Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meall Nan Tarmachan

No self-respecting 'Munro-bagger', climbs the same hills twice - while leaving other peaks still unconquered.  Very keen baggers might set out to complete the lot for a second time, but that is quite different from doing the same ones repeatedly! This year I am beginning to doubt my credentials as a bagger, as the last three peaks I have stood on have been repeats; but all for good reason! A week or so back on a church men's weekend we had an afternoon free - just time to trudge to the top of the familiar Cairnwell and Carn Aosda, located conveniently close to our base at the Compass Christian Centre.
This weekend I again found myself climbing a hill for the second time - and again for quite good reasons. Our daughter is now 6, and is quite a strong, steady and reliable little hillwalker, and so with a good forecast for the whole day we decided to attempt a family walk up a good sized hill. While she has been carried up several hills on my back when she was a baby, this was her first chance to climb a 'proper hill' without such assistance!

Meall nan Tarmachan was an obvious choice for a family walk. It's a beautiful hill, with a little exposure to enjoy on a delightful ridge. It breaks the mythical 3000ft barrier, adding a great sense of achievement for the kids. However despite its height and beauty, the starting point is relatively high above sea-level, reducing the overall climb, and there is a path to follow, meaning that navigation is not complex and so each of them can walk in front and be the leader! 

There is another car-park beyond the busy Ben Lawers car-park on the little road between Loch Tay and Glen Lyon. From here a land-rover track crosses a bridge and traverses around the base of the mountain for several miles. We followed this track until we reached an obvious footpath deviating from it to the right, striking almost due westwards to make the south-eastern ridge of 'Tarmachan', upon which it turns 90' due North, and reaches a top at 923m. This was a long, hard pull for the kids, and there was some toiling and groaning as we worked our way up to this great viewpoint. The discomfort of the climb was made worse by the intense heat - as Scotland roasted in a mini-heatwave; which in turn led to further discomfort for me as I had the privilege of lugging several litres of drinks for the whole family in my pack. 

The top at 923m gave the opportunity for us all to have a drink and a rest, and for the kids to look up at the summit, only a short, steep climb away. The steep path looked daunting, but they were encouraged by the thought that the coming climb was less than half the height of Kinnoull Hill - which they are compelled (under diverging levels of duress) to ascend most weekends!

The summit was made without difficulty, and we made our way along the Cam Chreag ridge to Meall Garbh, the rocky peak in the final picture above. The most interesting part of the Tarmachan ridge follows, as it winds it way across to the peak of Beinn nan Eachan. Young 'Norris' and I went along this ridge and enjoyed the little taste of exposure it gives, before working our way back to the rest of the family waiting on Meall Garbh. While the rest of the ridge looked inviting and there were plenty of hours left before dark, the smallest legs in the party were approaching their endurance limit, so we turned southwards from Meall Garbh, following an intermittent path, until we reached the landrover track which lead us back to the car.

Meall nan Tarmachan is justifiably a very popular hill. Shapely, dramatic, offering great views, and easily accessible, its a wonderful place for a family walk. Lying as it does next to the industrial bulk of Ben Lawers, The Tarmachan ridge feels friendly, soft, delightful and it is a sheer joy to dander from top to top, along its rocky spine. Hills like this, even a hardened Munro-bagger should climb often!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Kinnoull Sunset

A series of photos taken last night from Kinnoull Hill, Perth. Click on thumbnails to see the photos.

Sunshine Tree

Barnhill, Perth

Friday, May 25, 2012


Looks like Narnia...


A memorial.

Where's the spider?

Kinnoull Hill, Perth

Up the Tay

Looking Northwards, up The Tay from Corsiehill, Perth

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glen Shee Early Morning

Click to enlarge photo....

The Cairnwell & Carn Aosda

Most people who encounter The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda (yes - inevitably referred to as Cairn Asda), do so  during snow, as they form a central part of the Glenshee ski centre. Amongst hillwalkers, these hills have a mixed reputation. On one hand they are not the most shapely of spectacular mountains, they are very easy to climb as they can be reached from the high point on the A93 where the Tay/Dee watershed is breached at the ski centre. Then, once climbed the hills suffer from the detritus of the skiing industry, fences, ski-tows, and such like, while the Cairnwell suffers from the further ignominy of being used as a base for all manner of radio antenna and associated equipment. On the other hand, these hills do provide wide and lovely views of many others mountains. Perhaps more importantly though, given their ease of access, for many walkers these two hills are their very first munros, where new mountain experiences are gained and the infectious love of the hills gained.

I wandered up these hills again on Saturday afternoon, as part of our church men's weekend. Although I've been  them before, it was good to be out in the fresh air and to glimpse the mountains again. Significantly for at least three of our group, these were their first hill-climbs in Scotland. Not maybe the greatest hills, but still a good afternoon.

At Compass Christian Centre, Glenshee

The Parenting Teenagers Course, Week One

We've decided that we're going to have a look at Alpha's Parenting Teenagers Course, with another couple. Alpha's previous courses on Marriage and Parenting children have been really useful, and so as we embark on this next phase of life, we thought it would be worthwhile looking for wisdom from those who have had teenagers before us!

Week One of The Parenting Teenagers Course was fascinating. As our oldest is 12, we have a lot to learn and so while the Parenting Children Course re-enforced a lot of things we already knew we ought to be doing - I learnt a lot of new things on this. 

The emphasis on the first week of the course is on keeping the long view, or keeping the end in sight; in other words contextualising the various storms that come and go with turbulent teens in the light of our stated goals as parents - the kind of responsible, caring people we hope to turn out at the other end! In the light of this the first week of the course contained a lot of material which is designed to educate parents about the pressures teens are under (both socially and biologically) and what parents can do to support them through all this. Some of the medical/social/psychological stuff about stages of brain development and hormones was really fascinating. My wife's medical training meant that she was aware of much of this, but to me it was all new (it is after all, a mighty long time since I was a teenager!).

The second half of the evening asked us to think through what kind of home environment we should be seeking to create which is a safe, happy, accepting place, a secure base from which teenagers can start to explore the world, and their new identities as newly emerging adults. The importance of modelling good values such as love, forgiveness, saying sorry, handling anger, valuing people over possessions (more than lecturing on such topics) may be obvious, but probably can't be overstated. The evidence suggests that teenagers lean a huge amount about how to conduct their own adult relationships by watching us!

One word which came up repeatedly throughout each session of the first week was 'listening'. In the section about moving boundaries, expanding freedoms and evolving rules - it was pointed out that as they become adults they need to be listened to and have their views respected - even more so than when they were smaller. Listening requires availability and proximity and so adjustments to lifestyles may need to be made in order to facilitate that. It was pointed out that a teenager who does not feel listened to about the ordinary stuff of life (TV, football etc), will be less able to speak to a parent if they are really needing to talk about something serious, of major consequence. This was all very helpful.

Finally, like the parenting children course, there is the opportunity for discussion with other parents. The other people we are looking at this material with have got three teenagers, from younger teens through to almost student-age. They have several more years experience in this than us - and so working through the discussion questions with them was really, really good. Having experienced so much, their comments in the discussions were insightful, revealing, encouraging but also quite challenging.

I liked the way that the course DVD emphasised that each teenager, and each family is different and that there are no formulas which can guarantee outcomes. On the other hand, to enter the process with eyes open, expectations realistic and some idea of what we are aiming at and what kind of tools we need to bring to the process is all good. Presentationally the DVD is probably the best of any of Alpha's Family Life stuff which I have seen - nicely put together and easy to use. I'm looking forward to doing the 'homework' section, part of which we work through with our teenager, and on to next week when we look at the subject, 'meeting teenagers needs'.


Fencing. high on The Cairnwell, Glenshee

Turnips at Dawn

Glenshee, Perthshire

Mountain Ironmongery

Carn Aosda, Glenshee


The Glenshee hills are not amongst the mountains held in the greatest esteem by hill walkers. Their already modest charms are not enhanced by the  ironmongery and assorted detritus of the skiing industry as they compete with the telecommunications masts for the 'ugliest blemish on the landscape' title.

Dawn Woods (a time and a place, not a person)

At Compass Christian Centre, Glenshee

Compass Christian Centre

Near Glenshee, Perthshire

Still snowy in the North

The view North from Glenshee

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Weekend Away

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." (1Timothy 4:8)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Playing "Rio"

Playing "Rio"....



Bare Bones

Barnhill, Perth

Viewing Dial, Kinnoull

Kinnoull Sunset

Young 'Norris' and I spotted a good sunset in the offing and so legged it up Kinnoull Hill to watch the show... it was breathtaking.

Last Knight - A Tribute to Woolly Wolstenholme

Stunning tribute to the greatly missed musician.

Monday, May 07, 2012