Monday, 7 December 2009


Only I know that I leaned low and drank
A long draught from the water where she sank,
Her breath and all her tears and all her soul:
And as I leaned, I know I felt Love’s face
Pressed on my neck with moan of pity and grace,
Till both our heads were in his aureole.

From Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Willowwood, a poem about the guilt and loss he felt over his wife's suicide, and which also inspired Margaret Mackintosh to create the utterly beatiful, Oh ye, All Ye That Walk in Willowwoods.  I saw this in the Kelvinside Museum and Gallery on Saturday and was entranced by it's beauty.
Now, I'm ignorant when it comes to art and culture but there is something so evocative of the power and spirit of women in this work.

And of Ben Vane.........
Well D and I managed a sneaky hill on Sunday before the stormy weather arrived.
Forecasts for gusts of up to 85mph didn't sound too inspiring, but I was keen to at least try and get out on the hill, with the option to bail if the weather was too disgusting.
So a 6am wake up call saw us setting off up the hill at 8am.

It's been ages since I've wandered in the Southern Highlands and I do love the area and it's hills.  I feel so at home here.  For all the majesty and splendour of the North West Highlands, there is something rugged yet soft and gentle and homely about the South.  It sounds loopy, but I feel a sense of belonging here.

Vane itself didn't disappoint, looking steep from below it's SE ridge, and rugged on top, throwing wee knobbles and hanging boulders down it's crest.  The snowline sat around 700 metres, soft and slushy at first but firming up the higher we went.  All the recent thawing has started to consolidate the snow quite nicely on this aspect at least.  And there was a surprising amount of snow left on Narnain and Lomond too.
The snow was firm enough, that I had to kick a couple of steps on occasion when the footprints already there had too long a stride for me to use.  And D and I skirted off the beaten track near the top and scrambled up over the snowy boulders.
Cloud was hovering just over the tops, so the view wasn't stunning, but the wind was gentle, just a couple of little gusts of  30ish mph according to the anemometer, down in an exposed spot below the summit, but the summit itself wasn't too bad at all.
The snow was firm enough for us to want crampons on the way down.  But that annoying middle stage, where it's too slippy and steep in places to not have them on without the hassle of slipping all over the shop and trying to avoid the firmer patches, and being too soft for them in other places so you break though the snow too much and it feels more precarious with them on.

We passed quite a few folk on our way down, one slightly portly gentleman who seemed to be weezing his way up the bottom of the hill and who certainly wasn't going to escape the increasing winds, at the speed he was going at.  Still, he seemed sturdy enough (if that's not too fatist a statement!) to not be blown over!
But it felt nice to be back down to the van just in time for the heavens opening and by the time we were back in Glasgow, the wind had certainly picked up.
Think the East had the wind too on Sunday, and mild conditions reported in the Cairngorms on Saturday, with several avalanches being noted in both Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain.
Back in the West, a team out on Ben Starav, nice!


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