A bit of a walk
And a bit of an absence from blogging. I've been ill, annoyingly. The very Victorian-sounding ailment of pleurisy. Stupidly I've tried to keep working through it, which hasn't helped.
This had an impact on a weekend away we'd planned. The intention had been to climb 'a few Munros'. This was our daughter's idea - she's a keen hillwalker and decided she would get her parents out of the city and out onto the hills. For anyone who doesn't realise the significance of the Munros bit, the Munros are Scottish hills over 3000 feet. The classification dates from 1891, when Sir Hugh Munro published his Munro tables. There's now a popular Scottish...sport?interest?obsession? of 'Munro bagging', as hillwalkers try to climb all 282 summits. 3000 feet may not sound very high by Alpine standards, but some of them are ferociously difficult, requiring compass navigation - no tracks - and knife-edge ridges.
With my dodgy breathing a Munro was beyond me, so we settled for a bit of a walk up into the hills above Aberfeldy, in Perthshire (and managed 8.6 miles all the same). The start of the walk was up through beechwoods, a walk made famous by Robert Burns' poem 'The Birks of Aberfeldy'. And here's a statue of Burns, enjoying his birks in perpetuity. He seems to be multi-tasking in the way of today's teenagers, holding a tablet or Kindle while also reading a book.
We took a look at his paper reading material. Anyone recognise it?
We came across prehistoric-looking trees.
And waterfalls, celebrated by Burns in his poem:
The braes ascend like lofty wa's,
The foaming stream deep-roaring fa's,
O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws-
The birks of Aberfeldy.
The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers,
White o'er the linns the burnie pours,
And rising, weets wi' misty showers
The birks of Aberfeldy.
And then it was up onto the open moor.
We saw a huge number of black grouse, which was encouraging given that they're in a category of a globally threatened species. They don't exactly help themselves by being supremely bad at being unobtrusive, breaking cover at the slightest noise, and making their distinctive harsh call. I didn't have enough zoom on my camera to get a good shot of this one, but you can hopefully see it perched on the wall, with its red comb standing out against the heather.
As so often now in Scotland, there was a wind farm on the horizon. I'm very ambivalent about windfarms. Clean energy is good, but the impact on the landscape is huge.
Even less scenic was this row of dead moles, strung on a fence in a sort of medieval visual deterrent. I wasn't aware that Mr Mole was considered a pest, but having googled it I discover that if silage is cut in a field with mole hills it cases listeriosis in the livestock that eat it, which can kill them or make them abort. This puzzles me about this upland thin grass, as it doesn't look too good for silage.
And we had a spot of spring heather burning - this is done to keep the heather young and vigourous. The practice is known as 'muirburn', and it's governed by legislation. The green shoots of the new heather growth are eaten by grouse, so the burning is part of a larger cycle.
And finally, an unusual sight now in Scotland - a thatched roof.
This was very near the very lovely bed and breakfast we stayed in. If you're looking for somewhere to stay in the Aberfeldy area, I'd recommend The Steading.
In my next post, I'll give you a glimpse of the view from a Munro.