Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cowal Peninsula Weekend.Clach Bheinn. Lochgoilhead. My New Novel.

About a month ago I was invited along on an old pals outing when someone had the idea of a trip into a Cowal bothy which is situated in an isolated area of the Argyll Forest Park . I'm not going to name it on here as the internet has largely stripped away the mystery and allure of these often remote unlocked mountain huts. In the old days of my youth it was hard to find these places as their locations seem to operate on a "need to know" basis and we obviously weren't in the loop starting out so didn't need to know. Now most of the MBA ones are published on the internet which makes them far easier to find but takes a little of the sense of discovery away. Mark my words. Those who know where this is keep it to yourselves :o)
As John's car could only hold three bikes on its rack Alex ,myself and driver John headed up to Arrochar then continued on to the road end into deepest Argyll for the cycle in. This is Alex just disappearing round a corner. Every time I stopped for a photograph these two buggers belted ahead which meant I was left well behind all the way into the bothy. Being an action photographer is hard work on a bike as the action keeps going whenever you stop, hence the one bike photo as I never caught them again to capture any more. It's a good track for cycling though as it is not too up and down with good freewheels on occasion and great views over the forest to the Luss Hills.
This is Doune hill and Cruach an t- Sidhein, I think, which we climbed and posted a few weeks ago on the blog. It was looking down from here into Argyll that gave Alex the idea for this trip. Gavin and Scott also decided to join us on this adventure, coming up separately in another car, but at the last minute they chose to walk in as Gavin is not that keen on cycling.

The bothy with bikes outside. We travelled in on Saturday afternoon and this was a bothy we'd never been to before. This peninsula sticks out into Loch long and Loch Goil and is surrounded by pine forest at low levels but has an interior spine of rocky uplands with Beinn Reithe, 663 metres, The Brack, 787metres, and Beinn Donich, 847, being the highest peaks on the triangle. The weather was mixed with sunny periods and occasional heavy showers of sleet and snow but in the main we were lucky with the weather.

A sleet shower passing by travelling up Loch Long, Faslane in the distance. Alex of course was here to bag Clach Bheinn, the hill at the very end of the peninsula surrounded by pine forest but boasting fantastic views in all directions This is Alex enjoying the storm which passed by quickly over the Luss Hills but missed us.
Sunshine and blue skies followed but, as ever, the higher Munros were the last to clear of clag. A view over to Beinn Bhuidhe 948metres and a well known much loved Munro.

 Incidentally, after two long but enjoyable years hard graft writing a book about my hasty youth and  many intrepid adventures across Scotland and Europe the fruits of my labours are now complete and available on E-book Amazon kindle book shelf. Although it is an autobiography of sorts I didn't want to burden people with a dull read so it is very different from the normal type... part autobiography- part novel- part traveller's tale- part unusual love story.... and 100% original. It's a tongue in cheek comedy set in Scotland about a "fictional" hillwalking/ other sports club packed with (hopefully) interesting characters, funny stories, superb photographs, which illustrate each chapter and is similar to the style of this blog but totally different too as it's on a far bigger scale. All the chapters will be new to Blue Sky Scotland  readers- some may shock you- some may surprise you- some may offend you- but it will not be a dull read- Well...hopefully. Fingers crossed.

You can read the first couple of chapters for free and see how you like it although the really good stuff is further in as the characters and plot develop. If you enjoy it please give it a review- if not don't bother. If you hate it- please don't comment :o) Putting a book out must be like sending your child off to school on the first day, wondering if it will be embraced, loved, and taken care of or if will come back with teeth and hair and ears missing having been enticed to "play" with the bad kids beyond the CCTV camera range. Creative writing must also be one of the slim list of professions where you can work 4 to 7 hour days, every night and weekends, and not know if you are going to earn a single penny at the end of it. Two years, 1000 hours, and over 20 rewrites has gone into this book along with my heart, soul, sanity, and burnt out eyeballs, compared to a day ( 4 to 6 hours usually) for each blog post, so it should be good.  It's only £1.85 (UK pounds) or $2.99 (US dollars) anyway for 500+ action packed pages ( only 350 pages on Microsoft word) so well worth a punt. Cheaper than a scratch card although hopefully it will not go in the bin afterwards! You will not win any money but you may have a laugh. If you want to know what I got up to when I wasn't a decrepit old fart shuffling over pimples and was 100 times more adventurous and completely bonkers this is the book for you. Link Here.

Click "view inside" on kindle  link photo for the free chapters preview. I will get around to a proper link afterwards on the blog and print on demand paper copies hopefully- if it sells!
PS. there is not a mention of politics in it as I was more interested in Munros then although chapters on kayaking, rock-climbing, caving, island hopping, skiing and backpacking across Scotland and Europe form a backdrop for various relationships, love affairs, desperate measures, unrequited hope,occasional back stabbing obsession, loads of stupidity and intrigue within the club.

I've known this particular group of characters above for decades so they should not be surprised by the contents as they feature in some of the later chapters and they already know I'm mad as a hatter anyway- though it's meant to be "fictional" of course.
Scott, Gavin, John and Alex enjoying a swally or two in the bothy.
 Hundreds of nights over the years have been spent in places like this. "The rest I've just squandered." to quote George Best.
Highland cattle enjoying the soft 'moist' highland landscape. "Is this summer now mummy?" The little calf asks ,up to its tail in mud.
 " Yes, the rains slightly warmer." she replies "It must be summertime on the Scottish West Coast."
Traversing back from Clach Bheinn. The snow in places was thigh deep, yet melted completely in other areas under a strong spring sun.
View over Faslane.
View down towards Lochgoilhead area.
Wider view of the district from Clach Bheinn.
Portincaple from above

Gavin and Scott walking back out to the car.
Tearoom to end the day.The Green Kettle where we had a refreshing "cup of tea" (or other beverages on offer.) Cracking bothy and the first for ages. In the old days we used to collect them like Munros and we would travel all over Scotland to bag them. We even went on far north bothy tours for several winters at New Year and had multi day epics wading through deep snow or over wild empty moors just to stay in a series of bare little cottages deep in the wilderness. Strange the weird things you get addicted to in life.


Robert Craig said...

Didn't realise that was a bothy - thought it was a locked hut used by sea cadets...

I will check out the book tonight!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Craig, as you will know yourself, being a published author,writing a book requires a huge commitment of time and energy and I now admire anyone that has actually finished one. Although I've always enjoyed the writing process there were many occasions when I just fancied watching TV for a change but forced myself to put in 5 or 6 hours locked in a room every second evening. Hope you like it as I tried to make it as entertaining and varied as possible.
It became an MBA bothy a couple of years ago but before that it was locked and used by the cadets and other outdoor groups.Good smooth track for cycling in right to the door.

Neil said...

Hi Bob. I'll definitely buy the book, bet it's great! That bit of land is an area that I haven't really explored. And I haven't visited that bothy either. It doesn't get many visitors- must be the view of Faslane that puts folk off.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Neil,
It's a cracking area as the hills are really rugged and trackless with amazing sea views. One of only a handful of bothies where you have a night time view of twinkling civilization across the water yet are in a remote position on an empty spur of land.

The Glebe Blog said...

I know I can give you a year or two Bob, but I was never as intrepid as you guys except when I was serving her majesty.(a lot of water, bridge etc)There's not much phased you.
That's a great picture of Alex looking out.
Read the preview to your book, I'll probably download it later.
That bothy on chapter one looks like the Backhill of the Bush, but I might be wrong. I don't think it's the Tunskeen.

I'm supposed to get a look around Faslane sometime, wish I had more get up and go !
Good luck with the book, I hope it's a best seller.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
We never climbed anything you couldn't do yourself,it's just we started young. Most of it I couldn't do now and if I'd married and had a family I would not have been allowed away so much so that's one advantage of being ugly,slightly mad,and skint.Nobody chased me for my money or sparkling personality in those days. As my pension, when it finally arrives, is a peanut a month,I thought I'd try to top it up by writing a book. It's the nearest I'll ever get to an autobiography of the last 40 years on the hills.
Hopefully some folk will find it funny or interesting. With friends and family I've already made a start on my retirement nest egg and now have enough book royalties in the bank for a pair of Morrison's supermarket socks. World domination here I come :o)
The bothy is a highland one near Rannoch Moor( setting of a later chapter) as there's no way on earth I'm giving a southern secret one away in print. I'd be scalped!

Carol said...

I'll be having a look at your book excerpt but, if I decide to buy, it will have to be a paper copy as I don't have a Kindle (might get one sometime though).

You've got yet more great photos there. Love the conversation between the 2 Heilan' coos ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
I'm looking into 'print on demand' next week. Unfortunately,that option appears to be more expensive as it uses ink and paper for all the colour photographs plus postage whereas the kindle is simply a button click away.I wanted to set the kindle price at 99p per book but $2.99 seemed to be the lowest price when you submit. Maybe a further reduction option comes later.

Kay G. said...

Just like Carol, I will have to wait until I can get it as "Print on Command". Good luck with your book and congratulations!

Carol said...

I'm fine with paying a bit more for a paper version - probably better for my eyes anyway.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Kay. I honestly don't know if it will be your cup of tea though. It's partly inspired by Pygmalion (the classic Greek myth that the play and film (my fair lady)was based on coupled with a nod to George du Maurier's 1894 book "Trilby."(not the hat)
Set in recent times within an outdoor club with an honest reflection of all the usual modern vices and virtues. Throw in a "fallen Angel" a pinch of Oor Wullie, The Broons (Scottish picture strip stock character cartoons) and Enid Blyton's Famous Five as adults and you've pretty much got the plot. Told you I was mad :o)

Kay G. said...

Well, I quite like the way that you write, so I don't see why I wouldn't like your book! It's true that I don't often read novels, but truly it is because so many of them are just bad!

Anonymous said...

Such a good bothy they named it after me.....had a good time out there a couple of years ago. I think it's the next one I'll write up (been very busy studying so i haven't written anything up for ages). peered into a hide i stumbled upon above the wee lochan up on the hill only to find there was soldier in there with a rifle. he didn't look up for a chat. had a good chinwag with a couple of oldtimers from milngavie at the bothy instead.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi, The 23( well,I'm not going to give the bothy away, am I?) Yeah it's a great spot and bothy.One of the better ones left.