Had an amazing day in the Cairngorms a little while ago. On the 28th of January, my 57th birthday, I headed across the high plateau of the Cairngorm summit. It was brilliant sunshine with snow covered peaks glistening in the still air as far as the eye could see.
The walk was part of my return to the hills, for the last few years I have abandoned what was once my great love. I had left the hills behind in pursuit of my writing and acting. I had done with the hills I had decided. Thirty years of walking and climbing in my beloved Scotland was enough. I was a winter climber, a dangerous game. The only thing I hadn’t done was see my brains splattered across a rock after a long fall. I thought I’d skip that chapter.
In the years between my waist had thickened and my legs lots their strength. Once I was in the Cairngorm Mountain rescue team now, as I puffed my way towards the summit of Ben MacDui, the second highest mountain in Scotland, I thought I might need rescuing. The mountain gods were generous that day they gave me the sun and a bright windless day.
As I sweated my way up the last few hundred I realised that I was in a privileged position. I live in Inverness and the hills are just a short drive away. I can pick my weather and go where I want when I want. I remembered when I first came to the Highlands, I was in my late twenties, and I had all the mountains I wanted to play with. It felt like I had arrived in Paradise.
We always forget what we have in the pursuit of what we want. I decided I would not forget the hills again and since then have rediscovered the joy I had in the hills. Slowly I’m getting my fitness back and getting out into hills more and more. That’s what this blog is about, that and my many meanderings.
Most folk never go more than a couple of miles into the Cairngorms. Never get beyond the relative safety of the Northern Corries. But the real Cairngorms are buried deep inside, travel through them and you enter different world. A place of big skies, great cliffs and restless winds. They are not an area to be taken lightly but as long as you are prepared and treat them with the respect they deserve they are a fine place to enjoy.
That day the mountain God’s looked down on me. “There he is look, the old codger. Let’s give him a good day, lure him back. Ah now we’ve got him, he’s hooked again. Now we’ll make him suffer.”