Friday, 30 May 2014

The Woods

It's the sound of a coin spinning on a table top, a high-pitched speeding and slowing bubbling. A wood warbler. One of the small migrant birds that arrive to breed in our broadleaf woods each summer, adding it's ululations to the choir. Moving through the gorge, dappled sunlight and fluorescent whispering leaves and water roaring below, they're all around us. Blending with the willow warbler's laugh and the chaffinch's chirrup. At this time of year the Atlantic woods of the West Highlands burst with life.

It's been years since I last walked through these woods, and each twist of the path brings a half familiar scene. Old acquaintance reunited. We stop, Blair and I, and he points out some geological nuance, a subtle vein of granite bleeding through the brown schist. An echo of long-dead unspeakable forces.

It's funny, this association.  If climbing didn't take me to these places, would I love it so much? 

Destination: Wave Buttress above Steall Meadows in Glen Nevis. Time is short so there's only time for one route each, no warm up. I'm mildly terrified but positively elated as today is the day to do Edgehog, the classic of the glen and high on my must-do list since forever. 

Racked up, tied in, chalked, I step on and the woodland choir falls silent...