Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Back to my roots

I came home at the end of August, and after a brief stop in London and a weekend climbing in Llanberis, I came to Gargunnock to catch up with friends and family.

I had been thinking of spending a couple of weeks up here, and then down to London to look for contract work, however the culture shock of those first couple of days in the city changed my mind. I couldn't step straight from the tranquillity of Ceuse to those busy streets. I decided instead to try living in Scotland again, and began looking for work in the central belt.

Previously I'd been put off coming back to Scotland by the difficulty of finding good weather for rock climbing; the thought of not climbing for long spells wasn't appealing and the thought of losing hard fought gains by not being able to get out was too much to bear. But having just climbed for six months non-stop, and discovered how quickly I could come back to my peak after a long spell out, I've lost both the desperate need to climb, and that fear of regression. A finger board should be all I really need access to in order to ensure I can hit the ground running next time I get on the road.

Coming home also means I can get back out in the Scottish mountains. Injuries have limited my running for a while now, but I have an ambition to race the UTMB one day, and after picking up a bit of fitness in Ceuse I'm keen to keep it going.

I started off doing some running around Gargunnock, but after a good start I hit a snag - coming back down the hill from the waterfall I got a familiar pain in the outside of my knee - the dreaded IT band syndrome. I limped home and took a couple of weeks of rest and intensely painful foam rolling.

During that time, I had a trip over to Edinburgh to see some old friends from London. Gayani was at a conference in the city, and Dimuthu had tagged along for the holiday so we took a wander round the old town one morning then up Arthur's Seat.

I can't think of anywhere else you could stand at a trig point on top of a hill and see a guy in a suit, holding a briefcase, taking a break from work? I was always a Glasgow man, but Edinburgh has a lot going for it... the football teams might not be as good but they know what you're supposed to put on chips and the views are a bit better, so it's definitely somewhere I'd consider in future.

After that, the same run around the Campsie Fells passed without any knee pain this time, so when my old mate Ian phoned on Friday to ask if I fancied Munro bagging in the morning I jumped on it.

We headed up the west side of Loch Lomond, parking at Inveruglas and aiming for a loop of Ben Vane, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain. We held a steady pace up to the first peak and stopped for a bite to eat with some nice views. The clouds began to close in, and by the time we reached Glas Bhealach we were walking in light mist. We made the Summit of Beinn Ime in decent time, but then the pace slowed a bit.

After a slog, the top of Beinn Narnain was in thick fog, and an overly blazé attitude saw us take the wrong ridge off the top. By the time we realised we were on the way to Arrochar we had already lost a good deal of height, and the thought of going back up was not a pleasant one. In the end, we decided on the six mile walk back up the side of the loch instead - our little detour turning it into a pretty long day. It didn't really matter though - I had a smile on my face and a spring in my step as we dodged the cars... it was great to be back in the Scottish hills.

I'm starting a six month contract in Glasgow on Monday. The job doesn't sound particularly exciting, but the big draw was the hours - three 12hr shifts leaving me four days a week to park up in the highlands and play.

Perhaps coming back to reality isn't going to be as terrible as I thought ;)

I was pretty lucky to grow up with the Campsie Fells as my back garden...
Gargunnock Waterfall is even more beautiful than my memory
Gargunnock from the waterfall
Dimuthu on Arthur's Seat
Lunch break for a city gent
The walk in to Ben Vane
Top of Ben Vane with Ian and his dog Bella
On the way up Beinn Ime
At the top of Beinn Narnain
The view of Loch Long that we shouln't have seen...
I was treated to this view on a bike ride out from Stirling to Gargunnock the other night... it's easy to take the place you grew up in for granted, but sometimes it will force you to take notice... central Scotland is a truly beautiful place.

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