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Another beautiful day and after a couple of hours at the keyboard I gave up and decided to get out for a while. I have only done wee bits of the Aberdeenshire coastal path so decided today to so a more substantial section between Aberdeen and Cove. I decided to count this as TGOC training –  about 9 miles as a round trip.

Parking at Torry, I tried to get a shot of a ship entering the harbour and immediately discovered that my camera battery was dead – not the best start. So, it was down to the iPhone camera today. As always, there was a queue of oil service boats waiting to get into the harbour.

Aberdeen harbour entrance. There's a constant stream of oil service boats coming and going.

Aberdeen harbour entrance. There’s a constant stream of oil service boats coming and going.

The coastal scenery starts at Girdle Ness. The wee bay on the right of this photo is a bit special for me as it was where I finished my first TGO challenge in 2013.

Rock scenery at Girdle Ness

Rock scenery at Girdle Ness

From Girdle Ness, the path goes along the base of the cliffs under the lighthouse and the magnificent foghorn. I’m not sure if it’s still used but it looks as if it is. The noise must be incredible from this position.

Girdle Ness foghorn

Girdle Ness foghorn

From Girdle Ness, the path skirts NIgg Bay – there’s a tatty litter-strewn area on your right as you walk round the bay so it’s best to look out to sea. There’s a magnificent sweep back to the lighthouse at Girdle Ness.

Nigg Bay and Girdle Ness lighthouse

Nigg Bay and Girdle Ness lighthouse

After Nigg, the path weaves its way along the top of the cliffs to Cove. One of Aberdeen’s main industrial areas is just inland but only the occasional truck on the coast road gives this away.

The weather was exhilarating – bright sunshine and a fair bit of wind.  Walking the coastal path was a school geography lesson in coastal erosion come to life. Cliffs, geos, stacks, sea caves were all obvious from the path.

A geo - a narrow cutting in cliffs

A geo – a narrow cutting in cliffs

Sea cave

Sea cave

 

Sea stack

Sea stack

In places, there were waves of honeyed scent from banks of common scurvy grass with primroses in full bloom on the cliffs. There were a few runners out from the offices in Altens but really hardly anyone around.

Common scurvy grass

Common scurvy grass on the cliffs

Primroses

Primroses

Near Cove, where the path turns inland for a while, I stopped for lunch – my usual cashew nuts and Tunnocks Caramel wafers.  These are my favourite on walks and I keep hoping that Tunnocks will notice and provide some sponsorship. It could be the start of a changed image from unhealthy Scottish food (have you seen their teacakes and snowballs?) to healthy food for walkers.

This path was a revelation – much better than I expected. It gets very little publicity but stretches from the Moray coast in the north to St Cyrus. The iPhone 5S camera was a revelation too – I’m really impressed by the quality but it does seem to hammer the battery.

A fabulous springtime walk in the sunshine and I’m now motivated to do get out and do some of the other bits. Hopefully, I can find some places accessible by bus and finishing at a pub.

Coastline

Coastline

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Today I was supposed to be writing stuff on quality management – even duller to write than it is to read, and that’s saying something

. But the sun was shining for the first time this month and after a couple of hours, I could take no more and I decided to get out for a while. It was a bit late to head west to Braemar (my first preference) so I decided on the 40 minute drive to Bennachie.
Bennachie is a wee granite hill in Aberdeenshire with good paths and easy access. The main top (the Mither Tap) is a bit busy but once you head for the other tops, you rarely see more than a handful of people. I started at the visitor centre near the Chapel of Garioch. Garioch is one of these north east names that don’t look like they sound – it is pronounced Geerie-o. Another place where you can slip up is Strathan near Banchory, which is pronounced Straan not Strath-Ann.

The path is signposted up the hill and the first bit isn’t that attractive really – it goes through a clear felled area. But it has the benefit that you get a view of the top.

Mither Tap of Bennachie

The Mither Tap of Bennachie. Viewed from the forest path from the visitor centre.

After this area, things improve. The path goes through open forest – larch and some other generic conifer then Scots pine. On leaving the forest, the path steepens and it seems like a real, albeit short hill walk. About 45 minutes after leaving the car, I was on the top. A Pictish (I think) hill fort was built on the Mither Tap of Bannachie and the signs of it are still there (although I suspect the wall has been restored)

Hill fort on the summit of Bennachie

Hill fort on the summit of Bennachie

I’d been in the lee of the wind on the way up but it was blowing a hoolie on the top – hard to hold the camera still. But 10m below, I sat and enjoyed lunch in the spring sun, with a view over Aberdeenshire. Being Aberdeenshire, of course, you can’t get away from horrible wind turbines.

View of Aberdeenshire

Lunchtime view of Aberdeenshire

Wind farm

Blot on the landscape

After lunch, I headed for Oxen Craig, a bit more than a mile away. The Forestry Commission have created paths for biking so they are a bit obtrusive but they make for easy walking. I only met one couple on the way.

Oxen Craig from the Mither Tap

Oxen Craig from the Mither Tap

There’s a indicator on top of Oxen Craig and the view was a wee bit better than my indicator non-view last week on Allermuir.

Oxen Craig Indicator

Indicator on the summit of Oxen Craig. Looking towards Lochnagar

From both the Mither Tap and Oxen Craig you could see to Lochnagar – I was surprised that there wasn’t more snow on it. I preferred the view from Oxen Craig as it included a wee bit of the River Don.

The River Don and Lochnagar from Bennachie

The River Don and Lochnagar from Bennachie

There were views back to Craigshannoch (on the left) and Mither Tap. I headed back via Craigshannoch where there were some incredible granitic lava flows and more Aberdeenshire views.

Granitic lava flows on Craigshannoch, Bennachie

Granitic lava flows on Craigshannoch, Bennachie

Looking north from Craigshannoch

Looking north from Craigshannoch

Back to Mither Tap then down to the car park for 3.30.  A great wee walk in the sunshine.

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TGOC training in the rain

My resolve to do a day a week TGOC training  was weakened today when I saw the weather – chucking it down. But I had arranged my old pal, Border’s chiel, woodcarver Ian (he carved his own spork). I had been in Edinburgh for work so we arranged to meet at the Hillend car park.

The rain had abated a wee bit as I left central Edinburgh but was throwing it down again by the time I parked and Ian arrived. As experienced hillwalkers, we sat in the car and pondered what to do. So, we did the sensible thing and went for a coffee (TGOC training after all).

After an hour of prevarication, we had to get going so set off in the rain. By then, there had been something of an improvement – it was merely drizzle and thick mist so we set off up the hill at 11. A diversion to the loos in the ski centre meant we kind of wandered for a while until we found the path up the hill.

Up Caerketton Hill where we were confused by 2 cairns on the ground but 1 on the map then, between Caerketton and Allermuir Hill, we got a surprise as a hairy coo loomed out of the mist. He (or she) seemed quite unperturbed.

Hairy Pentlands coo

Hairy Pentlands coo

We got to the indicator on Allermuir Hill, which Ian studied intently. A somewhat pointless exercise given the weather conditions.

Allermuir Hill

Woodcarver Ian studying the hills we could not see

We headed on a bit further in a desultory way then decided enough was enough and a pint at the Steading at Hillend was in order. So, down through Swanston where there were a few golfers, puzzling how to see the holes in the mist and along a remarkably muddy path back to the car park and pub.

A pretty short day – hopefully TGOC weather will be better than this.

I said I’d do it and I did. Today, I got started on a training walk for TGOC-14. This was in an unlikely location -Scotland’s capital. We were in Edinburgh for my daughter’s birthday and I didn’t have the option of a day in the north.

I didn’t have any work today that had to be done, the sun was shining so I thought that I’d do the 7 hills of Edinburgh. Of course, as any Edinburgh resident or visitor knows, there are damn sight more than 7 hills in Edinburgh. However, the ‘classic’ round takes in Craiglockart Hill, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, Castle Hill and Corstorphine Hill.

There are lots of different ways of doing the 7 hills but I decided to start at Craiglockart Hill and finish on Corstorphine Hill. I took advantage of Edinburgh’s excellent bus service to Craiglockart and started up the hill. It’s an easy walk through the woods from Napier University and within 20 minutes I was on the top. It’s not the best viewpoint but has a great view of the Pentlands over the golf course.

 

The Pentlands from Craiglockart Hill

The Pentlands from Craiglockart Hill

Down through the well-heeled southern suburbs of Edinburgh to Braid (broad) Hills. It was probably about 40 minutes summit to summit. Braid Hills is a great viewpoint with views looking back to Craiglockart Hill and on to Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat.

Craiglockart Hill from Braid Hills

Craiglockart Hill from Braid Hills

Arthurs Seat from Braid Hills

Arthurs Seat and Blackford Hill from Braid Hills

The way down from Braid Hills to Blackford Hill is across a golf course but fortunately we have sensible access laws so there’s no problem walking across the course and down to the Hermitage of Braid. Then a steep pull up Blackford Hill with more views of Arthur’s Seat. More people here than on the other hills so I had a foreground for the photo.

Arthur's Seat from Blackford Hill

Arthur’s Seat from Blackford Hill

It’s a bit of a trudge from Blackford Hill to Arthur’s Seat. You go past the Royal Observatory then West Saville terrace and Minto Street. It was time for a coffee break (after all, this was Challenge training) so I stopped at Earthy where I had the finest savoury scone I’ve ever had. Wild garlic and feta cheese – superb.

Wild garlic and feta scone in Earthy

Wild garlic and feta scone in Earthy

Then on to the very familiar Arthur’s Seat. Great views from the summit across Dunsappie Loch towards Berwick Law and the Bass Rock (behind Berwick Law). Then down the direct route to the end of the crags. Most people think of Arthur’s Seat as a grassy walk but there are more interesting ways to get down – it made it bit more like a Highland hill. I walked along the top of the crags and was struck by the view of Arthur’s Seat. I don’t think that there is any city in the world that has as fine a city centre park as Edinburgh.

East Lothian and Berwick Law from Arthur's Seat

Dunsappie Loch from Arthur’s Seat looking towards Berwick Law

Descending down the gully from Arthur's Seat

Descending down the gully from Arthur’s Seat

As I dropped down to the Royal Mile, it started to rain heavily but only for about 5 minutes – enough to get a bit damp. I passed the expensive but (I think) attractive Scottish Parliament building where there are plaques with appropriate quotes. I wish our short sighted politicians who are subsidising rich landowners to destroy the countryside with wind turbines would read this one as they walk to their offices.

What would the world be once bereft of wet and wildness

What would the world be once bereft of wet and wildness

Calton Hill is a hill of strange structures – towers and follies. It is a gathering point for those celebrating May Day where (I am told) much naked dancing goes on at dawn.  You can tell that you don’t get midges in Edinburgh.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill

From Calton Hill it was down to Princes St and across South Bridge to the Royal Mile. Up to the Castle which, as always, was hoaching with tourists. The sun had gone in where I was but there was Sunshine on Leith.

Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith

So, six down by 1 o’clock and only Corstorphine Hill to go. But it’s a long way to the west. I tried to make it more interesting by going through Princes St gardens and then along the Water of Leith from Dean Bridge. But most of the route is along the seemingly never-ending Ravelston Dykes – another well-heeled Edinburgh suburb.

But once you get onto the hill itself, there’s  a great view over yet another golf course back to Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat. The summit of Corstorphine Hill is disappointing – its wooded and there are no views. It’s said that you can hear the roaring of the lions in the zoo from the hill – I didn’t but I could smell them. Clermiston Tower is on the top, apparently built by Sir Walter Scott. Sadly, you can’t get up it.

Looking back towards Edinburgh from Corstorphine Hill

Looking back towards Edinburgh from Corstorphine Hill

Clermiston Tower

Clermiston Tower

I got lost in the maze of paths coming down the hill and didn’t end up where I wanted to be. In fact, I have no idea where I ended up (I had no map) but there was a bus so I jumped on that and got back to the city centre.

If you’re visiting Edinburgh and don’t want to go shopping or do history stuff, then this is a great way to see the city. It took me just over 6 hours, with about 30 minutes of stops. According to Routebuddy, 22km and 720m of ascent.

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I’m planning my 2nd TGO Challenge this year – a west-to-east walk across Scotland in May. This is not just an outdoor event but also a social gathering and you meet lots of  like-minded people (or, as my daughter said, deranged masochists)  on the way. But I’ve been reading Challenger blogs and folks seem so incredibly organised that it really makes me feel quite inadequate.

Challengers have training plans, are  yomping over Lakeland fells with rucksacks full of tins of sun-dried polenta (or something like that),  organising the gear that they are taking  and buying all the food that they need for a couple of weeks in the wilds.  I haven’t done anything.

A combination of family health problems, work and (realistically) indolence in the face of crap weather, has meant that the only hills I’ve been up in the last few months are pimples (Clachnaben, Arthur’s Seat and Loughrigg Fell). No training and the only decision I’ve made about food is that this year’s whisky will be Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Geery).   If last year is anything to go by, food planning will be a trip to the supermarket the day before I leave then frantically looking for the increasingly rare local shops in the Highlands. Kit’s easy though – I don’t have much so I just take what’s in the box. The only thing I’ve planned is where to start (Strathcarron) and finish (St Cyrus) with an approximate itinerary in between.

So, I REALLY must start to get organised. I will check my tent and see what I’ve managed to lose since last year’s Challenge.  And, honestly, training will start next week-end (unless it’s raining of course – only deranged masochists go out and deliberately get wet).

It’s the heat that gets to me. My daughters, aided and abetted by their mother, insist on an almost tropical level of heat in the house at Christmas and, after being indoors for Christmas Day, I need to get out.

So, on the 26th, whatever the weather, I make a point of going out for a walk somewhere. Today, we are in the calm between storms and the sky was cloudless at 8am when I got out of bed. I didn’t want a long drive or a long day so headed for Clachnaben, a wee hill on the border of Aberdeenshire and Angus. Sadly, Clachnaben’s  name does not really translate as ‘the hill of the lopsided nipple’  but it would be more descriptive  if it did. The rocky tor on the summit makes it look rather like a botched bit of plastic surgery. Its distinctive shape is visible from all over Deeside.

Lopsided nipple - Clachnaben from Deeside

Lopsided nipple – Clachnaben from Deeside

I arrived at the car park about 10 to find that I had forgotten my gloves. Luckily, I always keep a pair of  old Dachstein mitts in the car in case I am ever stuck in snow so these were put back into service. Older readers will remember Dachsteins as standard Scottish winter hillwear in the 1970s.

The walk in was like a late autumn day – warm, rich colours against a blue sky and, as I got closer, the tor became more obvious.

Walking in to Clachnaben

Walking in to Clachnaben

Summit tor on Clachnaben

The summit tor on Clachnaben

Unfortunately, the weather started to change at this point and, by the time I reached the top, it had clouded over, with a bitterly cold wind. I passed a couple of people who had come from Fettercairn but was the only one on the summit. So, the trusty Dachsteins served as a foreground. They are made of boiled wool, are incredibly warm and almost indestructable. Remarkably, they are still available and much cheaper than modern fabrics.

Dachsteins on the summit

Dachsteins on the summit, looking east

Getting to the top of the tor is normally a short and easy scramble but today many of the rocks were covered in hoar frost which made them a wee bit slippy. So, I gingerly made my way to the top where I took my first  (and possibly last) summit selfie.

A summit selfie

A summit selfie

The sun was still shining on Aberdeenshire and there were sunbeam effects over Angus. But it looked pretty cold to the west, with Mount Keen invisible in the clouds.

Sunshine on Aberdeenshire, looking towards Banchory

Sunshine on Aberdeenshire, looking towards Banchory

Sunbeams in the Angus glens

Sunbeams in the Angus glens

Looking west from the summit tor and the Angus hills in the background.

Looking west from the summit tor with the Angus hills in the background.

As I headed back for leftover turkey rolls for lunch, the crowds had come out and I met lots of people coming up the hill. The blue here isn’t a clear sky but  a foreboding cloud. Yes , one of the people in this picture is wearing shorts in December. He was a very affable chap but, perhaps needless to add, he (it had to be a he) wasn’t local.

Shorts to the summit

Shorts to the summit

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Today, the Scottish Government published ‘Scotland’s Future’, their blueprint for independence where they set out their ‘vision’ of what an independent Scotland would be like.

I might be called a ‘sympathetic sceptic’ about Scottish independence. I voted SNP in the 80’s when Thatcher’s policies where devastating the industrial cities where I was brought up. I like the idea of Scotland as a ‘Scandinavian democracy’ where we have a more egalitarian, better educated society with fewer distinctions between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. I did not vote for the current SNP-led Government as it seems to me that they are an unprincipled lot whose populist policies, such as the freezing of council tax, have led to serious damage both to local democracy and to key services such as education. Their energy policy has led to a proliferation of wind farms and irreparable damage to Scotland’s landscape.

But this was their chance to convince me that I was wrong. That the end of independence justified the means of populism and that there were indeed principles and a vision of the future of Scotland as a distinctive modern society. It was a chance to demonstrate that they understood the problems that we face in Scotland and to show that they had the courage to face up to these. It was a chance to show that they trusted the Scottish people to understand that hard problems need difficult decisions and the path to change will sometimes be a rocky one.

But no. We didn’t get any of these things. We simply got a timid reassurance that nothing really will change – don’t worry, the Queen’s head will still be on the stamps, the pound in your pocket will retain its value and we’ll still get Coronation Street.

There is no recognition that to create a vibrant, knowledge based economy we need to change, in a humane way, the balance between the public and the private sector; we need new approaches to entrepreneurialism and enterprise and a new kind of enterprise agency, not more of the same; we need fewer local authorities with more powers to stop the destruction of our town and city centres. We need a recognition that digital services are profoundly changing our world and a step-change in investment in this area is required  if Scotland is to thrive.

More childcare is welcome but we also need new approaches to flexible working so that Mum’s and Dad’s can have a better work-life balance and much more investment in education to raise the expectations and abilities of our children.

We need new approaches to conservation of our magnificent landscape and new policies on land ownership that stop huge areas of the country being underexploited by rich landowners, who think nothing of desecrating the landscape with wind farms. We need a sensible energy policy that takes into account the costs to the landscape of renewables and makes sensible investments in other technologies, such as nuclear and carbon capture.

I believe that we need to make big changes in Scotland to make the transition to a knowledge-based, 21st century economy. But there is nothing in this White Paper that convinces me that independence is the way to make these changes. I believe many of them can be achieved if we have principled,visionary politicians within our current devolved structures. The barriers are not the UK Government, but the dull and unimaginative Scots at the bottom of the Royal Mile.

I certainly won’t be voting ‘yes’ to keep them in a job.

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For many years I had the notion of walking across Scotland from one coast to another and this year (2013) I finally did it walking from Mallaig to Aberdeen. I did this as part of the TGO Challenge, a semi-organised event where 300 odd (deliberately ambiguous, read as you wish)  people walk across Scotland on a a variety of different routes starting from Torridon in the north to Ardrishaig in the south.

Before I started this I was a bit dubious – I was concerned that it would be a bit of a circus. But all the commentary on the web was very positive so I gave it a go and I really enjoyed it, in spite of the wind, rain, cold and snow. In mid-May, the weather really should have been (a lot) better. But the experience  was  a good mix of doing stuff alone, which I wanted, but also meeting up with like-minded people and socialising when you wanted to. Many fellow Challengers shared my view that Guinness is, in fact, a foodstuff and after all that exertion, we needed to eat.

Next year, a glutton for punishment, I’ve decided to do it again.

Last year, my primary motivations were to revisit parts of Scotland that I hadn’t been back to for many years – Knoydart , which I saw nothing of in the rain, Glen Roy and Glen Feshie, which was magic.  This time my motivations are firstly, to go back to Maol Bhuide bothy that I helped renovate in 1980 (photos here) in memory of my pal Danny who fell off Bienn Alligan. Secondly, I want to to take in some Challenge classics – the Monadliath and the Angus glens. I’ve always thought of the Monadliath as a bit dull but lots of people rave about them so I’d like to be convinced I’m wrong.

So, My route in 2014 is:

0.     To Strathcarron (hotel)
1.     Strathcarron to Maol Bhuide bothy
2.     Maol Bhuide to Strathfarrar  (camp)
3.     Strathfarrar to Cannich  (camp/B & B)
4.     Cannich to Drumnadrochit (resupply) and ferry to Ault na Goire  (camp)
5.     Ault na Goire to Glen Mazeran  (camp)
6.     Glan Mazeran to Aviemore  (B & B or hostel)
7.     Aviemore to Corrour  via Lairig Ghru (camp)
8.     Corrour to Mar Lodge (camp)
9.     Mar Lodge to Braemar (B & B/hostel)
10.   Braemar to Shieling of Mark bothy
11.   Shieling of Mark to Tarfside  (camp)
12.   Tarfside to Northwater bridge  (camp)
13.   Northwater bridge to St Cyrus then bus to Montrose

Sadly, I won’t have a chance to go to Loch Callater Lodge on Sunday as I need to be in Edinburgh on the evening of Wednesday 21st. But then back to Montrose on the 22nd for dinner and party.

Now I need to get this route into TGOC format and think about foul weather alternatives. Completely unnecessary really as this will be the year of crisp mornings, balmy afternoons and midge-free evenings, gentle breezes, perfect campsites, low rivers and dried-up bogs.  I also expect world peace to break out that month.

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The Corriemulzie Mountaining Club (CMC) is a group of folk who were associated with St Andrews University in the late 1960s and 70s – students, postgraduates and staff.  We wandered the hills and pubs of the Highlands staying mostly in bothies, had various epics of one kind or another and formed lasting friendships. Several meets each year are organised by Liz, our wonderful general factotem,  including our autumn dinner meet in Ullapool. We’ve gone soft as we’ve got older though and now stay in a hotel rather than camp.

Obviously, November in the North-West is a bit risky for weather but we’ve had a range of conditions from the predictable downpours to crisp snow and sunshine, last year on Ben Hee.

I had a meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday (coincidentally with Hillary Sillitto, a lapsed CMC member who works in systems engineering like me and who has recently started his own consultancy business) so I headed north on the A9 on Friday. The day dawned well but a bit north of Pitlochry the showers started. The sun was still shining though –  fabulous autumn colours and a double rainbow.

Rainbows on the A9

Rainbows on the A9

The A9 was its usual horrible self with slow lorries and painful progress to Inverness. By the time I got onto the road to Ullapool, the rain was a bit more serious although there was a glint of better light on An Teallach.

An Teallach

An Teallach from Loch Droma

Saturday wasn’t bad – dry with high cloud so it was fine for a day on the hill rather than a low level walk. We’ve been going to Ullapool for a while and have done most of the well-known hills so we headed for Glas Bheinn, which is on the opposite side of the glen from Quinag. We took two cars – leaving one at Inchnadamph and parking by Loch na Gainmhich, where we started up the hill.  It was quite still on the lower slopes but as we got higher, the wind strengthened and it was pretty cold.  We had clear views of the Sutherland hills from the top but sadly no sunshine.  But we did manage a group photo on the top.

Suilven and Cul Mor

Suilven and Cul Mor

Scott, John, Richard, Liz and Ian on the summit

All wrapped up: Scott, John, Richard, Liz and Ian on the summit

 

Sutherland is a magnificent landscape of strange hills and lochs and lochans where the ancient rocks are always close to the surface. It’s one of my favourite places to visit, whatever the season. This picture captures some of the essence of the landscape.

A watery landscape

A watery landscape

As we approached the top, we saw a couple leave and set off down. But when we were sitting around the cairn, they came back and went off in the opposite direction. This seemed a wee bit strange but thought no more about it as we set off along the ridge to descend to Inchnadamph.  The weather was worsening with the mist blowing in when we met them again and it was clear that they hadn’t a clue where they were going (although they did have map, compass and GPS!). We pointed them in the right direction and set off down to Inchnadamph. We did daft things in the hills when we were younger but we always had an approximate idea where we were going.

Worsening weather on the descent

Worsening weather on the descent

We headed down and the weather was clearly worsening with the mist blowing in from the north. As we got to Loch Fleodach Coire, the rain came on in earnest and Inchndamp would have been a more appropriate name than Inchnadamph. It would have been nice to have had a pint by the fire but the hotel was closed for the winter so it was a cold snack in the hotel porch instead.

Back to Ullapool for pints, dinner and catching up with folk that we hadn’t seen for a while.  After a leisurely breakfast, I headed south on Sunday, with my pal Bill, who was going to Perth. The weather on the way home was frustratingly good but I had to be in York for 3 days so had no time to stop for a walk.

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An autumn weekend visiting friends in Cumbria. I’d hoped to spend a day in the Lake District hills with my pal Charles but wives had other ideas. I considered dissent but forthcoming domestic negotiations for a 2-week TGOC next May meant that concessions were prudent. So it was agreed they we would curtail our ambitions to a Saturday morning walk and meet wives for lunch in Kirby Lonsdale.

So, we had a walk closer at hand in the Barbon fells, which I suppose are Pennine outliers. Although we had lived near Lancaster for many years I’d never been there before. Good intentions for an early start for a trip to Crag Hill on Barbon High Fell were undermined by a leisurely breakfast so we started at Casterton for a walk up Brownthwaite and Barbon Low Fell.

 

Brownthwaite Trig Point (strangely, not shown on recent OS map)

Brownthwaite Trig Point (strangely, not shown on recent OS map)

 

It was still summer – hot and sunny but, unfortunately, a wee bit hazy so we didn’t get the views over to the Lakeland hills that we expected. The ubiquitous wind turbines, sadly, were all too visible but clearly not moving – all too common with these abominations.

 

Looking west from Brownthwaite. As always, you can't miss the turbines

Looking west from Brownthwaite. As always, you can’t miss the turbines

 

I was sorry that we had missed Crag Hill – it looked good but we had to head back on a circular route to be there for lunch (Avanti in Kirby Lonsdale, good Italian food). To be honest, these are pleasant rather than exciting hills but they have the great advantage on a sunny Saturday that they are not overpopulated. In fact, we only met a couple of people so it felt a bit like being in the Borders Hills rather than Cumbria.

 

Towards Crag Hill

Towards Crag Hill

 

We were heading back to Scotland on Sunday so decided to have an early start (7.30) for a wee dauner around Farleton Knott and Hutton Roof. These were familiar territory for me as we used to live 25 minutes drive away and I’d regularly head out for a summer evening walk after work. They are limestone hills and have some of the best examples of limestone pavements in the British Isles.

A fabulous morning with low light on a classic northern English landscape. It looked like the fictional Greendale in the Postman Pat books that I used to read to my kids. However, mail doesn’t get collected on a Sunday any longer so expecting to see the bright red van was a bit unrealistic.

 

Morning landscape

Morning landscape

 

The limestone pavement on Farleton Knott was as impressive as ever and I was pleased to see that the lone tree just above the wee limestone escarpment was still there.

 

Limestone pavement on Farleton Knott

Limestone pavement on Farleton Knott

Lone tree

 

Back over Hutton Roof with views of the hills where we had been the day before and back for breakfast by 10 o’clock.

 

Looking towards the Barbon Fells from Hutton Roof

Looking towards the Barbon Fells from Hutton Roof

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