Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Fairly ironic that it was the 'recently dispossessed' fighting the 'just about to be dispossessed' in many cases.
The story of the remarkable Cluny is told in the above Link along with a brief history of the Clan.
When we woke on Saturday morning it was to find the hills clagged in. Graeme dropped off Alex and Andy to do their Corbett of choice, the young fit members of our club went off Munro bagging or Ice climbing and I stayed in the cosy comfort of the hut then car as long as possible watching them all depart.
I was unceremoniously dumped out in this godforsaken spot however which was the last parking layby on the minor road up Glenballoch where Mike and Graeme intended doing a Munro. A Chailleach I think.
Having a five hour wait ahead of me in this below freezing hell hole I decided I might as well walk back to The Cabin (The fire, oh the warm fire. Stove of my dreams.) using the signposted right of way up Glen Banchor then over the Strath an Eilich.
I met a couple of locals from the farm walking their dogs.
'You'll never make it.' They informed me cheerfully. 'Its not pleasant up there once you leave road end.'
'Don't worry I'm used to tough terrain.' I replied confidently. 'I'm a mountaineer you know.'
An hour later they had the satisfaction of observing me walking back past the farm, soaked almost to the waist and covered in mud.
'Boggy up that way isn't it? The farmer asked.
'I've seen worse. I offered back. 'Just remembered I left something important in the car.'
This turned out to be my enthusiasm as I decided to walk down the minor road into Newtonmore instead to buy a paper at the garage. Now that was mountaineering! All the weeks TV in one Saturday edition. Hard Core Entertainment.
In summer this right of way looks a splendid idea but in slushy winter conditions, with thigh deep soft snow and no visible track to follow, the numerous river crossings and water filled marshlands and ditches gave me the hump. Never in my puff have I walked across such unadulterated soggy crap.
On the way down the tarmac ( Sweet tarmac I'll never leave you again!) another local dog walker had given me a much better idea to keep warm in this frozen sink hole of a place. A Pussy Trail!
Then some more....
I found out that Newtonmore has roughly 100 of these hand decorated animals scattered around the town. There is a shop in the main street where you can buy a Cat Trail map and young kids and visitors alike can go off Hunting Some Prime Highland Pussy. What a marvellous tourist attraction I'm sure you'll agree.
In Ireland it was Muff Diving this week its Newtonmore Pussy. I visit all the hot spots. Surely perfect candidates for twin town status.
Long Tailed Tits anyone? Blue Tits I've seen when its cold. Great Tits I've seen on occasion. But Long Tailed Tits take the biscuit or on this example the Balls.
(I'm anticipating thousands of extra hits from porn site search engines for this post. I'll reach 100,000 visitors yet by fair means or foul. :0)
This offers steep wall climbing on nasty sloping holds. Only climbed here once. King Bee VS 5a. 135 metres.450 feet. 4 pitches.
Great exposed route but once was enough as I found myself lacking in the Big Balls department here.
http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=37 Inside this link have a look at the list of climbs on all the walls here for a laugh. I was inspired by them when writing this post. This crag is notorious for its bold routes and bolder names. Photos at the bottom are good too. Use 'Click on all 57 photos' to view them.
The hill itself was lovely though and a good viewpoint overlooking the area.
After watching last nights excellent programme on Iraq. Ten years on, and finding out both it and Afghanistan don't appear to be much better off after 10 long years of hardship and conflict with possible civil war and terrorist threats still looming large around the corner I though immediately of this video. Cat Power. Rockets. Her lyrics are subtle and ambiguous at the best of times and can lend themselves to myriad interpretations which is why fans love to put their own spin on her songs.
Is this a good fit? You decide. Thought provoking stuff though.
A visual treat of a compilation road trip across America and Europe. Love the Racoon standing up on the highway in the middle of this. A unique artist that never fails to amaze, frustrate, embarrass ,excite and inspire her long suffering fans. One of her finest songs.
Best watched full screen for some stunning landscapes.
Sunday, 17 February 2013
The two photographs above are Graeme and Handsome Bob(not me, sniff sniff) heading up the slopes to one of the most spectacular and eye-catching peaks in the country. Benwisken, with its extraordinary, never forgotten once seen, breaking wave cliffs.
Some of the Dartry Mountains have access problems as most sit on private land and its up to individual farmers and landowners to grant permission. Benwisken in particular has suffered from this in the past.
(There may be more locally but I,m just not aware of it, being a novice to the area.)
The white blob on the pinnacle above is a death defying sheep, of which more later.
This is a cracking link for great photos, myths and history of the area by folk who know its secrets intimately. Well worth a look. Beautifully created. The 5 min video of the ascent of Ben bulben is brilliant and it features a good looking young man. (Well ,better looking and younger than me anyway. Photos are much better than mine as well. Sniff Sniff. Ah well I suppose he's got more time to pick his viewpoints being a local. Only fair. At the bottom of this remarkable link's first page is a stunning photo of Benwisken and a gateway portal of a journey into the highest caves in Ireland.
Wonderful images inside a limestone treasure. We had a drive under them but it was almost dark by that time
Every new view is a surprising wonder here. Fresh and exciting.
A view of our approach route up Benwisken and the deep layers of peat encountered all along the plateau. Some of these peat beds were ten to fifteen feet deep. Not only Donegal has a thriving industry in turf for home fires it seems as the entire basin below the mountain had folk busy digging. .
Benbulben was reputed to be the home of the Fianna, The half mythical bands of fighting outcasts, inspiration for many plays and stories. This is also Yeats country, as the poet,writer and Nobel prize winner grew up in Sligo and knew this area well.
Benbulben itself was just a flat broad summit but it did have extensive views. You don't tend to meet many hill walkers on the lesser Irish peaks, even one's as noticeable as these. Only a faint path to the summit where a small plaque informed me that someone had died up here recently. Australian guy I think attracted by the pull of walking across mountains on Europe's furthest shoreline. As it faces the full force of the Atlantic storms coming in it can get savage up here in winter I'd imagine.
Maybe over generations of grazing flocks on this mountain the sheep here have developed mountain goat like characteristics.
Ireland. It is indeed a remarkable place.
Video is another one from the archives. Marsha Hunt singing Dr John's Classic about voodoo, half seen things creeping through the darkness, and yellow belted joy zombies coming to steal your eyes. Brilliant version.
Thursday, 14 February 2013
Great views going over and a smooth touchdown with fine views of a pretty Muff appearing below us in the sunshine. Derry airport must be the only airport where you can say that. Its a nearby village
with its own diving centre and a much coveted souvenir tee shirt.
Yep. It does say what you think it does!
I learn this while Graeme and Bob (Yes, another one, known in this blog now as handsome Bob)
had a large fried breakfast. I'll be ugly Bob then I suppose.
We were still in time to catch this menu as we arrived at Glasgow's Central station around seven am. I was up at five am, an early rise. Ryan air are the only company to fly out of Prestwick now. Long may they continue.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Rover_Tangi Fascinating history of its development here as it evolved to cope with increasing levels of attack.
Come to think of it its probably survived this long due to being situated in Northern Ireland only recently coming into competition with the multi national giant superstore outlets that are gradually flattening everything else in their path. Think the prices will stay low if any single chain wins the battle to gain overall control of the market place?
I was told it has a smashing interior and restaurant but we didn't have time for a visit.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Derry. A short history here.
As anyone who reads this blog knows I love going to places then finding out about their history. Plenty of that here for the visitor. We never encountered any trouble but common-sense has to be used when wandering around any area in an unfamiliar city. Basically don't ask daft questions in the wrong part. You'll not find me doing that :)
This city is a very colourful and an exciting place for a visit. For anyone wanting to see Part One its posted here on November 2012, two months back. LegenDerry sums this city up. Great place for a visit.
Part two in a few days time is an account of the mountains we climbed over in the west. To be continued....
On a completely different topic its a classic video from the sixties now. Arthur Brown and his Iconic headgear. A real showman and a rock pioneer this sight has inspired so many bands and singers. Alice Cooper and Peter Gabriel come to mind. He even does an early version of robotic dancing! In 1968! Coincidentally the Rolling Stones came out with Jumping Jack Flash and the quintessential Mick Jagger prancing image the same year. Arthur Brown's hit is listed as May 1968. The stones JJF was written sometime in the same year. No month given.
Anyone know which came first. Just a thought :)
Screaming Jay Hawkins. I put a spell on you. This is so over the top its unreal. And mind zapping!
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Watching the weather forecast the night before there had been heavy dumps of recent snow so it was doubtful if we would manage such an out of the way hill under these conditions.
Perfect conditions and all the four wheel drive skiers cars had helped carve a safe path down to the tarmac which was covered over in places. We followed behind a family sized Porche, not the type of convoy or situation I'm used to but fun for a photographer.
The last time, over twenty years ago, I did this pair ( the mountains folks, the mountains, not the chair lift occupants) it looked like a Lowry painting as well. Loads of brightly coloured little figures having fun on the slopes.
The hard plod up to the Cairnwell followed then a fast decent down the front run beside the ski tow to reach the car. No one was on it as that lift was still shut.A tough but highly enjoyable day out in a fantastic area.
Keeping to the snowy theme here's a short video of a very lucky guy climbing an ice route. In spite of the fact he's facing a fall he stays remarkably calm and composed throughout. Never loses his smile at any point! Worth watching all the way through.