Friday, 6 April 2018

Let the Wind Blaw High Let the Wind Blaw Low–Hartside

Me and Dawn went up into Northumberland for to bag the diminutive, but roughly heathery Hartside, a hill I’ve passed many many times on the A68 and wondered what it was like.
JJ aka John Jocys, folk entertainer and purveyor of Lancashire monologues extraordinaire went to Florida and brought back a “hiking kilt” wot we’d had many email interchanges about over the last few months. It was my intention, possibly, to wear such a garment on the 2018 TGO challenge. It arrived at Pietowers and I put it on and immediately found it to be quite fab. It’s a proper, decent length, is made from artificial fibres, thus being very lightweight, and has belt loops and pockets and all the kinds of stuff that traditional Scottish kilts don’t have. I’ve been wearing it around the house, but I’ve been very very diffident about going outside the protective walls of Castle Knipetowers whilst wearing it. I suspect it’s because I actually feel naked when I’ve got it on. The breeze, for instance, is breezing where breezes never breezed much at all before.
So I determined to wear it on this occasion.
The occasion was, a little seven mile trundle around the aformentioned Tump called Hartside, somewhere quite near Bellingham, followed by a tricky and boggy traverse of some forestry during which we lost the path several times, used GPS to go in approximately the right direction and went up to my naughty parts in a seething bog, which was quite refreshing if a bit distracting.
Hartside is a rough, heathery lump with a fine and ancient cairn on the top, an extraordinary view of Dere Street and the road up into Scotland and a memorial plaque to an 1897 bonfire lit in tribute to Queen Victoria for some reason or other that passed me by.
We saw two foxes, the last one of which disappeared down a rabbit-hole very close-by and which Dawn explained was probably a vixen with cubs. I left a small donation of cashew nuts around the hole which I hope she enjoyed (the fox, not Dawn, who can source her own cashews).
What’s my verdict on the wearing of a kilt I hear you ask if you could be arsed?
Well, I have to say that despite the nithering wind off the snowy Cheviots, just up the road, and the lightness of the fabric, the cold was not an issue. The breeze was a bit distracting at first, but the main thing about yer kilt is that there’s an extra freedom to move the legs, a lightness which probably reduces the effort of actually walking by a significant amount. It’s almost like cheating. I’m going to try this again. It was, in fact, quite fab.
There is an issue about modesty whilst climbing walls , stiles and very steep scrambly bits. I expect that companions would just have to get used to this and, either avert their gaze or , at least not make any comments.  Comments I’ve had so far tend to have been an interest in how much, if anything is worn underneath (its all in perfect working order, thanks for asking),  concern about ticks (I don’t think this is any more significant given the availability of modern insect repellents and I’ve not been specially prone to ticks up to now anyway) and fairly adolescent comments about naughty bits. I expect to have to put up with this. Wearing the kilt feels a bit like coming out to yer Mum that your proclivities might not be exactly what she might have wished and hoped for. I expect this is quite different in Scotland, but in Crook, men wear trousers.
My verdict so far is that a lightweight kilt is a superb bit of kit for hillwalking/rambling. I’m going to try it on an upcoming couple of days backpack but I expect that there won’t be much difference to day walking, apart from the saving on skeggy underwear which has to be carried/washed/dried etc but probably doesn’t weigh much anyway.  I think kilts are fab – everybody needs a kilt!
We did 7 miles and about 900 feet of upness, and quite a bit of soggy slop in the forests.


Dawn Linney said...

It was a nice wee walk Mike. You looked quite ok in your kilt.

John J said...

This is Very Good News indeed. My new kilt hasn't been out of the house yet - although my neighbours have long since stopped being shocked by my strange behaviour. Men in Wythenshawe, like those in Crook, mostly (seem to) prefer trousers rather than a kilt.
We could start a trend.

Mike Knipe said...

Dawn - Ta for that - a bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way !
JJ - I really like the kilt. It's a shame they're not seen more often on English streets (Prolly OK in That London and places like Carlisle or Berwick, but Hope Street is hopeless. (see wot I did there?) How is a trend created I wonder?

Meanqueen said...

I often walk wearing a skirt, which is much more comfortable than sweaty legs in trousers, or feeling over exposed in shorts. If my skirt gets wet in the rain it soon dries in the breeze. My skirt is a bit longer than your kilt, don't forget to put your pants on.

Dawn Linney said...

Now you have worn your kilt once outside, hopefully you will gain courage and continue with it.

Mike Knipe said...

Thanks Ilona - an interesting insight - maybe I'm not so daft after all. The kilt length is a kind of standard - there's 2 lengths - a "normal" length, which is supposed to be just below the knee and a "military" length whioh is at the knee. I plumped for a military one in preference to looking like a Spike Milligan spoof Scotsman. According to Carry On Up The Khyber, the question of pants is not settled although for the purposes of politeness in mixed company, I expect you are correct. Nobody will know, though.

Mike Knipe said...

Dawn - As you know, I don't do courage..... ooer, what was that...?

Quinn said...

It looks very nice, Mike! And as a woman who often wears a skirt when going about my daily rounds out in the barnyard, I agree that there is much freedom of movement and "ventilated" comfort to be had in a skirt as opposed to trousers. In my case, it also means more scratches and scrapes from gates and goats and gardens, but to be honest, I'm a fairly clumsy person and well used to such by now.
The only thing that surprised me about your kilt, is I didn't realize kilts are available in anything but wool!