Friday, July 30, 2021

The power of water

Scotland was in the grip of a heatwave last week. I was either at work or I blinked but I missed it anyway, and with covid and ‘staycations’ Scotland has been very busy with people who have no real idea how to behave themselves, or they just have no respect for the countryside.

Sujata's post on Wednesday reminded us of the alluring and healing power of water. I like it, I like to be beside it when it's quiet, but not when it’s crashing around. Waterfalls that look like Grey Mare’s Tails  ( we have a few) are fine. Niagara, while wonderful,  was a bit busy and rather dangerous. Ditto with big waves. 

I can, at a push swim for two miles. In a swimming pool. I think I’m an OK swimmer ( though compared to Adam Peaty etc I swim more like an aged platypus with an ill fitting prosthesis). I would never attempt the latest craze of ‘wild swimming’.

Everybody seems to be doing it- the sale of wetsuits has rocketed as has hospital admissions for hypothermia. As Billy Connolly correctly said, ‘Just go up a bit and turn right, that’s the Artic Ocean.’

It’s cold. In lochs, even after the hottest summer, the water will wait until September  to heat up. Usually, the top inch is OK, below that, the unacclimatised human body  starts to shut down it’s peripheral circulation. And, the west coast lochs,  are dangerous with  huge underwater  slabs of rock close to shore but step off  that and there’s no bottom for tens of metres.

Last weekend, 6 people drowned in Loch Lomond itself. I think I wrote about it  in Tears Of Angels, that weird current, the blackness of the water,  the way it chills the blood.

My friend, who is a nutter, wants me to go wild water swimming with her. She’s in a  women’s only facebook group, and this is a ‘thing’ to prove  err…. Not sure what to call it now.. that xx chromosomes are just as good as xy. I pointed out two things to her a) xx survives longer in cold water due to more subcutaneous fat and b) she can’t swim.  But that’s not what it’s about, it’s about taking your clothes off round a campfire at midnight,  holding your arms up and walking into the water to ‘dip’.  They need to wear neoprene gloves and socks to prevent circulatory issues. So, once in the water at Duck Bay, a recognised safe area to swim,  they dip under, up to their necks and move around, waving arms back and forth. Am I right in thinking that pike are stealth predators?  With very big teeth? Anyway, all this was sounding a bit Wickerman to me so I’ll still with churning out lengths of the pool  which is like distance running; the mind shuts off from time and stress and leaves space for thinking about killing folk.

You can also buy a tub for home dipping, a large rainwater bucket really but I have puddles in my garden that I could rent out.

 After the heatwave,  within minutes of me finishing work for a two day writing break, the heavens opened. It rained for a day, solidly… like real rain, windscreen wipers on double  and can’t see when  driving type of rain. So once it stopped we headed out hoping to catch the River Orchy in angry mode,  hoping to see high water and flooded bridges. But no, the earth was so dry, every last drop was soaked up.  

The River Orchy

Three wild haggis having a showdown with some sheep.

I love this wee hut. Usually it's miles from any other human but with tents now £36 and the price of Airbnb rocketing,  there were tents within shouting distance, illegally sited and  evidence of camp fires all round. It seems to be a thing now to put up a tent and just walk away and leave it when you head home. The cost of this, like the wild swimming, to wildlife is high.

The famous Bridge Of Orchy. There were twelve tourists ( Italians ) hiding behind the wall for me to take the picture.

The long road to nowhere.

Signs like this are everywhere. Mountain rescue and the fire rescue need access so why would anybody park in front of a gate?

And signs like this as the locals have had enough.

And, inevitably these. 

Caro Ramsay

1 comment:

  1. Your final photo is intriguing. Here on Mykonos, aggressive real estate brokers would likely advertise it as "unique duplex with view, 1000 euros/day."