Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ben Cruachan

The weather has been relatively calm since last Thursday's Force 11 storm and this has meant getting out for miles and miles of walks with Hector and doing a bit of running (by way of 'getting back into it').

On the diet side of things, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that I've cut out all alcohol in the past week. That's right, not even a beer and I must say I feel all the fitter for it.

The bad news is that I've been eating a lot of old rubbish. I mean, I hardly ever eat chocolate but for some reason this past week I've been snacking on Crunchie's and Picnic's like there's no tomorrow. I'm sure that'll pass.

All this, of course, is in aid of my getting fit for tackling what I hope will be a hefty number of Munro's in 2010. My plan at the moment is to start off with one or two close to hand.

So I thought I'd aim at taking on the Cruachan horseshoe walk which starts at the Pass of Bander.

Today's video is an excerpt from Muriel Gray's excellent 'Munro Show' which went out sometime in the 1990s (I can't remember when exactly).

Here, Muriel takes a walk up Ben Cruachan. When I come to do tackle this mountain I'll be taking the route to the east of the reservoir rather than the route west taken by Muriel.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Scotland's rare Corncrake population has suffered a modest but significant decline for the second consecutive year. Although far from returning to its plight in the 1980s, when the species was at risk of national extinction, recent declines do raise some concerns about the future of this important bird found in farmland meadows and crofts.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Silence No More

As you've probably gathered from my relative silence over the past couple of weeks, there hasn't been much going on here on the Isle of Tiree, not since Christmas and the New Year. There always seems to be a lull in 'the news' at this time of the year. Or maybe that's just the way I perceive it.

There's something about the New Year that takes me a couple of weeks to get over. It's not just the over indulgence that accompanies the so-called festive season; there's also the getting used to it being a 'new year'. 2010. That's a space-age number for someone like me, born in the mid-1950s.

As for resolutions, I make them but I know better than to tackle them on the 1st of January. Again, I wait a couple of weeks, flush the old year out of my system, steal myself.

So what have I got lined up for 2010? Last year's trek to Everest Base Camp was a biggie. I haven't written or said much about it, I know. When I got back I felt like someone who had just come back from a war: I didn't want to talk about it. It took so much out of me, every last ounce of my physical and psychological resources, that I came back exhausted and quite worn out.

Later in 2009 I ran in the Mull Half Marathon  and the Coll 5k and thoroughly enjoyed the training and the results. On both occasions I scored a personal best.

Then came the winter and oh my, have I let myself go. I've piled on the weight and I've also become very lazy. So: time to hook up to a new challenge.

Recently I've undergone a sense of a renewal of my identity as a Scot. I don't know why but I've started to look about Caledonia with renewed enthusiasm and love for its landscape and its people. With this in mind I've been thinking that there's no better way to take this forward than to go Munro Bagging.

For those of you who don't know, a Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000ft. I think I am right in saying there are 283 in the current listing. The most southerly is Ben Lomond and the most Northerly is Ben Hope in Sutherland. I think that over the next few years I will have a crack at climbing them all. Starting in, say, March.

First of all, though, I've got to get fit again. I've got to get back to my running, biking and lifting weights. So if you see a sad old man in his mid-50s panting his way along the roads of Tiree 'jogging' that'll be me.

On other fronts I've got to be more careful about what I put into my mouth. I have to stop eating rubbish and think carefully about what I drink. Even a little alcohol slows you down and takes a long, long time to flush out of your system.

So: onward and (literally) upward.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Greetings from ... Gretna!

Due to unforeseen circumstances we've had to come back up to Scotland much sooner than we anticipated. So now we are ensconced in a motel near Gretna, just chilling out. Tomorrow we'll head up to Oban and spend the next three days there. Hector is heartily sick of all the travelling as are we all!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Greetings from ... Ampthill!

We got here yesterday mid-afternoon. How nice to finally arrive and to meet up again with Fran and John and their dog Beau. At present Hector, with all the wild enthusiasm and energy of a 7 month old puppy, is driving Beau - 7 years old on Wednesday - crazy!

A thaw is in the air. We went out for a walk this morning with John and Beau in the fields behind their house. The snow and the trees are wonderful to us Tiree-dwellers, truly things to marvel at.

Today we will visit Brogborough Lake where the wind surfing class is situated. There's some livestock up their that needs to be fed so that should be fun. And after that some shopping perhaps. Hector needs a new, bigger collar and I need one or two things for the house. And then tonight darling Fran is making us a roast for dinner - pork, I think.

Later I will make a further post when I get some pictures of our visit online.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Greetings From ... Southwaite?

Southwaite Services, to be precise, just south of Carlisle, if memory serves. Jo and I and our dog Hector are heading down to Bedfordshire to visit our friends John and Fran.

Everyone has been advising us against making the trip given the horrendous weather. The main roads appeared to be okay yesterday and last night. The lowest temperature the car computer recorded was minus 7 Celsius. Fog was a worry at several times during the journey south, really thick stuff. And for some reason our windscreen washer had packed in and it proved very difficult to keep the screen clear. We had intended to travel to Scotch Corner, where we had a room booked, but the A66 was closed and so we ended up here.

Hector has been very good on the long journey. For the first time ever he's seeing snow - and TREES - and he's just loving it but unfortunately for me the important thing is that he hurries up and pees and poos rather than pick up his 'pee-mail'.

Shortly we'll be getting ready to head off down the road, link up with the M1 and take it from there. More later, with photographs, hopefully, from our destination.

Wish us well!

Saturday, January 09, 2010


A TIREE mother, who was stranded in Glasgow following a knee operation, had to tell her seven-year-old daughter she wouldn't be home for Christmas – until Loganair came to her aid.

The airline put on a special flight from Glasgow for eight islanders, including Tiree High School teacher Morag McManus, on Christmas Day. No flights had gone to the island the previous two days because the Tiree runway was iced over.


Friday, January 08, 2010


The west coast has been identified as a key area for amorous basking sharks, according to a report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

SHN said Gunna Sound, between Coll and Tiree and the seas around Canna, are important sites for basking sharks looking for a mate.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Scarinish Harbour, Isle of Tiree, 6th January 2010

A short video made on my phone yesterday. Hard to believe that while the rest of the country is struggling to cope with snow and blizzards that the afternoon here was so sunny and tranquil.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


THE UK Government is being urged to clarify whether body scanners will be introduced at airports such as Inverness, Dundee, Tiree and Sumburgh on Shetland.

Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott says ministers must outline whether the measures will be put in place in wake of the failed attempt to blow up a plane over America on Christmas Day.