Tuesday, 11 May 2010

My 1st Wildcamp

After recieving some gentle nagging about the lack of updates recently I did what any self respecting lazy arse would do...get somone else to do it for me!

Since Sandy seems to be either overwhelmed by his month of trips or suffering from writers block I thought I would cave into a suggestion I laughed off almost a month ago & write up my first wild camp for him…

It was sometime during the second week of the April break – the school holidays always turn into a joyful, bell-less blur of lazy days lounging on my own couch in my own house in front of the big telly ignoring the mountain of marking that I always seem to be left with when the kiddies have time off. There had been talk of me going wild camping for months now but with my dodgy circulation and lack of both kit and experience it was decided we should definitely wait for warmer weather. The kit issue had been resolved just before Sandy’s birthday in March when Elaina took me on a shopping spree, and it looked like we were in for a dose of good weather so Sandy took some time off and plans were set in motion.

Our destination was Ben Hiant near Ardnamurchan Point, where Sandy and some pals had ended up on an ice axe & crampons trip that would have been “too hard/cold” for me to deal with, only to have a day of glorious sunshine and pose with the only patch of snow/ice they found so I couldn’t get them into trouble! We’d packed the car the night before so all we had to do was get up, make some squidgy cheese and ham rolls and we were off. As we approached Glencoe I was subjected to the usual quiz of hill and place names that I “really should know by now you’ve been here heaps of times!” which I passed for the first time – I was quite impressed, given heaps of times is really only 3-4 and Gaelic spelling is about as far from phonetic as spelling can be!

After a quick stop in the Glencoe Café which stocks some interesting souvenirs for a little Scottish mountain town: bookmarks with lions, giraffes & zebras, finger puppet lions, crocodiles & kangaroos – I couldn’t resist! We caught the Corran Ferry across Loch Linnhe and continued on our way.

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The road soon shrank down to a single lane that probably looks like a snake that swallowed a fat mouse every few hours in aerial photos. Finally we parked the car and after taking some photos we began our expedition properly.

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There was a nice down hill stretch to start off, with interesting views of ruins on the hillside & an early Christian Monument which has yet to be accurately dated; we continued along a muddy beach and up some softly undulating hills before meandering along the coast peering into rock pools and playing with the flotsam and jetsam.

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When the novelty of a pair of binoculars that worked and a familiar traffic cone wore off Sandy took some quick bearings and we made a start on the first of many steep bits of our journey.

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It was a beautiful day and our efforts were rewarded with lovely views out across the sea watching the tide gradually swallow up the rock pools. As we got higher and higher “photo stops” became more and more frequent, at least for me, Sandy seemed to have more energy the closer we got to the top & took to gloating that he knew how good the view was at the top - I didn’t have the energy to catch up & slap him!

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Eventually as I looked up the hill and the sky seemed to meet, either the lack of looming green or Sandy’s gleeful expression gave me the impression we were getting close. One last push and I joined Sandy on the shoulder of the hill; the view was amazing, there was a slight haze on the horizon which we later learned was probably volcanic ash so we couldn’t see as far as Sandy had hoped but it was a definite improvement on the weather & views I’d had on previous outings. We weren’t quite at the summit, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn this would be where we would pitch our tent, that the summit was only five minutes away and we’d wander up for a cuppa and sunrise in the morning.

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The Bigbanana tent was pitched with plenty of time for a snack and a siesta before sunset. A bit of a breeze had picked up while we were dozing so I didn’t really venture away from the tent and my cosy nest of down, just admired the view and let Sandy play photographer.

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I couldn’t remember the last time I’d sat and watched a whole sunset, but I’m pretty sure the last time I watched it set over the ocean was on St Kilda Beach before I came here over a year ago. When the cameraman was done we settled down to some Mountain House meals (which were surprisingly good for dehydrated meals) and went to bed.

In the morning we got up as the pale cold light that preempts the sun crept across the land and made our way up to the summit. While I made myself comfy on the cairn Sandy set up the stove on the trig pillar and made some hot chocolate. The sun rose slowly, I couldn’t help but think whoever named the tent Shangri la knew what he was talking about; I don’t think I could describe the setting without reverting to stock epithets & clichés so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…

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When the sun was officially up we went back to deconstruct our magical mountain hideaway and head back down via the tourist track where we met the first people we’d come across since we’d started walking – as someone who is fairly used to the sight of obese children it was great to see kids dragging their parents up the hill! After a couple of miles along the road we made it back to the car and headed back off to Bigbanana Towers and the far less enjoyable mountain that awaited me there!

Louise (Wizzie)

2 comments:

  1. YAY! It's up - shame you didn't have a picture of Shelagh the Scottish Kangaroo :P

    ReplyDelete

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