NO ONE can ever accuse me of lacking determination when it comes to climbing mountains but sometimes even my best efforts are not enough.
The past seven days have proved to be the most frustrating spell I’ve had since I started this magnificent madness back in the mists of time.
Yet it had all looked so promising when I set off last Friday. I was heading for a few days in Northumberland with friends and hoped to sample some of the delights of the Donalds on the way there and the way back. In between, I had planned to climb Windy Gyle, the peak which straddles the border.
The first spoke in the wheel came on the trip south with mini-monsoons unleashing their fury with alarming regularity.
The following day we had to abandon any plans for the high places and instead enjoyed a 14km beach walk. It was glorious on the way out, but the return saw us soaked to the skin as a line of snipers using heavy cloud cover fired ferocious volleys of hail that left us nursing sore faces.
Early snow and treacherous road conditions the next day saw my hopes of reaching Windy Gyle dashed so I had to be satisfied with a short, invigorating stroll across a lower plateau.
The weather for the Monday looked glorious however, and I drove back across the border ready to salvage some new peaks from the trip. But as soon as I started heading down a series of minor roads the problems began.
The first B road I was planning to use was closed. No real problem, I’ll just take the next turning a few miles along. It was also closed. Now I did have a problem. The diversion would mean another 30-mile drive. I hastily assembled a Plan B, heading off in a different direction to try to reach Gladstone Reservoir and the Moorfoot hills.
After about an hour in a maze of new minor roads, complete with diversions, of course, I turned off for the final few miles’ run to the reservoir. Only, I suddenly found myself facing back the way I had just come. The car had spun right round. This section of road through a snow-laden forest was covered in sheet ice. Any progress would run the risk up wrapping the car round a tree or two. I decided today was just not to be and headed home.
Still, the weather was now more settled, so I consoled myself with the thought that I could head out on Wednesday.
I needed a relatively leisurely hill with a later start, so chose to head for the Munro, Meall Ghaordaidh, near Killin. I made to it within 15 minutes of the start point when I found the road closed. There had been signs earlier, but not early enough, and they were confusing. A bigger diversion warning should have been placed more prominently. And why not say exactly where the road was shut?
I decided to try to head over on the high road to Glen Lyon. This can be closed in winter conditions but it was fine all the way to the dam. A few hundred yards further on and I came to a grinding halt. There was a muddy bulwark blocking access. I waved the white flag. Fate had decided I wasn’t doing any hills this week.
I paid a visit to the Fortingall Yew on the way home. So there was me and Yew and there was a dog wandering around but I don’t know if it was called Boo. My mind was in a strange pace at this point.
I have never had a satnav and maybe one would have helped, but I suspect a superior electronic voice telling me where I was going wrong would merely have resulted in it being punched repeatedly in the face.
Five days out, four road closures, two roads impassable, zero mountains. Roll on the weekend.