As I write, my legs moan quietly: were you wise? My feet feel ... stressed, and my knees, especially the right one, feel as if someone has put cotton-wool in where the cartilage was. And I don't care. Today - this morning especially - the sun shone, and from first light I could see Goat Fell above the woods round our hotel. I swear it was calling me. We had intended to walk the length of Glen Rosa, climb to the Saddle, come down again. Safer, really, in the light of the fact that we'd forgotten to pack the map I'd carefully looked out. Don't want to get caught mapless on the tops if the mist comes down ...
But the bright blue of this morning killed off these cautions, sensible notions, replacing them with the urge to be up there, among the grey rocks and the spase brown grass, the granite gravel and the peaty pools. And so it came to pass that we drove to Corrie, left the car on the shore road, and started up the relentless slope which leads you onto the hill at the White Water, on into the corrie, and up the last, lung-busting slope to the wonderful ridge that joins Goatfell to North Goatfell. By the time we got up - it took us a very respectable 21/4 hours - the wind was biting, bringing the temperature (11ºC at sea level) down to a level which had us piling on every stitch of clothing, right down to my Obama for President woolly hat.
But I cared about that as little as I cared about the sense or otherwise of this day. What I cared about were the deer that walked elegantly by as we ate our lunch - five lesser ones and a magnificent stag who stopped as I bleeped my camera open, posed haughtily, and trotted effortlessly off up the summit slope of N. Goatfell. What I cared about was the wonderful roaring of the stags, still obivously at it far below in Glen Sannox. What I cared about was the rough granite beneath my boots and the great view of the Arran peaks - Cir Mhor, the Castles - all slightly below me where I braced myself against the wind to take photos.
We took the downward path carefully, out of deference to the aging knees (balance the thought of the years knocked off them with the encouragement to "keep going" handed out by every medic we ever talk to). We were shocked by a sudden shot as we crossed the corrie, and I thought of another stag I had spotted as we climbed it earlier in the day and hoped whoever it was had been a good shot. We also hoped they wouldn't think we were anything other than tired walkers.
The whole day took us just over 5 hours - so close to the timings of our past that I felt ... well, smug, actually. A good late birthday present, to get up there where I first climbed 58 years ago and live to tell the tale. Life in the old legs yet, I'd say!
Note: Here be photos