Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Arrochar Alps

The path to enchantment:


Round about the age of fourteen I used to walk from my house at the edge of an estate, across a field, up through a golf course, through a wood, to a point where the path started to go downhill again. At this point Loch Lomond became visible, as well as the smooth, rounded slopes of Glen Fruin, the first hills of the Highlands.

To me, Glen Fruin's swelling mams were as enticing as the burgeoning figures of my female contemporaries, and a hell of a lot more accessible. I wasn't allowed to go hillwalking by myself, but I would sneak away on my bike, pretending to stick to the roads, and drop the bike in Glen Fruin, legs pumping up the steep green slopes of Beinn Tarsuinn or Beinn Chaorach towards the blue crown of sky. Once up there, I would drink in the views. Just a few miles further north were the Arrochar Alps, real hills, craggy hills, hills over 3,000ft. The Cobbler, Beinn Narnain, Ben Vane, Beinn an Lochain, Ben Ime.

The Arrochar Alps:


Arrochar was only twenty miles away, less than two hours on the bike. The road was unpleasant, busy, narrow and bumpy, but the rewards on reaching Arrochar immense.

The Cobbler above Arrochar:


I cut my teeth on these hills. Their broken crags, wavy schistose, green grass, black winter rock, are the hills to me.



From youthful summer adventure, powering uphill at 20m a minute, stroking the grass on top, or enchanted by secret spots such as Lag Uaine or the southern slopes of The Brack; to adult winter reflection, the year turning, early sunsets on frosty slopes.

Beinn Narnain and the Cobbler from Beinn Ime:


Nowadays it is the Pentlands I can see from my bedroom window. But I will always think of these as my natal hills. I used to say I would like my ashes scattered from the summit of the In Pinn on Skye. But the more I think about it, the more I think I would prefer an obscure slope on Beinn Narnain, the winter sun sinking, there to rest for ever more.

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Narnain is one of my favourite hills. Must have climbed it 30 to 40 times now including with a rope inside it on engine room crack and down the famous caves to the underground pond. Been up the Cobbler about 20 times and its also thrill on every occasion.
What a great place to have as your teenage playground.