Hibernation is tempting…11th December 2007
Thoughts of torrential downpours like those that we got last week are enough to send all but the most dedicated (insane?) outdoors types huddling indoors in the comfort of their own homes. The sound of the rain being blown against my bedroom window on Saturday did anything but entice me from my nice warm bed. Couple that with a wetting on the way home from work on Friday night and a consummate power hosing while on the same journey the previous evening, you’d begin to consider using your best hillwalking waterproofs for a five minute dash to and from the bus. Thankfully, such grottiness has now departed us and I now hope to get in a pre-Christmas excursion into hill country after seeing the delights of today pouring through the windows at work. It’s amazing how a spot of sunshine changes the mood.
In fact, the foul weather episode got me thinking about why it’s so easy to go into walking hibernation. For one thing, the shorter days are a challenge, particularly when it comes to day trips. Staying local, going away for a few days and planning for some walking after dark are all ways around this. I must admit to having done a little of the last of these but I did ensure that navigation was straight forward so that I’d make my way home as planned.
Speaking of winter skills, thoughts of going out in snow and ice soon bring forth visions of crampons and ice axes and the need to able to use them. In these days of global warming, it may be that snow is encountered less and less, making going on a course at the likes of Plas y Brenin or Glenmore Lodge a very good idea. I once popped up to Fort William for a weekend in January only to see little or no snow while pottering about in Glen Nevis. It was later in the same year when I finally encountered the white stuff and it was very crisp and crunchy underfoot as I wandered about on local hills between Macclesfield and Buxton. So snow need not be that threatening, so long as you keep your wits about you. Having said that, I’ll be mindful of the need for winter skills when plotting trips to the higher places of Scotland, Wales and England, particularly when potential encounters with snow and ice are forecast.
It would be a shame to let thoughts of inclement weather and shorter days put you off; there’s a spot of very special magic be sampled at this time of year. After all, you can getting torrential downpours at any time of year and I spent a soggy sojourn in Fort William on one July visit that rather proves the point. It can be very memorable to see how the way that light plays upon the landscape does enliven the views on those cold, crisp, clear sunny days. Intriguingly, mixing sun and cloud can make those views even better as I found out while on an excursion around Harlech last year, and you may find that you have the whole experience to yourself. I must get back to plotting that escape…