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"Och, aw that snow and I canny go!"

This was the first phrase I whinged to myself when I got up this morning to blue skies, gorgeous sunshine and deep snow. To add insult to injury, Facebook Memories decided to inform me that 4 years prior I enjoyed my first experience of winter walking and climbed Carn Bhac in the Cairngorms. Note: it was not climbing, if it was climbing I would not have the smile on my face that I do in this photo, it would likely be fear and terror. To explain, and my friend can testify, I had a proper meltdown on Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe during an attempt to winter climb a few years ago- crampons, ropes, whiteout, tears, snot, obscenities...the lot! It was not pretty for anyone involved and one of the very few (if only) tantrums I've had on a hill. Sure it happens to the best of us, or at least I'll tell myself that so that I feel better about it! Anyway, no major incident occurred other than my ego and pride being a bit dented and 3 years on, this hill (in winter) is still my 'nemesis' and in the words of Arnie "I'll be back!"

Bhac (sorry) to the Carn Bhac day (4 years ago and the bittersweet Facebook memory referred to previously). This hike was pretty risk free, with the exception of the usual winter-walking considerations. It was, of course physically and mentally tough going, being honest I’venever been up a hill that wasn’t, but dare I say it was enjoyable? Whether you agree depends upon your interpretation of the word but this is exactly my type joy: thigh deep in snow and having to physically pull each leg out before it plunges into the next step/arctic entrapment. What’s not to like?

SO anyway...I digress! Back to the story and me this morning looking out my bedroom window in my not so mountainous hometown. My initial huffing and puffing this morning and slight lack of motivation was created because all I had planned today was one work-related 12 o'clock meeting (a nice one as it was) and then no other plans the rest of the day. Gratitude for peace and rest is something I've also decided to work on today as I don't need to be busy ALL the time. Since my groan of, "och so much snow and I canny go" happened to rhyme, the saying that probably no one under sixty (if anyone at all) uses: "Oh I'm a poet and I don't know it!" sprang to mind and I had a wee chuckle to myself *simpleton giggles*. It's actually quite embarrassing that I'm willingly giving an insight into how my inner dialogue goes which is a bit concerning for all involved. Most people who read this likely know me anyway so any 'weirdness' won't be too shocking for them and hopefully it makes the rest feel ‘normal’-whatever that is! So then, I thought "Well what if I'm a poet and I DO know it?" *another giggle*.

SO...and getting to the point now ("at last" say all)...from a combination of lock-down boredom, an urge to harness some literary creativity and I guess, a keenness to produce my next (and only second) blog post, I wrote a poem (at the end of this article) about winter walking and missing the 'big' hills.

To be clear, I completely understand and appreciate the necessity of the travel restrictions so this isn't decrying them, just merely an outlet to channel how I'm feeling about my hobby, one which so many others share, which is temporarily on pause. I like to think I'm quite resourceful and can seek out the positives in situations and I'm still getting out fairly often, locally. I think most Munro enthusiasts will state in dismay "it's just not the same!" and it's definitely NOT but it's all we have just now so by all means have a moan (I have) and then find enjoyment in local walks if you can. Top tip: team these with learning some history and visiting some places in your hometown you've never been to, it keeps it interesting. Or take this time to try a new hobby like maybe amateur blogging and poetry...

Safe walking is also very close to my heart and in 2020, my walking buddies and I raised thousands of pounds for Scottish Mountain Rescue by running two events during lock down. This was primarily to alleviate the increased financial strain that the pandemic is placing on the charity, the case for so many, but also kept us all sane(ish) and connected too. SMR is made up solely of volunteers and I think it is truly incredible that people give up their time and place themselves in potentially risky situations to ensure that others, like myself feel safe on the hills. A phrase commonly used in the hillwalking community is “I hope I never need you but it’s good to know you’re there” and I think this sums it up nicely! So let’s do our bit now to keep them as safe as possible!

I'll post some links to SMR below if you're interested in increasing your awareness of safe hill walking and of course if you are in the position to make a donation I'm sure this would be very gratefully received too.

Carn Bhac

Lastly, check out my poem:

"Och, aw that snow and I canny go!"

(words from a locked down ‘Munro Bagger’)

Oh times were simpler 4 years ago.

We headed to Braemar,

for a hike

in deep snow.

Our group? It was small

With only just five.

Keeping warm.

The only real way to survive!

Nothing too risky

or particularly steep

But a real physical challenge

in white stuff, so deep!

Mental and physical

endurance was key.

But the promise of the summit

was a goal enough for me!

I’ve never quite appreciated

my mountain life so much.

And, OH how I long for a cairn,

come on...just a touch!

So bittersweet it is- this

winter of twenty-twenty one.

We’re safe in the Hoose

but could be having such fun.

It’s true what they say;

“Absence does make the heart grow fonder”

And for now, “My dear Mind,

You are free, go have a wander!”

My body is strong

but my mind must be stronger.

As lockdown and restrictions

go on longer and longer.

So, as I look out at that beautiful snow.

And wish I was bagging my 80th Munro!

I know that I’m lucky in SO many ways

and making do with local, teeny wee braes.

Reminiscent of that glorious day 4 years prior,

My love for my country is at a level, one higher.

It’s beauty astounds me every single day

And I really can say "I like where I stay!"

It’s amazing how much details

you remember of just one day.

Each step an achievement,

a memory to replay

I am Scotland and Scotland is me.

And I’m just a lass who just wants to roam free.

Whenever i can, what a joy that will be!

And the best thing is this...I’ll be doing it for me.

Useful links:

Scottish Mountain Rescue Website:

Mountaineering Scotland:

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