Outside the window I’m watching occasional flurries of snow build, then vanish as if they’d never happened.  We had a “dump” of the white stuff overnight but luckily it only built up to about 150mm max.  It’s a novelty in this part of Scotland so anarchy reigns here every time it appears in any quantity.  With snow very much in mind I thought I would once again dig into the back catalogue and rework another of my favourite hill days – the day myself, Cap’n Jack and the Fatdog tackled the Corbett, Mam na Gualainn, above Loch Leven.  Snow, sunshine and amazing views – what could be better.  It was February 2010 – it was bloody cold!

Some days hill walking plans change.  It can be as simple as not being able to park the car; maybe a road being blocked or, as happens (a lot) in Scotland, the weather being not quite what was anticipated.  The upshot is that it is better to have a backup plan – just in case.  In this particular “tail” the “just in case” became the “hmm, what if…”.

For myself, Cap’n Jack and the Fatdog this hike would likely be the last of the year.  I had marked out a couple of possible hills that were a relatively short drive apart so that if the first didn’t suit then we could swap over to the other without a huge loss of time.  It is mid-November 2008 and we are heading back to a hill I’d climbed in snow two years before and which you may have read about in the recent post ‘A “tail” of Snow, Snakes and Something Special’.   We were headed back to Ben Vrackie – for what turned out to be merely a warm up to the main event.

It’s when I opened my old word file with the original Ben Vrackie text I knew I had taken on a gargantuan task in reworking these old “tails”.  In fairness they were written for a specific hill walking audience whose primary interest was information – the details of the route taken, preferably with photographic evidence. (Ed. should there be subsequent legal proceedings if wee Jimmy fell off a crag not mentioned in the trip report)

This would be my first encounter of a hill + snow and, come to think of it, I’m not even sure I expected the snow to be there such was my level of inexperience at that time.  To this day it still remains one of my favourite hill walking days.  It had everything.  Well, it had snow for starters – it had people – it had dogs – it had amazing scenery – and for all that content it wasn’t a hard day out.  It also had…I’ll leave that as a wee surprise for now.

My goodness, the last time I posted was in May last year; doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself.  Ah…maybe that was a little inappropriate given our current viral situation.  With nobody going anywhere new blog content has been difficult to generate so today I am revisiting the disaster that is my hillwalking “back catalogue” and in the process doing a little bit of editing – well quite a lot of editing actually.  I have found it somewhat horrifying looking back at my early efforts

The Fatdog “tails” began some 2 years before my blog first appeared in late December 2008 and although they can still be found on scottishhills.com most have lost the attached photos.  The same applies to the original “Where the Fatdog Walks” blog (abandoned after a series of massive spam attacks).  Looking back at the whole debacle it serves me right for forgetting the photos were held on a different server and then…um…cancelling that account before I thought through any possible consequences.  No matter, it looks like lockdown will be on the go for some time so I may as well do something constructive and sort out the abominable mess I have created over the years.

This piece comes with a warning! You might say it is a reflective tale, its focus (or lack of it) on where your brain might choose to wander when out for what you thought was a very ordinary stroll in the countryside. It has taken me 3 years of head scratching trying to figure out how to introduce this brief half day excursion in the way I wanted to portray it. Almost 9 weeks of “groundhog day” lockdown has proved to be the clincher…my brain has melted to the point where all has become become clear…although, in this case, “clear” might not be the appropriate term.