Category: life


yoga everyday for the month of November



Yes there are bikes – lots and lots of bikes – making you think what’s all the fuss about – it’s not that hard.

But this post isn’t about that, it’s about minimalism and warmth – and how they go together. Copenhagen is a very well lit city. little pools of warmth.

These are some of the photos that i took – mostly fabric and not all danish.


Backpacking Beinn Dearg

Getting busy schedules to co-inside is hard, but Fiona and I put the date in the diary and made it stick. The plan was to spend a few days in the hills, tick a few Munros and generally get away from it all.

A good breakfast and a late start meant a pretty full car park at Inver Lael, and as we headed higher up we began to meet a few folk coming back down.  From the folk we chatted to it seems our late start paid off, we missed the early clag and rain,  and as we climbed higher the cloud began to break.


We first made for the top of Beinn Derag itself, high point of the trip, following the destitution wall to near the summit. then returning to the bealach for the climb to Cona’ Mheall. Views into rear corries from here were ace.


The summits were now cloud free, and we had views across to Seana Bhraigh, The Fannichs, Fisherfeild and into the Glencalvie Forrest. We returned to the Bealach for the final time and finished off the evening with the ascent of Meall nan Ceapraichean.


Meall nan Ceapraichean from the bealach


After crossing a steep, but mushy, snowfeild we descended North to a lochan strewn bealach below Eididh nan Clach Geala and made camp for the night.




As the sun set we were treated to spectacular views into Fisherfeild. Beinn Dearag Mor holding the eye as the sun streamed through the darkening clouds.


Into Fisherfeild


The clouds must have continued to draw in overnight, as dawn saw us waking up inside the cloud. Despite this we headed easily up to summit Eididh nan Clach Geala before 9am. The days plan had been to continue round to Seana Bhraigh, and we set off nav’ing in that direction. But enthusiasm for another night on the hill had been dampened, and Seana Bhraigh had looked so nice the day before it seemed a shame not to see her in full glory. So instead we made for the exit path and returned to the car and a house with a warm shower.


Heading home in cloud


We used day three to head to Glen Cannich and the corbett of Sgorr na Diollaid. We arrived to find company, a large group from Ayr setting off up the hill. The weather came and went, with baking sun, and cloud, but the rain mostly stayed away. Views down Loch Mulladoch ringed with massive hills whetted our appetite for future trips…


The View into Glen Cannich



At the end of October, with leave to use up, my flight reflex was kicking in. The one where I want to be far away, and probably alone. And well Orkney at the end of October seems like a place you’d find a bit of space.

Day One

On the ferry from Gills Bay to St. Margaret’s Hope I saw a Puffin. I mean that’s a life’s ambition right there. Puffins are cool!

Back on the Surly for the first time in a while, and loaded up. Its pretty heavy, but low gears keep you rolling. South to the Tomb of the Eagles.

Tomb of the Eagles

Tomb of the Eagles

During sightseeing the wind picked up. By the time I remounted I was set for one hell of a tailwind. North across the Churchill barriers, Kirkwall bound.

The Italian chapel is a bit of a mind fuck; slavery, religion, stewardship, and tourism. Reconcile that if you will.

The Italian Chaple

The Italian Chapel

By now the light was fading, and it was dark by the time I made Kirkwall. I found the SYHA closed for the winter (meh!), but also found the lovely peedie hotel, very open.

Day 2

The weather was wild so I decided to hole up in Kirkwall and read (Soil and Soul as highly recommended by Laura). I ventured out to explore Kirkwall. Which feels very much like the middle of somewhere. I liked it. Also bought another book; George Mackay- Brown -what else?

Day 3

A day of wet roads and tailwinds. Coast road north, finding  and following signs; first stop Rennibster earth house.  It’s in the middle of a working farmyard, and you have to climb down a ladder to get in.  There is a nice feeling from knowing that you are trusted to cycle up the road to the farm, and climb down the ladder to look around by yourself.

A typical ‘nowhere is open’ lunch:  A sausage roll, a slice of tiffin, and some good banter from the wee shop at Evie, eaten in the rain sat on the bench outside.

As I arrived at Skara Brea the sun began to poke through. After re-fueling in the cafe, (it’s hard to appreciate things on an empty stomach) I took a wander around. It’s hard not to be captivated by the sense of community the hamlet brings.  I spent a few hours picking stones and shells off the beach and enjoying the place.  There’s something about that wee place that will stay long after the shells have broken; you can see why you would live there.

Then on towards  Stomness, but just time to stop for a walk around the Ring of Brodgar before it got dark .

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar

Day 4

Stomness is pretty easy to love. That town has heart, and soul. It also has a great map.

I spent the morning in the Stromness Museum, loving the Canadian exploration stuff, some of the native american beadwork was amazing.  I also fell totally in love with the oil painting “Linklater and Greig Entering Yesnaby Noust” by Stanley Cursiter.  The cliffs and waves reminded me of a summer’s climbing on sea cliffs.  I also stopped of at the Northlight Gallery, which wasn’t strictly speaking open, but I was allowed in to look at the tapestry exhibition.- I really want to go on one of the courses here.

In the afternoon I headed off on the bike again, to visit Meas Howe.  The tour guide was great – I liked her a lot – and after our tour she pointed me in the direction of a few other nearby sights, and gave me a wee map they had put together. So i stopped of at Barnshowe and the Stones of Steness (and the village of) on the way back.

I made it back to Stromess as the sun was setting – so I cycled out past the campsite and along the coastal path to watch the sun set over Hoy.


Sunset over Hoy

Sunset over Hoy

Day 5

The only ferries from Stromess are early, so my hopes of seeing the old man of hoy were dashed in pre-dawn darkness.  Once the ferry had docked in Scrabster I had a calm cycle 18miles along the coast to collect my car.

Hello Wales!

When my boss told me I was getting an extra (unpaid) day off this week it couldn’t have worked out better, because it co-incided with a trip Mark was planning to Wales.  I knew I’d love Wales, and I did, because it was amazing.

Tuesday dawned damp, but then I’m cumbrian and this summer has taught me patience. So tea was drunk and papers were read, and more tea was drunk, and the sun rose above the yard arm and the sky began to clear.  We’d originally been thinking fast drying quarries, but the lure of the mountains was to strong. Our timing was perfect,  the first party to arrive at the bottom of Idwal Slabs, but not the last. Although the sky was now dry the rock was still in speight, so we opted for easy climbing in our trainers; The Ordinary Route (D). At the top we kept going up and made for the Cneifion Arete.  A few pitches then a scramble to the top with no-one but the goats in sight. I liked the goats. I liked this day, a lot.


Scrambling on the Cniefon Arete (photo by Mark)

Tuesday, and our numbers were swelled by old timers and a newbie. Time for something a little different; slate.  New to most of us, and new enough to the rest.  Highlight of the day; belaying Atsuko on a route, she last climbed when she was 50; 28 years ago.  She didn’t take much convincing to be geared up, and just padded up a route, clearly happy being on rock.


The gang in Australia

Climbing wise I managed to lead 5b, so pretty happy with that.  Also managed to scare the shit out of myself seconding a traverse; down climb on mono, above missing bolt, nothing for it in the end but to commit – eek! The day finished with a walk home in the sun, past some legendary climbs.  Seeing the quarryman groove was pretty cool.


Walking home in the sunshine

Thursday, and just Mark, I, and the sunshine remained. A day of climbing in the pass beckoned. First up some unfinished business on Brant (VS) for Mark, just the first pitch, but still a suitably pumpy warm up.  Next up Phantom Rib (VS), 4 pitchs – with the meat in the first 3.  Mark was after 4c ticks, so that meant P2 was his, and P1 looked steep so that was his too. It was steep; i found it the hardest bit of the route.  P2 was delicate and called for small gear – which was a shame as most of it had been used to build the belay; still, nice climbing. I giggled my way up the awkward, but well protected P3, which i’m quite proud of as i’m a total novice on multipitch VS. We were closely followed up the route by 2 ladies from Dundee, so had a bit of a natter at the top, before an abseil descent.  what a lovely climb, what a great finish to our time in Wales.

On the drive home I kept dropping off , to dreams of climbs and sunny Llanberis; it’ll take a while to come down from this. Thank you guys!