Saturday, 21 December 2013

Bright sunlight, beautiful skies and bath night for a bad dug...

As mentioned in my last post I was asked to go on a quick trip for work which meant having to change from night shift to day shaft midweek. I'd cheekily tried to wangle a swap for a complete week of day shifts but my boss wasn't wearing it. In the end it turned out to be better option anyway as I suddenly found I had a day off with the briefest of weather windows right in the middle of the blustery and miserable grey horror of late.

I was exhausted. A 2 hour nap after spending a frustrating 8 hour night shift chasing down and replacing the internal destruction found inside an RF generator after it goes out with a spectacular bang is simply not enough. Though despite the exhaustion I was feeling elated...or was it just delirious? Who knows? All I knew is that even despite my ridiculous levels of fatigue and even coupled with the idiots we encountered on route nothing was wiping the stupid grin from my stupid face as I parked the Landy and let an overexcited dug out the back door.

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Striding off up the track the one O' clock sun was low in the sky and glaringly bright. Shade's were deployed which helped the situation with my eyes but the camera had no such assistance and all my photographs had as much lens flare as the bridge on the new starship enterprise (the JJ. Abrams one). I'm not complaining but it did make me start to think about things like exposure, aperture, shutter speed and all manner of other complicated and mysterious photography stuff I don't fully understand. It also made me think yet again that I might have possibly "outgrown" this camera and it's limited manual controls.

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It wasn't long before we left the noise of the road to Muirkirk behind and reveled in the simple joys of  moving through eye pleasing scenery under our own steam and with no time constraints. Well I was. The dug was playing with a stick she'd found and was doing her damnedest to trip me up. The pace was deliberately reduced and we meandered and sauntered our way along this familiar route amongst the trees. Every opportunity was taken to point the camera at nature from every angle. There was no rush. It was my day off and I was savouring it.

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I had started to keep an eye open for the cairn that marks where you leave the track, cross the stream and push through the trees to emerge onto the open hillside beyond. I was a little nonplussed to then discover that it had been replaced with this more colourful urban style of cairn...

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For me part of the attraction of this walk is the fact that you could quite easily walk past the discreet wee entrance to Dungavel Hill if you didn't know it was there. I guess it's not really a secret route at all and the fact that we met another dog walker on the summit later proves that, but I'm half tempted to go back and remove the plastic atrocity from the path and rebuild the tiny wee pile of stones. Just don't tell Cameron Mcneish though...

Emerging onto the open hillside the underfoot terrain and increase in gradient slow us down even more which is just as well as the views out across Ayrshire and Lanarkshire really are astonishingly breathtaking at times and just goes to show that you don't always need to be amongst the more formidable and popular pointier peaks of the country to be awe inspired. All you need is to get out there and look for the beauty around you, and with the right attitude I promise you'll be surprised where you can find it.

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 Take a good look at the mutt above there and notice her "butter wouldn't melt" look. I did and it wasn't long later that I realised my biggest fear for when me and Nellie dug go wild camping. I'll come back to this in a few seconds...

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The route from here is simple. You simply head uphill till you stop getting any higher. Around this time you'll see the large cairn and trig pillar marking the summit. There is also a faint track worn through the heather that follows the trees and then turns uphill taking you directly to the cairn that you could take but it's not always visible.

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 It was as we were walking towards the nicely maturing trig pillar with it's mossy patches coming along well it that I heard a splash and a plop followed by some eerie sucking noises. It took me a few second to see where the dug had disappeared to, a heart stopping second before I realised she was managing to get out fine by herself followed by my inability to get the camera out quick enough for laughing! (I'll also add that by the time I took this, she'd had a good roll about in the grass to the worst off)

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She's always splashing in the muddy puddles or the river when we walk down the local park but I never expected her to jump into a bog that deep, though I suspect she didn't realise it until it was too late. The photo below shows the depth I probed with my trekking pole. Both poles are the same length. I think I'll need to be careful with her in boggy ground which is a little concerning as she likes to run off in front and I'm normally happy to let her as her recall is pretty good. Of course, then there are the issues of having a dug that now reeks to the high heavens in a small tent with you! Maybe I'll see if Sean at Oookworks can put a partition in the the inner I've ordered for the SL3.

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After checking out the view from the trig pillar I was starting to get a little cold on the windy and exposed summit so we retired to the shelter of the large cairn and hunkered down. I got the stove lit as I pulled on my lightweight PHD top and shoved a cold roll and sausage down my gob.

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We met another walker and his dog and exchanged a few words before they carried on leaving us to enjoy the summit to ourselves once more. The stove went on again and while I was warming my fingers on the cup the sun got lower and lower until the colours started to bleed slowly into the edges of the clouds across the sky. We lingered there in the cold and quiet just enjoying the changing backdrop all around us and we only left when it was dusk and the light was fading.

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It's amazing the effect that even the briefest of outdoor experiences can have on your mood, outlook and sense of self. And it can be even more powerful when its a shared one. Despite the smell from the back, the drive home was a far more pleasant journey and I had forgotten that I was feeling exhausted until it was time to put a now decidedly crusty dug in the bath. I posted a quick video and went to bed happy and content. I don't even remember my head hitting the pillow.

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