Winter's upon us

It's that time of the year again when the white stuff is covering the hills. This year it's come early and without a warning, one day still running in shorts, next day rummaging for the winter gear (and, typically, by the time I have finished writing this, much of the snow is gone again). Winter hill running is bit of an acquired taste, but taking on the extra challenges is, often, worth it. »

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The MTB Impact Myth

The mountain bike is a great iteration in the evolution of the bicycle, opening a whole new world of possibilities as well as challenges. There are places where this is undoubtedly more true than others, and Scotland is, unquestionably, such a place. Not simply because of our long standing tradition of access, but because much of our spectacular landscape lends itself well to what the mountain bike has to offer. »

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Glen Affric: Carn Eighe Horseshoe

The Lochness Marathon is approaching fast, and with it my turn to be the support crew. Because of the race logistics there is a fair bit of hanging around ... but Glen Affric being just down the road, I know the perfect way to 'kill' the time -- the Carn Eighe loop is just the right length to be back at the finish line in a good time! A run along a great natural line, without any significant technical or navigational challenges, yet offering stunning views, on the edge of one of the more remote feeling parts of Scotland. »

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.
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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? »