The week is almost done. Thank Jimmy for that.
I nipped out to the rehearsal studio last night, ill or not I’m a Scotsman and I’m not paying for something without getting the benefit (we’ve got a block room-booking).
It was a good idea, I had a great time. We’ve settled on what tune we’re recording and we’ve pencilled in studio dates, one day recording, one day mixing. Sounds a lot for one song, but I have to overdub like a bastard as I play everything except the drums, and also “sing”. Craig (not the same Craig often seen on here) usually gets his drum track down after a handful of tries and then enjoys watching my stress increase as the day goes and and I run out of talent and energy alarmingly quickly.
I like recording old-school too, so it’s all live-room playing with mic’ed speakers. None of this plugged into a desk amp emulation bollocks, I like to feel those low frequencies through my Converse when I’m playing.
So, low-budget detuned doom metal coming to an outdoor blog sometime soon…

There’s more gear arrived (Ooh, and a nice Dirty Harry t-shirt), but it’ll have to wait ’til next week as I’m working off of our old Bontempi “My First Laptop” and I’m not leaving the couch again until Monday.
But there’s a couple of things that need a mention as you people out there have a had a hand in their appearance one way or another. One is the redesigned, lighter and better Radical Design Wheelie which I’ll get up on here shortly. I had a quick shot and this one will make it over rougher ground, I’ve got half a mind and that half mind says that a wander around the Cairngorm passes might be a possible. I can carry it with shoulder straps, so the Chalamain Gap won’t see me buckle a wheel. It could be fun. There’s room in it for luxury sized supplies too.
The other new arrival is the X-Bionic Trekking Underwear Pants, that’s the mid compression version with the very long legs. These have been a subject of much discussion, and because of that, they’re here. A quick measurement says that unstretched the inside leg is 9″, so these aren’t giving you a wedgie.
It occurs to me that these would be good under zip-off trousers as the long legs should cover the zip area in some models that I can always feel (my leg hairs may be like over sensitive anntenae though, who’s to say?), and when zipped off you’re going to have some good tick protection there as well.
Anyway, all good. Coming soon and the like.

I couldn’t tell if the bells were getting louder, the songs they ring I finally recognize

1130. Ting, Bzzzzz, Bzzzzz my phone chimed and then vibrated across the bedside table as a text came through and it woke me up. 1130? I haven’t slept that late in a lifetime. I mean, the hardcore mix of toast and tea near midnight isn’t renowned for it’s morning destroying qualities via carbohydrate hangover, and yet I slept like a Farley’s Rusk under the couch. That is, undetected and undisturbed for a surprisingly long time. The girls are visiting elsewhere for the weekend you see, so my schedule is all to hell.

The text was from Elaina (That Blonde Woman), who was heading to the Kilpatricks, and was I coming along? Not wrapped in a duvet I wasn’t, but some hasty dressing and packing, some rolls brought from the shop by Elaina when she jumped off the train, and a mere 90 minutes later I was ready to leave.
A nice day up there, warm with a cool breeze. The lambs are all wee and cute and very white, surely the only time a sheep doesn’t look like an old dog blanket on legs. We should encourage them to maintain this level of cuteness throughout their lives, it would improve their reputation as well as making the countryside a much nicer place for folk to drive through on their way to the shops.

We sat at the seaside at 1000ft and had a break. We had dark water lapping on the shore, squawking geese flying around and a now stronger and cooler breeze turning the tips of the waves white. That’s seaside-y enough for me.
The newly constructed trails are settling a little, they’re tamping down and consolidating the rock they’ve used to build them, with a clay-like material, it’s a better surface to walk on and to look at, so things appear to be now hovering around 75% on the disasterometer.
Greenland Reservoir has been drained for some works, the “Deep Excavation” doesn’t scare me as it’s really just a gentle slope to where they’ve taken away the bridge over the overflow channel. Seeing the near-empty reservoir was interesting, the original shape of the land is visible at the back, and as two burns run into the bowl shape, you can see why they dammed it here.

We took many detours and askewances (Is that a word? I like it) over our 18km, and one thing became clear, the ground is drying out. All the regular mudpits are shinking fast, the regular slime-chute down to the tree as seen below was now a nice wee dirt track. And consequently, joy of joys, it is indeed time for my Salomon XA’s again, this is where their meagre grip excells and today was their first outing in months.

It felt like proper summer up there. Although it was hazy, the sun was often strong and sunblock was applied.
Nice day. Especially when you consider that I would have quite happily stayed at home and watched the telly all day (I’m having a “not driving” weekend) without the timely promting.
Hurrah for anybody getting off their arses this weekend in any capacity.

Definitely time for bed

The rain’s battering off the window and the wind is blowing soot down my supposedly swept chimney with each mighty gust.

But, as I sit here way too late at night finishing a cuppa before I go to bed…if I stare at the lamp over on the other side of the room…and I hold my thumb up at arms length between us…then if I squint my eyes just a bit…it looks just a little like something else.

We wurnae lang awa’

My newly acquired holiday spirit continued to make up for lost time today.
Holly drove us to the Trossachs in a little red tractor. There was gadding about, the viewing of views, drinking of cuppas and generally a rather nice time. The sky was clear and the air was chilled, but the three of us were well wrapped up.

It’s always interesting to note just how closed Scotland is over the winter months, I do maintain that we should have a new sign at the border “Welcome to Scotland, Ye’ll have had yer tea…”. The open places to eat and peruse woollen goods are jumping, the closed shops’ windows are all nose and finger prints from eager and disappointed shoppers.

It was a fine drive back through familiar but lovely countryside. So many hills, none very big (not they’re worried). So few concentrations of habitation, and so close to Glasgow.

Tonight we even saw the sun setting. Quite bouyant as I sit here with a cuppa planning what to do next.


The weather is looking good and I have no tents. That’s a lie, I’ve no tents that I’ll use. They’re all away their holidays and the only one person tent left is of a design that last weekend failed me badly and I’ll never take above 100m again. Ah shit, maybe I’ll sit on my arse or catch up on my correspondance, catch up on my reading maybe. Talking of which, I sat in the van with a Greggs festive bake and a cuppa today and had a flick through the new Trail, it was just like the old days. Except the music was coming from an iPod and not a compilation tape.
What I won’t be doing as intended is reviewing any of the current test kit, oh no, that’s for next week. My computer finger is worn down to the canvas and my gear gland needs cuppas and a chunk of Chelsea Whopper to chew on.

Beinn Narnain

It was a bit of a last minute decision, but the sky was clear, the gear was already packed, so I was off. I was meant to be away up north, but tiredness and a lack of enthusiasm for driving meant a visit to home ground and to my favourite hill, Beinn Narnain.

I took the new twisty path they’ve built up to the sluice gates at the foot of Beinn Narnain and the Cobbler, just for a change as I always go the old concrete block route. It’s actually okay although stupids are cutting the corners creating water channels and the whole hillside will get trashed if they don’t sort it somehow. It was really warm all the way. Nuun be praised.

I got to the sluice gates and had to make a decision on direction. I could see cloud billowing behind the Cobbler and my heart sank a little. Camping in cloud doesn’t overly thrill me, day trips in pissing rain I like, a wander on the summit at night, clear skies and a cuppa in hand I like better. I also saw my only person at this point. A fell runner who eyed me suspisciuosly, and rightly so.

The quickest way up is to get to the Narnain Boulders and hang a right. This is a fantastic route up an incredibly rough coire, huge boulders all over. Trail had this route in their Best Routes a while back which worried me a bit as it’s a debris chute at the top left, but a rock to the head can happen anywhere and the increasingly obvious path goes the other way, so wire in I say. You do miss the “Ooh look!” you get when you go the other way and climb over Cruach nam Miseag and see all the summit rocks for the first time, but you can’t have it all. The final scrambly bit is getting helluva eroded. I started looking for new lines just to avoid making it worse and would advise everybody else to do the same. There’s a million ways up through those crags, all of them better than that poxy mudslide.

A clear summit is what I found, and a golden sun sinking behind Ben Ime who was wrestling with the cloud on its back in an unconvincing fashion. Photies were took and nice pitch for the tent identified, close to trig point on a flat bit of grass.

I emptied the pack and looked at the contents. Something wasn’t quite right. It’s like that game where they show you a group of objects, put a bag on your head and change one of them. They take the bag off before you asphyxiate, then you have to guess what’s different if you want to live. My primary school was tougher that most.

I’m looking…Ajungilak Compact Pillow? What…am…wait, where’s my sleepmat? In the hoose that’s where. How I lifted an inflatable yellow pillow instead of a blue inflatable mat is a mystery to me even now. It was getting dark, I wasn’t going back down obviously so I’d have to think of something else. I didn’t have anything else though. I emptied the pack completely and lay on it. The aluminium stay and bendy back of the Z35 relegated it to under my feet. All that was left were my waterproofs, oh wait what’s this…I took out Landranger 56 and unfolded it, a fine piece of insulation when left folded in half. With all the stuffsacks, my Oz Pullover and Kamleika pants as well I had a mattress fit for not quite a king, but someone quite important. Maybe even a king of a small country like Monaco or Luxembourg. There could have been panic here you know, I was sleeping in the PHD Minim Ultra and Ultra Vest.

The sky was the backdrop to this mere trifle of a kit misplacement. Streaks of orange, yellow, pink, red and purple filled the whole view to the West. The cloud surging against Ben Ime eventually gave up and sank into the glen to join the forming inversion that was stretching out to the horizon. The cloud that had been pouring betwen the peaks of the cobbler looking like an overflowing bubble bath with satan sleeping in it also slowling faded away. It was all suddenly calm and silent, The sky darkened, Ben Ime became jet black and I decided it was dinner time. Chicken Tikka with Farley’s Rusks, a cuppa and a chocolate muffin soothed me greatly. I wandered about until it was really dark and then went to bed. Apprehensively. Until I put my head on the inflatable pillow. Sigh

My hip got a bit cold where I was lying on it. That was it. I could see my breath so the temperature was heading downwards, but I had no issues. The vest and bag combo saved the day. Hypothermia stays at home and waits for the phone to ring once again.

However the sun came back up about ten minutes later and I was back out taking photies and having breakfast. A beautiful morning. I lingered, I wandered, I took it all in. This is what hills are to me, these moments. I’ll pay for that with as many driech days as you want.

It was getting warmer again, so after lying in the rising sun on my sleeping bag for half an hour, eyes closed, with a cuppa and Motörhead in my ears I packed up and left about 0730. I picked another anti erosion line down the crags and down to the Narnain Boulders, then I ran. I cinched the sack straps in, opened up and it was great. I stopped to say hello to a few folk, was ignored by others and I was by Loch Long too soon. The wee snack hut next to the Esso garage was my goal. I met my Dad who was running me home and we had breakfast by the lochside.

The whole thing took about 13 hours, but it’s taking up way more memory space that the 13 hours before it. Cram that good stuff in I say.