Days Like This, No 25: The Constant Mountains

JUNE 2000: The most noble of plans sinks into dregs outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. I’m walking the West Highland Way, and today I’ve hiked the few miles along General Wade’s military road from Tyndrum to the scattering of buildings that is Bridge of Orchy, with the intention of pitching the tent on the riverbank and climbing Beinn Dorain (pictured) before recommencing my walk tomorrow. But having downed several pints of beer and a beef sandwich on arrival, I now feel like dozing in the sunshine. So I do. Take no notice of Hogarth. Beer is the ruination of the productive classes, not gin . . . Continue reading

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Posted in Beer, Camping, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Life, Mountains, Railways, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Stranger in Paradise

A STRANGER emerges from the dawn shadows and threads his way through banks of oleander and olive trees towards the hidden settlement of El Morreon. The sun colours the Sierra Nevada and surrounding mountains an indifferent blue, while in the valleys and rocky barrancos the coolness of night lingers. Not even the bark of a dog cracks the silence. This is a perfect dawn and the stranger is part of it . . . Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Life, Mountains, Rivers, Ruins, Stone Circles, Threshing floors, Walking | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Karst Adrift

karst-1LOTS of interesting stuff happens when you go walking without a map in a strange country. You see things you didn’t expect to see. Conversely, you don’t see the things you expect to see because you can’t work out how to get to them . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Caving, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Geology, Hiking, Industrial archaeology, Karst, Mountains, Potholing, Rivers, Ruins, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments

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