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!

Reminders of unfinished business

29th January 2011

Last weekend saw me follow a flight of fancy in that I journeyed up to Fort William on the Sleeper from Crewe. A forecast showing some sunshine was what unleashed me but the reality was more foggy when I reached Fort William. Incidentally, it was very foggy when I left Crewe too but that didn't stop me wondering at what I had done, even if I had gained a glorious view of the Black Mount beyond Loch Tulla or of the hills around Loch Treig on the way.

Despite a quandary induced by the weather that I , I stuck with my original design of popping over to Glenfinnan with two options in mind. The one that came to pass was a short trot along the banks of Loch Shiel and there was some the sun was found to be out when I arrived too though it wasn't to last with grey clouds eventually taking over the sky. Wisps of low cloud affixed themselves to hillsides too as if to amaze the passing wanderer. Add a stag to the scene and he partaking of some silage left out for feeding and there was some wild magic in the peaceful stillness. The surrounding hills looked majestic too so this was a good introduction that needs following up but more thoughts of unfinished business came to mind.

After all, it was ongoing unfinished business at work that made me wonder if I was doing the right thing in undertaking a weekend away but there were more instances from the outdoors world that overtook this. On Sunday morning, the thought of a trot around by Cow Hill and Glen Nevis came to mind but there really wasn't the time for doing that in any state other than in a worried rush and Scotland's fine countryside deserves better than that.

Other examples also joined the queue. Reprising the part of the West Highland Way between Bridge of Orchy, Kinlochleven and Glen Nevis is but one. Seeing more of the hills of the Black Mount and around Loch Etive or Glen Etive is another. Then, there's following up on fleeting visits to Morar and Ardgour more than twelve months ago. Part of the motivation for all of this is my coming away with pleasing photos but that has been an ever present motivation in my explorations of hill country and it's good to see that it still does the trick for me.

On the way home, the sight of Cameron McNeish's The Skye Trail on a bookshelf in Glasgow was enough to have a copy come away with me and that reminded me that I have unfinished business up there too. A fuller review has appeared elsewhere on the blogosphere so I won't be doing one but it's a pleasing mix of route description and social history that also was typical of the volume on the The Sutherland Trail, itself also in my possession and needing further perusal.

All in all, this is far cry from my state of mind last autumn when it became difficult to overcome any sense of fatigue to get out in the countryside all that often. Now, I blame the sense that there was nothing out there that drew me out anymore. Of course, that is fallacious and it's good to have cured it for now. All that it took was the arrival of arctic weather with a good deal of snow and a Christmas spent in Ireland (catching up with a few issues of TGO too) for that one to be put out of commission.

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