A couple of weeks back, Mick, Stefan and I spent 3 hard days in Ardgour. Really it was 1 hard day bookended by a couple of easier hill walking days, but that doesn't make for such a tidy title. This was my third trip with Stef, who'd mapped the route and clearly has a taste for the esoteric, and shall henceforth be known as Stefan the Obscurist. Mick reckoned he was suffering by the end of day 2 but to be honest he only looked how I felt. As we staggered into camp 2, I was on high alert for someone to fall off the hill - after a day of craggy micro navigation it was clear there wasn't much left in anyone's tank. But our efforts were rewarded: Stags roared, frost nipped, the dawn and dusk light was meticulous in both clarity and softness. For all of us it was our first visit to this out of the way place, and one I think that genuinely woke us up a little, allowed us all to realign the values at our core.
I read something recently that said that outdoors activity was all vanity and selfishness, but I don't agree. In Ardgour we came together. That has a value beyond just self. We talked about the names of things, how language prefigures and articulates thoughts, and how the current, reductive political discourse is devouring the meat and sinew of the common good. What is the common good? The values of any union that I could still cherish are also those of the mountains; honesty, self reliance and mutual assistance, most probably in that order but only because that is the order of things. Empathy - for place, self and others, in that order because siting yourself in the world helps you understand others.
Instead of these common values, wolves in sheep's clothing rule by division, greed and deceit. Our ability to have full and frank discussions has been hijacked by an addiction to bad medicine - pouting straw men and pantomime Trojan horses. Flip flap flop, our gyroscope is fucked, we no longer know which way is up. We have a deep and shady problem; no self respect. Of course, I sound like like every other wild, angry weak man, who when pushed will push back. Or maybe an adult who knows that stock must be taken, stands must be made, and excuses must stop.
So be calm, and gather your friends in the mountains. They need you, and you them.
A few pictures from our Ardgour odyssey below - click to make big: