Friday, August 04, 2006

Blaeberries in the mist

What a good day! To the uninitiated, the thought of climbing a 3,000' mountain (actually Beinn an Lochain seems to have slipped from being a Munro these days - has it shrunk?) in thick cloud is little short of madness, but it was so good today. The mist, thick and grey on the lower slopes, became bright and cheerful on the summit, with tantalising glimpses of sun above us. Beinn an Lochain, by the way, rises above the road from Inveraray to the Rest and be Thankful, on the right hand side above the loch.

On the climb, there were two sources of temptation. The first was the presence of blaeberries, purple blobs appearing under my muddy hands as I hauled myself up steps too high for my aging carcass to negotiate elegantly. Always, it seems to me, blaeberries eaten in precarious situations taste the best. I learned that at the age of twelve or so, in Arran.

The second temptation came in the form of this little outcrop of rock, quite near the summit, which sits there crying out to be climbed. I've done it before, on a wonderful sunny, dry day, when I was about 5 years younger and - sadly - several pounds lighter. But it called to me, and we stopped. My nails were full of earth and my toe joints were screaming by the time we continued up the path - but I can still do it: cheers.

What is so special about being up there in the mist, fun and games on rocks apart? I suppose it's the feeling of otherness, of being somewhere hard to reach, whose features are unchanged by human intrusion (ok - path erosion apart), where the bog cotton (pictured) waves in the wind, where a sudden parting of the cloud reveals the huge crags looming above you, or the drop to the distant road, where the scents of heather and wet grass rise all around, where the rocks still held the heat of yesterday's sun - or was it today's? And I supppose there's always the knowledge of danger, of the consequences of a slip in the wrong place, and the awareness that you will only get down again by your own efforts.

And when you do get down, there's the curry - and the gin and tonic ........

11 comments:

  1. You climbed a mountain, I finally finished a kitchen floor. It's the same ordeal, trust me ;-)

    About to enjoy some pollo al pesto con linguine.

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  2. Is there a recipe you'd care to share??

    And I must remind you - I was enjoying myself!

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  3. Glad you enjoyed it! Great seeing you both on Thursday. Retired and still climbing mountains?! Just goes to show you that there is always room for freedom and a good gin and tonic 'on the rocks'!

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  4. Nice one, Duffy! You got to a computer.....but do you never sleep?

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  5. Silly Sister had pulled out the phone line and thought we had been vut off. I know... I spent ages replying to emails that I haven't read for a week and, of course, had to blog on this site about the week I have had. I hope this link works. The one on A day in the life doesn't seem to like it...

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. The link led me to a blank page - is your html correct?

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  8. This could be the problem! Do I need to put in http://www.act-one.blogspot.com? Or do I leave the http bit out?

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  9. Walter8:15 AM

    Thanks for the taxonomic lesson, Chris. I have seen mention of bilberries in novels, though I didn’t know what they were, and now I see, thanks to you and Wikipedia, that they are also known as blaeberries and are closely related to our blueberries. I have picked and enjoyed discovered patches of huckleberries on a hike, and they surely are refreshing on a hot day.

    There is to me something wild about the peaks in Scotland which cannot be explained by any particular ruggedness or height. But, I have to confess that I am unlikely to ever enjoy putting one under my boots. I am quite satisfied to see them from below–though I admire you and Mr. Blethers for being undaunted by the challenge.

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  10. Taxonomic, eh? Well, Walter, you had me onto wikipedia for that one! Comes of being a non-Greek-speaking ignoramus .....

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  11. Walter2:36 PM

    Not my pitifully slow stumblings in koine Greek, but a career on the fringes of the science biz which explains why “taxonomic” comes naturally. I suppose it’s better to know the taste of mountainside blaeberries than their taxonomy, and ‘tis I who am the ignoramus in what really matters about them.

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