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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Spango! and a scrap with the elements

Today's bag was the very lovely "Spango" - a cracking little grassy hummock in the middle of nowhere. In fact, its the middle of nowhere feel about these hills which is so enjoyable. I approached this one "from the back", so my impression that nobody ever climbs it was all the more thingy...
Anyway, its got Hares. Loads of Hares - running about being daft. In fact, I swear that one hare ran up behind another and touched it whilst announcing "Spango!" - at which point the chaser became the chased.
Spango could also be a Japanese TV game show involving people being made to eat worms whilst being dressed in diminutive underwear with little silver stars on them . Spango pants, in fact...
Anyway, after this conquest, I determined to walk to Wanlockhead for a pint of beer.
Head down into the fierce headwind for five miles and go for the Southern Upland Way. This was important.
The pub doesnt open on Mondays and Tuesdays does it? Story of my life, that is. And me fragged from the wind. The museum tea room sold me an egg butty and a scone and lots of tea. But no beer. grrrrrr....

And so, I climbed hill number seven - Green Hill just above Wanlockhead. The descent is just fab. A romp. A dance. A skip and a hop.

I'd chosen a camping spot deep in the little valley of Glendyne Burn. The valley is crossways to the headwind, so it should be sheltered. This was my thinking.

I descended and put up the tent. Not much soil. Tent pegs difficult to get in to any depth. It was calm, though. I had my tea and finished the final double scotch in my cycling bottle. The wind was getting a bit frisky. I dozed off. It went dark. the frisky wind waited for me to get into a proper sleep before unleashing and proper madness. About sunset(ish) it started raining, heavily and enthusiastically. The tent walls started dancing around. I chided it...
Half ten, pitch black, something had collapsed. I went out into the gale and replaced the pegs. I searched for big rocks to weigh them down. Everything was tight again. Midnight. Something else had collapsed. The tent heaved and flattened. Out again. More rocks. More poking the bloody pegs into stone. I got soaked.
At 3:00 an after more collapses and even the odd rock and peg pinging off into the night, the water was in the tent and I decided to pack whatever I could and sit in my full waterproofs till daylight. I couldn't get away from this spot in the dark. The beck was roaring nearby.
I seem to have got all the pegging points sorted but there was some danger of the pole breaking.
I could hear each big gust thundering and roaring up the valley before the tent pole lurched and flattened, and all the time the rain was like a hose.
A long night.
At six, I shoved the tent into a bag and abandoned the spot in a blizzard of huge snowflakes.
The route involved climbing back up the hill and contouring for a mile or so of steep hillside, then another couple of miles of flooded moor to the lanes into Sanquhar.
"No day fer walkin'" Said an old chap outside Nisa. "Are ye goin' East tae west or West tae East"
"I'm going home".
I must try to learn not to camp in wind tunnels
Another 28 km by the way....


Alan Sloman said...

Bl88dy 'Ell Mike!

Sounds a rum do. Still, the Chally will be all sunshine and balmy evenings sipping cocktails outside the tent.

All this walking lark: It's over-rated, fella. It's the stopping that counts - but not in those silly wind tunnels.

mike knipe said...

Well, its right put me off, Alan. If it wasn't for the sheer pleasure of wet socks I'd certainly be taking up golf an' no mistake. What was the worst of it was that I'd finished off all of me whisky. Still, not the end of the word eh? Thats not for another couple of weeks, yet.