 1024 feet high offered not only a panoramic view of the region but my best chance of seeing the topography from above and where I should be heading next. It's also one of the most important prehistoric burial sights in Scotland and several rings of ancient graves dot the summit like a current studded bun.
A rainbow cycle trip.
That would change abruptly as well...
A highly nostalgic video of past times. I vaguely remember trolley buses as a child on the streets of Glasgow and although this is Sheffield it could be any large British town or city from that period going by the transport, thriving town centres, and the casual dress code... with ordinary looking folk pre- fashion, pre-plastic surgery, fake teeth, fake tans and computers. A different world and bygone age. Wonder if we will sit, as internet dependent permanently connected cyborgs, 60 years from now and look back at today with the same evocative bewilderment and sense of strange longing for supposedly simpler times.
Friday, 12 May 2017
With an extended two week long heatwave over most of the British Isles, nebulous warnings of drought hanging over the summer months ahead for selected dry areas and not much rain for what seems like months now- Scotland is a different country.
A Mediterranean style climate, guaranteed blue skies and sunshine every time you open the curtains.... and gardens thirsty for water. This must be what summer is like in other countries further south.
This is slightly later at Milton garage on the outskirts of Glasgow. The Kilpatrick Hills getting the morning sunlight here. Late spring means it's daylight now from around 4:00am to 10:00pm, giving 18 hours of uninterrupted sunshine and Alex intended making the most of it with a day trip to Knoydart in the remote North Western Scottish Highlands.
Ben Nevis is the UK's Highest Mountain but most folk that climb it by the tourist path only glimpse these cliffs from above as they mainly attract rock and ice climbers. Some of the longest routes in Britain lie here. Ledge Route on Ben Nevis is also seen here on the right hand cliffs weaving through some impressive rock architecture.
Alex on the public path walking through the magnificent grounds of the Kinloch Hourn estate. A car park exists at the road end here for the trek into Barisdale Bothy or to claim the three prized Munros in this area, namely, Ladhar Bheinn, 1020 metres, Meall Buidhe 946 metres, and Luinne Bheinn, 939 metres. I'd imagine the majority of hill-walkers only do them once- unless you have a mad streak for multiple Munro rounds or are in love with the area. I certainly remember them as tough but highly enjoyable outings.
Although I've climbed quite a few via ferrata routes in the Dolomites myself in the past, both backpacking and on day jaunts this video seems as mad to me as the Adrenalin rush junkies climbing tall buildings and hanging off them... but one person's madness is another's joy it seems. Spectacular... bonkers... and very brave... where one wrong move means certain death after a long drop.