Hello friends it is I, your local hermit. I just got back last night after a whirlwind tour of the UK.
It all started right after my last exam on May 23. I finished my exam at 4.30 pm and then headed right north to the Bothy with a small crew to finish renovations and spend a few days there. I’ve officially taken over as Bothy Secretary for the EUMC and the place looks fantastic. The kitchen is now fitted, doors are hung, the fireplace is filled in, and we even got a fantastic day out on the hills for some sunny walking. We walked the Five Sisters of Kintail, a ridge line with five peaks and three Munros. I got terribly sunburned during the walk and basically both of my arms have peeled off. On May 26, it was back to Edinburgh. I spend May 27 airing my kit and repacking. It was a quick turnaround as we left again, early, on May 28 to head south.
Ali, Ellie, Tuva, Erling, and myself all crammed ourselves and our kit into Ali’s parent’s car and began our week long adventure across the UK. We first headed south to the Lake District to avoid the bad weather up north in Scotland. We may have had a mild SNAFU with the bouldering mat whilst driving the M-6. For the first two days, we stayed at Ellie’s grandparent’s cottage in the Lake District. The building was built in 1725! We spend one day climbing and the next day we went for a nice 17km stroll.
Then we packed up again and headed further south into the Lake District. We arrived in Great Langdale for a rainy afternoon. We pitched our tents and I made sad sausages in the rain on my camping stove while Ellie held an umbrella over my head. To wait out the rain we all headed to the pub. Later that night, more Yummicks joined us at the camp site. The next day we headed over to Shepard’s Crag for a day of climbing in the sun. I got sunburned again. I lead my first pitches in a right long while and it felt really good to be back out climbing. The next day, Ali, Ellie, and I headed to the Langdale Boulders. I saw the Neolithic rock art carved into the sides of the boulders and pitched my hammock and take a nap. Tuva and Erling went climbing at the nearby Raven Crag.
The next day was a long haul drive from the Lakes up to Oban. Oban is a port city on the west coast of Scotland. We caught the ferry over to Mull from Obam. Once on Mull, we put the party bops on and jammed out as we drove across the island to reach Fionnport. We stayed the night at a campsite in Fionnport. The sunset was incredible.
The next day, while many stayed on Mull for some climbing I packed up my things and caught the early ferry over to Iona. Iona was the location for the Dinner Meet on Saturday night, a dinner of general shenanigans and debauchery.
However, Iona is also an island of significant historical importance. In 563 AD Columba landed on the island with 12 monks and established one of the more important religious sites in Scotland. The Abbey on Iona is famous throughout history. And, a link to my upcoming excavation at Bamburgh Castle, when King Oswald was a boy he spent his exile in the kingdom of Dal Riata (modern day Argyll and parts of Ireland). Iona was the religious center for Dal Riata. When Oswald converted to Christianity, he would at some point visited Iona. And later when Oswald returned to Northumberland and took back his rights as king of Bamburgh castle, he brought with him a new sense of Christian ideals. It was Oswald who granted Aiden the land for Lindisfarne and strengthened the connection between secular kingdoms and the church.
So anyway, I spend the day on the island by myself. I went for a run around the island to explore the sites. It was fantastic. The weather was amazing as I explored the Nunnery and the Abbey. While I was listening to the audio guide at the Abbey, I heard what I thought was a crack of thunder. At first I just thought it was part of the guide’s music but then I looked outside and saw that the sky had opened up and there was actually a small thunderstorm! I waited in the 13c Benedictine cloisters for the storm to pass.
That afternoon, more yummicks made it to Iona and we headed down to the beach. I jumped into the ocean and had a good swim around in the cold, but-not-too-cold water.
Iona was definitely an island where you could feel the sense of history. It cloaked everything on the island with a sense of mysticism. When I took the ferry over from Mull and caught site of the Abbey from the water, I could understand why for over 1000 years people have been coming to this island.
That evening, everyone finally took showers and we headed to the restaurant for the dinner meet. It was a really nice time and I got a chance to see all my friends again before everyone leaves for the summer or in the case of a few for exchange the next year. After dinner, we headed back to the campsite to change and then headed back down to the beach for a bonfire. I roasted s’mores and then taught a lot of my friends how to make them as well. I was shocked to find that the quintessential camping food was just an American thing. We hung around the bonfire singing songs, telling stories, and drinking a lot of alcohol. Lol, what did you expect? You put 40+ twenty somethings on an island after a week of walking, climbing, and camping. We finally got pushed out of the beach by an onset of rain around 3 AM.
The next day was a slow pack up and then ferry back to Fionnport. From there we drove back around Mull to catch the ferry back to Oban. The drive was long as we arrived back at the flat around 9.45 last night.
All in all it was a fantastic trip out with lovely people and a good start to a summer I know is going to be stellar. The only downside is that it’s over and lost pretty much all the skin on my arms.
I woke up late this morning to air out my kit and write this post. I’m just back in Edinburgh for a few days now. I’ll be heading south soon again to start my five week excavation at Bamburgh Castle!