Back to Where it All Began – 2 Wee Lost Souls
26 August 2006 saw my first ascent of this, or any other, hill since a soggy snow ascent in 1967. The weather was better, just, but my clothing wasn’t. Boiling in a cotton T-shirt and shorts I once again experienced saturation, albeit for different reasons. The composition of the group was also slightly different. Instead of another thirteen, raw 12 year olds of doubtful durability, I had as my companion a short black hairy canine with a penchant for Bonios and the durability of a Tiger Tank. Although stolidly determined, the Fatdog was still trying to cope with the bizarre concept of going uphill.
It was a damp morning as we set out from Todholes along the old forestry track.
The silence was overpowering. I hadn’t walked away from traffic and people for an awful long time. I expected it looked the same when I did it close on 40 years before. I think there was more open ground then but too many years have passed to really be sure. Truth be told I didn’t recognise it at all.
Within half an hour we were lost. I did have a map. I just couldn’t be bothered taking off the pack to haul it out. The cloud was at tree top height which meant navigation by sight was out. I eventually reneged and checked the map. We were at a T junction…we shouldn’t be. Above me a local osprey circled assuming, quite rightly, that we were fish out of water. I worked out where we were and set on a different route towards the hill. The Osprey swooped off, disappointed that lunch appeared to be alive, kicking and back on track. Not that we could see very much of my destination. The cloud did seem to be lifting though. Only trouble was we were now on the east side of the hill as opposed to the west and I hadn’t a clue how I was going to get The Fatdog and I to the summit. Two wee lost souls.
By now the clouds had by now pulled away from the hilltop. The trees to the west of the track had been felled, leaving a clear view of my quarry.
We rested for a minute as I pondered how we were going to pass the semi-cleared timber and after that the belt of trees surrounding the foot of the hill. I was pretty down by this time. Our first trip out and we were no nearer the summit than when I started.
The first photo of the hillwalking Fatdog
It was at this point I heard a sound from further back down the track. Round the bend below appeared another walker of about the same age along with his black lab. The dogs were ecstatic, someone to play with.
I was ecstatic, someone who might know the circuitous route through the tree barrier lying in front of me. Someone up above was looking after me and the Fatdog that day.
Gordon and Jessie were great company and more to the point knew the way past the trees. Soon we were struggling our way through forestry and onto the open east slope of Meikle Bin. We had to stop every ten to twenty paces or so as I struggled bit by bit up the grassy path to the summit, gasping for oxygen. Gordon encouraged me all the way up that final plod. At last we were almost there, staggering up to the trig point, me with a big happy smile on my face. Hill number 1…done!
Out came the camera and off I snapped. There was a little too much cloud for any real views but I couldn’t care less at this point. We had done it! O.K. is wasn’t a particularly big hill…but it was OURS!
Gordon, Jessie and Maisie
Through the cloud to Carron Reservoir
Displaying my usual nonchanlance and sartorial elegance whilst inwardly dying
I still recall the spring in my step as we headed back down…the way we should have come up. I think Gordon was pleased he had been able to introduce a complete novice to hillwalking. The dogs were still ecstatic. Day 1 and the Fatdog had covered a phenomenal amount of ground as she and Jessie chased up and down the track. At a split down the road we waved goodbye to our companions and headed back to the car at Todholes, the Fatdog munching biscuits and me cramming as much chocolate into my mouth as it could take. Hillwalking makes you hungry…doesn’t it?