• Stuart

Bring back Winter!

Updated: Mar 1


“We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.” - Philip Pullman, Northern Lights

Red Skye

The second of the two Skye Trail trips this year was hot. Very hot!

It was also exceptionally dry. Especially for the West Coast of Scotland - an area renownd for being wet! - which was basking in sunshine whilst most of England was under grey clouds!

The boggy ground turned crispy and hiking on this usually 'avoid at all cost' terrain was like hiking in the African Savannah - every step crunching underfoot.

Something strange was happening... This was not normal... Surely this weather won't last long...

But I was just about to leave The UK to distant lands, far, far away. I was going back to the cold, baron world of the High Mountains! I didn't need to concern myself with this heat any more... Standard UK summer would return before I got back.

It will? Won't it?

The burning sun continued...

I returned from successful summits of Mont Blanc (French Alps) and Elbrus (Russian Caucasus) to heat in The UK so unbearable that I had to leave London almost as soon as I had arrived!

I had to get away from the crowded, baking city. I had to get to my happy place. I went to The Lake District to find solace (coolness?) in the mountains.

But it was still hot! - It hadn't rained for weeks and the hills had turned a pale, yellowy-green colour.

The lakes were warm and the valleys were filled with a heat I'd never experienced in the UK mountains before...

There was only one thing for it... I packed my rucksack and headed high to look for a breeze to cool me down. I decided to bivvy on mountain peaks more through necessity, than pleasure (not that it wasn't pleasurable :)

Four nights I spent up high in The Lake District (with just one night in Ambleside after a friend visited the area to climb and insisted on going to a pub... Is there a cooling equivalent to the beer jacket? - I'm not sure but it was a great night! - A story for another time...)

Four nights of solitude and a cool breeze... Finally, my frazzled brain could cool down... I could think again!

Terrible Winter, Great Summer?

You may have heard/read my ramblings about this past winter. It was absolutely glorious in it's intensity and longevity!

There were some tough days with high wind and whiteouts, but those proved to be few and far between... In Between the majority of days of blue skies and beautiful white mountains...

My winter in the bleakness of the Scottish mountains was possibly my favourite season I have ever experienced in my 29+ years [ahem] on this beautiful planet of ours.

But, outside of my little mountain bubble, I heard of complaints. Complaints about the snow, complaints about the cold, complaints about the short days.

I therefore believe that it is my prerogative to offer my own complaints about the weather...

I want to complain about the heat, I want to complain about the drying rivers and lakes, I want to complain about the heat, I want to complain about the long days, I want to complain about the heat...

If people can complain about the best winter we've had in many, many years; I can complain about the best summer we've also had in many, many years... (did I mention the heat?)

Amazing Winter, HOT Summer!

I will start with the landscape: We are a small island with such amazing variety of landscape that one would struggle to find anywhere else in the world with such diversity in such a small area!

The winter mountains are transformed from a rainbow of colour in spring, summer and autumn, to a completely different black and white landscape in which few people dare to tread.

Our beautiful little hills turn in to gnarly monsters and seem as inhospitable as many mountains around the world, much bigger in size... They become a new adventure playground and, with most people wrapped up at home, an area of solace away from the crowds.

But where is the summer mountain colour that should be prevalent at this time of year? The hot, dry spring and summer has changed this colourful landscape to yellows and browns... And fires! There have been wild fires!

Hot or Cold?

Secondly, let me discuss hot versus cold... This is simple... When it is hot, we take layers off to cool down. There are only so many layers that we can remove before it becomes [apparently] "inappropriate".

I reached that "inappropriate" layer when I was in The Lake District - I even went for a swim in a lake! - But I was still hot! - I couldn't get away from this heat! - The baked ground intensifies the heat and, at times, it's intolerable!

In the winter, we do the opposite... We put layers on to warm up... We can put more and more layers on as it gets colder and colder... Our body heat is regulated easily and we can be outside, enjoying the crisp, cold days, feeling toasty warm, being hugged by our nice warm clothes! - Win!

Shorter Days!

What's with the loving of long days? - Ok, this is a tenuous complaint as I do enjoy those warm [not hot!] summer evenings, but I'd like to promote the advantage of the shorter days :)

The main advantage for me is photography! - The best light for taking photos occurs around sunrise and sunset... Now, think of when the sun pokes its head over the horizon and tell me what sounds better:

1. Getting up at 9am to photograph sunrise and staying out until 4pm to photograph sunset before retiring to a remote pub, with roaring fire and hearty food, for the evening, or;

2. Getting up at 3am to photograph sunrise and waiting until 10pm for sunset then, by the time you get back to civilisation, the pubs are closed!

No Complaints

In reality, I love the diversity of weather our little island gives us. I love the seasons and the changes that occur in nature throughout the year.

I just don't like the heat :)

So much so, I have spent more time indoors, avoiding that hot sun, this past few days than I have for the rest of this past year combined!

How have I taken my mind off the heat? I simply took my thoughts to winter... I was so engrossed in reminiscing in our recent winter that my excitement got the better of me and I started planning for next winter! (winter trip diary is now available by the way ;)

This blog set out to complain about the summer, but it seems to have simply promoted winter. There's no value in being negative about something when you can be positive about something else! - No need to complain, just enjoy life...

Enjoy Summer. Get Outside. Enjoy the British Landscape in all its glory (just hope for a bit of cloud cover once in a while ;)

#Winterhiking #Mountaineering #Mountainbenefits #Mountainweather

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