Sunday, 10 June 2018
Eriska. Saint Conon's Kirk. Port Appin Memories.
After climbing Beinn Mheadhonach in the Benderloch District and getting this lovely summit view of Ben Starav, 1078metres, and Loch Etive we headed a short distance further west in Alex's car to the heavily wooded island of Eriska.
Alex wanted to bag the high-point on the island but he knew I would like this extra excursion as well. In the past, like the majority of hill-walkers I've met, he could be very single minded about gaining summits whereas I soon deviated and took the slacker route, after doing the Munros, as I already knew inside I would never have the same drive to complete the Corbetts. I like interesting hills, jaggy summits and odd features and have never fully embraced the concept of climbing a featureless boring slope just because its on some list somewhere. Beiinn Mheadhonach was an enjoyable hill with various landscape zones to climb through from low level fields and vivid garden edges...
then up through small mixed woodlands, onto open meadows then the upper windy ridges and craggy summit views but many other hills are of the head down plod up variety with nothing much to see or photograph from top to bottom. Every place I've visited on holidays or trips here or abroad I've enjoyed the hills I've climbed but a part of me has always wanted to do other things as well, like visiting new towns and cities nearby, interesting beaches, places I've heard about or tourist haunts. I've always been that way, wanting to visit everywhere at once, with a competing range of interests to pursue so its always been a gentle battle of wills with others to combine both. Sometimes I win but most times no interest wins the day and I give up in disgust. In previous holidays I've been lucky enough to climb and walk in the Italian Dolomites and France but have always had a real effort to persuade my reluctant companions to go sightseeing around Italian and French towns and cities, just sightseeing in itself, which I also enjoy with equal relish.
" Rimini- Wow- poly sexual sleaze capital of western Europe it says here in this guidebook and we are only 30 mins away guys. We've got to have a night out there. Look at that photograph of the main street. Where's your spirit of adventure?!There's a bus stop at the Youth Hostel. C'mon. " ( no takers in that instance due to an early rise next morning heading for ten days in the jaggy mountains and no enthusiasm at all for visual urban decadence either apparently :o( Obviously you have to be fairly single minded to work your way through any list of summits so its always been something of a compromise going with other people to interesting places although I always like the company but Alex now is also more flexible and thinks " need to find something to interest Bob while still pleasing myself." This post probably comes under that heading.
Due to the pestering effects of the flies and midges inland I spent a lot of the ten day holiday here exploring the rocky shoreline alone, playing music on a small portable hand held machine I carried everywhere at that time. Not loud as it was close to my ear in an age before i pods. Teenage years are strange ones anyway with so many conflicting emotions/hormones sweeping through mind and body where everything feels much more intense as its all fresh and raw seen for the first time. If it's true that our mental state often veers from madness to sanity over the course of any lifetime and is not fixed to one precise spot I think its fair to say I was more of a yoyo during my teens and twenties than at any other age. In what would now be termed a Goth stage I liked melancholy music and morbid subject matter and found plenty of gloomy dark places here to mope around in but also found a certain weird happiness in sadness and solitude as well. I found numerous bats flying at night close by, a few lone otters playing in the shallow coves.... and seals in numbers would often stick their heads up and come closer when I played music to them, especially long folk ballads, or me yowling and singing softly back to them trying to find the best notes and drawn out sounds they liked, Irish pipes, and violins mainly got the biggest 'seal of approval', so I had loads of interest without other children my own age to play with and could escape into my own imagination instead. At night in the caravan I had a series of recurring weird dreams of lying under the stars on the grass surrounded by local sleeping donkeys with gleeful little vampire bats hopping across the field to feast on our blood each evening as I got thinner and thinner. This turned me into an infected emaciated ghoul who crawled out at night to dine on the village locals. On one occasion the bats had human faces of my various teenage friends left back in Glasgow shrunk down to miniature size. This notion came from a well known Sci- Fi postcard of the time I'd seen as a child that fascinated me for years afterwards so at least I knew the source. Ants in that instance with human faces. I was a strange boy who probably troubled his parents but I came out all right in the end.
Saint Conon's Kirk on the shores of Loch Awe.
One of my favourite videos on You Tube. Think Bronte sisters plus brother Branwell... the inner imaginary world they all shared together as children with its own rules and harsh judgements and you're halfway there. People don't change that much as they grow older. I still like sunlight... and obsidian... and bats. :o)