Continuing with this narrative you’d be forgiven for expecting the entrance of tumble-weed, a cattle ranch, Stetsons and six-shooters, but this isn’t a vision of the American West in the mid-Nineteenth Century, it’s my home for the next month. The tiny hamlet of Forsinard, in the middle of the bogs and mires of Sutherland in the Northern Highlands, is at the centre of a huge RSPB reserve. The Flow Country, as it is appropriately known, is an extensive area of wetlands, lochans, streams, heaths and swamps that stretch for miles and miles, creating a unique patchwork of shifting, seeping, oozing plant-life.
The only problems with my new home are that it’s about a million miles from anywhere, and that, for the most part; it’s as flat as a pancake. It is the Flow Country, so I guess it’s a good chance to perfect my bog-trotting in time for the OMM, but since deer stalking is one of the few sources of income up here, it’s not really advised to go ploughing through the mires willy-nilly. Harrumph. Maybe I’ll just have to run up and down the only road…..
Prior to my buggering off up here I managed to keep up a spot of climbing. Jones and I climbed the uber-classic Agags Groove (VDiff****) on Rannoch Wall, Buachaille Etive Mor. It was my first route on this impressive bit of rock, and I’m keen to get back up there. When you look at it, you can’t help but wonder how routes of VDiff and Severe get up it.
A few days later, Chris and I had a day’s tentative exploration in Perthshire. We started at Polney Crag, Dunkeld and climbed The End (VS 4c, 5a***), which was great, but after that seepage lead to me backing off Twilight (E1 5b**) only a few metres up, and made Beech Wall (HS 4c**) pretty hard because all the good holds were soaked. Despondant, we went for a look at Newtyle Quarry, to see what all the fuss was about. Naturally, everything there was wet and crozzly there, so we drove to Weem, to see what all that fuss was about. Again, we were rather disappointed to find a dank, dirty and dark crag in the woods, so when the rain arrived after a route apiece we weren’t bothered about heading back to Edinburgh.
C’est la vie.
Chris on pitch 1 of The End (VS 4c, 5a), the best route of a frustrating day.