Round of Camban Bothy

Bothies are, in my mind at least, a national treasure, capturing something of the very essence of the Scottish character and generous attitude to strangers. They are more than shelters, they provide for chance encounters of likeminded folk, to share stories (and drams) the old fashioned way, their logbooks testimony to whatever it is that drives us out of our sterile urban existences. And for the runner, they are an excellent resource for multi day trips, cutting on the amount of kit required, as well as extending the window of opportunity beyond the summer months. »

On Running, Winning, and Losing

I have a thing about hills. It goes back a long way. Aged five, my granny took me on a holiday in the mountains, and I have been drawn back ever since. Forty-plus years later, out there on the high ground, the inner child comes out just as wide-eyed as when during those two weeks I listened to tales of mountain creatures, real and mythical alike, and imagined the fairies and elfs coming out after dark.

Over the years I have walked, climbed, skied and biked the hills. Now that I am wiser, I mostly run. »

Coigach Horseshoe

The Coigach hills provide perhaps the single best short run in the entire Coigach / Assynt area. The running is easy on excellent ground (if at places exposed -- not recommended on a windy day!), the views are magnificent in all directions, and the caffe in the Achiltibuie Piping School provides excellent post-run cakes! »

The Assynt Traverse: Blow by blow

It's 2:55am and the day, which is supposed to be a culmination of a three year long dream, is being (un)ceremonially drummed in by rain on a skylight window in Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel. »

Assynt Reflection

Every time I pass through the grassy bowl north of Beinn an Fhurain, a shiver runs down my spine. Here a temporal singularity is created by the intersection of the merciless nature of these 'wee hills' of ours with the brokenness of the world we have created for ourselves on the one hand, and the cruelty of fate on the other.

It's 13 April 1941. An RAF Avro Anson on a training flight suffers a second engine failure over the quartzite ridge above Inchnadamph. »

Delorme InReach SE

The InReach SE is a location tracker and two way (SMS-like) messaging device utilising the Iridium satellite network (which means it has a genuinely 100% global coverage). I have been using it for about 2.5 years, so I thought it might be worth saying something about it.

On the Importance of Being Lost

It seems that the GPS is now considered to be a part of the essential outdoor kit, and most of the people I meet ‘out there’ seem to have one (the other day I saw someone ‘navigating’ the towpath along the Forth and Clyde Canal using one). The experts even assure me that it is possible to program in hazards to keep me safe!

With all this technology keeping us on the straight and narrow, I wonder, have we stopped being explorers and became followers of (other people’s) tracks? When does adventure stop being adventure and becomes haulage? And is it really keeping me safer? »

Of Sustainability

Sustainability is a nice filler word. It sounds good without sounding overtly posh, it can be moulded to mean almost anything, and, in the absence of a definition, it creates the impression of righteousness without any real commitment to anything at all. Like the childish act of repeating a single word ad nauseum to see it loose all meaning, sustainability, alongside climate change, has become one of the great vacuous cliches of our day. Yet, sustainability is a concept far too important to leave at that! It's time to claim it back, for unsustainable means the forming of an irreversible rift between past and future, while sustainability holds the promise of being in control of our collective destiny.

My interest in sustainability has a rather parochial origin and focus. I am not haunted by visions of retreating icecaps, or coastal erosion in distant lands, nor am I obsessing about renewable energy, or have a bee in my bonnet about recycling. I don't deny the importance of such 'global' concerns, but my reflections on the meaning of, and my growing sense of a desperate need for, sustainable behaviour, stem from my ventures into the Scottish 'outdoors', my increasing awareness of the impact that I, and my fellow 'outdoor enthusiasts', are having, and the realisation that we have long crossed a threshold beyond which our combined intrusion translates into permanent damage. I make no apology for the parochial focus of my thoughts -- it is important to dream big, but at times it is necessary to think small to start executing those big dreams. »

Round of Crianlarich Munros

The ridges formed by the seven Crianlarich Munros provide for excellent running thanks to the tracks hammered out of the mica schist by myriads of boots. However, tackling the whole group of seven together presents a much bigger chalenge than one might expect in the light of its compact nature. Although the as a crow flies distance between the outlying Ben More and Beinn Chabhair is just 9km, the four ridges these hills form are separated by fairly deep bealachs, and the transitions between them are hard going due to rough ground, steep gradients, and no paths or tracks (not even sheep tracks).


Round of Beinn a’Ghlo

The Beinn a'Ghlo group near Blair Athol, while easy enough to access from the Central Belt, provides some very fine running on excellent ground, with entertaining terrain around the summits, and only small amount of heather bashing on the final descent. The views are excellent -- these hills have far more character than one might expect looking at them from the glens below. »