Friday 14 March 2008

Doctor's suggestion.

Camped OS Map LR23. GR 405659. Roughly. Thursday 6th March

Had to go to the doctors a few days back. It was not my usual doctor that I saw but someone different. A few questions asked, a couple of quick checks and a few pills prescribed. Then, to my surprise, the Doctor suggested I may need a tad more exercise! Now than was an interesting recommendation that just had to be tried. So, without further preamble I went for a walk and am now on the Isle of Skye. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.
Maybe it is just me, or because I rely on public transport; there is almost a ritual to catching trains and buses. The initial dash across town to the train station, pick up train tickets. On this journey it involves an eight hour run north. So, buy a bottle of water and a baguette and then hover on the concourse, eyes fixed on the notice board, poised. Finally the platform number is announced. now comes the quick dash down the platform, I do not have a reserved seat so have to move sharpish to get one. It may be me but I hate travelling backwards so nobble a forward facing seat; if I can, in the quiet zone. My bag with my boots in is dropped on the seat; a quick wriggle to get the rucksack off and then stow it close by so that I can keep an eye on it and then sink into my seat with a sigh as the carriage rapidly begins to fill.
Once more it involved a stopover in Inverness. From there a bus down to Portree, change buses and continue on to Uig. Nip into the ferry terminal loos for a quick change into my hill stuff and then away. It had been my original intention to head up on to the hill and follow the ridge line up towards the Quiraing, however, drizzly rain was blowing in off the sea and the cloud base was well down. So it was that I had an easy afternoon,s walk up to where I am now camped. Much bog all around, the bit of ground I am on is not too bad, wet, but not actual bog. With a rising wind and being a little exposed the tent pegs have been weighted down with heavy rocks. Broke a fingernail in the process, grrrh, I hate having raggity nails. The wind is becoming quite strong this evening and the local forecast is for gale force winds with speeds of 70 mph plus with gusts of over 90mph on the tops, yikes!
Friday 7th. Camped OS Map LR 23 GR 462709.
A quite quiet day after a storm tossed night. Woke up a few times during the night as the wind pummeled the tent, rain and hail beating a rhythm on the taut material. This morning the wind had moderated. Headed up to the bealach and turned off on to the path that leads through the Quiraing. What a lovely, delightful path. Twisting, winding, following the contours of the hill. it leads under dark, brooding cliffs, their beetling brows dripping with moisture. Through strange, shattered rock formations. Pillars of crumbling stone, weird and fantastic. Some have names such as the prison, the needle, the quiraing etc. Spent some time exploring, scrambling over scree, winding in out of massive boulders. It would have been nice to do more. It was tempting to stay up there, as I had originally planned. The day had been one of showers, mainly hail with a drop of thick sleet mixed in for good measure. The wind had picked up again and I had been pushed around with some quite violent gusts. So prudence prevailed. Coming down by loch Hasco a particularly nasty squall howled off the hill. It was impressive watching the swirling sleet and hail spinning across the loch in tormented eddies. One more the tent is anchored down with large boulders and the forecast is for more gales. It is quite something to hear the rumble of the wind as it gathers speed coming down off the hill. First there is a low rumble, cats paws of ripples ruffle the loch. Suddenly all changes, the water appears to smoke as the wind slams across it, there is a bang and the tent shudders as the wind comes howling past. Wow, scary, maybe I am being fatalistic but there is nothing else I can do. Then tent is as well anchored as I can manage; it is out of my hands.
Saturday. Portree.
Well, gales through the night, once more easing a wee bit this morning. Bailed out in a temporary lull. There is something surreal, maybe even a tad insane, in deliberately setting out in such weather. having said that, this is nature in the raw, it goes with the territory; it is part and parcel of what I do. Once again plans had to be changed. The original plan had been to follow the ridges down through to The Storr. With severe weather warnings for the area that plan was rapidly revised. Went straight across the road and down to the coast and picked my way around to Staffin Bay. Tricky going, the foreshore was stone and boulder. Boggy fields, interlaced with a myriad of fences that came right down to the shore added to the difficulty. Had one eye open for any possible stopping places but with nothing around, continued on down the road. had a few places on the map that looked possible for a camp. The one that was most suitable was right on the seashore and open to every bit of weather. The wind continued to rise as I shambled down the road. Bruised, blue, black clouds hung ominously low over the distant ridges. Prolonged hail showers beat a voracious tattoo on the hood of my jacket. The rising wind caused me to crab sideways, at one point I found myself actually being propelled backwards down the road. When a car skidded to a stop a couple of miles outside of Portree and offered me a lift, the temptation was too much. The though of a hot shower and dry clothes was something that became very appealing. Being unsure of how a landlady would react to someone trying to book in looking like a loch on the hoof, I opted for a backpackers hostel. Mind, the guy who booked me in looked pretty startled as a pool of water rapidly formed around my feet. There where curious glances from the rich and varied medley of back packing students that inhabit such places. Probably it is not every day that a half drowned granny comes tumbling through the door? Well, tomorrow I will probably do the tourist thing and just potter around. Possibly head over to Kyle or maybe even eventually push on to Inverness. Despite the weather, or maybe because of the extremity of it, it has not been too bad a trip. Just a bit short.


  1. "You don't need a weather man to tell you which way the wind is blowing"

    - Bob Dylan.

    You don't need a frikkin ignorant doctor (drug pusher) to advise a trip to the mountains

    - Anon.

    I enjoy your blog. I sense you find the world a tough place, and SO DO I. And of course the hills are a beloved respite from it.

  2. Thanks for posting that Dawn. I was away from the island at the time and was wondering what that storm would be like!

  3. it most certainly was not a time for the tops. In all probability I will be back later in the year, midges allowing. There is a slim chance I may be moving to live up that way.