I was in no hurry. I thought about doing the XXL loop, but with shoes just-out-the-box I didn’t fancy pushing my luck with that much tarmac.
I parked at Overtoun House, jumped the fence and made a beeline for the crags. I was in an exploring mood.
I can still find new routes, new track combinations, new gaps in the trees to squeeze through, and it’s that happy marriage of familiar and new that will keep me climbing the Kilpatricks until my legs give out underneath me.
I took the trail under the southern end of the crags and wound my way through the tumble of boulders enjoying the cool air and the snapping gusts of wind which nipped at my fingertips and ears. It might look like Spring is here as the snow recedes, but winter is still in the air, and on the ground too. All the reservoirs are still frozen and big white chunks of snow lie at every turn, their edges becoming rounder and thinner each day.
Greenland reservoir is full again, the fine new overflow culvert and bridge still look shiny and out of place, but they’ll fade quickly enough.
The water occupies a clearing, surrounded by tall plantation, and it’s silent apart from the constant trickling of water from the deep culvert. But walk ten feet into the trees and the quietness is almost a physical presence, standing there with it’s hands on your shoulders. Today it was benign, but sometimes, I swear to you, I think it’s reaching for my wallet.
The tracks are starting to heal. The works vehicles from the culvert and Loch Humphrey track operations are gone and a more usable surface is returning. I hope when the greenery sprouts we’ll get a huge mohican of grass down the centre. The ruts are deeper than ever and it’ll look gallus.
Out on the open hillside again it was cold, and getting a little dark. But Doughnot Hill was just over there, so I had to go.
I’m glad too, I took a big sweep across the moor to miss the worst of the bog and climbed to the top from the east side. It’s a good plan because you can’t see what’s on the other side until you’re right on the top. Ben Lomond’s napper was just in the clouds and every slope to the north was a streaky patchwork of white and dark brown.
While I might mourn winter’s passing, spring is the best time to be out in a tent. It’s still cool on the tops, but with longer midge-free days and the joy of seeing the hills come back to life before all your senses if you have to time to stops and notice.
I thought that over, I thought about my plans as I had a wee snack, ifs, buts, maybes and musts.
But it was getting awfy cold, so I packed up and jogged downhill to cross the burn and rejoin the track back to the motor.
I walked through the trees near Overtoun and a blackbird burst into song. That made me smile. Ootside and inside.