Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Ice walls on Innerdownie Hill

Tuesday 12 March

There was no reason to suppose the blue would disappear, but it did, and it felt Arctic on the tops.

The brittle ice formations on the wall had us snapping away.

There are more of these photographs here if anyone is interested.  Us? Out into snowy hills again - with the promise with sun all day long.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

February in brief

February was a fabulous month and, what's more, I was at last able to enjoy being on the hills pretty well pain-free.

My knee improved in leaps and bounds and, although it was obvious that I wasn't quite ready for actual 'leaping and bounding', SatMap showed average speeds no slower than usual and distances covered were much the same too.

Every day from about the 16th we forayed out from favoured starting points, inevitably arriving on or passing near the same summits - Innerdownie, Tarmangie, Whitewisp, Cairn Morris, Skythorn, Andrew Gannel, Ben Cleuch; the same friendly cairns, the same views of snowy hills pulling the eye northwards.  We hardly saw another soul on week-days and only at weekends, on the more popular western hills such as Ben Cleuch, were figures spotted in any numbers; twos and threes, so hardly the Lake District.

Some years ago Lynne managed to track down Angus Watson's 1995 book "The Ochils, Placenames, History, Tradition". Long out of print, a local library searched their store room, found a reference copy and generously sent it to her. By the author's own admission the book has no high scholarly aims (for that consult W J Watson, as the author did) but it does achieve its stated objective of providing lots of basic, interesting information. He is an example:

Ben Cleuch GR 902006

Earlier: 1769 'Bencleugh', 1783 'Benclach', 1790 'Ben-Cloch', 1845 Benclough', 1845 'Benclach', 1860 'Bencleuch', 1869 'Bencloich', 1954 'Ben Clach'.

Derivation: There is a lively disgreement about the derivation of the name of this hill, the highest in the Ochils. The seemingly obvious derivation, Scots 'Cleuch', gorge, ravine, in placenames late 12th century on, could be taken as referring to the steep descent towards the Daiglen Burn on the hill's South West slopes. However, the word order and the presence of 'Ben', a loanword from Gaelic 'Beinn', hill, mountain, does not appear to have been productive in Scots. The later 18th century forms quoted indicate Gaelic 'Clach', genitive 'Cloiche', stone, rock, as the origin, with 'Cleuch' as a perhaps longstanding reinterpretation. The hill does in fact have a stony top unlike many Ochil summits. 

The South West slopes of Ben Cleuch and the 'steep descent to the Daiglen Burn'. Taken from The Law on the day (2 March) the good weather finally deserted us.

Yours truly, aged 9, on the summit. Is that a compass?

For those who love these hills the number of wind farm planning applications, all yet to be determined by local councils, is a depressing thought: no less than ten proposed developments, including extensions, at October 2012. Add the application for quarrying at Glenquey and the devastation soon to be wrought on  the western Ochils by the Beauly to Denny pylons, and it is easy to see why the future of these small hills looks grim.

If Wind Prospect Developments Ltd get their way, it will be turbines reflected in these waters of Lower Glendevon Reservoir, because this is the skyline along which they will march; gone forever will be '....the dreamy dwam, if you like, proper to the wooing of the hills.' (Scroggie). Visual intrusion? Visual impact? Spoiled views? For me, the loss goes much, much deeper.

Burnfoot Windfarm from Frandy Hill - where seven additional turbines will be sited if approved.
Wind Prospect's Sarah Dooley said (in 2012): ''During the construction of Burnfoot Hill we established there was potentially scope for additional turbines in and around the area. There are other developers doing other things and there will get to a point where the Ochils reach saturation but that point hasn't been reached yet.'' (My italics). So, when the Ochils are saturated no more applications will be made; only when the heart has been ripped out of these hills will applications stop. The usual bribe - £54,000 per year for a variety of local projects - has been made.

We descended to an idyllic spot for tea and sandwiches

then lingered among the Scots Pines.

We've had some heavy snow over the weekend and with the return of glorious weather, we are off to play in the white stuff.