Sunday, 4 March 2012

We went up a hill today. Let me tell you about it.

Now that my fingers finally have blood circulating, I can regale you with the story of a trek into the unknown, far beyond the safe confines of our usual playpark haunts.  It all started with a perhaps foolhardy notion that the weather was turning springwards; well, it certainly looked and smelled this way up until the moment I was shivering on the banks of a reservoir in the Pentland hills - ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The name of the game was wild swimming.  Yes, apparently there is a specific terminology for what I normally just call swimming, but after lots of internet searching it seems indoor pools are the only places normal Edinburgh folk get their butterfly kicks.  Pay money to get crowded by geezers and grubblers while bobbing in an over-chlorinated bathtub?  No thanks. 

It took about an hour and forty-five minutes to reach the reservoir on foot; the more sensible among us took bicycles and managed it quicker.  At the top of the first ridge, amidst flashes of sun, the view was spectacular. The city below crouched under shadow, pummelled by rain and sleet (I found this out via text from some less fortunate friends).  I pulled out my little-used digital camera and attempted to take some photos to post here.  The blasted thing refused to work, and I remembered that it was little-used because it was a piece of crap.  After several minutes of blunt force trauma, I angrily stuffed it back into the rucksack and decided to try reasoning with it once we got to the reservoir.

My camera never did manage a photo, so I drew you a picture in MS Paint.  Beautiful.

 The track twisted along, trod by families, dog walkers, runners, and the occasional hardcore mountain biker.  Once everyone was convened at the reservoir we had an enjoyable ramble around its perimeter, stopping to climb onto a dock-like metal and wood structure with an easily surmountable locked gate.  Roughly half the reservoir is bordered by trees, and it was here that we stopped to eat late lunch (with bonus cake provided by Joe) and to attempt the swim.
Photo provided by Marianne.  Don't let that sun fool you - I could have died.
Reader, it did not go well.  I regret to report that I committed a sin known in layman's terms as 'wimping out', after stripping off my clothes and standing knee-deep in the frozen depths, with my rapidly numbing feet squelching in mud.  I thought I might lose a toe.  My fingers were so numb it was difficult to tie my laces.  I recalled that on the way up, I had seen snow on the tops of the larger hills.  Snow.  From somewhere in the dwindling flickers of my brain, the survival instinct kicked in.  'I CHOOSE LIFE!' I roared, charging back to-
... well, that might be an exaggeration.  I didn't want to call attention to myself.  Frankly, the whole situation was highly embarrassing.  On the upside, I made it out alive (though there was a dicey moment when, trying to use a touch screen phone to take a picture, it failed to register my fingertips and I thought my number was up.)  To sum up the experience, I made a little list below:

Hours walked: 4
Fun had: lots
Fingers or toes lost: 0
Lessons learned: don't be an idiot, go back again when it's warmer

And there you have it.  Have fun, but don't be an idiot.  Unless being sensible infringes on your fun.


  1. As you know I think you are mad, but my second cousin three times removed (or something like that) is madder than you and goes for a short dip in the sea (on the North West coast) everyday without fail... maybe a new idea for you!

  2. invite this cousin of yours to join our group!