The wonderful Assynt is where I am going today on the North West Of Scotland not far from Ullapool it to me is one of the most magic places ever. The drive is incredible and after yesterdays fog bound visit to Aberdeen I long to see the hills again and get out on these wild mountains. On the way I have to meet two characters from the radio “Out of Doors Show on the way” it will be good to meet them again. These pair are the Morecambe and Wise of the great outdoors Ewan McIllwraith and Mark Stephen so what a way to start the weekend so its an early start for me.
How do you explain these incredible mountains and the wildness of their surrounds is a thing I love. The midges are now gone as with most of the tourist so it will be a peaceful place to be and one I long for. These mountains are old pals, each with a unique tale to tell. The geology is complex, incredible and fascinating. The Moine Thrust a magor complex runs all the way through the North West Highlands. The geology of this area is so special that in 2004 an area comprising of much of Sutherland and and part of Wester Ross was recognised as an European Geopark. The first area in Scotland to be awarded this status.
This is my special place,my retreat from a mad world.
From the bothy,Suilven stands Castle like
Summit guarded by loch and bog.
The mighty West buttress,Steep, sandstone, scary.
Moving fast, not savouring,
The peace and beauty, I came for.
I race to the top,summit reached,
Time to think,why all the haste!
Will we ever learn?
To enjoy the beauty and not the race?
That was many years ago
Now I enjoy the slow walk in
Along road, path and moor
Lochans and muddy peat.
Eyes open that once were shut
To beast, bird and flower,
How much I have missed?
Time to enjoy the view, that few see.
Sit and listen, too the words of the hills.
Then the steep grind. which clears the mind?
Stopping, breathing hard,the views
The seat near the top. with Canisp watching.
The ridge is reached. nearly there
Summit breached, flat ground at last.
Stac Polly, Coigach,The Summer Isles
Beauty and peace
I now appreciate. these great mountains
Even the pain of the descent
On aching knees and joints.
Pain clears the mind
As I wander slowly back
Soaking in the views and memories
Wishing I was young again.
Passing by ruins and sheilings
Where man once lived
Who owns this land?
Not the few, nor the rich?
It is all of us, we will fight for it.
Let’s look after this place
For the those who come
To enjoy the beauty of Assynt,
A special place.
Heavy Whalley Jan 2011
It is also Remembrance Sunday this weekend and that means a lot to me, I get asked will I be at the parades that are in every town and city? I visit so many crash sites on the mountains that few visit during the year and that is where I have my quite time, I will stop for a few a time and think of those who gave so much for us.
Today’s Tip. Worth carrying some spare gear between your pals in case you have a problem. A “bothy Bag” is well worth the investment try hanging about for a short time in a bad day not much fun and could save your life?
A Bothy Shelter/ Bothy Bag is the Number 1 Survival Tool: = Andy Kirkpatrick
If you think a bivy bag alone will save your skin I’m afraid you may be sorely disappointed. Of course by getting into your bivy bag you will reduce the effect of wind, and create a slight rise in your micro climate, but sitting alone in a bivy bag with nothing else is a pretty grim affair. A bothy bag is cheaper, lighter and provides far more protection, both physically and psychologically and should be in the rucksack of every climber or walker in the UK (or stowed in a bum bag for rucksack-less multi pitch climbers). By grouping together you can share body heat, food, water and more importantly moral. Also a bothy bag is a very mobile shelter, and you may find that when the shit hits the fan, stopping for half an hour in the bag will allow you to sort yourself out enough to carry on (eat some food, double check the map, ring for a forecast). Splitting a team into their bivy bags almost guarantees to magnify the problem. Personally I use a 4 man Terranova bothy bag, which I further compress into an XS Exped dry bag (marked bothy bag).