Hilltalk


I have come across another mountain related saying in my pamphlet of Gaelic proverbs:

Anail a Ghaidheil, air a mhullach!

The Gael’s breathing place – on the summit!

 

Is that so? Why is it so many of my neighbours have never set foot on a footpath let alone a hillside?

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Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.
Image via Wikipedia


I have been thinking about joining the newly revamped Scottish Wild Land Group for the last few months. A rash of new stories about the onward march of windfarms backed by their environmental apologists has spurred me into action.

This week alone there have been stories about:


  1. New plans to erect 59 turbines above Dufftown in the heart of whisky country.

  2. Both the UK and Scottish Government’s determination to push ahead with renewable (meaning more windfarms) energy. Why is it politicians seem to believe that windfarms are the only renewable option avaialble to us.

  3. The Peak District National Park Authority losing a court appeal to prevent plans for a windfarm just outside the park boundary that would have a significant visual impact within the national park.


I am not against the use of wind power, I think there are some great examples of where there siting has had minimal or no major impact on the local area. For example, the Scratby Sands Windfarm off the coast of Norfolk near Great Yarmouth. However, there are plenty of examples of inappropriate development that is scarring our countryside all in the name of the environment.

The SWLG seem to be an effective organisation in camapaignng to protect and conserve Scottish wild land. Summed up in the following four points from their website:

  • SWLG campaigns on the wider political issues

  • SWLG makes detailed contributions to national and local government proposals

  • SWLG responds to individual developments

  • SWLG believes in action – not reaction

  • As a member I hope I can play a part in furthering these aims.

    Recommended links:

    Scottish Wild Land Group

    Chris Townsend Blogpost on the SWLG 



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    Ben Hope
    Image by Ade Milne via Flickr

    I came across a pamphlet from the 1902s about Gaelic proverbs and sayings. It focuses on those sayings that are unique to Gaelic or have no direct equivalent in another language. Not surprisingly for a language so deeply rooted in the countryside and so descriptive of the natural world many of the proverbs use natural features or phenomena as metaphor. I will enjoy dipping in and out of the seventy-plus pages for inspiration.

    One piece jumped out from the page, although it seems to have no Gaelic basis and is not attributed to anyone. All the same it encapsulates the feelings that those of us who are fortunate to live, work or play in our mountain areas have about the natural wonder around us.

    “Mountains are the great cathedrals of the earth, with their gates of rock, pavements of clouds, choirs of steam and stone, and altars of snow.”

    Related posts:  A New Year thought for hillwalkers

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    The Clachaig Inn.
    Image via Wikipedia

    My discussion topic on the walkhighlands.co.uk forum has been converted in to a reader’s poll where you can vote for the three best pubs for walkers in the Highlands.

     Two of the nominations are mine, one extremely obvious the second probably unknown to many.

    1. The Clachaig Inn (NN 127 567)

    This had to be nominated as the iconic climber’s and walker’s pub nestled in the heart of Glencoe. With The Three Sisters, the Aonach Eagach Ridge, Bidean nam Bian just a stones throw away most people when they have been out on the hills close by gravitate here in the evening. Good food (try the Venison Sausages), local beer from the Atlas Brewery and plenty of tall tales from the mountains.

    2. The Creagan Inn (NM 973 445)

    Just before the A828 cross Loch Creran on the way to Oban this pub used to have a pretty poor reputation. New owners and a major refurbishment have transformed it in to a great place for a drink and good food. The picture windows facing westwards out on to the give fantastic sunset views and if it is warm enough you can sit outside on the terrace decking. This is a good place to visit if you are tackling some of the Munros or Corbetts from Loch Creran such as Beinn Sgulaird and Creach Bheinn.

    Not surprisingly the ever popular Clachaig Inn is the frontrunner at the moment. You can register your vote here, but you will need to register as a forum member if you are not already. 

    Related posts:  Search for the best walker’s pub in the Highlands

    Further reading: Forum discussing nominations

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    There’s a baker’s dozen of great walks still on offer in the summer programme of the Nevis Hillwalkers. This is my local hillwalking club and although I am unable to go out with them every weekend, whenever I am free I  try and spend a day on the hills with them .

    My highlights during the summer programme are:

    • Through route from Glen Nevis over the two Aonach summits and down to the Nevis Ski Centre (not using the gondola!)
    • The Five Sisters of Kintail – one of the classic ridge walks in Scotland.
    • Ben Nevis – no tourist track for us, up the Ledge route and descend via the CMD arete.
    • A full traverse of Buachaille Etive Beag from Glen Etive through to Glencoe.
    • Sgurr nan Gillean, Skye – let’s hope the great weather we are having now stretches all the way through to September.

    I know that walking with a group of people is not to everyone’s taste but this club is a bit different. Even when there is a largish group (say 12) of us out on the hills, you can still get a feeling of solitude. If you want to walk slowly or fast you can do, no one is going to make you walk with the herd. Collectively we will all keep an eye out for each other but we all take individual responsibility.

    This last weekend whilst out on Gulvain I opted out of joining the rest of the group for the “interesting” steep descent from the summit in to Gleann Fionnlighe and the cleg and midge delights that would greet them there. Instead, wanting to stay high, I walked back in the sunshine along the main ridge. That’s the ethos of the club, the programme is there as a guide but with enough flexibility for us to try different routes if we chose.

    If you are visiting the Lochaber area over the summer and fancy walking with some local people take a look at our programme. Visitors can join us on three club walks a year before having to join. You’ll be assured of a warm welcome. .

    You can download our programme here. Or find out more about the club here.

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    {{de|Grosser Krottenkopf von Westen (Allgäuer ...
    Image via Wikipedia

    I am stunned to find out that I have won an adventure holiday for two to the Allgau Alps in Bavaria. This was after I entered a competition in the July issue of TGO magazine.

    One of my customers comes in to post at least half a dozen competition entries a week and once told me that the number of entries to these competitions is relatively small so you have a high chance of winning. So it has proved because this is the second prize I have won with TGO this year. Admittedly my previous prize was a less glamorous win – two tickets to the Outdoor Show.  Most of the time all I have to do is answer a simple question and press the send button on my email entry.

    So I am now looking forward to five nights at a mountain lodge run by a company called My Peak Potential. The activities that are on offer look great, I am particularly tempted by the gorge experience but really want to try out some of the Klettersteig (via Ferrata) routes in the area. The food is cooked by a local chef some good Bavarian specialities will be sampled washed down by German beer. Great!

    If anyone has been to this part of Germany I would be interested to hear of any recommendations,  particularly for day walks in the area.

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    Over at the excellent walkhighlands.co.uk forum I have launched a quest to find the best walker’s pub in the Highlands. You know the sort of place, somewhere you long to be when you’re on a hillside with a gale force wind and a blizzard battering you. The thought of that blazing log fire and plate of steaming sausage and mash keeps you going. Or on those glorious days when the sky is blue and the sun cream is out you know that your thirst can be quenched by a cold pint down in the inn in the valley so it spurs you on to yet another peak.

    I have asked fellow forum members to come up with their nominations for their favourite walkers pub. If you haven’t already visit the site and nominate your favourite. If it’s your visit take a look around and see what else is being discussed as well.

    Link to forum thread: here

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