Hitching, walking, sleeping, sliding

At long last I have managed to extract my Scotland photos off my phone.

Without my camera I was stuck taking pictures with my phone..even with the poor quality of the photos hopefully you will see why I was so determined to capture the images! So after an incredibly convoluted complicated process involving texting them to another phone then accessing the picture from a website I have succeeded.

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After my very tame new years eve I jumped on a plane up to Inverness then drove over to a wee cottage just outside Fort William where a bunch of friends had spent new year. I joined them to head into the hills for a few days…well…what would a trip back home be for me without a bimble in the hills! 

 

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Arriving in the rain and leaving in the snow lady luck was obviouslyin a generous mood giving me the sole crisp sunny day of the week.

Up at first light I hitched to the start of a walk which a friendly neighbour had given me directions for…”head up the hill, turn right, past the cairn, follow the ridge to the summit. You can’t go wrong”. Although he did also add…”I’ll be sure to check your light is on later to make sure you’re home just in case”!!

Well – what a day!

Wild stags 10 metres away just 2 minutes into the walk, the entire mountain to myself, stunning light and the clearest view from the summit across the Skye…for sure the absolute best of Scottish hills ‘doing their thing’!

 

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Descending down into the bay and onto the beach for the hike home (maybe with a quick pit stop in the Applecross Inn)…well, it wouldn’t be a visit to Applecross without popping into the pub! I slept well that night that’s for sure!

 

 

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Knowing I had a long haul back to Fort William the next day I set off before first light. The night had brought snow and ice and as I climbed higher and higher on the bealach pass my pathetic hire car just wasnt up to the job.

It was a hairy old drive and I ended up tucking in behind the gritter truck to get up and over the summit! (thanks to the 2 lovely lovely gritter truck men whoever you are for kindly stopping to check I was ok then driving at 1 mile an hour so I could keep up!)

Against the clock I didnt stop again until I pulled into the hire car forecourt! Pestering them for a lift to the train station I arrived as the last train was closing it’s doors. Rather spectacularly bags, scarves, jackets flying all the over the place I raced down the platform and jumped on!

Then had that awful moment of embarressment as you realise quite what a shock you look to the rest of calm and quiet passengers already settled in their seats!

 

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Anyhow, I made it!

Then prompty fell asleep as i headed towards Edinburgh for a couple of days partying before home to unpack, wash kit, re pack and head back to the slightly more balmy climate of Mozambique….happy in the knowledge the West Coast of Scotland safely retained it’s top spot as the most beautiful place in the world (did I mention I quite like Scotland!)

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England is pretty but Scotland is awesome

and I’m English so i’m allowed to say that without being accused of being unfairly biased.

But why? What is the magic of this chunk of the British isles?

As I’ve probably mentioned once or twice (!) I have a wee soft spot for Scotland. Ever since my first adventure out in the hills I have been captivated by the magestic and imposing brilliance of this place.

Driving from Fort William up and over to Applecross captures the very essence of that brilliance in a nutshell. Having just done that very road trip – and without wanting to sound like a hopeless romantic – here’s my (probably miserably failed) attempt to put it into words…

Along the entire journey the winding road first hides and then declares the glorious delights of the Scottish scenery on every bend and turn.

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Cruising through a glen or a wee village, you turn a corner and BANG! the expanse of a breathtakingly beautiful loch opens out in front of you. There is inevitably a weather beaten fishing boat bobbing about in the water and the roof of a splendid antiquated house peeping out over the tops of the trees hugging the loch side.

When the sun is shining the water sparkles (the beauty of ‘sun on water’ hey Josey!) but it seems that even on the most overcast of cloudy days the bright scottish light succeeds in penetrating the clouds enough to cast a mirror image of an overshadowing mountain onto the water.

Inexplicably the Scottish hills skyline somehow manages to always look uniquely ‘Scottish’! I am still unable to work out exactly why these hills could only ever be hills is Scotland! But its true. They are unique.

However…the corner of all corners to round has to be the one as you crest the top of the bealach mountain pass and drop down towards Applecross..magical Applecross. Ahhhhhh…what a place!

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The entirety of the Applecross bay opens up before your eyes – on a clear day with the added reward of the dramatic Cuillin hills of Skye as a backdrop.

Trust me – it’s truly unbelievable!!

So there you go. Although as they say….”seeing is believing” so maybe its time you took a road trip!

Unemployed and homeless…now add single and fast approaching 30!

Nic and Hels see in the new year on the beach!Nothing in life is certain – well, in the words of Benjamin Franklin…”nothing is certain but death and taxes!”

In the blink of an eye a snap decision or a single action either by yourself or someone else can change the entire course of your life as you know it.

Christmas came and went, Nicole and I saw in the new year searching for some surf in North Wales and my pals and I entered the year of 30th birthday’s.

To all those born in 1978…according to the Chinese, you are a ‘horse’! As far as I’m concerned this is no bad thing. Here is a snapshot…

“Being born in the year of the horse, it is in our nature to love the outdoors, to long for adventure – a horse would wander the world if it could. With an independent streak a horse is not always obedient.

We may say one thing yet do another. Feel one way then our heart opens in another direction. See one thing but don’t understand that blinkers hinder our vision. To plod along a well loved path then see an alleyway which tempts us”

This is an astonishingly accurate depiction of me!

Back living with the folks the job hunt started. To begin with the focus was on the UK.

I’ve fortunate to be very well travelled and everyone has to settle one day…right? WRONG!

The big 3-0 approached, I took myself off to Scotland for some snowy winter hill walking…for anyone looking for Scotland at it’s most awe inspiring harshest, try battling the elements halfway up Cairngorm in February!

As ever the Scottish wilderness did the trick!!

After some serious some serious soul searching on the situation I found myself in coming back in from Costa Rica brought me to one conclusion…

…it was now or never