…I wonder where the boidies (birdies) is, so goes the rhyme. It carries on thus; The boide (bird) is on the wing, but that’s (absoid) absurd, I thought the wing was on the boid (bird). Silly little ditty but I love it for its innocent simplicity!!!
But has spring ‘sprung’ so to speak? Last Saturday we thought it had. The sun rose in a clear sky and whilst frost adorned the hills and glens, as the hours past, everything thawed and it warmed us. The breeze was gentle and caressed the grass around our house and the meadows beyond. The perfect early spring day.
A bit of gardening; pruning to be exact, a bit of trimming of the hedge. While husband Stuart climbed his trusty ladder to relocate an aerial on the side of our chimney. It was cold in the shade or when the sun hid behind a cloud but that didn’t last for long and the hours ticked by until we decided embrace what was left of the day and go for a walk in Glen Sligachan.
You can’t pass up a day when the sun shines on Skye. Especially in February, when the weather can be so very unpredictable – one minute sunshine next black clouds and horizontal rain or snow even – so we grabbed the camera, donned waterproofs and removable clothing layers, stuffed snacky supplies and dog treats in a rucksack and went for a walk.
Skye is a large Island, being tempted to drive further than Glen Sligachan could be tempting fate, but well even with that limitation, (it must be a man thing) its especially a Stuart thing, a short walk through the glen always, but always turns into something just a bit different.
I learned my lesson years ago, when my darling husband would casually remark, “fancy a walk?”. Initially I would reply “Yeh, if you like, would be nice to get out of the house, but I don’t want to go too far!”. Well I don’t get caught out like that now. After too many experiences of ending up in the wrong shoes or the wrong clothes entirely, I now ask where are we going and only believe half of what he tells me.
“Just a short walk” can mean anything from ‘A short walk’ coz what he really wants is an afternoon pint in the nearest pub; to a ‘route march through bog, thorns, uneven ground, a hill or three and even a bit of scrambling etc. etc.’ So I am now not even phased by the definition but try desperately to embrace the challenge! Well you have to don’t you or you’d never go anywhere.
“Can I see where it is on the map then?” is often a winner, then I can make my own mind up as to what I need to take and wear, how much food and water I need, and whether I need sticks or not (usually I take them anyway its safer – for me).
So off we went, in the end I dumped the idea of the tripod although it was in the car, as I somehow fell in to the trap of ‘we’ll just walk through the glen’ – God am I gullible!!!!! you’ll find out why later. Stuart carried my snacks and a flask of coffee, I carried my water and the camera.
Well we’d only been walking for five minutes before I heard the dreaded words – “We could go up here if you like”, “Where?” say I innocently, secretly thinking ‘Oh God here we go’. “Up there, towards Beinn Dearg, its not far. We can go as far as that outcrop of rocks”. Now those are the dreaded words … ‘not far’… they cover a multitude of sins in my mind, from actually not very far at all to …well a pretty long way indeed!!
But what the heck, it was warm and sunny and quite honestly walking through Glen Sligachan can be pretty well – uneventful if you’ve done it several dozen times. So off we went – up!!! and you know what I absolutely enjoyed it. We walked through bogs, negotiating paths though the tussocks of grass and heather, we had a good laugh when Tali got stuck after jumping over what looked like a bit of a puddle (well I’m not getting you out of that you can haul yourself out Lady). We jumped over horrendously boggy areas, finding our own paths and wandered over rocks, stopped to take the odd photo and generally had a great time.
There was a point when the sun went in behind a huge black cloud that had snuck up on us from behind Glamaig but somehow that didn’t dampen our fun. It just made me redress in the waterproof I had tied around my waist, and don the gloves I had shoved into my pocket.
Lila flushed Red Grouse a plenty, and chomped a mouse as a bit of late lunch (she’s a dog, HPR and all that, its par for the course eating mice) and all in all we had a great time. There were horrendously sticky bits where we had to work out which way we should go but you know, all in all, it was great fun.
The only drawback was when, on the way back I really wished I had bought the tripod to photograph the waterfalls that cascaded down a steep gash in the hill around the boundary of the Sligachan bunkhouse and on towards the Loch Sligachan. But I can earmark that for another day – after all they’re not going anywhere are they?
The moral of the tale is, sometimes, if you have a good map (and compass and know how to read it all) or reliable IPhone Ap., you can follow a different path in the foothills of the Cuillin or anywhere else on Skye. The weather is most definitely the defining characteristic though. If the clouds begin to lower considerably (and they can and do quite quickly), we would suggest you abort your course and return to the main path with speed if you can. Or alternatively, get down off the hill before visibility recedes dramatically. The last thing you want to do is call out Skye MRT unnecessarily – especially so, if you are a local.
Unfortunately, spring hadn’t arrived, minutes after we had dried our rather damp doggies and resumed our seats in the car, the temperature dropped dramatically, and sleet drove through the glen in great waves. So never be deceived, just be prepared for the inevitable change.