Sunday, 23 December 2012
Myself, Alex, John and Graeme. We were heading for Edzell and Glen Esk which is a lovely Angus glen surrounded by a fine range of hills. John wanted a shot at Mount Buttocks as that was new to him. (I think that's what he said but I wasn't really paying attention.). I didn't fancy any of that so when Alex suggested an alternative in the River North Esk Walk I jumped at the chance to get out at Edzell.
Further up at the first stone bridge it became very impressive and scenic. It was still below freezing but almost tee shirt time down here. Just the way I like it.
Some good rapids though and some nice easy sections.
On the way back I returned along the other bank of the River which also has a path though it is slightly wilder and harder to negotiate in places, coming back to Edzell via the green suspension bridge. A great low level river walk with plenty to see. Well worth it if anyone is in the area.
Thanks to Alex for suggesting it.
A real treat this week seeing as its Christmas. A stunning video and song. My angel Gabriel by Lamb. The video is The Lovely Bones, a great film by Peter Jackson about a very dark subject indeed but which has some truly stunning images of a child's idea of Heaven in it. ( I was only joking about the Baby Jesus supper obviously in the last post before anyone rushes off to Kirriemuir to buy one. Maybe I should Patent that idea though. It might be a good seller!
Merry Christmas everyone. Best wishes to you all for 2013.
Saturday, 22 December 2012
Naturally The Cairngorms were plastered in snow. Leaving on Friday night we reached Kirriemuir a couple of hours later and set about finding a chip shop.
Took this photo above from the spot where I jumped the Linn of Dee, again in winter, many years ago when I was still mad and reckless. Lord Byron nearly drowned here and the period climber Menlove Edwards swam down it. Don't try this at home children.
This was their local bothy.
I timed it perfectly to meet up with Alex and John at the car and we drove down the road, heater on full, to pick up Graeme who had started his hill from the Spittal of Glenshee area.
What! Hey, I'm just acclimatizing myself for my eventual destination. I.ve already booked a place down below as Heaven looks far too drafty and cold an environment for me to ever exist in. All that space and a howling wind from all those bloody angels flapping about everywhere. No Chance! Bring on the fiery furnace! Bags me the hot seat between Satan's slippers!
Music now. I've been a fan of this guy and his band for years, ever since the classic 'Our shadows will remain' and 'Redemption's Son' era. This is the new Velvet Underground right here. Totally under-rated singer songwriter with a huge back catalogue of great songs and acclaimed CD,s under his belt. New York Based as well, just like they were.
Friday, 14 December 2012
The view above was taken on the track to the bothy looking towards the Silver flow and Craignaw.
Alex suggested taking the bikes and cycling in from Clatteringshaws Loch so this is what we did.
In the bothy we met Jordan and Kate, a young couple from Manchester who were exploring the district. This couple we shared the bothy with and one other girl we met on the hill were the only people we spotted in the area over two days. Not bad. Must have been a mad rush towards the area on those two days.
In ancient times this area had a much bigger population when it was even wilder and more remote than it is today. No land rover tracks and few paths ran across it when the tribes of Galloway occupied it and they had a deserved reputation for being even fiercer fighters than the highland clans. I tried to find a good link to this but couldn't find one that gave all the information needed in one article so here's my half remembered version instead.
They demanded and received the dubious right to be first into battle during every war fought and old accounts tell of near naked Galwegians running into battle with a collection of arrows sticking from their torsos yet still actively hacking arms, heads, and legs off the enemy until they eventually succumbed to blood loss. The word berserker comes to mind. The King of Galloway (Fergus if I remember it correctly) was also reputed to have once chewed the nose off a messenger sent by the King of Norway who demanded that Galloway fall under his control or he would send a thousand long ships to decimate the area. The unlucky emissary, minus his nose, was sent back with the message that it would be just as easy for Galloway to muster a thousand ships then raid Norway. In other words bring it on big man. The King of Norway declined as he quite liked his subjects without teeth marks and missing facial parts. The Romans ,after a few costly skirmishes, simply ringed it off then by passed the region as they pressed further north, deciding it wasn't worth the effort trying to subdue such an unruly population with such an unproductive upland as the prize.
This long lasting reputation over the centuries may have given rise to the story of Sawney Bean ( which simply translates as Alexander the killer) and his family who reputedly lived in a cave under Bennane head and supposedly killed and ate hundreds of travellers before the males were executed and the women and children burned alive. There is no record that this family ever existed however though several isolated tales of starvation and cannibalism around this region by unfortunate individuals in the distant past are probably nearer the truth .If you were faced with a life or death choice in the middle ages its not inconceivable you would be tempted. But that is more to do with desperation than any wilful act.
There is a legend of a hairy tree however that was planted in Girvan by Sawney bean's eldest daughter who escaped the fate of her family. Many years later the townspeople discovered who she was and hanged her from her own tree bringing an end to her deception. This tree has not been found either but the legend persists as several attempts have been made locally to find it.
We also met a girl up here who knew a friend of ours and worked in the same office in Inverness as he did. Hi BD. Its a small world in outdoor circles. Three random folk in a vast area and one of them knows one of our friends.
Alex went on to climb Curleywee but as it was a sizable descent then re-ascent up this I only did the first bit, watched him slogging upwards then went down to the bothy to pack up and read my paper in front of the fire. So glad I'm no longer a bagger! Happy days.
'Its not intentional.' I replied. 'Its just anytime I turn round on a hill you're always walking up it.'
'Don't you dare post that photo of me walking. Take one of me cycling up it instead.'
Which reminds me of a true Gordon Strachan quote when he was asked by a sports reporter if he had time for a quick word after a match in which his players had failed to shine presumably.
'Yeah. Velocity.' He replied, quickly shooting out the door to his car. Now that's style!
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Luckily the next day was a good one and we set off early to climb it without hesitation.
It lies in the wonderful Glenveagh National park which reminded me of Torridon....
After a very boggy start(wet summer here too by the looks of it) from the car park the going became easier and drier following a well trod path to the summit.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gweedore. A fascinating place with a scattered collection of offshore islands.This is a zoom of part of Tory island,the furthest out with massive sea stacks and rugged cliffs,full of spectacular views.The St Kilda of Donegal. Tory still has a viable population living on it though being much closer to mainland services.It even has its own king and an incredible history of its own which you can find out about through the same link highlighted above.
Coldest day of the trip but so lucky with the weather.Still no rain on the fabric.
We also passed a couple of the new upmarket 'Ghost estates' on the way back, lying mostly empty, built in the days of the Celtic Tiger when people still had the money to buy them.These may eventually have to be knocked down if the economy doesn't pick up as only one or two out of every 30 were occupied.A real shame because they looked very well constructed houses with quality design features.
We then went to Bonners corner bar in Ballybofey were we sampled a few cosy pints (Tennant's lager seemed to be in most of the pubs over here as well as the Guinness.) A great night in good company with a cracking local band in the pub playing all the local favourites many of which I knew...Raggle taggle Gypsies,Spancil hill etc.
Don't know why it took me so long to go there.
Special treat. Two videos today.
The noble sport of Hurling and two very talented girls from sussex with a fantastic guitar sound.Returning some new folk music to Ireland.
Saturday, 24 November 2012
I,ve only been in a room that had a peat fire on two or three occasions and was less than impressed as it just smoldered away with not much visible flame but this time it was constructed by an expert.The whole of Donegal seems powered by peat and a stack of black gold sits in neat piles outside almost every house.
This one was a cracker with bone dry peat stacked vertical in the grate which seemed to make all the difference as it gave out bags of flames and heat.A great night passed quickly.
The photo above taken from inside the car sums up the weather and our heads the next morning.Blurred,distorted and out of focus.
We had arranged to pick up Alex and travelled the twenty miles to Glenties along narrow twisting roads through great unfamiliar scenery and heavy frequent showers of rain. The Blue Stack Mountains were passed but we could only see enough of them to know it wouldn,t be pleasant up there,rain and low cloud obscuring much of this wild, extremely rugged range.
The man himself looked far from jumping though as he'd been plied with 60% proof best Finnish vodka until it finished him off in the early hours.He was sitting in the empty street waiting patiently with his head in his hands.
We drove off with our full team of four.Graeme,Alan,Alex and Myself.
The wind was so wild in places a large piece of orange peel I found lying on the path refused to go over the cliff edge,flying up into the air to land on the grass behind us every time I tried to fling it off.
Graeme and I had a look at it then took the normal route round the side,preferring to be live cowards rather than dead heroes.
The great thing about a zoom is that you don't have to be as mad as they are to get a good close up shot of the action.
We met up again further down the Pilgrims track when it had abated.
Given the amount of strong drink consumed on this trip the video just has to be this one.