Prepayment Plan

It’s a story as old as this place, which is not exactly “time” but if I see how young I was in the early pages, it might be getting on for that kind of distance.
Man wakes up, man sees fog on the River Clyde, man gets daughter to school, man spills coffee on himself as he rushes to get out of the door and up the Lang Craigs and above the fog.

The fog is rarely uniformly thick, it ebbs and flows, seeing through the top always powers the legs a little more.

Ben Lomond, sitting above the blanket.

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Every time I get to the edge of the crags I have the same collection of emotions. These include but are not limited to joy, wonder, awe, nausea and a pounding in my chest which is related to the hasty ascent immediately after breakfast and not to the view, that’s what brings the heart and lungs back to normal.

The path up, or sometimes down, is well hidden from passers–by, the view is harder to miss.

It’s utterly glorious and I have never tired of it. I feel the tingle of anticipation if there’s a whisper of mist on the water at bed time and I feel the instant pull in my heart and soul if there’s nothing but a blanket of grey outside when I open the curtains.
It’s good for the soul, it’s good for the legs and good for everyone that knows me because it cites a better mood than might have been otherwise anticipated.

Precious and rare hours. A flask and snack with my feet over the edge, Ben Lomond sitting high and tantalisingly close, divebombed by Housemartins (thanks Matt) and still back at work before lunchtime.
I don’t think I could be anywhere else, I think I need this close.

A Brocken Spectre is often waiting for me here on days like this, it’s a change from the raven. Wait, where’s the raven…

Maybe we all do. I’ve never been so aware of the flood of internal positives that come from stepping out as I have this past couple of years.
I don’t yearn for the distant peaks, but I do need the sky, ground that answers back to my feet, the air and whatever nature brings that day. Because although mornings like this are the ones to treasure, our waterproofs seem to be hanging up and drying off every other day at the moment.
I’ve said it many times, that’s paying for days like this in advance and there’s no lack of joy in any of the process.

Chinese Apple Perambulation

Linda is now insisting that her knee is on the mend and that yes, we can go for a walk. But, on a proper path, obviously.

Balloch Castle Country Park is just what we needed. Proper paths, trees in autumnal glory, views of loch and mountain, it’s just round the corner and there was some unexpectedly blue sky.
But by the time wed have this great idea it was less than an hour to sunset so it was definitely late when we left.

 

The trees are tall and the park is as big and empty as the sky above it while Ben Lomond is the northern wall of this golden garden
As the warm and piercing light finally sunk beyond the greedy grasp of the shimmer of multicolored leaves across the park and cold air with decidedly wintry teeth nipped at our cheeks and fingers I was rarely so glad that we’d loosened the grip of the couch on our stationary arses.

The park was emptying as it grew darker, a few stragglers meandered out towards the road and then most likely one of the chippies. One family’s dog decided now was the time to jump into the loch to much screaming from the kids. This just got the dog excited and it was soon leaping in and running back out, shaking off the water before diving back in once more.
They got a wee crowd and including us and it was a nice to be part of such a simple little moment that’s been impossible to find in nearly two years.

There were ducks and geese and deep water swirled around the tree trunks by the loch. Little boats hurried home from the darkening waters with fishing rods waving from the stern and laughter rippling to the shore.
It wasn’t long before we were on the road home with takeaway food in our hearts and tummies and the threatening rain had surrendered to the stars instead.

Alternative Tentacles

We should have been many miles away in amongst hills I have climbed and written of many times but haven’t seen in two years. We had a cabin booked, I had old stories to tell and we had so much to see.
But it wasn’t to be, Linda’s knee wanted to go to A&E more than it wanted to go to Kintail and so here we will stay for now. Am I upset? Not at all, we have all the time in the world for more adventures.

So when checking in on Linda (who is trapped at the top of many stairs for the time being) on yesterdays’s unexpectedly bright morning, her boy and my mate Greg was in and at a loose end we decided to head to the crags and have a wee wander.
We’d get ourselves sorted, grab some gear and food and meet at lunchtime.

This was a good idea. Even the heart pounding quick ascent from the car park up the giant’s staircase was worth it to find ourselves launched into the most glorious afternoon as we steeped onto the crag edge.
There was clear blue sky, billowing white clouds, dark masses hiding the landscape under heavy showers and all of it being dragged across from the west by a fresh and flighty wind.
Aye, glorious.

We had our shells on before too long as the first heavy short caught up with us. Cold and stinging on my cheeks but unnoticed everywhere else, the joy of being wrapped up and comfy.
The view morphed with the weather, so much darkness, so much light, none of it static. We watched a searchlight beam from an unseen holes in the clouds trace across the glen and disappear, half rainbows teased and faded and we grinned our way to a sheltered lunch spot to take it all in over pieces and flasks.

 

We took a swing east to find the reservoir and sneak up the side of Donut Hill. Here the wind was at its highest and the camera luckily stopped sliding under it’s pressure while taking this selfie just in time at the rocky edge. I think if it had been on a tripod it would still be up in the air just now.

On the descent the last chilled rain cleared to late afternoon sun, low warm and golden. The landscape came alive in classic autumn tones and the sky to the north deepened to a deep azure. Spinning around it was like we were at the junction of different days. I’m saying glorious again. Yes.

Black Wood’s pines remain defiantly green in contrast to the dead bracken and pastel slopes of the Luss Hills beyond.
I love this view, always have and I don’t know why it pulls at me so much. The pines, the hills, the loch and the Highlands beyonds, all in one frame. Maybe it’s that the world really is on my doorstep, maybe it’s the total lack of symmetry pleases my oddball mind, maybe it’s just pretty and I should stop overthinking and just shut up.
I’ll have another look later in week, see what I can come up with.

The walk out was warm, we could feel that low sun and the trees shone brightly. It is their last hurrah after all.

This wasn’t a consolation prize, this was hours of awesomeness. I just can’t be sad about Kintail, when this is at the back door.

Gothic Portal

Holly had shut the side curtains so she could get the sun’s glare off the telly this afternoon. When we came home tonight it had gone all gothic.

Halloween every day for us apparently, all you need are velvet curtains and a plastic skull.

Falling for it all over again

I love autumn, and for so many reasons.

It’s the death of summer, it’s a reason to wear a jumper but it’s the ultimate seasons of contrasts. Spring is the time that’s supposed to be all about life but I see autumn as more so, everything is frantically throwing it’s arms in the air and shouting before it withers in a flash of colour, tries to take someone down with them like the last wasp at the window or just waves goodbye before it slinks away to hide til next year.

I love the colours of course, but the autumn sun is what makes it all really sparkle. The trees are still full and many are still green although all are fading a little, so the light must find gaps to shine through and as the sun sinks lower day by day.

Those gaps become doorways for sideways sunbeams to scan through the trunks and branches and it lights up every gold and crimson leaf, every moss covered stone and every wonderfully coloured companion.

Light, dark and colour, wind, cloud and blue skies, warm low sun and cold shadows. Ah, this is how to feel alive, all this filling your senses at once.
And it changes every day. Colours bleeding from one extreme to another, the unmoving rounded shapes of summer thinning to reveal and new skyline in the woods, jagged but no less glorious to my eyes.

The birds are either grouping and swooping as one before leaving for southern lands or eyeing everything edible very carefully before having tough it out the season yet to come. Their song is still loud, there are branches bursting with berries and furry little creatures scurrying home with less and less cover the hide them every day.

I’ve missed too many autumns, but not this time, we’re out there breathing it all in. The car parks are emptier than they’ve been in six months but our grins are wider and out footsteps more eager than in along time. A season of contrasts indeed.

Time Stand Still

We’ve all been robbed these past two years and it’s difficult to know how to claim back the time, the missed opportunities, the laughter, the love, all the things we’ve missed.
The truth is we can’t do it, what could have been is gone forever. The important thing I think is not miss anything ever again if I can help it.

The perfect Friday evening on Helensburgh waterfront sitting on a blanket with a chippy and ice cream in the freezing cold with the folks I love.