Lazy summer days are perfect for wild camping.
With yet another weekend of warm, sunny weather I had itchy feet. I’d been cooped up in an office all week and had to get out into the hills. But where to go? Climbing a mountain felt just too much like hard work in the hot sun. Driving an hour or so felt unnecessary. I settled on an impromptu wild camp on a local hill in the Ochils: combined driving and walking time to the summit, 35 minutes.
The sun was still warm by the time I got my tent pitched at 8.30pm. Time to relax.
The grasses waved in the balmy evening breeze. Meadow pippets chirped incessantly, bobbing back and forth. Just the sounds of nature, without the hustle and bustle of people and traffic.
We don’t often get this kind of weather in Scotland; hardly ever, in fact. I allowed my mind to wander. What if this weather was the norm? If we could expect summers to be lazy and warm and endless. If we could feel the warmth of the sun every year in exactly the same way as we experience it in the Med or California. If we could plan a walking or cycling break without have to make contingencies. If we didn’t need to apologise to visitors for cool, rainy weather.
What if ..?
As the sun began to dip towards the horizon, shadows lengthened. Layers of distant ridge lines were laid on top of one another, muted oranges and greys, slowly darkening. I picked out more than 20 Munros and at least another half dozen Corbetts, from Ben Lomond and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) in the west to the Ben Lawers ridge in the north. A view to savour, right in my back yard too.
I hadn’t planned to wake up for the dawn but stirred just as it was getting light and the birds started to welcome the day. It was 3.45am.
The sun illuminated high clouds, painting a vibrant, fiery glow across the sky. The view down to the valley was gone and instead, dark clouds swirled about below me. The cloud inversion obscured all the mountains along the northern and western horizons that I’d spotted the evening before; only the broad valley of the River Forth to the south remained cloud-free.
It was as if the sun had issued a brief, visible reminder that ‘normal’ weather could easily resume: unpredictable, brooding and dispiriting. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency. Lazy summer days are welcome for sure but not to be taken for granted.
By breakfast everything had changed once again. The sun burned off the cloud, the mountains reappeared and the birds were once again singing in the warm morning breeze. Another sunny, summer’s day.