Thursday, 31 December 2015

TT For the Bells

Hogmanay usually sees me sober. Don't feel sad, this is by choice - there have still been plenty parties such as the Edinburgh Hogmanay in Princes St Gardens. I mind driving home one Hogmanay from a party in Glasgow, laughing at all the pissheads crawling along the street, so drunk they couldn't stand up. When I got home I stepped out the car and - whoops! Ended up on my arse. The pavements were so slippery these people weren't drunk (well, perhaps they were), but falling victim to sheets of ice.

Generally though I prefer to reflect at this time of year, burning old papers and preparing to start the new year with a blank sheet. Staring into the flames of last year's detrius, the new year's ambitions are crystallised. I want to start immediately and it seems a waste to get drunk. Let's get on with 2016 as soon as possible!
 
 Ach who am I kidding. A Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Memory of the Year, 2015

2015 has been a quiet year. A glorious day of winter mountaineering on Arran missed due to being too late for the  ferry. The Lake District visited in pishing rain. Lots of work around the house at home and pottering at weekends meeting family instead of micro-adventuring. And is it my imagination, or has 2015 had more than its fair share of wet and windy weather?

But there have been highlights too. Ben Lomond via Ptarmigan ridge in sparkling snow. A circumnavigation of Lindisfarne. A gastronomic/cycling holiday in France. Beaches and unexpected celebrities of Colonsay. And one trip stands out in particular. The Faroe Islands for the Torshavn Marathon.

Skaelingsfjall from Sornfelli:


I have always wanted to visit Faroe - and the reality surpassed my dreams. In Torshavn campsite I raved about Faroe's untapped tourist potential to a Londoner who was also there for the marathon. He seemed puzzled. Who would want to come here except as a novelty? he shrugged. Me? Give me a windswept archipelago in the North Atlantic over the Mediterranean any day.

Exotic Torshavn:


And it got me thinking. The hills in Faroe are like those on Rum, except sharper, more numerous. Andy Tomkins' list of Faeroese hills on Europeaklist (where I learned that Norweigans hope to gift Finland a mountain peak for Finland's 2016 centenary of independence from the Russian Empire!) show that Faroe has double the number of Marilyn-height hills of the Lake District. It is a baggers paradise. If you can see a vista of hills like this and not want to climb them, then you are made of stronger stuff than me.

NE from Sornfelli:


So why aren't there organised tours for hillwalkers to Faroe? I inquired with some mountain guides, but heard nothing back. It seems that despite being so close, Faroe really is a forgotten, exotic destination.

And the absolute highlight was not the marathon, our boat trip to the bird islands, or even watching the Faroes beat Greece 2-1 at football. It was the ascent of Slaettaratindur, something I've dreamed of for years.

Near the top of Slaettaratindur:


It might not be anything related to Scotland, which is the remit of this blog. But Slaettaratindur on a sunny day is hard to top. It is my memory of 2015.