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!

They don’t have to be that high

28th January 2010

Last weekend’s greyness did nothing to coax me out of doors and other things took up whatever spare time was available. With a promising forecast for the coming one, I am minded to make use of what goodness comes the way, though it will mean preparation for colder temperatures and mindfulness of the threat of snow showers too. The shadow of winter hasn’t left us just yet but the thought of crossing frozen moorland does sound tempting. It’s too soon to say where the first full hillwalking trip of 2010 will take me but I hope to make a getaway soon, even if only for a day.

One of the things that I got around to doing last weekend was to see what more sympathetic processing would do for older photos brought away after outings among the hills of Kerry over in Ireland. Apart from the now customary thoughts about returning to see more or to do better photographic justice to the place, I got to being amazed by how proud of their surroundings and shapely even low sized hills can appear.

That observation propels my brain to another point: that steeper flanked humps can deceive. Well, they certainly can tire, as I discovered along a stretch of the West Highland Way between Balmaha and Rowardennan. None of the humps rose much above 100 metres in height but the constant up and down action wasn’t kind either. Hillocks don’t just possess the party trick of feeling higher than they are but they can look it too. That observation takes me to Loch Seaforth (Loch Shìphoirt) on Harris where Seaforth Island (Eilean Shìphoirt) has a high point not exceeding 200 metres in height but it doesn’t rise out of the water by half when seen from Ardvourlie (Aird a’ Mhulaidh). I suppose that everything looks higher when seen from next to sea level and you have to wonder how Ben More on Mull presents itself to someone walking in from the coast to reach its summit too.

Those smaller isolated hills might have their uses though, especially when they offer vistas featuring summits. It is for that reason that Diamond Hill near Letterfrack in Connemara has taken my fancy after seeing it featured in a Walking World Ireland route. If I ever manage to make to that part of County Galway, I’d have in mind for that first-ever visit. Ben Tianavaig on the Isle of Skye fulfilled a similar role with views of the Red Hills, the Cuillin, Raasay and the Trotternish all on offer in a 360º panorama on an evening that mixed bright sunshine with spells of rain. Orrest Head in Cumbria is another such delectable picking and illustrates that being deceived into expending energy to reach a lesser top is not foolishness at all. There are enough of the same kind that I risk making a big long list when only a few examples will do. The steep sides to any of these is a hint that any panoramas need work, but who can complain with the rewards on offer?

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