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Covid-19 and the virtual munro

Covid-19 and the virtual munro


Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:29 pm

Route description: Cromarty explorer

Date walked: 04/04/2020

Time taken: 1.25 hours

Distance: 5 km

Ascent: 100m

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Oh come sit beside me, oh my best Beloved, and let me tell you a tale. Oh no, oh my Best beloved, don't sit there you must be two metres away from me, we are maintaining social distance. Ahh, you are in a far land reading my tale, that is good social distance, oh my Best Beloved.

My tale is of a lovely land, a land by the sea, a land of giants and flying fishes, of invisible creatures and magic mountains; and this is my tale my Best beloved, the tale of Covid-19 and the virtual Munro. It is a tale of a walk through a magic land. (It is also the tale of someone going quietly crazy :crazy: :crazy: :crazy: and over influenced by the literary style of her mother's favourite children's books :shock: :shock: (Isuppose this gives us a chance to time travel back to the 19thC :roll: )

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On a normal morning, many days in the past, this is what the start of my walk looks like (without the camera that records the invisible)
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Many, many years ago, before the days of lockdown and self isolation, two giants, two brothers, lived here, one on each of the headlands. Now these brothers were shoemakers, they were very cooperative giant shoemakers so they shared the same tools, tossing them backwards and forwards across the gap between the two headlands. We remember them now in the names of these headlands, the Sutors, north (on the left) and south (right).

The south Sutor has changed shape, for in the days of coronavirus it has become a magic mountain and it is on this magic mountain that team Huff_n_Puff take their daily exercise.

Sometimes even this early
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The walk passes the Links, a flat grassy area with its Embarkation stone, placed here so we don't forget the people who sailed away from this country to the west when they were forced to leave their homes and land. They are commemorated in the words of Hugh Miller (more of him later) who reflects on the sadness of those who left.
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The walk runs by the shore where strange vessels appear through the mist ...
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... and intrepid rowers check on the big boys ...
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... that are dragged into the Firth.
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The Firth is shallow near the south shore, revealing big sandbanks on a sprig tide ...
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... where dog walkers venture.
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On the curve of the east bay we can see the place where the young man found the flying fishes.
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The young man was Hugh Miller, the eminent Victorian geologist who grew up in the town. He drew the fishes beautifully, for cameras like ours had not been invented yet. The fishes were from the Devonian era (a long time ago Oh Best Beloved: 416-358 million years ago give or take a year or two). They were fossilised in the old red sandstone of this lovely land.

Pterichthys Milleri
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The shore is a place of many birds, but your storyteller isn't good at bird photography so you can only see a heron (and perhaps a gull later), but oyster catchers, curlew, eider ducks, turnstones, redshank, cormorants and shags (amongst others) can be seen here.
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The path towards the Sutor is a dangerous place, occasionally given to incursions from the sea after storms.
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In December 2012 such a storm eroded the path. A few days later we passed this spot again to find two local archeologists, full of joy as they investigated the damage. They had discovered medieval remains :o :o . Their discovery resulted in a three year Community Dig and lots of interesting findings about the economic ups and downs of this small town. A summary is given on this interpretation board.
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The well behind the board was the last resting place of a pony (probably 16thC).

Bones can still be found along the path.
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Under some conditions you might feel safer with crampons.
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And now in a time of plague people are not the only things in lockdown.
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More disguises, the cottage is the sewage works.
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Just before the path stops being a flat meander and heads for the heights we meet the Target Rock
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where soldiers and sailors stationed in the town during WW1 practised target shooting. There were competitions between the town's sharpshooters and the military. The frame for the targets can be seen a few metres away in the ruins of the old ice house.
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After the Target Rock the nature of the path changes dramatically, it becomes 'The Hundred Steps' and passes through some delightful deciduous woods.
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The path looking very muddy after the February 2020 storms.

This is where the serious huffing and puffing starts (it doesn't really stop til we get to the top :roll: :roll: ).

The weather dangers aren't just from snow and mud, wind brings down trees which spaniels turn into barricades against marauding humans.
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We pass a well, or dog bath ...
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... before coming to this building from World War 1.
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It is now inhabited by the little people.
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The next section is tricky in winter conditions ...
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... but with a seat for the weary ...
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,,, who can wait for the weather to improve and Spring to come ...
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... and also wait for the next ship out.
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Its only a few hundred more steps to the top (or so it feels) and the view point. (Note the permafrost, an indication how high we are)
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The north Sutor and the hill of Nigg.

Looking south to Ben Rinnes
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From the top there are several routes down. You can go by McFarquhar's bed on the south side of the Black Isle, or onto Gallow Hill, where Hugh Miller's grandfather watched the battle of Culloden as a young lad. We don't go that way in the spring - too many sheep and cows (and farmers who won't be impressed with dogs in their fields), but for the last couple of years it has become our 'last hill of the year'. Great views along the south side of the Black Isle.
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We walk down through the woods along a flooded road ...
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... taking time to admire the trees ...
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... and glimpse our destination through the trees ...
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...and eventually we come to the edge of the woods, where we plunge of the road and go downhill on another muddy path.
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(If you follow the WH route you'd go along the road and have views like this.)
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There is an inverse correlation between the price of oil and the number of rigs and jack-ups parked in the Firth. Perhaps a side-effect of coronavirus will be a shift to greener energy, but in those circumstances we might see our beautiful land littered with the remains of a dying industry, until they are recycled into something else.

But back to our path, in this part of the woods you can hear strange beings tapping out morse coded messaged to each other, high in the trees.
(What, what, you mean these are not more mythical creatures - sorry Oh My Best Beloved I've just been informed that this is the work of woodpeckers :shock: :shock: ) (No photo I didn't know about these creatures - I mean birds :oops: :oops:)

This path soon joins the outward path, (close to the point where spaniels dogged the barricade tree), and from here its a quick march down the steps and back to the shore views, this time with a panorama looking west.
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Back along the shore path you might meet a gull snacking after a panic-buying trip to the supermarket.
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Yesterday, while walking along the home stretch, we met a friend with binoculars trained on this rig
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... wondering if it was this rig ...
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which was boarded by a group fo Greenpeace activists in June 2019 and delayed in its journey. If so it arrived back in the Firth on 2nd April 2020. (The rowing crew include one of the humans from team Huff_n_Puff.)

Very soon we are back at the start of the walk, on the Links with some daffodils reminding us that it is Spring.
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And so my Best Beloved we have walked 5 kilometres on our exercise walk and ascended about 100 metres. I can show you the sights of this lovely land, and tell you some tales of its history (there is more for another day), but you may ask where is this magic mountain I promised you? Well Oh My Best Beloved if you do this walk five times a week (before breakfast to maintain social distance) after two weeks you will have climbed 1000 metres and walked 50 kilometres; this gives a very long walk in for our virtual munro, and what is a virtual munro but a magic mountain?

There are dangers on the walk, oh my Best Beloved, not least the danger of asking yourself why we live in a country where so many essential workers are paid a minimum wage (or less) or work on zero hours contracts with no sickness or holiday pay and no pension provision. And why the people we value most to keep us safe if we succumb to this virus are given less protective gear than they need to keep them safe.

There are compensations on this walk too, Oh My Best Beloved, there is time to think and realise how fortunate it is to live in this part of the land in a time of Covid-19. And also time to make up silly songs to the tune of 'Ye canny shove yer grannie af a bus' and sing them very loudly where no one can hear.

But you ask me what is the moral of my tale, like a good 19thC citizen you want a moral. Well I am a generous person, Oh My Best Beloved, so I will give you two, the first if you are a cynic the moral could be: how to make a mountain out of a molehill. I think that insults my lovely land, so the real moral is:

If team Huff_n_Puff can't go to the mountain then the mountain must come to them.

(... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: ... sound of manic laughter fading into a distant splash :shock: :shock: )

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Look oh look, Oh My Best Beloved, you can see the tools being tossed from Sutor to Sutor by the giants. :D :D
Last edited by Huff_n_Puff on Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Huff_n_Puff
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Re: Corvid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby Sgurr » Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:26 pm

Brilliant. memo to self...learn photoshop.

“I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chains -
I will remember my old strength and all my forest affairs.
I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugar cane;
I will go out to my own kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.
(I can do Kipling too)
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Re: Corvid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:39 am

Excellent, most entertaining and a nice insight into your local "virtual munro".

Love the greedy gull!
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Re: Corvid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:58 am

Sgurr wrote:Brilliant. memo to self...learn photoshop.

“I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chains -
I will remember my old strength and all my forest affairs.
I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugar cane;
I will go out to my own kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.
(I can do Kipling too)


Lovely poem :D

When I set out to write this I hadn't expected Kipling to take over :roll: , Strange how in a time of crisis the reassuring tones of a mother reading the Just So Stories surfaced.
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Re: Corvid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:51 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Excellent, most entertaining and a nice insight into your local "virtual munro".

Love the greedy gull!


Many thanks - the greedy gull had an audience of about half a dozen watching and photographing its antics with the fish. :D :D
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Re: Corvid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby jmarkb » Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:21 pm

jmarkb
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Re: Covid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:26 pm

jmarkb wrote:Great! Enjoyed that (including the typo in the title): https://freethoughtblogs.com/oceanoxia/2020/03/22/from-the-darkness-behind-my-window-it-caws-to-me/


Thanks for the correction :shock: :D , glad you enjoyed the tale. The thought of crows in the night is very unnerving, I'm not sure I want to go there :think: .
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Re: Covid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby dogplodder » Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:27 pm

This is a great report, beautifully written. :clap:

The photography is superb and apart from the gorgeous views I particularly like the ones of the dogs posing and the little people sitting on the window sill of their house. :D
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Re: Covid-19 and the virtual munro

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Fri Apr 10, 2020 4:41 pm

dogplodder wrote:This is a great report, beautifully written. :clap:

The photography is superb and apart from the gorgeous views I particularly like the ones of the dogs posing and the little people sitting on the window sill of their house. :D


Thank you - I've just completed my second virtual munro - and am now wondering if the same walk 5 times a week for the next 3 months is a good ideas :crazy: :crazy:
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