'The Day A Mountain Changed My Life' July winner: Euan TaylorPublished: 2nd October 2018
Discover the winning entries from our monthly writing competition capturing memorable mountain days.
I decided on my seventieth birthday to go hill walking again after a thirty year layoff. I was keen as a young man, then inconveniences like careers, families, houses, etc. got in the way. Could I go back?
I know there are loads of wrinklies parading about the hills everywhere. Bonington still walks in his 80s, Hamish Brown is a good chunk older than me and still active.
But these guys and many more never stopped. They stayed hill fit. I stayed couch fit.
To get started I chose Tinto Hill, just 15 minutes from my home. The first attempt left me not very far up the hill, all weak and rubbery sitting on a rock smiling like the village idiot to all who passed.
Attempt two was better.
I shortened my stride, slowed right down, and to my astonishment, reached the massive summit cairn still breathing. To get fit I walked Tinto two or three times a week.
It is a safe place for an old duffer to get fit. If I collapsed in a heap blocking the path someone would a} roll me over the edge b} go through my pockets, then roll me over the edge c} let their dog pee on me , I became fitter.
But something was lacking. There was no passion, no edge to it. I needed a real hill . I needed to be on real hills with a bit of a thrill. But where, with my limited fitness. Beinn an Lochain by the North West ridge, was my choice.
It was a delight. Very steep, sort of scrambling-ish most of the way. A tiny path that crossed very steep faces, which finally reached a small summit. Hands on rock. My old Nikon d80 clacking away like ill-fitting false teeth. Such views, even a wee bit vertiginous at times… I was back.
I went home salivating to do more. Twice more I walked Beinn an Lochain, then moved on. Over the last six years you could have come across me anywhere in the Scottish hills. You might still, for the ember blown into a brilliant flame on Beinn an Lochain gets brighter every trip. But, should you come across me, just promise to keep your dog on a leash, won’t you?
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