Ah yes, it’s that time of year, when I let loose a sigh of relief that the incessantly soft and deep snow has gone and the spring flowers and birds are returning to my old friend, Blaven.
Easter! Dust off the Brompton, fill up the 120L sac and head for the Armadale ferry, train down to Oban then cycle down the road to the Gallanach campsite, ready for the early ferry on the Saturday morning to the Isle of Coll.
It just sort of happened. I emailed the editor of The Scottish Mountaineer, the magazine of the MCofS, asking if he’d like an article on wild sleeps and pointed him to my flickr stuff as examples of pictures. The reply was along the lines of ‘yes but how about a photo feature first?’. And so, in the February 2015 edition, it duly appeared.
Quite often, reading someone’s autobiography, especially if it has an outdoors theme, it makes you think back to your own beginnings. Where you started and where you’ve ended up, so far. So it was with me as I sampled Ray Mear’s tales of early wanderings and thought back to a particular day, thirty years ago this year.
Continuing with the very mild weather, I fell out of bed, had a nice coffee and a read through the outdoors mag then out the door and round towards Torrin for a day scrambling. And what a morning it was. Blaven was stupendous.
What a strange autumn it’s been so far. Temperatures in the mid teens, not a sign of snow after the first dusting at the start of October and quite a lot of warm sunshine. Sums up today’s wander across the wild moors of south Skye.
It seems summer has fled for another year up here. The rowans are heavy with berry and the bracken is brown and wilting. The meadowsweet has turned the colour of rusted iron and there’s an ochre tint to the landscape, blotched with the purple of heather. So before the snow comes I thought I’d scratch a long held itch to camp on the summit of Blaven. Before, in the words of that worthy, self styled average mountaineer, Quintin Hogg, my wine would run to ruin.
I kept the best wine till the last, only to find that I had lost my capacity for enjoyment
So yesterday afternoon I headed up that oh so familiar path and into blasted rain and lowering black clouds. Damn the forecast! Up into the coire, load up with water and make my way to the south summit, as intermittent heavy rain and low cloud drifted round the crags. Nothing to see, so keep moving.
It’s been a quiet old time lately, hillwise but today I went out for a walk. Nothing much in mind, just a wander, to see where I ended up. On days like these I like to head up into the coire on Blaven and explore. There’s anticipation in the air as a storm is forecast to trundle in around three o’clock and ghostly wraiths wrap the summit now and then and my imagination takes me into another world.
I’ve managed to get a GoPro the other month and been playing around with it. It’s on a vented helmet strap and to make sure it’s angled properly I connect over wifi and preview it on the phone as it has no viewfinder. I’ve also got a headstrap and a great wee doofer that slots onto your rucsack strap. Looking forward to making mountain films next.
With the continuing sweltering weather I thought I’d jump on the bike and go for a spin round south Skye. A nice 50 miler from Broadford down to Armadale via the western loop road. What a day! First stop was at Ord with its unbelievable view of Blaven and the Cuillin.