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Issue 48 - Cold comforts

Scotland Magazine Issue 48
December 2009


This article is 9 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Cold comforts

Rob Allanson muses on the joys of winter walking.

In a former life I used to work in a hotel in Inverness. The shift patterns and location put me in the perfect place for weekend excursions into the the hills no matter what time of year.

There is nothing quite like clearing the head than a decent walk through some wonderful countryside and of course ending on, at that moment in time and as far as you are concerned, the roof of the world.

Whether you are bagging up the Munros or just seeking contemplation on a summit, part of the appeal of being out on the hills in Scotland lies in the diversity of the seasons, the changes in the light and the interaction with the landscape this brings.

Bright sunny conditions may be best for panoramic views, but mist and shifting clouds make the landscape appear dramatic, almost ethereal and moody.

Even during stormy weather, impressive waterfalls and rocky shores with crashing waves offer memorable sights.

Walking in winter brings its a certain type of joy and at the same time its own problems. Although the days are much shorter in winter, fewer people venture out into the countryside, so you are more likely to have places to yourself.

Few things in life can really rival stepping out on a crisp, frosty morning, making your own tracks or walking through snowy hills and coming back at dusk to a welcoming dram by a roaring log fire.

For those of you that fancy taking a ramble during the ice bound months there are a few rules that should not be bent or skipped.

The golden rule is always to leave a route plan and estimated timings at the hotel you are staying at. Someone should know where and when you are going. Never leave without a map, compass and a whistle.

Also I would say always over pack, you can never underestimate how much clothing and equipment you will need, especially if like me you tend to walk alone. It goes without saying technical clothing is important, and waterproof boots, but also crampons and a couple of ice axes are a must.

Don’t scrimp on the water. It may be cold but you can dehydrate just as easily.

Finally I would urge you to always put a couple of quid in the mountain rescue charity boxes when you see them. If you are a serious walker these guys are your lifeline if it goes pearshaped. You never know when and where you may need their services.

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