The Range of the Awful Hand

Merrick in Cloud Photograph courtesy of tigerweet on flickr

This might be a bit presumptuous of me. However I'm going to continue, most people seemed to enjoy my last piece of reminiscing and the retrospective look back at my first munro. With me struggling to get out on the hills of late, I thought I would regale another tale of me in the hills. So get yourself sorted, get some refreshments or at least make sure you've been to the toilet. Strap yourself in this could be as epic as the first one or epic-ier. Like Die Hard II - Die Harder. Well not really but you'll get the idea.

As a litte caveat the languauge may well be a little choice in places, that's just me. If think I'm bad you want to hear my dad. Well where did you think I got it from? Also there is some metrosexual, in touch with my feelings man love going on as well. Deal with it. Get over it or HTFU. There may also be some colloquialism that I'm not in the habit of explaining, feel free to ask. You are now fore warned and therefore fore armed.

When I first moved out from the shadow of my infamous (or famous, just depends on who's telling the story) dad; I come from a small town in deepest darkest Ayrshire, most folk ken the other folk and if your not related they've either seen your face or they've heard your name, it's not quite like Deliverance, banjo battling country as most people conjure up. There's no (much) inbreeding. It's great to be kent even if it's by the extension of someone else. There is a downside you get away with nothing. Nothing.

I was being seduced by the bright lights and the big city. It was different. Exciting even. No hills, green fields and beasts. Not entirely, there's beast but I was talking about the agricultural variety. Well maybe. I wasn't spending much time back in the hinterlands or much time with my family, especially my dad. We used to do a lot together; walking the dogs, fishing, walking, arguing, fighting, walking, arguing, fighting and arguring some more. We're the same. Cut from the same cloth. A spitting image. This apple sitting here typing hasn't fallen far from the tree. We ARE the same but like chalk and cheese. You understand? I would do something exactly as asked/shown but I still couldn't do it right and he fucking showed me.

I suppose this sounds like we didn't get on back them but we did, greatly. There is no man I look up to and admire more than my dad. If I'm lucky enough to be half the man he is, my wee Rowan will have a great dad. Maybe at times I never showed him the respect he was due but he's always been right by me and stood by my desicions. Right or Wrong. Hopefully I've learned.

Now we get on even better. I'm not at home. Strange that, how I have a home of my own but Cumnock is still 'home'? Folk must think I'm loaded, East Kilbride is home. Cumnock is home. He's got two houses. I wish. Home is where you make it and I make it in both these places.

Even when I write I blether. Your patter is like water, Tooks. Onwards.

The whole point was we weren't spending as much time in each others' pocket. More so me in his spending his money. We decided that if all else failed we would always spend the September weekend the gither. We'd go do something. Some beers, some walking or fishing or whatever. That was that and that was law. It has of slipped the last few years but that's fine. I see him and my mum most every other weekend these days.

The September weekend arrived, which weekend it was I'm not sure. Ayrshire has is September holiday the week before Glasgow's which is usually the last full weekend of the month. In the run up there was much back and forth discussion of where and what. My dad has never been for bagging hills, he's not really into the pointy stuff. Much prefering to walk the glens, woods, fields and the coast. Where I like walking on the hills but I'm by no means a bagger. See, the same but different. I've bagged more than I know and can name you even less. It just about being out there for me.

The destination or base camp was to be Newton Stewart in Galloway. In fact we ended up a few miles away on a campsite at Glentrool Village. Just out the side the village. Yes were up for a bit of glamping. My dad is like that, he likes to rough it but not that much. We were directed to a field adjcent to and out the road of the caravans but we had a shower/toilet block, which made dad happy.

Mum had organised the food for the weekend. There was enough to sustain an arctic expedetion. Seriously. There was a cool box stuffed full of perishable gear. It was so full you couldn't have wedged a wafer thin after eight in there. Not a MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) insight for these boys. Tupperware crammed full of home cooked goodies. Mince, Stovies, soup and the rest. Sliced sausage and bacon for breakfast. Full on catered for weekend. No small camping stove for us either, a calor gas twin ring burner with grill and I'm not talking one of those small fits in a rucksack gas canisters. This beauty takes the full on, heats up your caravan for 2 week holiday gas cannister. What's the point of taking the car and not making full use of it. It's your own personal sherpa. Wasn't like I had to load the gear on my back and hike in, dragging arse like a dug with an itchy bum over your best carpet. It was going to be a great weekend.

I'm a bit sad at this point because I remember we didn't have a camera and nethier of us had camera phones. In fact I don't think anyone had a camera phone back in those dark ages. However for some bizarre reason we had a video camcorder thing. It was huge, thinking back now it was fucking huge, it was breeze block big but probably small for the time. There was so much footage from around the campsite and absolutely hilarious commentery of me collecting water from the spicket. When I first seen the footage back, my thoughts were Geez-oh! But everyone that watched was rolling about laughing. It's a shame there was no Youtubez back then. This too is all now lost after my parents house was broken into and the camcorder stolen. Bastards. Maybe it's a good thing I'm writing this?

I was excited as outside of Ayrshire, for me Galloway is the next best place. I've done as much walking here as I have anywhere. To me it is, was Lord of the Rings country long before Peter 'The Hobbit' Jackson had a wet dream about and idea about a film. If you've read any Tolkien you'll know what I'm talking about. The place is wild, as wild as anything you'll find up north in the highlands. Wilder than a hairy arsed blue painted Pict chasing a smooth skin sun tanned Roman back south of the wall. Yes it is that wild. Galloway is one of the least populated Shires in all the country. There has been times when we've had the place to ourselves . It's beautiful on a fine day but it can be a brutal slog on wet day. Don't kid yourself when I said it's wild I mean it's wild. Most of the time you will have the place to yourself or whoever your with.

Even the places names you can imagine in Tolkien's novels. The Dungeon Hills, Rhinns of Kells (one of the finest ridge walks in all the lands, in my humble opinion), Corserine, Mount Doom, Black Craig, Emyn Muil, Murder Hole, Moria, The Rig of The Jarkness, Mindolluin, Loch Neldricken, Mullwharchar, Neive of the Spit to name a lot and of course the Range of the Awful Hand, Shalloch on Minnoch, Trafessock, Kirriereoch, Merrick and Benyellary. My favourites.

As it was early afternoon by the time the green Vango dome was planted, secured in a spot not too far from the facilities block and far enough away from the other 2 tents in the field. It was a good spot. Ideal some would say. Perfect. Sometimes you wonder why some people pitch where they pitch?

We fattened oorsels at the alter of the coolbox. Filled our full and decided to tackle the high stuff the next day. But a walk was indeed in order as we need to shift some of the gluttony on. The fatted calf and the Bull. We jumped in the motor and drove up to the car park at Loch Trool and Bruce's Stone. Unlike his cave, which there are many. We parked and took the short walk to the stone.

The stone commerates 1307 when Robert Bruce won a minor engangement during the Scottish Wars of Independence. This led to, to later in that year, a more comprehensive win at his first major battle in the middle of Ayrshire at Drumclog or Loudon Hill which ever you prefer. However it wasn't till Bannockburn in 1314, did he finally have the decisive victory. If at first you don't succeed, try try and try again. So lengend goes. 7 years that's a lot of caves and watching a lot of spiders. Maybe. Think I best end the history lesson before I really bore everyone. Too late?

After reading the inscription we wandered on. I'm not implying it in the aimless fashion but in the sense of the speed of a wander. It's slow. Like I stated in my other post. I'm short so I don't walk fast. I don't have a swinging gate. Simple science. That and the fact that I take my height from my dad. Though I'm taller. The same but different. On we went. There is a cracking shortish walk round the loch. Short in the that it takes about 3 hours. Not very up and down. They weather was fine and dry. It was good to be out walking with my dad. Trying hard to ignore the baited hooks. We like to rib each other. "Ony fuckin' hawfwit wid ken better" or "yir jist gettin' a len o' that", "it's no fur keeps sir", "'member it just a len o'"is the usual lines after one of us has bitten. 'Member once bitten, twice shy.

Like I said it's a fine walk. The mix of terrain and views is great. Glentrool or Loch Trool is a great stepping off point, a great starting point for exploring the wilds of Galloway. There is much in this area. Especially if your a wild camper.

It was getting late as we returned to the car. This calf was no longer fat, looking at the Bull though, I wasn't too sure but dinner was on the cards, well in the cool box at any rate. Real stovies. It was time for to fire up the twin ring burner. Get the jet engines blazing and cooking up a storm.

To be continued.......