The Skye Cuillin

In July 2015 , we went on our second big walk of the year.  It was definitely big, although more of a scramble than a walk.

The Cuillin is the closest we have in Britain to the Alps and it’s a challenge in every way.  To walk in the Cuillin is to walk, scramble, climb, abseil and test your ability to deal with the toughest exposure imaginable.

We spent four days in the Cuillin exploring mountains and corries and it was probably the finest walking/mountain trip I’ve ever been on.  With the considerable assistance of Rich Parker, a mountain guide with Skye Guides, we experienced and achieved so much more than any of us could have imagined.

From Sgurr nan Gillean to the Inaccessible Pinnacle of Sgurr Dearg, we saw so much of what Skye and the Cuillin has to offer.  On the last day we were also first on scene of a fall from the In Pinn which reminded us just how dangerous these mountains can be.

Despite this the trip was truly awe-inspiring.  And this film hopefully gives you some idea just how amazing it was.

A Foggy Day on Goat Fell

May 2015 – After failing in our first attempt to get to Arran this year (gales, storms, power cuts in Ardrossan, ferry being used to take old soldiers to a mid-sea wreck etc.) we tried again.

The weather was better and the mountain was inviting.  And despite threatening to drown us in rain and fog, the views were pretty awesome.

Ledi Me Tell You About The Rob Roy Way

The first of this years big hikes in April 2015, we set out to complete a section of the Rob Roy Way from Aberfoyle to Killin over three days.

And since we were feeling fit, on day two we also took on Ben Ledi, which is a Corbett nestling on the edge of Callander.  We’re tough like that.

Climbing Polly’s Skirt – Stac Pollaidh

I always wanted to walk some of the hills in Assynt and this week I did just that.  I walked Canisp and was nearly snowed and hail stoned back down to the roadside.

A far finer experience was Stac Pollaidh, one of those hills that has icon status.  The hill was inviting and the weather more so.  A glorious afternoon of curious shaped rocks and gobsmacking views of Suilven and further afield.  I left the scrambling until next time.

Metal Trees: Wind Farms in Scotland

Scotland is embracing renewable energy in all it’s forms. But onshore wind will single handedly make the Scottish Government’s commitments to developing a further 100% of energy use from renewables a reality in the near future.

Some communities in Scotland are fighting wind farm developments. These include the proposals to build a wind farm on the Talladh-a-Bheihe estate on Rannoch Moor. Other groups have used wind power as a means to allow residents to make improvements to their homes and communities. These include the village of Fintry and the work done by the Fintry Development Trust.

These two sides of the story are both important and have equal merit. We need renewables. But when will enough be enough? Is Rannoch a site too far?

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Carry on Campervan: The Adventures of “Red Stripe”

Everyone should hire a campervan at least once in their life.

So, we took our new friend Red Stripe on a trip around the Highlands and driving a van thats at least 30 years old was challenging but also a lot of fun. After enjoying the sights and sounds of Northern Western Scotland and the Islands, Red Stripe decided he was enjoying the pleasures of a remote NW lighthouse a little too much and his engine cut out and refused to start again…..

Despite this it was a great experience and I’m 99% certain we’ll be doing it again. Long live Red Stripe.

St Peter’s Seminary – 3rd May 2014

St. Peter’s Seminary is a disused Roman Catholic seminary near Cardross, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Accompanied by a fellow dude and enthusiast.

Determinedly modernist, brutalist and owing a huge debt to Le Corbusier, the seminary is widely considered to be one of the most important examples of modernist architecture in Scotland. Designed by the firm of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, it has been described by the international architecture conservation organisation DOCOMOMO as a modern building of world significance. It is one of only 42 post-war buildings in Scotland to be listed at Category A, the highest level of protection for a building of special architectural or historic interest. It has been abandoned since the end of the 1980s, and is currently in a ruinous state. Despite a number of proposals for reuse or renovation of the building, its future remains insecure. Such a shame.

Shrubhill Tram Depot Explore – 27th April 2014

Up until 1920 the Leith Corporation Tramways owned the Shrubhill Tram Depot. As Leith was a separate borough they had their own separate tram system and Shrubhill was their major tram depot. The Leith system was electrified, whereas the Edinburgh system used cable haulage. The strange feature of this particular tram depot was the underground chamber at the main turn into the garages which would have been permanently manned during operating hours to try to reduce cable-snagging.

Trams were finally replaced by diesel buses after the war and the tram depot was turned into a garage for Lothian Buses. It was then turned into a museum, and finally closed down and abandoned in the 1980s.

I’m amazed that this site has stayed empty for so long. It’s huge and surely a few developers have had their eye on it over the years. In the meantime its a reminder of the more positive history of Edinburgh’s tram network.