Thoughts on the Dumyat Path

If, like me, you thought we saw the last of the heavy machinery on Dumyat, you were wrong. In the last few days diggers have arrived again to (at the expense of SP Energy Networks) graciously bestow upon us a new path from the Sheriff Muir road car park to the very summit.

Updated 9/9/2017, 09:15; see the end. Formal complaints to be addressed to SPEN on customercare@spenergynetworks.com »

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GPS Accuracy and the Automation Paradox

It's been a busy summer for UK's MRTs. Not a week has gone by without someone getting lost in our hills, without yet another call to learn how to use a map and compass and not to rely on phone apps. This in turn elicits other comments that the problem is not in the use of digital tools per se, but in not being able to navigate. True as this is, the calls for learning traditional navigation should not be dismissed as Luddite, for not being able to navigate competently and the use of digital technologies are intrinsically linked. »

The Unfinished Business of Stob Coir an Albannaich

I have a confession to make: I find great, some might think perverse, pleasure at times in bypassing Munro summits. It is the source of profound liberation -- once the need to 'bag' is overcome, a whole new world opens up in the hills, endless possibilities for exploring, leading to all kinds of interesting and unexpected places. Plans laid out in advance become mere sketches, to be refined and adjusted on the go and on a whim. »

Eastern Mamores and the Grey Corries

The Mamores offer some exceptionally good running. The landscape is stunning, the natural lines are first rate, and the surface is generally runner-friendly. The famed (and now even raced) Ring of Steal provides an obvious half day outing, but I dare to say the Mamores have a lot more to offer! On the western end it is well worth venturing all the way to Meall a'Chaorain for the remarkable change in geology and the unique views of Ben Nevis, but it is the dramatic 'loch and mountain' type of scenery (of a quality rare this far south) of the eastern end that is the Mamore's true crown jewel. »

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The Debt of Magic

My gran married young, and was widowed young, my current age. I have a very few regrets in life, but not getting to know grandpa is one of them. He was a great lover of nature, a working man with little spare time, escaping into the woods with binoculars and a camera whenever he could. A passion borne out by countless strips of film left behind. As I am getting older I too am drawn into the woods, increasingly not for 'adventure', but for the tranquility and the sense of awe it invariably brings. »

The Case for 'Make No Fire'

I agree with David Lintern that we (urgently) need a debate about the making of fires in our wild spaces, and I am grateful that he took the plunge and voiced that need. But while I think David's is, by far, the most sensible take on the matter among some of the other advice dished out recently, I want to argue that we, the anonymous multitude of outdoor folk, need to go a step further and make the use of open fire in UK wild places socially unacceptable. Not making a fire is the only responsible option available to us. Not convinced? Here is my case. »

Eagle Rock and Ben More Assynt

The south ridge of Ben More Assynt has been on my mind for a while, ever since I laid eyes on it a few years back from the summit. It's a fine line. Today is perhaps not the ideal day for it, it's fairly windy and likely to rain for a bit, but at least for now the cloud base is, just, above the Conival summit. »

Assynt Ashes

Today I walked through one of my favourite Assynt places, off the path well trodden, just me, birds, deer ... and ash from a recent wild fire. I couldn't but think of MacCaig's frogs and toads, always abundant around here, yet today conspicuous by their absence.

A flashback to earlier this year: I am just the other side of this little rise, watching a pair of soaring eagles, beyond the reach of my telephoto lens. »

Fraochaidh and Glen Creran Woods

The hills on the west side of Glen Creran will be particularly appreciated by those searching for some peace and quiet. None of them reach the magic 3,000ft mark, and so are of no interest to the Munroist, while the relatively small numbers of Corbettistas follow the advice of the SMC guidebook and approach their target from Ballachuilish. Yet, the lower part of Glen Creran, with its lovely deciduous woodland, deserves a visit, and the east ridge of Fraochaidh offers excellent running. »

A Year in the Hills

TL;DR: ~440 hours of running, 3,000km travelled, 118km ascended, an FKT set on the Assynt Traverse. Yet, the numbers don't even begin to tell the story ... »