There’s Nothing Like Nature to Show You Your Limits

That’ll teach me…

After the relative success of a day walking up a hill in the Trossachs in July, I got a bit cocky. I was just trying to be ironic by calling it a hill in my other post, when it quite obviously – to me – was actually a bloody mountain. But according to some bizarre rating system in Scotland, Ben A’An is indeed just a hill, as is anything else under 600 meters high. Well 609, but I’m too lazy to type the exact measurements.

In Scotland, you haven’t really gone for a walk up a mountain until you’ve bagged yourself a Graham (600 to 760 meters). You can also, if you’re one of those annoyingly fit people, try for a Corbett (760 to 914) or a Munro (914 and above). And it’s quite the thing to do here apparently. Even the girl who I returned my hire car to the next day told me she’s done five Grahams. Two in one day. Yeah, goodonya. Nobody likes a show off.

So this was how I found Ben Venue. At 729 meters, there’s no denying it’s a Graham. So I put on my proper walking boots, grabbed the Hungarian and the Pom and set off again a couple weeks ago thinking it would be a cinch.

I’m going to spare you the endless moaning details, but let’s just say as far as mountain climbing goes, I’ve learnt my limits. I’m too old and pathetically unfit or this shit. Six hours, one blister and two bloodied pinky toes later (and weather so dangerously windy up the top we only stayed for about 30 seconds before retreating to lower ground) tells me that I’m not gonna be bagging no bloomin’ Munro any time soon.

Which is a pity, because bloody hell, even in challenging weather, it’s so damn beautiful up there. See for yourself. But please excuse the rain drops all over this shot. I haven’t figured out how to use a camera in gale force winds and rain whilst shielding the lens yet.

DSC_3642-001

Maybe a lens hood might be a good start?

 

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An Aussie, a Hungarian, a Russian and a Pom Went Up a Hill

Well if you’re a diligent little blog reader and actually read all the comments of the blogs you peruse, you’ll know that I have a job. Albeit a temporary one. But as Bardon so eloquently put it in those same comments, all jobs, like life, are temporary. In any case, I’m declaring myself still a bum till I get a permanent job and therefore the title and this blog’s raison d’etre is still relevant. Yes, just like your average bonkers cult leader, I like to interpret the written word until it has meaning that suits my purposes. Life’s less disappointing that way.

Now if you only got so far as the title of my last little rant, you may have come to the conclusion that I did in fact resort to creative means to land this little vocational assignment. But you’d be wrong. I may be exploring new professions these days, but the world’s oldest is not among them. Yet.

So why’s it taken me three weeks to write about this stupendous (???) development? Because I’m buggered. Jesus Christ, this getting up and going somewhere every day, pretending to be someone with manners, who doesn’t swear and gives a shit is exhausting!

But there’s plenty more time to moan about that later. Right now I’d like to show you what I did last weekend. I could probably write a little story about the whole day, but I’m just going to post some pics instead. Seriously, words cannot do justice to the beauty of Scotland. Well yeah actually they probably can, but I’m tired and it’s Sunday. We working people need to rest up for the week ahead you know.

So here’s Ben A’an in The Trossachs. The Lochs are Katrine and Archray, but buggered if I know which one’s which. click on the pics if you’re the type of person who likes to check out the little details in life.

This is about 5 minutes in. Cunningly I devised a "I'm being a photographer, you'll thank me later" plan to disguise my need for a rest.

This is about 5 minutes in. Cunningly I devised a “I’m being a photographer, you’ll thank me later” plan to disguise my need for a rest from this ridiculous gradient.

A lovely flat bit through a lovely foresty bit.

A lovely flat bit through a lovely foresty bit.

Don't the trees look spooky in B&W?

Don’t the trees look spooky in B&W?

Almost at the top. almost worth the effort.

Almost at the top. Almost worth the effort.

Good spot for lunch

Good spot for lunch

OK fiiiiiine, that's worth the effort.

OK fiiiiiine, that’s worth the effort.

View from the other side of the summit.

View from the other side of the summit.

Since my friends will no doubt be horrified I put them on my blog, here's me trying to remain incognito on the top of a mountain.

Since my friends will no doubt be horrified I put them on my blog, here’s me trying to remain incognito on the top of a mountain at the very moment I realise my camera is no longer around my neck.

Taking  the road less traveled on the way down.

Taking the road less traveled on the way down.

As you can see, Ben A’an is slightly attractive, and allegedly an “easy” hill climb. Personally I thought I might rupture a lung a couple of times, but I guess they mean it’s a short (1.5 hours) climb and the path is not too challenging since most of it is laid with rocks as steps. Even better, all this stunning scenery is only one and a half hour’s drive from Edinburgh. If I still lived in London, it would have taken that long just to get out of the city.

So if you’re heading north any time soon, make the most of what I’m constantly being told is an astoundingly good Scottish summer and get yourself out into the hills for a day. Just be prepared for the shame of a five year old racing past you as you wheeze and splutter your way to the pay off. Or maybe that was just me…