In these days of an increased awareness of how limited resources can be, folks are focussing on what they can achieve with less and less. The idea of youth gives a false sense of endless time but I’ve become increasingly aware that time may be the most limited resource I am consuming these days !
With that in mind, the idea of “microadventures” that can utilize those wee windows of opportunity have become very important. The concept of using the time between 5pm and 9am isn’t new – if the term microadventures is echoing, it is possibly because you’ve heard Alistair Humphreys talking or write about it. For anyone starting out, his book on the subject is highly recommended and his website is also a solid source of information: https://alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-3/
For me, easing out of COVID presented an opportunity to revisit more local areas so a summit camp, on the Cobbler sitting above Loch Long & Arrochar, was high on the to-do list. It fitted the bill perfectly by being close to my hometown, Glasgow, I already knew of some suitable patches for a fine tent camp (much as a bivvy bag appeals, the Scottish Midge is ferocious), it has a fine history associated with the early days of mountaineering and dossing out. A solid high pressure weather system sitting off the West coast one Saturday last summer and I no reason to stay in Glasgow, an impulsive adventure was on.
I packed a tent, a sleeping bag, Thermarest sleep mat, a stove, water, snacks and maybe a little Islay dram to enjoy. I drove northbound on the A82As as folks were making their return to Glasgow from their days out, with a wry smile filled with expectation on the journey ahead. For a change, the car park at Arrochar was quiet and being out with the main parking times, free! With the only time constraint being sunset, I ambled up the zig zags, past the dam and stopped at the Narnain Boulders for a daydream and drink of water. Back in the day, there was a stone wall of sorts that made the space under the boulder into a very basic shelter. Shortly after, the path junction marked the start of the steeper climb which leads to the bealach just below the North Summit (cue memories of climbing the classic lines of Recess Route and Punsters Crack with my cousin).
I’d slightly lost track of time and dumped the pack at the intended camp spot before threading the needle to attain the main summit. Back down, I had just enough time to get the tent up, stove on and watch a stunning sunset looking over more of the Arrochar hills. With the sun down behind the horizon, the temperature dropped and the sleeping bag was calling with a brew and aye, that dram!
Sleep was quick but it felt like the alarm was quicker. Waking it was already clear from the light coming through the flysheet that there would be no sunrise. Head outside the tent confirmed that I was in the cloud. Fully awake, there was no point in delaying departure. Quick brew and a cereal bar consumed, I packed before starting to drop back down to the main path.
Back at the car, I chatted to some folks who were just starting their day. The drive felt like the reverse of the previous evening – expectation was replaced with a sense of mild jealousy at those heading north. Sometimes, it’s an impossible life !
Back home, getting the photos off the GoPro raised spirits significantly and a wee bit of post editing of the images raised another smile reliving memories again.
Whilst the Cobbler was my chosen location, we are lucky with a wealth of alternative locations to choose from around Central Scotland and beyond e.g. the Pentlands, Campsies, Ochils all being equally as rewarding and accessible. My advice, choose your window of opportunity but don’t wait – a sense of curiosity is more important than a good forecast. If you can, mix solo and shared microadventures – trying to always align a diary is a constraint and you will lose potential opportunities. Take photos to remember the adventure by ! Oh, and if you are back at your work desk the next morning, a swim is a suitable replacement for a shower or better still, stay stinky for a day!
Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys.
In Session: Frank Turner - The Way I Tend To Be
“Heading to Colorado in a couple of weeks and will be seeing Frank Turner in Denver !”