Archive for the 'hills' Category

Upward over the mounain

Finally made it round to a walk in the hills. Has been far too long.

The photo is of Great Sugar Loaf, which makes it the third sugar loaf I know of. The others are all a lot more substantial. But also a lot further away.

Nice views over Dublin from the top

And some even lovelier people

And some not so lovely views

But autumn is here

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Walk without direction

Normally this would fit into “nice places to walk the dog” series. But the dog is in heat, and is banned from public appearances without some kind of chastity pants on. In the hose she wears a pair of kiddies pants with a hole cut in the tail.

Would make for a great photo, except it’s not really my dog so should avoid taking the piss out of the poor thing too much. So instead i went walking with actual, flesh and blood human beings.

This is a lot more tiresome from a conversation point of view – the dog is a very good listener, and only interrupts to stick her tongue in your ear.

We (perhaps I….) managed to make an extremely simple walk through the boundaries of tollymore very difficult by taking the wrong track twice and then forgetting the keys for the car that we’d left at the end of the walk.

Fun all the same, if only for the tight rope walking on the trees through the blue bells and the view over the sea.

PS Wee philly as a gun in my back, hence my bizzare facial expression.

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Postcards from far way part 6

We pitched the tent for maximum view though it is unfortunately a tad exposed to the wind.

At 2am the wind was blowing a gale and the slightly loose bit of the tent was flapping almost loudly enough to completely drown out sparky’s snoring. Though only almost, he still broke through on occasion.

This would never have happened if simy was here – he knows how to put a tent up proper. it’s all rectilinear and even tension on the guy ropes.

I got a crap night’s sleep. That about covers it.

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Woke to a blustery cold morning but still barely a cloud in sight. After a leisurely cuppa and an improvised brekkie we headed for the hills up the highest peak in the Cuillins on the advice of the bloke in the shop who said it “wasn’t too bad”.

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I figured that directions up a mountain aren’t quite the same as those you need to find the nearest filling station and so I bought a map just to be sure. I’m always more comfortable when I have a map.

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We rocketed through the first 500m to the loch at the base of the ridge and enjoyed a lovely lunch of churizo and stale bread.

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The next bit is known as the great chute which is basically an exceptionally slow river of shale that the mountain slowly ejects from the split rock through the repeated process of freezing and melting.

Climbing up this is 2 forward and 1 back which is all a bit discouraging and a little bit disconcerting when it’s at a 45 degree angle.

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The view was worth it. The view is always worth it. The ridge itself was simply petrifying. It has been literally years since I’ve done any ridge walking and I’d forgotten the dizzying sense of scale it gives you.

Sgurr alisdair (could be a sigur ros song) stands at 993m and looks across to the appropriately named inaccessible pinnacle which we could see nutters with ropes attempting to scale.

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It was now that we realized that getting up is less than half the battle getting down is where the tricky bit really comes.

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Ridges start as shale slopes that become increasingly steep as you ascend. To become near vertical just at the ridge itself. It makes them relatively straightforward to traverse but a real nightmare to get off.

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We (wisely) laid up and descended down the way we came. Which turned out to be a lot more fun than we thought cause when you’re descending it doesn’t really matter if the ground you’re standing on gives way. In fact that’s just what you want. It ends up as a (less than) controlled slide down the mountain. Lots of fun.

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By the time we reached sea level again the legs were like jelly. Bring on the endorphins.

There is still something wonderful about a good shower when you haven’t had one for a few days. When your face and hands are a bit burnt from the exposure and all your muscles ache.

Tucked up in the tent full of BBQ and chocolate, listening to sparky chortle intermittently to Puckoon. I’m ready for a night of blissful unconsciousness listening to the new Anathallo.

Here’s hoping.

Postcards from far away part 5

Woke to the view of the harbour in Portree and a quality brekkie and a sit on the pier reading Volf.

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Drove to the north west of the island (yesterday was the north east) stopping for photos of the sweeping moors and old churches while listening to page cxvi.

Skye is a pretty big place, geographically anyhow, despite the fact that all the people seem to live in Broadford or Portree.

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The north west seems to be one of the more deserted areas and more than anywhere seems to remind me of NZ – and let’s face it all this is an attempt to get back there.

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We stopped at Dunvegan where the Mcleods had murdered the Macdonalds in huge numbers in 1550. They attacked by surprise while they were all in church. Not that one group were heathen and the other Christian. Both were Christian be they still murdered each other. Maybe there’s a common denominator that’s not religion running through all these. We seem to be able to do horrible things to each other no matter what our creed.

There are memorials to all this on the penninsula. A reminder that whole communities once inhabited this place before it became the dominion of the sheep.

People lived and died here on the western most parts of civilisation. They lived and brought up their kids overlooking the western isles knowing that the clan divisions may bring their downfall at any point.

What would they think of us?

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Me and sparky sat in the ruins of one of their houses and held our own communion service. Here at the end of the world we broke bread and wine (or biscuit and whisky) and had a few readings from the gospels and declared the joy and hope of the resurrection. CHRIST is risen, hallelujah.

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Here at the end of the world I recommit myself to the faith, the hope and the glory. To the great story that I find myself in but yet do no comprehend. I do not often know why I stick with it. I keep thinking of the quote from the disciples that “where else o lord would we go”.

Here at the end of the world I acknowledge my brokenness and struggles, the immense sense of loss that accompanies everything I do these days.

Here at the end of the world I find the tears and the laughter that will take me home.

Anyhow.

By this stage the sun was out and determined to make up for it’s absence over the past few days. The windows were wound down. The sun roof was open, the sunny tunes (unsurprisingly I only have about an hour or so of these on the iPod) were on. I was stopping every 5 mind or so for photos of the rapidly approaching mountains.

The Cuillins are truly spectacular. Huge, ridged, stony mountains that seen to explode from the earth.

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They fill me with me with awe and fear in equal measure.

At the base of the mountains beside a gravelly beach lies Glenbrittle camp-site. Which has jumped to number one in my all time favourite camp site list.

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Huge soaring mountains in the background, a sweeping sun lit bay in the foreground. Camp Volvo was established. We didn’t even need the awning I’d designed for the car. When I planned this trip this type of campsite was what I had in mind.

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I finally got to try the portable BBQ that Morsies had bought me for Christmas. Despite needing 4 firelighters to get it started (the consequence of leaving my charcoal sitting out the back of at john’s all winter) it cooked up a storm accompanied by some coffee, some red and the chorizo sausage I bought in Inverness.

By now it was only 7pm and I hadn’t even started the Sunday times.

The sun sets and leaves us campers surviving by the glow of propane and the shelter of the nylon. This may be British summer time but I am currently wearing a hat and 7 layers on top and 3 pair of trousers. I am exceptionally cosy it must be said. That in itself is kind of satisfying.

The Cuillins raise their intimidating profile in the background. Weather permitting we’ll have a go.

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