Wednesday, April 30, 2014

North West Land

This September the people of Scotland get to vote on whether to go their own way from us lot down South. I wouldn't blame them if they vote yes, I suspect if I was born and lived up that way I'd be tempted too, if only from the heart rather than the head. But on a personal note as an Englishman living down in Sheffield it would be a disaster. Mainly because it will probably mean we'll be condemned to a permanent Conservative government but also because I feel more at home in the landscape of certain parts of Scotland than I do in most of the rest of the UK. Something I was reminded of during last week in Assynt and on Skye.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Scottish Rock

I love the climbing in Scotland, but I'm ashamed to admit whilst I've done over a hundred winter routes, I've done only a couple of handfuls of summer routes. It was great therefore to have the excuse to visit last week in the form of Chris's stag do. Doubly great in that the day after my blog on optimism I strained my calf so couldn't run but could still limp up routes.
Jon and I left Sheffield at 6am, stopped off at the excellent Creag Dubh for a quick route and landed at the campsite at Clachtoll 12 hours later. As stag dos go it was thankfully super enjoyable with ascents of the Old man of Stoer, cragging at Reiff and Lochinver venison pies rather than any mankinies or too much substance abuse. Sandy did bring us all pairs of matching bad taste lycra to keep a decent dose of silliness. Best of all we were blessed with dry weather and NO midges! Here's a few pics.
Our wonderfully situated campsite at Clachtoll
 The Old man of Stoer
Ben on the approach with bad taste lycra
 Ben on Hy Brasil at Reiff
Me on A walk across the rooftops at Reiff
Sandy on the outstanding Grey Panther at Kilt Rock, Skye later in the week

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Relief of Spring

In the past, winter has always been my season - (well perhaps autumn and winter). But recently winter climbing opportunities have become so squeezed and fleeting that they feel like isolated moments rather than anything with momentum or weight. This winter I managed six routes with one of them a real standout - Centurion on the Ben. Almost as many days were spent walking in, in horizontal rain and North Wales didn't have a single proper winter day. I also had to cancel my Norwegian trip through lack of cash. So when the days began to lengthen and the garden began to wake up I felt the natural relief of Spring much more strongly than I have for years.

One of the joys of gardening is that you never quite know what is going to pop up each year from all your hard work, so this year has been a real joy to see some sections of the garden really taking off. Couple that with a little bit of climbing fitness sneaking out and that this month I've managed to nurse my knee through three weeks of marathon training after a similar time off means that I'm in that glorious Spring state of mind where the summer feels like an exciting world of possibilities. We'll see how long that lasts!