Saturday, January 17, 2015

Called to the mountain...and into the icy mists of West Lomond.

It was a "Blue Sky Scotland" day today...the perfect day to hike up to the highest point in the Kingdom of Fife - West Lomond. The volcanic cone, along with its sister, East Lomond can be seen from all over. At 1,713 feet high, it's a modest hill but it offers wonderful 360 degree views - of the Perthshire and Angus mountains, across the Firth of Forth to Arthur's Seat by Edinburgh, the Ochil Hills, and the North Sea. At the base of the hill lies Loch Leven, where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned on a small island in 1567. At the summit, by the trig point, lies the remnants of an iron age hill fort. Folks have been enjoying this place for a very long time.

It was a crisp, clear day, and it reminded us of the many winters we'd spent in Alberta, where blue skies and a bright sun went hand in hand.

Grassy vegetation seemed (and was) frozen in time.

An old boundary marker remained on the approach trail, with the inscription "WR 1818". Sir William Rae, had the job of surveying the land back in the day.

Contemporary Scottish access rights, however, mean that there are no longer any boundaries. Walkers and hikers are free to roam and respectfully enjoy every nook and cranny of this richly endowed country. It's a rare treat to have such freedom to explore and discover.

The summit of West Lomond beckoned, but a shroud of mist and blowing ice crystals would not permit a view...until we had made the effort to reach its highest point.

Memories of decades of Canadian winters, cross-country skiing, shovelling out driveways, and skating on ponds and lakes came flooding back.

The first view of the trig point, thorough the swirling mist, seemed more like an Antarctic ice base than the summit of a high hill that looked down on a patchwork of emerald green and golden fields dotted with towns and villages, castles and palaces.

There was a "softness", even to the ancient rubble.

As if to reward the effort, the skies cleared, but just momentarily.

As a small group of travellers approached the rocky remnants of the hill fort, the mist gathered once again.

This small effort had taken us above the clouds. The ancient Celtic contemplatives might also have found it to be a "thin place".

The mountains are calling, and I must go. - John Muir

Today, we heard a "call" to a high place, heeded it...and returned freshened, revitalised, and with clearer heads and perspectives for the tasks at hand.

And, it was a simply cracking day out. :)

Afterthought: Are there special places or spaces that call out to you?


  1. Wow, a real cracker D & J ! That last image, complete with inversion, sums up everything that's great about the northern winter :o)

    Warm wishes

    I & L

    1. Thanks for that, Ian, it was was yours. The daylight is slowly coming back and it's good to have more time out there! Have a safe and excellent expedition next week. Warm wishes from us. Duncan.

  2. Totally jealous!

    1. Haha! You would have loved it L, I know that. We could see your Schiehallion from the top. Thanks and warm wishes. Ttys. D.

  3. Hi Duncan and Joan, I know what you mean because the mountains here in the Bow Valley are always calling. Every season is so different and they are always changing but they remain the same. Winter is so beautiful. And I have to get out more! :>) I love the pics! Looks cold! Gen.

    1. I know they are, Gen, we spent a lot of time there over the years. You make sure you heed that call. ;) I agree, winter is marvellous and the more we get out in it, the better it feels. Thanks so much. Warm wishes. Duncan.