Wednesday, 12 February 2020
While I wouldn't normally be excited to visit a 7th century middle aged Irish abbess this particular Ciara was an Atlantic storm, predicted to hit landfall over Ireland and the UK, bringing strong winds and gusts approaching 90 miles an hour with flooding likely due to high spring tides. (Spring is in early February now?!!! Who knew!!!) A Celtic cross in Helensburgh, above.
It doesn't take much to be happy...and sustainable.... and you can have a reasonably good standard of life with a lot less... I already do that to a large degree..through natural inclination and poverty.... always a good curb on spending habits....a carbon pinkie print on the planet..... but our entire economy and wealth at the moment depends on everyone buying stuff they do not really need. And if we all stop buying stuff we don't need.... voluntarily.... other countries will just get ahead in our place. A frantic race to nowhere for all concerned.
Thursday, 6 February 2020
A bothy trip with a couple of old friends was planned a few weeks ago so after deciding which one to visit we motored up to the Central Highland District of Scotland on Friday evening, intending to walk the 8km ( 5miles) over the moors in the dark. It was a very dark night, no moon or stars, and pitch black- the total darkness of an underground tunnel. Normally you can see something of the landscape around you, even if dimly perceived, like the edge of a wood, the vague shape of the surrounding hills, or a large water feature but on this occasion it was really dark. Probably due to an already featureless landscape and zero habitation glow with no city, town or village lights anywhere within 30 miles.
It had taken me at least five minutes to get free of the bog and I was now unsure of direction so I got out my map and had a think. Luckily, I was experienced enough to consider things rationally and was still confident I could find the bothy, even without a compass or the others- who had forged on ahead, helped by a GPS. That's cheating!!!!. ( in the various clubs I've been in over the years it's not unusual to walk alone for a spell, especially on backpacking trips, or going up and down a hill, finding your own way, but this was a first for a night time walk when we usually stick together.)
It was only one lone head torch however bobbing around and the longer I followed it the more I realized it was leading me in the wrong direction, down towards the main large loch in the district.( the western end of it just visible above.)
When it suddenly winked off I'd already worked out it must be someone else. Either a local gamekeeper, fish bailiff, or estate worker or another hill and bothy lover. I also realized if it was an estate worker they might have a rifle with them as part of their job so maybe not a good idea to chase after them any further. I got out my map again and had a rethink.
The best way now to find the bothy I decided was to go slightly downhill, away from the head torch stranger, until I reached the western edge of the loch then follow the river flowing into it upstream until I reached the bridge across it. Easy landmarks to find in the dark and follow without needing a compass.... or even a torch if it stopped working with the insides now soaked....so I did that. You can see the ground I covered in the above photo. It felt far longer than it looks with a feeble torch as the batteries could have been newer but I thought I'd wear them out on this trip then replace them. I did have a spare set in the rucksack but changing them over in complete darkness might prove problematic so I did not want to attempt it unless necessary. An hour or so later John and Gavin came out belatedly, to find me, but by that time I was very near the bothy anyway- still confident I would reach it and over the bridge... it just took longer than expected.... and a few more kilometers in the dark. ( back in Glasgow I bought a new head torch and compass right away as it could have been more unpleasant and serious if my torch failed completely, although I would still have reached the bothy, just far later again, so I now have a back up torch just in case. A wake up call for me. Never rely on others too much.... although by nature I usually am the independent type anyway Probably never need it but a definite lesson in complacency on my part as my torch could have been better over rough ground and swamps giving me a fighting chance of a straight line traverse over a challenging up and down landscape and my new one is far brighter with a longer beam.
Friday, 31 January 2020
A large ship when you realise it's the equivalent of the family car. You can't really see the outside properly when exploring it so this is a view from the Western Harbour. The small craft in front is presumably to enter places, shallow harbours, islands, etc where the Britannia could not go. Of course, if you can't afford this lifestyle you can have as much fun and adventure sightseeing with a £40 tent and backpack. Probably more fun and adventure.
"Ah, you saw them earlier, Dorothy, my guest of honour. Don't you remember?"
"Not visiting Dublin then?"
" Not too bad." She conceded.
"This is a remote spot." she admitted when we arrived, taking my favourite circular tour under the stilts supporting this structure where the sea, at high tide, laps the pillars.
"It might be a portal between two worlds." This from me, adding to the atmosphere... no-one else in sight on either long breakwater arm, with a watery entrance channel preventing the fingertips from touching each other . " Not many folk make it out to here. Least visited location in the city, maybe." I guessed.
Look, The sea has bubble fingers. Five digits. Shake it's mighty hand. It's pleased to see you."
So we did, jumping on a local bus and arriving 15 minutes later under Calton Hill.