Saturday, 7 August 2010

A joyful reunion

Since returning from Norway, my time has been spent in Suffolk. I have been spending seven or eight hours a day in my study, editing the manuscript of my book and conducting further research. My thoughts have never strayed far from the 1890s, except when concerned with grammar and sentence structure. While this is all essential work, and I managed to maintain admirable focus, I felt a growing need to escape.

So I took a holiday! The five weeks since I left Glencoe have been long ones, even though it has been a self-imposed exile; a deliberate step away to restore my sense of perspective. Now I decided to return to see what effect this parting had on me. When the bus crossed Rannoch Moor and turned that familiar curve in the road, suddenly revealing the Buachaille in all its stern glory, I could have cried. As I passed through the Glen I have come to call my home, I looked at every mountain and remembered the many times I have climbed each one. Moments came back to me vividly, in a way they never do when I live here all the time.

Every bend in the road revealed more of the landscape. Finally I came to the Clachaig.

It was fantastic to see my friends and colleagues again, and it seems strange to think that the last time I saw them was only late June--time seems to follow different rules here.

This evening I went for a wander onto the Aonach Dubh, which is the mountain that has perhaps given me more enjoyment than any other. My objective was not ambitious. I decided to go up the easy route (Dinnertime Buttress, where I once got stuck on a snowy descent). I think this route is the perfect example of why Glencoe is special. Here we have a starred Grade I scramble within easy access of the road, yet there is hardly a path up it and most of the rock sections are vegetated and loose.

I was privileged to witness the sunset from the summit of the Aonach Dubh, and made my descent of Coire nan Lochan in good time. I'm relieved to discover that I haven't lost too much fitness during my weeks of inactivity.

I will be here for a few days yet, but won't be back for good until some point in September. It's an exciting time of year. Less than two months from now there will be a chance of some substantial snow in the mountains. Fingers crossed that the next season is as good as the last two.

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