Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Midsummer madness can be rewarded

24th June 2009

The past weekend saw me set off on an incursion into Scotland. My arrival at the road end for the White Corries ski centre was in utterly unpromising conditions: continuous rain and low cloud obscuring the tops. Oddly undeterred, I stuck with my original plan to ply the West Highland Way all the way to Kinlochleven only to receive continual encouragement from a steady improvement in the weather; it dried up after King’s House Hotel with light showers continuing until the middle of the day and sun coming out from the clouds for a grand evening. From the top of the Devil’s Staircase, I popped up onto Beinn Bheag and Stob Mhic Martuin before carrying on towards Kinlochleven. Those ascents afforded opportunities to disentangle and put names to the various humps and bumps that surrounded me, a matter that has perplexed me every time that I get to look at photos taken when I was last this way a few years back. Ideas for future hikes have been planted in my mind, too, so the proverbial ideas shelf continues to be replenished.

River Ness and Ness Islands, Inverness, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

Having been forewarned about a sailing event in Fort William, I opted for a night in Inverness instead. Saying that, Fort William didn’t look so overrun while I was there, but my plans were set, and I sat back to see the sights through the coach windows. A Sunday morning stroll changed my view of Inverness from a less than positive one to a more favourable standpoint. The cause of this change of heart was my discovery of the delights of walking by the River Ness and its islands in bright sunshine. My first visit to Inverness was on a cloudy dreich day prone to dampness, never good conditions to see anywhere, and I popped out to Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness without ever venturing around by the Ness islands in the city itself. In some respects, I am amazed by that omission, but it seems that the Great Glen Way isn’t routed that way for nothing. If anything, my time in Inverness on this occasion may have been overly short; after all, I did have a long train journey ahead of me. Even so, the delights of the city displayed themselves so well that they could be translated into the traditional Scottish phrase “Haste Ye Back”.

That may well set things in play for a mental distillation session ahead of my now habitual longer summer break. This year, there isn’t a single silver bullet like the Western Isles became last year and foul weather alternatives are in order too, even with the Met Office’s optimism. There’s nothing for it but to lay out all the possibilities somewhere and assemble something reasonable from them. In the meantime, though, that Lochaber hike commands a longer description, so my intention is that one will appear on here in due course.

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