Mid-summer mid-way?

We were blessed with a lovely midsummer evening.  A few of us took a short swim on the Cocksburn reservoir.  A lovely spot with fabulous views north to the Highlands and the receding sun.    There is something that feels very ‘free’ about open water swimming, one also has to consider that ‘what ifs’, especially since I consider a lot of ‘what ifs’ for a living!  We then headed up Dumyat Hill, a modest 418 metres, but a great position and a walk from home.  The sunset was a stunning evolving picture.  It was good to be able to reflect on the first half of the year, a half …….. of two halfs!   We are over the half way part of the year; the half way point of COVID 19?  I think not!  These things are a steep uphill and then a very long and gradual downhill.  It maybe many years before the pandemic is not impacting on our lives.  But the good news is that the hazard and the risks are reducing.  Keep safe, keep positive.


Time for a little reflection …..

Covid 19 has offered all sorts of challenges and opportunities.  For me there has been plenty of time to be somewhere quiet and think about where my journey has taken me, where I am now and where I would like to journey next.  It is not too self indulgent to take time to reflect on life.  So far as I know I only get one,so enjoying the journey, having a positive impact on others and the environment – without causing too much damage en route is my philosophy.  Enjoy the journey 🙂


COVID-19 ….. where is the light?

2020 will be an extraordinary year for many of us for many reasons.  Many have suffered the loss of friends, family financial or all three.  Others might not have suffered to any great extent and must be grateful for that and understanding of others, their predicaments and their (sometimes odd) responses to situations.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope that we will adapt to the virus and contain it.  I hasten to use the term ‘defeat’.  I have climbed many mountains, but defeated none.  I don’t think we defeat or win.  COVID-19 has already accounted for probably over 50,000 deaths in the UK alone.  That does not sound like a ‘win’.

For Freewill Outdoors?  Well, time stands still for no one, and being the optimist that I am I see folks re-engaging with their local outdoor activities whilst being mindful of social distancing restrictions.  We all just need to make sure the level of challenge we undertake is appropriate, shall we say ‘modest’ in order to not occupy a valuable hospital bed space.

Phase two, from an outdoor activities perspective, offers little change as activities will need to remain local, for good reason.  At this stage we could be into late June or even July, dependent on the R value.    Phase three offers the most optimism for those working in the outdoors, as this is the first opportunity for the lifting of the ‘local’ travel restriction and an opportunity for accommodation providers to re-open.  All of these subject to social distancing measures – 2 metres for the UK or will we revert to the WHO advice of 1 metre by then?  When will phase three start?  My guess is sometime in July – tourism needs this and the government is well aware of that.  By then we may all have a better appreciation of what social distancing looks like.  Many (as I write) are reveling on English beaches and simply not getting it.

As for Freewill Outdoors, we hope to be working again in the hills, potentially from late July.  Fingers crossed, if not then, then soon after.  Join me to walk, bike, run or climb in our wonderful and much missed mountains.

Keep safe.

Covid 19 Optimist or Pessimist?

The pandemic has has a huge effect on societies throughout the world and will continue to do so for quite some time.  Eventually there will be less infection, perhaps even the beginning of a vaccine roll out later this year – at least in developed countries …..  For outdoors professionals, those who rely on training, coaching and guiding for a living times are tough.  Some will leave the sector, others will have to change their ‘work balance’; is the sector a serious option in this unpredictable world?  The pessimist in me fears the worst; the continuing restrictions on movement, contact and activity,  a reluctant public to engage with instructors in the outdoors and the effect the forthcoming recession will have on the nation and its population.  The optimist in me gives thanks for my family and my health.  The optimist in me has faith in the great British public and their love of our fantastic wild spaces, lochs, crags and mountains.  The optimist in me has faith in the knowledge that Great Britain has faced many challenges in its history and it can and is facing the current one.  It’s easy to be negative, but far nicer and more healthy to be optimistic and look forward to better times.  The optimist in me is looking forward to working with fantastic and inspiring clients in the hills sharing my knowledge and passion.

Outdoors with Freewill Outdoors
All but three negotiated the boom ……..

This swan yesterday became separated from three signets by a boom.  I am sure that eventually ……… they will be reunited.  The solution is out of my hands and worrying for them benefits no one.  Go be positive and have an awesome day 🙂


CV19 Lockdown slowdown!

So, we are still here, in lockdownland.  At least we are still in Scotland (Wales and NI).  For now many of us must continue to stay at home, exercise as you can whilst social distancing and keeping the faith.  This will end and restrictions will gradually be lifted.  We will feel the effects of this though for many months, potentially years.  This is a marathon not a sprint.  Keep positive.

CV 19

Feeling rather impotent!  Like many I have volunteered, but at present not needed other than by my lovely neighbour to  do her shopping for groceries and the essential extra dry Martini and a box of tonic!  In the military when there was a conflict or those in need we all wanted to be involved since that is what we trained for.  For now it is a waiting game; it’s all about being sensible, responsible and being patient.  I’m still feeling impotent though …………………  Best wishes to you all out there.

Reflections on what seems like quite a short winter ………

The early winter came as normal followed by the mother of all thaws leaving us with little white by New Year.  The winter eventually returned in late January; after i had enjoyed a bit of luxury sliding in France.

February was mad stormy.  Physically and mentally challenging at times with some notable and memorable experiences along with some lovely people.

In March we were at last blessed with some good weather and conditions, but as the month progressed we could all see what was coming so a final flurry of winter activity saw me returning home to clean and hang up my gear and proceed to read, train and prep for life after CV19.  Fond memories of a short but rich winter!

A mixed start to the winter ……….

So it’s been a bit of a mixed start to the winter, but if you know where to go there is still safe and enjoyable mountaineering to be done. I seem to have used my head torch rather a lot so far this winter; not sure if that is late starts, but certainly had a few finishes after dark. Lots of early snow allowed some great skiing, but most of this left, which is often the way. Some of the climbing has been in deep snow, some in rain and some in ‘thin’ conditions. It’s windy right now, but looking like winter again. 🙂

Early Winter Continues

We often get a good stint of winter conditions before Christmas. Some of my best ski touring trips have been in November! This winter it has come and then gone …….. but has returned again and is looking set to see us into the festive period. Had a very pleasant day in Glencoe on Friday – mountain conditions are looking pretty good with plenty of icing and a good build up of snow. Glencoe Mountain Resort should be open for sliding this week.