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THE LOG FROM THE SEA OF THE HEBRIDESand LONG ISLAND JOURNEY

These tales come from a climbing book, A View from the Ridge (1) by Dave Brown and Ian Mitchell, authors of the earlier much acclaimed classic of mountaineering literature, Mountain Days and Bothy Night (2).

The Log is a single chapter showing the possibilities afforded by a boat dropping walkers on one side of a peninsula and picking them up the other. Walkers are spared retracing their steps and tramping to coastal hills is replaced by a boat trip. This combination gives climbing the elegance of a potholing “through trip” where cavers enter via an upper entrance and exit lower down, abseiling pitches without having to climb back up them them, spared carrying ropes or ladders to return. For the boat handler there is a feeling of achievement that comes from team work and cruising with a purpose. The sailing and walking have similar levels of commitment necessary for satisfactory conclusion and their synergy enhances the experience ashore and afloat.

Hill walking provides an ideal complement to the confines of a small yacht and is in keeping with the tempo of cruising, leaving time to enjoy the wider experience of antiquities, natural and social history and most of all the views.

The Log relates crossing the Knoydart peninsula from north to south, Loch Hourn to Loch Nevis and the Blaven peninsula on Skye, east to west, from Loch Slapin to Loch Scavaig.

Another chapter Long Island Journey sows seeds for the cruising man, the author cycling the length of the Hebrides, interspersed with hill walking. Its ten pages are full strength distillation of awareness of surroundings and related writing. The inspiration for the yachtsman comes from the realisation that a similar scale of exploration is possible from a small yacht carrying a folding bike. Manufacturers like Brompton are getting ever closer to providing the capability of the fixed frame machine. Recent developments in gearing, tyres, suspension and load carrying might surprise people who think folders are for city commuters. Acceptable handling and speedy compact folding though does demand buying a decent one.

A View from the Ridge and Mountain Days are entertaining sweet and sour mixtures of the erudite with the salty realism of young climbers’ testosterone mediated adventures, their dialect in phonetic spelling. They brought back memories of climber’s howffs of forty years go. I shall not be parting with my copies.

References

1. A View from the Ridge, Dave Brown and Ian Mitchell, The Ernest Press, 1991. ISBN 0 94815 311 3.

2. Mountain Days and Bothy Nights, Dave Brown and Ian Mitchell, Luath Press Ltd, Edinburgh, tenth anniversary edition 1997.

 

Paul Shave

yacht Blue Spindrift

23 February 2010

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