Friends, collies, meteorologists,
(If are new to my blog let me, Ben – a young Border Collie – say a huge welcome. I’m absolutely elated that you have chosen to read my post and not been put off by that old chestnut about people attributing human characteristics to animals!! My blog is all about the trials and tribulations of a young dog on a v. v. v big challenge, climbing lots of mountains in Scotland, called The Munros. You can find out much more about it here Ben’s challenge … the story continues)
Little did I know that yesterday evening, while I was putting an impressive amount of effort into keeping the old eyelids closed down, my B had been wrestling with the forecast and the fact that we had come all these miles north to do a few days of Munro bagging. This was after nearly two months when the people from the Met had advised us to steer clear, in symbols that communicated only wind and rain. Now, in an unpleasantly ironic twist of fate, a freak day of high temperatures was going to cover the UK which, in our parts, rose from a predicted 24o centigrade to a predicted 29o in the space of 2 hours. There was going to be very little in the way of breeze and the temperatures started rising at 6.00am, from an overnight base line that that didn’t dip much below 20o. Full sun was going to bathe the hill in glorious colours and a roasting blanket of heat. This forecast gave a very clear steer to direct B’s thinking but her disappointment obliterated the obvious. Desperately she looked for alternatives: shorter walks, different parts of the country, getting up even earlier. However, none of them could get around the fact that – no matter where we went, or what time we started out – at some point in the day we would be spending several hours in the v. v. v hot weather and, as proved to be the case – according to the gospel of Facebook – dogs can get heat stroke. Finally, she admitted that the 25th September 2019 was cancelled, having the temerity to blame it on me.
Given that I was unconscious at the time of this wrangling I found the lack of consultation a little hurtful, but my indignation was short lived as I was able to lie in late the next day. Now, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression. I really am in this for the long haul and have all the necessary commitment but, I ask you – honestly – what would you rather do, flog up a 3,000 foot mountain or two, and get heatstroke, or turn around, scratch your blanket up into a nice ball and then flop down for a tad more shut eye?
Last night, once our proposed Munro trek had definitely been written off, B – thinking about how I might like to spend such a hot day – has hatched a plan B. As it happens, our physical presence in this universe had planted us just a couple of hundred metres from a stunning highland loch, and I had been destined to spend many hours in the cooling properties of Loch Laggen’s sylvan waters. As we had approached the gate, giving us entry to the field which annexed the shore, we could see a heard of cattle grazing nonchalantly, right in our way. Seemingly, these bovines could become enraged at the very sight of little old me and all hell could let loose. Well, I don’t know about any of that but I just wished a stupendous tube of Primular cheese could have been lowered from the sky to distract the cows, granting us a safe passage through the field, so close to the loch. Several times we paced backwards and forwards to the gate but, the cows were not for moving.
So Instead, we spent Sunday in an opaque passing of hours; much of it looking for shade. On a bench under trees, just beyond the Creag Meagaidh car park, B passed the time reading and writing, while I spent it on guard, ready to put in a strong objection when anyone dared to pass by. At these times, the distracting nozzle of my Primular was swiftly placed close to my lips and copious amounts of the velvety substance transferred itself, as if by magic, to the back of my throat. It was a day to treasure.
My friends, who get this post in their e mails, may need to go to my website to see these photos as a slide show – Ben’s website
Early in the evening some cloud cover dissipated the heat of the sun and we decided to move to our resting place for the night. During our short drive early evening light silhouetted mountains high against the sky as glorious monuments spelling out the beauty of the natural world.
Fersit lies at the end of a minor road leading to Loch Treig. Me and B love to end our day in such sequestered pockets of solitude. Here overlooking a loch and cradled by mountains, we relished the privileged freedom of roaming the land by day and sleeping in Tanka, our Renault Kangoo, by night.
B told me all about those people who had to do big fights to win our rights and pave the way for us to be sleeping here tonight and climbing Munros tomorrow. First she told me about the Diggers, who in the 1630s occupied some land, objecting about the money people who wanted to take it from them. They were fighting to be able to graze their sheep on common land so they could feed their families. “We are free men, though we are poor”, they said.
Then she told me about the Manchester Ramblers, who did an illegal trespass on Kinder Scout, Derbyshire in 1932, asserting their right to roam over the moors, in order to claim a bit of a work / life balance, after labouring in industrial mills and factories all week. “I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday” is how Ewan McColl phrased their perspective on life. Clearly he had no idea of diversity and omitted woman and dogs from his song about the big march, which is pretty unforgivable.
After such heavy intellectualising, my head hurt badly and my eyelids were sinking in the direction of my snout. I sometimes think B forgets that I am only a dog when she starts philosophising. I needed zzzs.