Day’s Like This, No 24: Beinn Alligin – Horns and All

alli 1BEINN Alligin lifts itself out of Upper Loch Torridon with the casual assurance of a big beast among a clan of big beasts. With walls of bare striated sandstone and ridges that slice the wind, Alligin is a monument to brutal mountain architecture, eclipsed only by its immediate neighbour, Liathach. The sprawling Beinn Eighe, away to the east, completes the triumvirate. Some mountains are beautiful and serene but these three are menacing and hostile. They dominate and intimidate. If you like your uplands green and flecked with bleating sheep, steer clear of Glen Torridon because this is a land of fossilised dinosaurs of the stegosaurus and triceratops varieties. Big unfriendly giants . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Fish and chips, Footpaths, Geology, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Days Like This, No 23: Slioch – The Unseen Mountain

slioch 1A LONG drive through the night to a lay-by on the shores of Loch Maree. A snatch of sleep broken by an airless dawn. Noodles and tea for breakfast while midges sting eyelids and ears. Then to gaze into an impenetrable clog of greyness searching for a mountain that isn’t there, in a world that isn’t there . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

In the Valley of the Toril

The 3,000-metre summit of Pico del Tajo de los Machos rises above the valley of the Rio Toril and the ruins of Cortijo Antonio Domingo

The 3,000-metre summit of Pico del Tajo de los Machos rises above the valley of the Rio Toril and the ruins of Cortijo Antonio Domingo

PATHS. They begin at our door and run through our lives. They rise and buckle and lead us to unknown places. They appear in all guises: woodland paths; coastal paths; moorland paths; paths of righteousness; paths of destiny. Sometimes they are little more than faint runnels crossing wasteland along which bent men plod and dogs follow. Sometimes they are enchanted ribbons where poets linger. Most were made with purpose though some without consciousness. They link places and experiences. And they all lead somewhere . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Gerald Brenan, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Rivers, Ruins, Spanish Civil War, Threshing floors, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

The High and Mighty Mines of Lújar

lujar 1LET’S recap. Five minutes ago I blundered into a herd of wild boar and seriously scared myself. That’s history, but if you’re interested you can read the account here. Now the clock is ticking. It’s 7.20am and a whole day lies ahead. My original excursion disrupted, I opt for Plan B – a long, hot trudge to the ancient mines of Sierra de Lújar, in the south of Spain. It turns out to be a Plan B with knobs on. And more wild animals . . . Continue reading

Posted in Caving, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Potholing, Quarrying, Ruins, Slate quarries, The Romans, Walking, Weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Close Encounter with Wild Boar

boar 1THE sun hasn’t yet risen above the eastern Alpujarras. The air is cool and fresh on the slopes of Sierra de Lujar. I lock the van and clump off up a track that leads, eventually and hopefully, to a high and remote farmstead above the pine forests. Behind me, the Sierra Nevada – the highest peaks in Spain – lift themselves from blue shadows into the dawn sky. They fill me with expectation. It’s going to be a memorable day . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Wild boar, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

Happy Valleys

happy vallies 1THROUGH a settling of plaster dust I snatch glimpses of snow-capped mountains. Above a hammering of nails I hear gusting wind in treetops and the cry of a bird. And when the wind sweeps away the sharp tang of varnish there are traces of pine and wild herbs in the air. I think about the track that runs along a riverbed from our front gate and off into the hills. In the three months we have lived in this place I have failed to venture more than three-hundred metres along its stony course. If I possessed a spark of adventure I’d drop these tools, pick up my rucksack, and set out to explore this new country. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as someone once said in a memorable film. So off I go . . . Continue reading

Posted in Barry Bucknell, Childhood, DIY, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Life, Mountains, Politics, Ranting, Rivers, Ruins, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

Chasing the Storm

above canar 1I RISE at 6am because the thought of wandering through olive groves by the light of a headlamp and climbing mountains as the sun floods the sky appeals to me. But as I’m getting dressed, silent flashes which momentarily transform a black world into vivid monochrome signal the approach of an autumn thunderstorm. The storm spreads its unseen clouds and the constellations are slowly wiped out. Thwarted, I return to my bed, still wearing my walking gear – though having had the good manners to remove my boots – to await the dawn and a change of fortune . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Footpaths, GR 240, GR 7, Hiking, Mountains, Religion, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments