The Angry Corrie 10: Dec 1992-Jan 1993
The first forty-five (years that is)!
The appeal in TAC7 for an all-female edition of the fanzine haying been tossed unceremoniously on the scrapheap of tokenism, there has nevertheless been a healthy and gratifying increase in contributions from that half of society still debarred from membership of the JMC of S. Two of these articles struck your editor as being quite similar in form and content - accounts of early days on the hills as an inspiration for others to take up their boots and walk - so are included here side-by-side, like two bumps on a log...
The first forty-five years' walking were pretty normal, learning to walk at an early age, then walking to school. Childhood play included some scrambling on Dumyat in the Ochils which towered above my home in the village of Menstrie.
All too soon I was walking to work, then these feet did some fancy steps at the dancing where they eventually met another pair of not-so-fancy feet belonging to future hubby. Soon I walked up the aisle, followed a few years later by a walk into the Maternity Ward.
In the years that followed, walking consisted of house to car, car to shops, or, occasionally, foreign hotel to foreign beach.
May 1989 was the turning point. Hubby was invited on a West Highland Way expedition and, being as sedentary as myself, was feeling some trepidation. However, he came back enthusing about fresh air and hills and mountains, and soon he and his pal were sneaking off at 0500 hours of a morning to climb Munros, coming back with rain- and wind-lashed expressions and frequently with brown underpants! (Danny 'Fat Boy' Baker recommends Daz Ultra here I think -Ed) A gnawing thought kept recurring: maybe I would like this, good exercise, good for the soul hillwalking.
It took me until April 1991 on my 45th birthday to try it, puffing up the hill from Lochearnhead to the old Glenogle railway trackbed for a tentative walk to the head of the glen and back - six miles? No bother: what's more, I enjoyed it! Next was the wee mini-mountain, Ben A'an. What a feeling on that summit looking down on Loch Katrine. Unfortunately, other walkers were looking down on me because of my unsuitable footwear (cowboy boots!).
Thinking that walking would only be a phase, I bought a pair of cheap Bulgarian boots with papier-mache souls and cardboard uppers, but they looked and felt good. After some more practice in the Ochils came July 1991 and my first Munro, Ben Nevis (okay, the tourist route, but it's the arete next time). A few days later I was at the Buachaille cairn. ME! On top of a mountain I had admired from the car in my tourist days.
Now, at the time of writing (August 1992), fifteen Munros are ticked off, I have lovely boots and lots of goretex about my person, I've been soaked, frozen, blown off my feet, but I'm hooked not just for the Munrobagging but for hillwalking in general. My home is now in Kilsyth and I'm quite happy on the Meikle Bin or on Dumgoyne. I mean, how could you be happy bagging a Munro with a name like Dreish and miss out Clachertyfarlie Knowe!
Of course there were no hols to Costa Plenty beaches this year - no, it was hotfoot to the Cuillins of Skye on a voyage of discovery. Lack of experience dictated mostly corriebagging, but I almost got to the top of Bla Bheinn. I'll be back! On the mainland I was thrilled by my first real ridgewalk on the North Kintail 'Brothers' ridge. Then it was up to Torridon to gaze upon Liathach: could I someday cross these pinnacles?
I'm beginning to believe that anything is possible. Just think of the photos I could add to my already bulging album which friends and relatives look at in disbelief as they see me perched on cairns and sundry scary places. Oh, you young hillwalkers, mount up with the wings of eagles as the Bible says, don't wait until you're forty-five to discover the wonder of the hills.