The last few weeks we have had several back to back winter storms which brought high winds and an abnormal amount of rain. Last weekend there was finally a break in the weather so I took the opportunity to get out on the hills for the first time this year. I chose to hike Dumgoyne and Earl’s Seat in the Campsies, which is just a short distance from us. After my having lunch with the fam, the plan was to quickly drive out to the hills, get up and down, and be on my way home by the time it got dark. The afternoon turned out to be as nice as I had hoped. There was fresh snow on the ground, and a bit of rain here and there, but the views were clear. I could easily see from the Campsies up to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

As I made my way up the short, but extremely steep Dumgoyne, I began to remember just how challenging this hill could be. The ground was quite muddy and the further I went, the mud was covered with a thin layer of snow lay on top. Needless to say, the climb was slow and an extra bit challenging. By the time I got to the fork in the path between the two hills, I knew I didn’t have enough daylight to hike both. I chose to go the further route of getting to Earl’s Seat. A couple of hours into the hike I came across a shelter someone had made out of the snow. It was the perfect spot to stop and have a mid-afternoon coffee and a snack. I then pushed on a bit further to near the final approach of the summit cairn when I realized that if I went any further I would be in the dark coming down. Since I was hiking alone, and I knew I had to make my way back down the muddy, icy path I had come up, I didn’t want to take the risk in the dark. So I chose to turn around and save the summit for another day. After all, this day was as much about simply being on the hills as it was getting to the cairn.

All in all, it was a great start to the year. I got some much needed miles on the hills, and I had some great time to reflect and pray as I looked out over all the views around me. It’s been almost four years since I started hillwalking in Scotland and I still can’t believe that I get to see these amazing sights.