Thursday, 21 February 2013

oh, that magic feeling.



One of the joys of being a socio-casual perambulator, is being able to follow your nose. Yes, the planning and the poring is fun, but it’s enjoyable to see a path and say “I wonder where that goes ?”  Now in the Brazilian rain forest or the Australian outback such inquisitiveness could be fatal. Less so in leafy Stirlingshire.

And so it was that, out today for a bit of a stroll and a recce for a wee health walk I'm leading next week. I noticed a little path that I must have passed dozens of times over the last fifty years.It was a pleasant, if bitterly cold day, I had nothing to rush home for, so………












And what a joy ! The path follows the course of the burn along the edge of a deep ravine. Exquisite. (Doesn’t photo well “Quelle surprise,eh ?) Nothing spectacular, just one of life's happy little surprises.


The title was suggested by a recent interrogation by No2 Grandson.I can remember when our kids had to interview their grandparents about The War for a school project.For this generation the subject appears to be The Sixties. The interview went thus.


I suppose your favourite album is Sergeant Pepper.


But everybody’s granddad says Sergeant Pepper.

Nope – not in my top ten.

So, you don’t like the Beatles, then.

Yup. But Sergeant Pepper isn’t even in my top three Beatles albums.

You’re being weird again, Grandad.

Nope. Probably fourth equal with The White Album and behind Rubber Soul and Revolver and my personal favourite.

There was no point in digging out the vinyl copy for him, so I emailed him the URL for this


Friday, 15 February 2013

Curio-ser and curio-ser



Apologies for not posting for a few days- London Fashion Week is obviously a busy time for me. Just a filler, then, with some more musical curios/ bits and pieces.




First off we have Chuck Berry at his strutting, smirking, duck-walking best.Playing bass ( on his trademark Epiphone) is Merseybeat and mersey beat legend Jimmy Kinsley and on rhythm is Jimmy Campbell.



Jimmy was a Scouse singer/songwriter who recorded several albums of “nobody loves me/I think I’ll just go eat worms /bed-sit stuff. The best of it was quite good..The drink took him young.




Now, for the avoidance of doubt, I am not now, nor have I ever been a Roman Catholic or a supporter of Celtic Football Club. This does not mean that I am precluded from loathing and detesting the cancer on Scottish society that was called Rangers.As a result of not paying their taxes, the original Rangers was wound-up, but an Englishman called Charles Green bought the stadium and the name and is trying to  con money out of the gullible supporters by pretending that it is the same “club”- hence Zombie Huns .The best response is just to take the piss.




Just to show that industrialisation of “wildland” is not new.





And to finish. Wild horses wouldn’t have dragged me away, Mick

Good night

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Fire That Never Went Out





Going to and coming from my modest adventures , I often meet John who lives just along the street. Now in his nineties, he walks with a zimmer and is always keen to natter about the wild places.

John served his time as a watchmaker in Glasgow in the 1930s and like many of his ilk used to head for the hills and glens at the weekends.


In this, he was part of the working class outdoors movement of the depression years – Tom Weir, Jock Nimlin, Robert Grieve et al. Walking, hitching and bussing, they would head for Glencoe, Arrochar and points north on a Friday night, climb all weekend, and the get back in time for work on Monday morning.




Tom Weir went on to become Scotland’s first outdoors meeja person, many years before Cameron McNeish. In later life, a slightly comic figure with his red nose, bobble hat and tweed breeches, Tam had been a serious climber and mountaineer in his prime both in Scotland and the Himalayas. I seem to recall that his climbing career was ended after a fall on the relatively inoffensive little Ben A’an in the Trossachs.I also think Dave Hewitt said that, although he had climbed most of the Munros, he deliberately never compleated, as it would have seemed like some artificial victory over the mountains.






















Jock Nimlin was a fascinating, multi-faceted character.A true hard-man, but an autodidact in the best working class tradition.He would put up impossible routes in The Arrocher Alps, dossing overnight in a cave up from Succoth, with only a copy of The Daily Record as a sleeping bag.After spending most of his working life as a shipyard crane operator, he became Scotland’s first countryside ranger. He was also an authority on native gemstones.There is a sort of biography/ edited diary in print, but the man deserves a documentary film.


Going to and coming from the hills, these Clydeside stravaigers would often meet up on the shore of Craigallion Loch near Milngavie. A fire was kept burning all weekend, and tea was brewed in old rat poison containers.Stories were shared, songs were sung, the world was put to rights and the seeds of the Creag Dhu and Ptarmigan Clubs were sown. After the Wars (Second World and Spanish Civil) things were never the same and the fire died out, although you can still see the odd glowing ember in John’s eyes when he talks about threading the needle on The Cobbler.

Last summer some people organised a project to locate the site and erect a simple memorial. Although the protective woods have now gone, the old hearth stone was found quite close to the route of The West Highland Way.The details are here.



Don’t click below if you are offended by sweary words and bodily functions. The ashes of Arab Strap.


Friday, 8 February 2013

So, I got this letter, like.




From the membership secretary of the Institute of Outdoor Bloggers. Apparently my CPD wasn’t up to date. Oh dear. Apparently I had more than enough points in the “Puerile Whimsy”  and “Cheap Music” categories, but was falling behind on “Proper, Serious Gear Reviews” and “Actually Climbing Some Hills”. I immediately ‘phoned up and claimed the usual exemption on grounds of insanity, diplomatic immunity and Human Rights.However, the committee has recently been taken over by the hardliners ( you know who they are !) and apparently everyone, even those living in ROYAL Berkshire is now required to climb the occasional hill in order to keep up their membership. This was bad news.Bad news indeed. And so it was, with a heavy heart and rucksack, I set off for Alva, from whence, i was led to believe, some hills could be accessed. I will not detain you, dear reader, with the walk-in up Alva Glen, traversing to Silver Glen and up the zig-zags past the Breakfast Boulder.




We pick up the story at The Gate at the sheep-pens. From here I could have popped up The Nebit in about 20 minutes, but that would not have produced sufficient points ( and I did it a few weeks ago).



Nope, I needed a proper hill – one that’s at least 2000 tootsies…… so over the road and up into the snow.









The Nebit looks pretty insignificant from up here.









And here we are – summit of Ben Ever. It’s a Donald and a Nouvel Donald and all that technical baggery stuff.Now, I’ve been here before. Several times. In fact one of my earliest blog posts in October 2010 featured ths little beauty.So if any Donald bagger out there who needs Ben Ever to “compleat”, and has, say, two Windy Gyles, and is prepared to swop………













So,that’s that sorted. If I Photoshop some of the pictures that I submit to IOOB, I can claim the extra points for an “Ascent in full Winter conditions” . Bonus.


And what about the stats ? Well I’m not going to indulge in the vulgar competitive miles/height/time stuff. If God had meant man to walk uphill faster than 1.5 MPH then he wouldn’t have given him short fat hairy legs. But try this. Round about the time I did this in October 2010, my resting blood pressure would have been about 147/100 and my resting pulse rate 92. As I sit here just now, it’s more like 117/65 and 62. This, I believe, is a “Good Thing”


And I met some nice people who chatted about the hills and the weather and seemed to be enjoying themselves. One bloke even allowed me to try his Micropikes.

I might even be tempted to do this hill climbing thing again.



I once spent a couple of nights drinking with that pair (and Charlie Watts).And you wonder why I struggle to get up wee hills. FFS

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Hills, my carse.



Hunble readers may be under the impression that we elite bloggers need no encouragement to venture into The Great Outdoors at every opportunity, taking time off only to sleep, attend hospital appointments, and study gear catalogues.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Except for a Metropolitan policeman’s notebook. Obviously.

Now, yesterday, for example,was a lovely day for a walk, but, despite much noisy double-declutching, I just could not get my arse in gear to go out.Today was less promising weather-wise, but I forced myself out with one arm up my back, a revolver held to my head, and muttering to myself “The next man moves and the n****r gets it”Some of you may be aware that I live on the boundary between some nice rolling hills and some spooky flat stuff, with some fine woodland thrown in as the luckpenny.Today was the turn of the flat stuff – the Carse of Lecropt. Now, I blogged about this some 18 months ago and the post got no comments and very few page views, so I may be flogging a dead horse here. But if it worked for Waitrose……



We start off along the “Chicken Run”, a right of way through the grounds of the local factory. This is one of “my paths” – never anything to report – well used to get from one side of the village to the other.




The factory is one of the worlds biggest producers of bottle tops. Weird. Just like Jedburgh is the plastic coathanger centre of the universe.





On the other side of the railway is the other major local employer, the slaugh….,the abbat… the non-vegetable food processing plant.






You can see how the village nestles (sort of like condensed milk) in the foothills.





The M9 motorway with Craigforth, one of several crag-and-tail basaltic plugs which characterise the area. Like the Castle Rock and Abbey Craig (Wallace Monument) the shape demonstrates the effect of the hard volcanic rock resisting the glacier which then deposited the soft alluvial soils on the lee side, forming the tail



This area has, at various times, been covered by ice, the sea and a peaty swamp. Now drained and limed, the heavy alluvial clay soil is ideal for growing oats and hay.




”Development potential. Needs some work, but in catchment area of good school”



Atmospheric pic. Like


Horse with packed lunch


The Shadows



Estate cottages.



Completing the loop – under the motorway this time.




This is what we would call a grass seed barrow –



now a plant holder !There are folk who would pay for something like that for restoration.


Well,as i said, I was less than keen at the beginning- there was a biting wind and some nasty looking stuff coming in from the  West- but the wind dropped, the sun came out and I’m glad I went. Bit of a metaphor for life, really.




And talking of life. This little fellow didn’t make it. Case of “Hare today – gone tomorrow” So it goes.