Mobile phone.

I’ve come back from my hiking trip in Scotland annoyed with my phone. I have an old 3G Samsung Mini 3III.

There are two main problems:

1/ the screen is unreadable in summer sunshine,

2/ sometimes, the notification sounds and switches on the screen. Sometimes, it does this every 4 seconds, sometimes even when the phone is switched off. Doing that, the battery is used up in just a few hours even when the phone is left on flight mode.

While I was away, the phone used half the monthly data on Google Services. That’s presumably some kind of software update. It did this while on flight mode with synch switched off.

This phone is about 4 years old, so it may be time to replace it. The criteria for choosing a phone has changed since:

  1. brighter screen,
  2. Longer battery life
  3. Bigger screen
  4. Better camera
  5. More RAM
  6. 4G.

The solution could be: a Motorola G6.

  • Double battery life,
  • 3Gb RAM,
  • 32Gb internal storage,
  • 13Mp camera
  • MiniSD slot,
  • No bloatware,
  • I don’t know how bright the screen will be. This is a serious concern; often, I can’t use my phone in bright sunlight.

Next bit, pick a contract. Either get another SIM only contract and buy the phone. The other choice is a monthly contract that dovers the cost of the phone. Initially, I decided on the latter. Once I went through the registration, it was revealed that I’d have to pay more because I’m not a new customer. This is annoying because that penalises me for customer loyalty. At that point, I backed out and left the shop empty handed.

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Annoying pump.

16°C, gloomy drizzle and blustery SW

I rode Kona Jake with MapMyRide+! Distance: 31.86km, time: 01:32:04, pace: 2:53min/km, speed: 20.76km/h.

Once I got off the track, it was obvious that the tyres were too soft. Topping up the pressure should be easy, right? The first two attempts left me with a flat tyre. Unscrewing the pump head also unscrewed and removed the valve. Annoying. Eventually, I got it in and it held some pressure, but no more than 20psi.

Its horrible riding with only 20psi, the rear wheel squelches and skids from side to side. It doesn’t feel safe at all.

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Tartleton oil patch

17°C, 3/5 sun brisk SSW dry.

I rode Racelite with MapMyRide+! Distance: 52.54km, time: 02:11:13, pace: 2:30min/km, speed: 24.02km/h.

A normal ride on the summer bike and a familiar route. At the lights in Tartleton, a puddle of yellow liquid. It didn’t smell but was viciously slippery after getting it on the tyres. What was it, it didn’t smell of diesel so maybe a vegetable oil?

I phoned the police about it, that liquid was dangerous if you are on two wheels.

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The machines and drizzle.

17°C, drizzle and onshore breeze.

I rode Paddy Wagon with MapMyRide+! Distance: 44.31km, time: 01:50:20, pace: 2:29min/km, speed: 24.10km/h.

Same route as last time but with claggy weather. The biggest difference was my energy, I was quite enfeebled. The machines felt heavier and I couldn’t do so many repetitions.

This next photo is puzzling, it looks like the grim reaper out on the mud flats.

I rode Jake with MapMyRide+! Distance: 6.29km, time: 25:40, pace: 4:05min/km, speed: 14.71km/h.

A quick evening ride to watch the sun go down. The sand flats go out miles into a big sky.

That was satisfying.

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And to return.

More rain, 14°C, followed by rain again.

Leaving Scotland is easier when the weather is bad, more so when the outlook is also poor.

With the tent packed (wet) by 7.30, I was ready. The most remarkable point to note of the trip is the lack of midges. I finished happy with my fitness, the dragging feeling from the first few days had gone. I came down from Lawers tired but not worryingly so. Physical tiredness can be a satisfying feeling. Every year I think to myself how fit I could be if I did hikes like these every week.

To review, I just counted up my Munro bag, it’s now 51 summits. The total for all, Corbets and so on is around double that figure. I have a cracked tent pole to fix and wet smelly kit to wash. The only annoyance has been my mobile phone. I’ll post about that separately.

Here is the almost traditional Tebay melancholy shot. I took this picture as an interval from my sketchbook. The trip is complete in the sense that I want to go back, hence the melancholy mentioed at the top.

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3: Breadalbane

12°C, rain, much of it heavy with brisk SW.

Moved to the Trossachs, this gives me a new area to explore and a shorter drive home than Ardnamuchan. The Ben Lawers range was recommended by the Fife couple. It may be that I don’t get onto the range of Munros immediately north of here because of the weather. Often in previous years, I have used the return journey to look for ideas for future trips. Maybe this stop will work the same.

Found a campsite on the shore of Loch Tay. This area seems more geared towards caravans and even this site is dominated by those hideous things. This place is a bit of a come-down after the fine views at the last site. Perhaps the hill-fog will lift in the morning and something exciting with appear.

3.1/ Ben Lawers and the ridge: first some stats, total 8h54mins (incl stops); total ascent 1518m, descent 1256m, distance ;

Summits: Beinn Glas, 1103m; Ben Lawers, 1214m; An Stuc, 1118m; Meall Garbh, 1118m. I skipped out Meall Greigh because of titimeme and the rain had started heavily by then.

Summits were gained quite easily, I felt fit. That dragging sleepy feeling had gone which plagued the day on Ben Hiant. Maybe I was held back by a bug or something. All of the summits were in thick hill fog and strong wind. I estimate 40mph gusts, I unfolded the poles after B. Lawers.

There was lots of geology, despite the terrible visibility. Schist was in abundance as were micro-folds. There were rocks with tight zig-zag folds as little as 6″ amplitude. I took no photos because of worries about tne effect hmudity or rain would have on tbe camera. Perhaps that’s why I got round so quickly.

The descent from the bealach at larig Innein was grassy and fairly easy. There were faint trails to follow down past an enclosure to a dam. It’s a small dam that’s part of a bigger system, presumably for collecting fresh water. These structures reminded me of those on Ben Cruachen. Burn water is collected into numbered inlets into a huge pipe that mostly runs beneath the ground. The pipe is black as is the concrete hese structures are made from. All over are rusty or white streaks from weathering. As I walked south, I played a counting game to pace out the way. This section is easy and I wanted to cover some ground quickly. Turning downhill, the track zig-zags once before I had to leave it to follow a derelict stone wall. Follow that and it leads you back to the car park. Sounds easy huh? In a way, this last leg was the hardest with deep gullys streams to cross and rough ground hidden by tussocks. That last 3 km took nearly a 2 hours. Was it the hardest or was I beginning to tire? Either way, it was a slog along long grass and heather. The trickiest bit was crossing gulleys that contain Burns which were partly hidden by bracken.

At the end car-park, a mountain rescue party arrived at the same time as me. Two women were lost in the mist, I overheard. They’d gone to B. Lawers and intended to come back the same way. They phoned for help in the An Stuc area. So they went north off the summit instead of SW. Oh dear.

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2: Kilchoan in Ardnamurchan

13°C, SSE breeze but sunny now after heavy showers.

Day 1: Arrived at the most wonderful campsite. In front of me are superb views of the Sound of Mull and to the right, Mull itself. Left, I can see Ben Hiant. By morning, there were Sea Eagles perched on a small islet not far from shore. I’m told that Sea Otters live nearby too.

That’s Ben Hiant on the left, Sound of Mull in front.

Day 2: Ben Hiant, 540m. Figures- total walk time 5h 52m (including stops). Total ascent 572m and descent 587.

This is not a huge mountain so some creativity with the route was suitable. Its a complex mount with layers of gneiss, basaltic lava and dolerite. All the action happened around 60mya when the atlantic started to open up. Just as interesting was animal life today. Firstly, a wide circuit around a field of cattle and in return, red deer took wide circuits around me. He herds were small, 7 and 2 individuals. He larger herd stood near the top watching me as I ate sandwiches. Either they wanted to travel my way, or they fancied a raspberry jam butty.

By the end, I was ready for a nap. If the day was a little warmer, finding a spot on the hill for a snooze would have been perfect.

Day 3: Sanna and the Eukaryte Ring.

Two parts, first, visit the lighthouse at Point of Ardnamuchan. Surprisinly, this lighthouse marks the most westerlt place on the UK mainland. The edge of the world feeing was enhanced by the squally downpours hat struck every half hour. There is quite a nice geology and lighthouse museum on the site.

Part 2, walk from Portuairk to Sanna. Here is a string of ideal white sand beaches and smooth basalt rocks. When i got there, the whote vista was empty so that panoramic pictures should come out well. There are houses here that have money spent on them in recent years, some traditional Scottish cottages have modern attachments: charcoal wooden cladding (whatever that’s called); dark metal windows that reach high into the eves. I bet they’re second homes.

From Sanna, you get easy access to the ring dyke system. Its an almost perfect and complete circle with a breach just east of the village. I say ‘village’ but it’s no more than a loose cluster of houses on the raised beach behind dunes. There is no focus to the houses, no corner shop or a church or anything like that. Anyway, I decided to walk a little way to get a view just inside the ring. It looks loke a meteor crater, flat inside with a slight rise in the middle. I climbed up onto part of the rim to look both at the view and the rocks themselves. The rocks were grey, crystaline with large black crystals embedded. Most pieces are weathered on at least one side. I searched for one with the biggest crystals. Most are very rounded as are the outcrops which are easy to walk on.

The ring is cut, in places by deep gulleys and I decided to descend in one of these. On one side was a suitable looking pebble which I picked up. Then the oddest thing: beneath this loose precarious pebhle was an ants’ nest. This pebble covered their egg chamber. How could such an easily disturbed little stone cover the most important part of their nest? They frantically carried eggs away as I carefully replaced the little pebble back as it was.

Anyway, the north coast is very nice, fine views of the inner Hebrides and world class beaches.

I shall relocate tomorrow, I dont know to where yet.

Posted in Driving, Hiking | 1 Comment

1: Bridge of Orchy.

27°C, highest in Glasgow. Better in highlands. 0 cloud or wind.

Very long drive, too long. The M6 was closed between Preston and Lancaster. That pushed all the traffic onto local A roads which immediately stopped.

Normally, on this trip, I go to Glen Coe but it’s too late. Besides, I have an idea for some hills tomorrow, some unfinished business. I’m eyeing up Beinn Dhotaih and some other summits behind.

Friday: some Munros. Started cloudy with summits obscured. 21°C, humid and milky haze. Set off in goood time 08.30. It took an nour toreach the bealach by Beinn Dorian. From here on its off track down the glen in front and turnn north to reach the next bealach. Another turn here and head up the grassy banks of Beinn Achaladair. (1016m). On the approach was the silhouette of a couple from Fife who were very friendly, they even offered me a lift back to the car if I wanted out before Chreachan. I didnt, I have all day and sunset is still late.the summits had cleared and views of distant land was clear, if a little milky. The photos should be good with some post processing.

Beinn a Chreachain was the highlight of the day although short lived as cloud drew in. The stiles of cloud passed on both sides but didn’t release any rain. From here, the desce t has to be north east which does add considerably to the day’s milage. I tried cutting the corner in Gleann Cailliche but am still unsure whether this practice actually saves any energy; the point is to avoid dropping any more height than necessary. Eventually, another track which offers better speed but it’s short lived. There is, for no apparent reason, a turning circle at its end half way up the valley. To get back, here are 2 cols to cross which explains the high climb figure for the day.

Figures: total time 12h 42m, ascent 2047m, decent 2003m,

Heavy thundery showers are promised for Saturday so I’m moving west to the coast tomorrow. The secret to a good trip in Scotland is to escape bad weather by moving to the sea. We’ve had a very hot and dry summer and this could mark the end of it.

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Fat Bike on the beach.

20°C grey start, humid and warm.

I rode a Trek fat bike with MapMyRide+! Distance: 34.76km, time: 02:16:58, pace: 3:56min/km, speed: 15.23km/h.

The idea of tbe ride on this bike was to look for a shipwreck on Ainsdale beach. I saw it from tbe dunes last winter. As I rode, my eyes scanned the sandbanks, but nothing. Either the sands have moved or we need a neap tide to reveal it.

Nevermind my boy, it was still a good ride. Despite the front suspension, my wrists were sore. My riding losition was too upright with too much weight on my hands. On the road, the handling was odd, mainly because of the heavy tyres. Those tyres caused another effect, strange forces pushed tbrough the bars at higher speeds. Probably a gyroscope effect with those heavy flywheels spinning. Most noticeable on corners or road camber, most odd. This bike has SRAM hydralic disc brakes and they’re amazing, perhaps a little sharp, but very stong on descents.

By lunchtime, I’d reached home and wasshed the salt off with a hosepipe. To return, I took the canal. This was interesting because of the comparison with the same familiar journey on the cross bike. Although the huge tyres cushioed over bumps and troughs, the precision tracking on a cyclo-cross bike is preferable in my view.

If I were to buy a fat bike, I might skip the front suspension as unnecessary. More likely, I wouldn’t buy one at all, it’s cheaper in practice to rent one from Leisurelakes; this only cost £15 for the day. How many days would I need to rent before it’s better to buy? No longer in the market to buy, I may rent one again, but frankly, I’m in no hurry.

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Old Man of Coniston

21°C white cloud and humid.

I hiked with MapMyRide+! Distance: 14.05km, time: 06:02:00, pace: 25:46min/km, speed: 2.33km/h.

The atmosphere dominated the day. Not today, those boring photos of blazing sun, blue sky and distant vistas. Clouds spilled over the mountain ridge like an overflowing dam.

I really like this photo, it sums up the day very well. In rthe distance is the summit of Old Man.

I met a guy who offered to take my photo and he turned out to be a good walking companion. Coincidentally he comes from the same home town as I. After a few hours, we teamed up with a Dutch couple who came out for a walk; er, without a map.

I got a QMD out of this which felt fine at the time but I felt my legs complaining this morning.

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