Last Sunday was not at all the kind of day that gives November a bad name as recalled in the poem by Thomas Hood
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day –
No sky – no earthly view –
No distance looking blue …
It was a glorious sunny, bright morning and we decided to climb Cairnsmore. This isn’t the highest of the mountains near us but at 2,323 feet, it presented quite a challenge. We started from just a few feet above sea-level and as the car park has moved from the original spot, the walk in to the start of the climb had added an extra mile to the previous route we had taken many years ago.
The whole walk was around eight miles. We left the car at 9.15 and got back to it at 3.30.
As we sat on the summit eating lunch the temperature was minus one but with the wind chill it felt like minus ten. From there we could see northwest to Ailsa Craig and beyond to Kintyre. To the south were the hills of the Lake District. Looking down the Machars peninsula, we could identify the various parts of the coast that we so often walk round.
This walk felt rather special – for many reasons. There had been times this year when there was doubt about how much longer we could count on being able to share long walks over easy terrain, let alone in the hills. So, as we sat warming ourselves with coffee and trying not to drop sandwiches from numb fingers, we felt more alive than ever before. Grateful for the fact that we could still achieve such a climb and that we could do it together. We celebrated the joy of living and toasted the future which now seemed more certain. I remembered Ewan MacColl’s song ‘The Joy of Living’, but he was writing that when he knew that he didn’t have much longer to live. For us, for now, we can hopefully look forward to more years of walking in the hills.
As we made our way back down through the forest, leaving the snow behind, I captured the last of the afternoon sunlight.