Walking: Introduction

But any ground that is not quite flat is of some interest to a mountaineer and the humblest hill is not to be despised, least of all by a mountaineer long past his youth.

H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman in Mischief Among the Penguins

I chose “Walking” as the label for this category after rejecting “Climbing” (which suggests a degree of rope-dangling I don’t aspire to) and “Hiking” (which would tend to exclude the occasional short opportunistic wander, of which I’m quite fond).

I’ve been walking in the Scottish Highlands for more than forty years. Sometimes I walk between the hills, sometimes I walk over the hills. For almost all of that time I’ve had no agenda whatsoever, which goes some way towards explaining how, in all that time, I’ve failed to complete any of the various lists of hills maintained by the Scottish Mountaineering Club and others.

I acquired an agenda last year. It’s because of this map, which used to hang on the wall of my office at work, and which now graces our study at home:

OS inch-to-the-mile Cairngorms
Possibly the best OS map, ever

This is the 1964 Ordnance Survey inch-to-the-mile, coloured, shaded-relief map of the Cairngorms Mountains—as the caption says, probably the most beautiful map the Ordnance Survey have ever produced. As a boy, I used it while I crept around the hills in the bottom right-hand corner. It was abandoned, but still loved, when the Ordnance Survey went metric. Eventually it acquired a frame, as you see it now.

It contains 46 Munros, 19 Corbetts, 5 Grahams and 6 Marilyns below the height of 2000 feet. And it occurred to me last year that I’d climbed pretty much all of them, over the years. So some time in the next few years I’m going to try to polish off the remaining four.

Apart from that, I’m going to carry on with my customary random progression around Scotland. I’ll report back here.

These photos should give an idea of why I do it:

Clen Coe from Am Bodach
Clen Coe from Am Bodach
Loch Quoich from Sgurr na Ciche
Loch Quoich from Sgurr na Ciche
Ben Alder from Loch Pattack
Ben Alder from Loch Pattack
An Ruadh-Stac from Maol Chean-dearg
An Ruadh-Stac from Maol Chean-dearg
Beinn Eighe from Coulin
Who needs TV?

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