I ran Cairn Table above Muirkirk yesterday evening. It's not a hill I'd ever have made a special visit for but it has become a regular run being the closest proper hill to my in-laws house. By absolute standards it's pretty unremarkable (some might say grim in places) but it's become quite important to me over the last ten years or so. I try to run it at least once on a visit and it's now a Christmas morning tradition for my wife and I.
I'm not really sure what the point of this post is other than that I think a lot about the different kinds of attachment we feel to places and I wondered if others have places they feel an affinity with for similar reasons?
I'm sure every runner has these rounds; with time you collect so many memories and associations from them, it makes them kind of comforting like an old friend. I've had my 10k circular route through the hilly Berlin woods for 30 years now; I've run it after the deaths of close ones, elated after landing a great job, devastated after a split up and euphoric in shorts again after a long winter, with sun and deafening birdsong. I could go on and on, but you all know what I'm talking about! It's a small but important part of my life.
Bennachie has been a bit of a life-saver over the past year. Tho to be fair this year it has been unusually spectacular with 3 weeks of powder snow letting me get the skis out in February and XC all over it and even downhill (after a fashion, my fault, not the conditions) long spiral descents. I've waited ten years for conditions like this.
20 minutes from my front door and another 40 to the first top, the 5 or 6 decent tops and choice of access car parks allow variety and crowd avoidance, especially mid-week and "out of hours". Moonlight ascents have to be favourite.
I'm not much of a runner. I agree we all must have are favourite training routes though. I enjoy an old quarry tram way up the back of kit hill in Cornwall. There's a simply low traverse at the quary, that I do as many times as I can before my arms cave in. Then I jog around the hill back to the traverse for another go, before jogging back down the tramway to the car park. Only a couple of miles but a great out door workout.
For mental recharging I use fur tor on Dartmoor. Can't possibly count the numbers of times I have enjoyed those miles in and back. Some times jogging in shorts. Some times carrying a full climbing rack and winter kit?
I went there yesterday after a cr#p day at work. Several fun abseils and a 14km walk through nature, sheep with their lambs, ponies with their tiny foals and indeed the sky larks singing over head. After six hours I got back to my car just as the sun was setting and the world seemed a good place again.
I live in Kendal. Having had a young family who are now, as teenagers, old enough to go and do their own things in the outdoors, but which necessitates either their mother or I being on hand for the inevitable 'Come and pick.me up, I've broken...' phone call, quick hits have played an important part in the last 15 years. As a result I'm probably overly attached to Scout Scar sports climbing, Trowbarrow Red Wall top roping, Badger Rock traversing and running on Cunswick Scar and Wansfell.
I miss Bennachie a lot. It was my “local hill” for 38 years, so loads of memories. Going up with my grandparents and cousins, primary school trip where a couple of kids managed to break the skin on a liquid bog (clarted in peaty water up to the waist and had to go home on the bus wearing sarongs made out of travel rugs) and everyone got sunburn. Treks up in the moonlight, walks carrying fractious newborns to get them to sleep and a trail up out of the tree line in horizontal sleet whilst 7 months pregnant, pushing a toddler in a buggy, to scatter my dads ashes before moving away. He would have thought it was hilarious, especially the “downwind” part of the experience.
My last house in the shire had a view of it from my upstairs windows in the winter, when the trees were bare.
I try to make time for a visit on the rare occasion when I visit.
When I lived at the foot of it, Warton Crag. I must have been on top dozens of times in all weathers and times of year. Climbed on all the outcrops and even got a few metres underground in various minor caves and mine workings. I used to do conservation work in the area and managed to heat the house for years largely from wood off the crag. I haven't been up this year due to covid restrictions and latterly long covid making me easily fatigued. When we were in lockdown and walking from home I'd try to find quiet places and sit down to try and de-stress. One was a rotten old bench by the canal and another was a piece of rusty sheet metal by the river near the motorway (very quiet!).