Sunday, 17 July 2011

A waterfall, a hill and an Angel

Last weekend Pauline and I had a lovely few days chillin’ with no running whatsoever but still getting oot n’ aboot. We were camping in Fort William but there was no “roughing it” involved, a big tent, airbeds, table, chairs and lots of cosy layers and a good measure of wine and a little malt.

By a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon our camp was set up with a cracking view of the Ben, the evening was spent watching caterpillars of walkers coming off the hill. Ben Nevis was on our plan, it’s been a few years since we were last there but we decided to wait until Monday when the weather forecast was better and the weekend walkers had gone home, I’m not anti-social but I like a bit of elbow room.

So Sunday was gonna be a bit wet with low cloud so decided to head up the Kyle of Lochalsh road to the Falls of Glomach, reputedly one of the biggest waterfall in Britain. It was a smashing walk, we kinda underestimate how long it would take, a runner’s view of ten miles is a bit different to a walker and with lots of steep ups and downs, open moor, stops for photies and sandwiches, our rough estimate of four hours was closer to six hours but there was no time constraint and the waterfall was well worth it. I’ve never really been affected by vertigo but the sheer drop, narrow scrambley path to the viewpoint with the rush of the water just sucked you down. I could only look over the edge lying on the wet rock. I laughed at Pauline’s wide eyed exclamation; she’s never been keen on high paths, “Scary biscuits!”

Monday was fair but the Ben was cloudy on the summit, no different to most days, it only averages one day in ten of being clear. We went up the “tourist” path, that was fine by me, I had my camera and I don’t live there, tourist and proud! We kept looking down to the camp site and a wee blue speck that was our tent, I waved down to it, I’ll catch that later when sitting with my wine looking up.

                                                     I cin see ma tent frae here!

Nearing the top, the cloud was thick, still no wind which was unusual, I was only wearing a thermal long sleeved top and a t-shirt, a gentle breeze made me consider putting on my fleece, I looked up, second thoughts, I’ll no bother we’re at the top. A few photies, a clunk of hipflasks, my first effort of a plank, dunno if I got the fine points of technique right but at least it was with altitude!

I loved the blether and nods with everyone else on the hill although there were a couple of miserable buggers that just ignored us. The diversity of the folk on the hill made me smile from the “serious” walkers kitted out in hundreds of pounds worth of gear and rucksacks the size of a small shed to the old bloke in a nylon poncho carrying a Morrison’s carrier bag, the young lads with just rain jackets tied round their waists. The ten year old boy that asked us on the high zig-zags how far was the top, his parents were on the way up too but he had scampered off. I was chuffed for the older bloke from Birmingham, we’d caught him up on the upper zig-zags, he’d was pleased he’d got this far and was going all the way, we spoke to him again when we were heading down he would definitely make it. A few folk looked like they were struggling and hating every step, I felt for them, I’m sure they’d be pleased with their achievement when they got back down but for me it seems strange not to enjoy being in stunning scenery and if it’s hard work it only adds to experience. I think the couple that asked how far it was to the top thought I was only kidding when I said “You’re not far when you get to the snowman!” Sod’s law though, when we were back down did the summit no clear! Oh well, that’s fine I’ll never get fed up going up and down the Ben, maybe next time I’ll get the view!

Tuesday was a fine day but we were both working Wednesday so we slowly packed up camp after a leisurely breakfast in the sun. We broke up the journey home with a stop at Bein Glas Farm, it was the 12th July, two years to the day since Dario left us, so the opportunity of a wee walk in the Angel’s playground couldn’t be missed. We set off at ice-lolly pace, it was still bright and buying a Solero at the shop didn’t make us feel guilty about using their car park.

We stopped at Dario’s post for a bit, I always have a wee wobble to myself, survivor’s guilt, why was I so lucky when other’s who deserve luck were not. We went on passed Doune bothy to Dario’s memorial book, this was no moment of reverence or quiet contemplation but an evil version of the children’s party game of pass the parcel, I had retrieved the black bag parcel from its hiding place, knocked off the big black slugs with a stick, Pauline wussed out, she paced up and down shouting “Hurry up!” as I unwrapped the ice-cream box of its many many layers and zip-lock bag with midges crawling in my ears, nose and in my eyes, I could hear no music just the chortling of an Angel. We wrote a few words then Pauline left me to play the evil pass the parcel game in reverse and I placed the bomb proof parcel back in its hiding place.

We headed back to Bein Glas for some chips and beer before heading home, four days of not conforming to a timepiece but to what seems natural. We promised each other not to leave it so long until our next chill out. all my photies

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