I can see the Kilpatricks from the back window and the Clyde from the front. Out the front can be thick with fog and there’ll be blue sky out the back, but on the days when there’s nothing but fuzzy grey on both sides it’s time to pack and get moving.
I don’t have to move far, a verse and a chorus of something in the van and I’m back out and crossing the field towards the giant’s staircase opposite the Overtoun car park. I’ve always used this track and it’s evolved in recent times, the burn crossing isn’t a leap and the muddy zig zag under the big tree has nearly eroded away to the bare rock which is much easier to traverse but it’s still a wee bit sad.
The mist was thinning here and the sun was stronger with every footstep of height gained and that’s fine, inversions don’t run to a schedule and it was a fine day to on the site anyway. I had a flask and pieces, I was here for the day and happy with it whatever.
There was plenty of blue sky but the sun was quickly veiled by a thin blanket of cloud moving north which took what little heat there was out of it and ruined what was a very promising brocken spectre below me. I chased that spectre along the edeg of the crags for the next hour but the colours in it stayed a bit muted. Hey, not complaining, it was glorious to be up there.
The fog was thick. The quarry was invisible and the tops of the pylons came and went as the level ebbed a flowed like a woolly tide. The Luss hills were dark ribbon of surprisingly pointed looking peaks and Ben Lomond sat with a cloud on its shoulder like a pirate with parakeet which had just been tumble dried.
The cloud bank moved over my head in a slow ripple. It was bright but somehow dull too, the sun was low and weak but my eyes were watering until I dug out my sunglasses.
I walked north along the edge ignoring the path for a chance of a sharp brocken spectra and just to see the tops of the trees bob in and out of the mist. I could hear voices far below me, the occasion dog barking. Ach, youse need to get up here!
The landscape changes around you on these rare and wonderful mornings, it’s liquid, the cloud pouring into the glens and gullies, through the gaps in trees and lapping at a shore of it’s own invention below your feet.
The crags are the perfect height for this, nature looked at the numbers and decided to give us a break, they don’t have to sprint for the Arrochar Alps for the best days every time it said.
The light dulled again even as the sun rose higher and I realised I was hungry. It’s not as if there’s anywhere bad to stop up here, but there are a few perfect spots. I had a wee outcrop in mind to pour a cuppa while dangling my feet into the sea below. I headed along.
Vintage pack, vintage views, vintage knees and the perfect breakfast stop. I saw fellow ranger John below with his dugs, a wee wave and he was into the mist below me.
I sat for a while and then I sat some more. The mist was retreating now after some waves broke high from its surface like hands reaching up and the autumn tinged land below caught the weak sunlight which made the fading green even more tired looking. The site looks fantastic, the trees are growing and changing the contours and flow of the land. So many new visitors won’t have seen what it was like before, yes it was wild and empty of folk, but even with all the drawbacks of people knowing where it is now, this just has to be better.
I carried on into clear air to eyeball the deer fence down to the watergate at Donut Hill and remembered that there’s as much to catch the eye if you look down as there is where you look to the horizon.
I came back over Round Wood Hill and the high track to the Best Bench in the World™ where I finished my flask and sat some more.
What a day and what a place to be to enjoy it.
I think may have grinned all the way back to the van.