Taps aff west

Continuing the family theme, a few snapshots from three days on the west coast of Scotland between deadlines, staying on a formal campsite with the pack; a new camera (not entirely convinced), chronic hay fever, an eagle ignored as punters checked their phones, cuckoos and midges at dusk, ice cream at lunch, ridiculous beaches and ridiculous weather. Just as we were due to leave, we figured out the best thing to do was as little as possible. Hoping we'll remember that for next time.

so much ground, so little time

Last Friday, 3 friends and I walked soggy switchbacks to the Bealach Duibh Leac, dropped our bags and headed south for a Corbett called Bhuide Bheinn; the yellow hill. It was the pre-amble for the South Glen Shiel ridge - about which more another time - but that afternoon was full of changing light, kindly voices and rough ground little frequented and loaded with a sense of itself. Cold winds blew as we strode out across the boundless knolls, heather, slimy terraces, bog and rock, snow showers swept across the lochans and that light went from cold to hot in only seconds. We caught up with each other, and discovered somewhere new. Now here, no where, nothing to it.

We're close to moving away from the city now, somewhere to call our own and look after each other, a lucky luxury of care and love that's easy to bait if you're born under punches, so everything rings with significance - a seabeaten brick on the tideline opposite the base threatening first strikes, shrill election mantras from the death cult authority. Time to go, it chimes in a voice from my twenties, this scene is washed up man. My other half found a hand written list when we were clearing out, a list made on a walking trip 15 years ago. Did you ever do that - make a wish list on holiday? On it, there's something a bit like what we hope we're moving to. I'd forgotten all about that list. Life takes time, and there's so much ground to cover, it's easy to lose sight. But for the land, which helps me remember.

Ben Lui under a snow moon

My window was a little marginal, but I couldn't pass up a camp under a clear sky and the snow moon. The East ridge of Ben Lui under winter conditions has been on the wish list for at least the last 3 seasons, and it didn't disappoint. Getting up it with a full pack in soft snow took all morning and also felt pretty marginal in a couple of places, that pack tipping me backwards on exposed boulders near the top. Next time, a bike and a day sack. Extremely high winds (too fierce to stand up, let alone mess around with the Windoo toy... but from experience I'm saying gusts of 50+mph on the top of Beinn a' Chleib) meant I bailed on a try for the four Munro group. There was simply no place sheltered enough to camp, and I wasn't convinced the snow was deep enough under Ben Oss to dig a snowhole. The walk out involved way too much tarmac, but gave me time to make my peace with the change of fortune.

I'll save the commercial shots for elsewhere, but here's a few I like for now.

3 by 4

Balquhidder was a family day walk shortly after christmas, and the little'un was tired so we didn't get as far as the lochan. I only had the X100T, but I like this little camera, and managed to grab a few that felt ungeneric enough to post here, and caught the feel. Just like with music - I couldn't care less about picture perfect, what I want is vibe - lens flares 'n all.

Click to make big

On new year's day, with a tiny weather window and no hangover I went out to dust off my Munro bagging habit, making for 2 between Killin and Crianlarich. After the long sit of the festive period, I think I wanted the walk and the camp more than the tops themselves to be honest. So the ticks themselves were unimportant, but nice things happened on the way to, from and inbetween Sgiath Chùil and Meall Glas.

The inconvenient truth when you split childcare is that it's all about the timing - and more so than ever in this start/stop winter season. A furtive but watchful eye, a 5am start and a whole lotta huffing and puffing through fresh meringue saw us on Meall Lighiche and Sgùrr na U-laidh just before the most recent thaw. I'm not sure our route onto the second was entirely orthodox, but I was proud of my mate Mick, who breathed through cramps on a chossy, steep and nasty slope to break through to the ridgeline vista. We really are so lucky to have these spaces. A superb winter mountain day, the second best of the season so far for me, with a few shots to show off at some point, but four for here and now.

Hope you're enjoying your time out too.