Willie’s View: Unto The Hills

Willies View

Willie’s View is a little different than normal, thanks to the current coronavirus lockdown . . .

Well, here we are still under lockdown though hopefully not yet at the point of climbing the walls.

Sad, isn’t it, when the greatest joy these days is in securing a slot for Tesco Home Delivery or click and collect!  Oh for the return to normality.

Much of these last few weeks has been spent working in the garden and, if I say so myself, it’s looking quite tidy.

Once the rhodys and azaleas start flowering I might even take you on a tour of it since we can’t go further afield.

In one rockery is a wee stone cairn. My father, also Willie, was a keen hill climber. He tackled the Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet high) at a time when very few others were at the game.

In the official records, he was only the 81st person to have completed them.

Photograph by Willie Shand.

From his first conquered Munro (Ben Vorlich in 1939) to his last (Sgurr Mor in 1968) he could tell stories of his adventures, and what he’d seen from each and every one of them along the way.

Of course, back in 1939, with no car, getting to them was by push bike. It was an old 26” Hercules Deluxe with no gears. It’s still my favourite bike.

From each hill he brought home a stone. Bear in mind that on a long day a walk could take in a good few summits. He occasionally ended up with a lot of stones in the pockets!

Building his cairn called for much careful planning. Each stone had to have a face showing and corner ones would have two faces showing.

It had to be constructed so that it made a perfect pyramid; every stone charted and identified. A large flagstone made for an ideal base.

Winning pride of place at the very top is, not surprisingly, one from the Inaccessible Pinnacle of Skye.

When weeding this rockery one might well reflect on the line of the old psalm: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”



For more from Willie’s View, click the tag below.

Read more of the team’s (previous) travels by clicking here.

Willie Shand