zondag 26 december 2010


It looked like it in our local neck of the wood but the temperature proved otherwise (+3).
After a fresh dusting of snow last night the weather had clearly changed. On 'the day after' only my eldest son, Gillean, was up for a daunder with me and the dog this morning. After leaving the carpark we started looking for, and following, shoeprints in the now soft snow. We gave them names like Plus1, Plus2, V, Wave or Square, after the prints the owners of the shoes left in the snow. Prints of small deer, squirrel and rabbit were seen also.

After half an hour or so we decided to go cross country. We enjoyed ourselves ploughing through the snow. Virgin country was crossed and the going was slow. We pretended to be in prehistoric Siberia looking for food for survival and being aware of predators like wolves that could hunt us down. We regularly stopped to listen to the sounds of the forest and the melting snow falling from the top of the trees might, in our imagination, have been caused by dangerous animals who would certainly eat us alive if we were foolish enough to get caught.    

Thanks to our excellent survival skills we managed to get out of the forest alive. We could hear the wolfs howl in the deep, dark forest. It was a narrow escape.

dinsdag 21 december 2010


-12 C. last night. According to a weatherexpert december has been 'unstable' and he predicts januari will see a longer period of subzero temperatures.
In a few moments I'm off to hibernate, ehhhh.....to work.

zondag 19 december 2010

I remember the old days when we had 1 cm of snow for 1 week in November, a lot of rain in winter and some snow in March. I also remember the good old days with snow upto your dangling bits. Yes, they were much closer to earth as I was just a little boy in those days but a 40cm snowcover was no exception.
You woke up one morning and you had this strange feeling that something was wrong. Or better said : something had changed during the night. What could it be ? Yes, the sound ! No sound !! And then you heard those creaking footsteps and a shovel scratching the pavement. SNOOOOWW !!! You ran down the stairs, your mother shouted 'breakfast' but who needed breakfast ? Breakfast is for southern softies.
You played outside all day, having snowball fights, rolling up a huge snowball to build a snowman and even building iglos.

winterview from the attick
Those winters seem to have returned. A good snowcover although not as high as in some parts of Holland but enough to have great fun with. What did I miss this morning ? The silence was there, I could clearly hear it. What was missing then ? It was that other sound, the sound of children playing. Where were they ?
Were they inside like my own kids ? Yesterday I had to force them out of the house. "Go outside and play. Have snowballfights, build something with snow!" "But what should we build with snow, papa ?" Aaaaaaarghh. My mistake. "Start your Wii and make funny moves with your arms in the livingroom, the one with the highest score gets a hot chocolate". I wonder if my digital image will get cold in this virtual world  of snow.

vrijdag 17 december 2010

Winter returns

Winter returned today with a vegeance. We drove Cameron to school for his last schoolday of 2010 and my wife Katinka, my daughter Kayla, our dog Atilla and I went for a walk. We were just in time for sunrise and we saw some stunning skies. I hope the pictures do justice to the beauty of this morning.

As soon as the sun appeared above the horizon these incredible colours returned to normal. Clouds were moving in and we could see more snow coming from the northwest. There wasn't much wind and the temperature was close to zero degrees Celsius. The walking was pleasant. 
After an hour and fifteen minutes we returned to the car and drove home. It didn't stop snowing until about 4 p.m.. The snowcover is 10-20cm thick and traffic has come to an halt in The Netherlands.
More snow is forecasted for tonight.

zaterdag 11 december 2010

It's all gone now.

The thaw/freeze cycle has been won by the thaw. Yesterday the tarmaced paths in our local neck of the woods (10m above sealevel) were as icy as Striding Edge in winter. Some Microspikes would have been handy (footy?) yesterday.

zondag 5 december 2010

More snow

A warmfront is closing in tomorrow. That means more snow today.
The walking wasn't difficult. The Spanderswoud is a mixed wood with broadleafs and conifers. Here you see a typical beechlane in this 213 hectares sized naturereserve. Originally created during the 19th century by a 'nouveau riche' landowner a lot of the wood was (illegally) used for heating by the locals during the Second World War. After WWII a lot of trees have been replanted and in the 1980's local authorities decided to let it grow back to it's 'natural' status. In reality that means creating or preserving what the owners think is natural. A lot of American Oak have been cut down rigorously because 'they don't belong here'.
Not my definition of natural.

woensdag 1 december 2010

Winter arrived last week

Last week winter arrived early in Holland and today I had the first opportunity for a little stroll. It's -5 C. today but the strong wind makes a windchill of -15 C.. My Paramo Alta jacket was very good in keeping out the wind and the cold. Only my fingers were freezing.
As you can see there are still autumnleaves hanging on. They make a colourfull contrast with the snow.

Our dog Atilla doesn't mind the cold. He's a crossbreed between Alsatian and Mastino Espagnol so his genes are used to it.

zondag 14 november 2010


A picture taken earlier this autumn. We've seen brilliant colours for two weeks but only a couple of days were blessed with sunshine. I didn't have the opportunity to get out with my camera during the best period and the rain and first storm of the season has flushed it all away by now.   

zaterdag 13 november 2010




I'm bad in remembering names and I'm certainly no funghii expert so if someone can help me with the names just let me know (dutch/english/latin). We've had a warm spring and a wet summer and the amount and variety of funghii is enormous. Species that are seldom seen are found. All the pictured funghii are found in mixed woods with oak, birch, beech, chestnut, rowan trees, larch, pine and other broadleafs and conifers. 


maandag 11 oktober 2010

Wednesday May 12 : Loch Lomond & Sealife

We stayed at the Loch Lomond Youth Hostel, a lovely castle on the westbank of bonny Loch Lomond. A place where a lot of Scottish children had their first YH experience. At the 'border' between Highland and Lowland the hillwalking was now over. In the morning we visited the eastshore of Loch Lomond, a popular spot for summerparties, barbeques, swimming and watersports.
We didn't have a bbq but what's more fun than starting a fire ? We're no exception. Good weather, a nice fire. A perfect morning for a father and his son.
In the afternoon we went to the SeaLife aquarium in Balloch, at the southern end of Loch Lomond. It's a modern aquarium with lots of glas that gives you a feeling of 'being in touch' with the fish.
 It's a good thing the water of Loch Lomond is too cold for this Blacktip (?) shark....
....or is there more beneath the surface of Britains largest sweetwater lake than we know ?
Tomorrow we'll be visiting Jimmy and drive back to Newcastle to catch the ferry to IJmuiden. 

zondag 10 oktober 2010

Tuesday May 11 : to the foot of The Cobbler

Another mixed day with a lot of sunshine and wintry showers. We drove south to Arrochar and parked the car at the start of the concrete staircase. I had been to the Cobbler about ten years ago with my Scottish friend Jimmy from Paisley. He was supposed to join us today but he had to stay back home to collect next of kin from Manchester airport. Their flight was delayed for many days because of the eruption of an Icelandic volcano and the ashcloud that came with it.
Ten years ago we started our walk alongside the Buttermilk Burn and on our return used the concrete staircase. Today I thought it was the best option to start at the concrete staircase. How wrong I was. There's no such thing as a 'staircase' anymore and the climb turned out to be very tiring for Gillean. Had I known beforehand that an easygoing forestpath had been made I would have chosen that option.
After reaching the path that leads to the Narnain boulders and subsequently the foot of The Cobbler walking was much easier but the effort to climb the concrete staircase had taken its toll on Gillean.
We eventually reached the foot of The Cobbler and even ascended onethird but Gillean's battery was empty. I tried to convince him he could overcome his tiredness mentally but agreed with his decision to turn around. We were close but there will allways be another time.
The hot shower and soft beds in the YH were very welcome. 

Monday May 10 : Aonach Mor cable car & Glen Nevis

Believe me, I'm not your standard tourist. Really I'm not. Today started different. We used the Aonach Mor Skiing Centre cable car. Like real tourists do. Go up and walk to the two viewpoints, take some pictures, get back down again. A shame we weren't here yesterday during the mountain bike downhill competition. Scary stuff !  
After this years very wintry winter there was still some snow left in the lower parts of the skiing area. Enough to throw some at dad at least.

RtoL: Carn Beag Dearg - Carn Dearg Meadhonach - Carn Mor Dearg

In the afternoon we drove to the carpark at the end of the road in Glen Nevis. From there it's a short walk through The Gorge and beyond to the wire bridge. 'Real' tourists where already there. A group of Italians (?) on sneakers, office footwear and even high heels, no jackets, only shirts and blouses. At least they were having fun until snowshowers started to visit the glen. Hasty retreats through the River Nevis and across the wire bridge were started. If the guys on the wire bridge would have known one of the wires would snap a couple of weeks later they wouldn't have had such great fun trying to shake one of there friends off.

Today the bridge was still there for Gillean to try. His arms were just long enough to hold on to the upper wires. 

Glen Nevis and Steall Falls
On our return we stopped at the Achriabhach waterfalls to have a look around

Sunday May 9 : Geological Museum Corpach

Driving to Fort William means driving through the Great Glen and that means rain. Whatever the weather in the rest of Scotland is entering the GG area garantees you showers. It wasn't a walking day so we didn't mind. As we got out of the car at the Geological Museum in Corpach the sun was shining again.
Rocks, minerals and fossils will always fascinate me and this time it wasn't any different.
We stayed for two hours in the museum before moving on to the YH in Glen Nevis. The hostel wasn't busy. We met a Dutch couple with three daughters staying for the night. My son was fascinated for the second time that day.

zaterdag 9 oktober 2010

Saturday May 8

Last night I asked Gillean, for obvious reasons, whether he preferred to do the southeast ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean or the west ridge of Sgurr Dearg. The latter being the easier option.
He said he preferred Sgurr Dearg, visible from the YH. Today turned out to be a sunny and even hot day. We walked to the Glen Brittle Hut and turned left to follow the path towards Coire Lagan.
Progress was slow because Gillean saw so much interesting things alongside the path. Staring sheep, butterflies, even a couple of grouse which I would have missed if I would have been on my own. Gillean took every opportunity to stop walking. I got suspicious and asked him how he felt fysically. He admitted having sore feet. We sat down for a while and decided to change our objective. We would walk down the coast to Rubha an Dunain, the southwestern point of the peninsula, a longer but  more flattish walk.
We spent some time on the beach of Loch Brittle before following the coastal path. Progress again was slow and after 2 km I decided our best option was to return to the YH.

Cuillin Cottage Cows
We had some great time at the waterfall again.

Gollem looking for fish
Tomorrow we'll move on to Fort William. I've booked two nights at the glen Nevis YH.  

vrijdag 10 september 2010

Friday May 7 : Sgurr na Banaichdich

Today we would try to reach the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich, one of the easier Munros. That's familiar terrain for me but it will be Gillean's first Munro. The track starts directly opposite of the Youth Hostel and passes a waterfall very close to the edge of the little ravine. Just before the 2km mark, where two steppingstones are used to cross a little stream, the path forks. If you stick to the main path alongside the Allt a Choire Ghreadaidh you'll end up at An Dorus to scramble either Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh on your right or Sgurr a'Mhadaidh on your left. We followed the path into Coir' an Eich.
The slog up the nasty scree underneath An Diallaid was tiring but we managed to catch up with 4 other walkers who were so kind to take a picture from me and my son at An Diallaid. At that moment Gillean had never been at that altitude.
The views of Sgurr Thormaid and Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh were great.
We soon continued our now easier walk to Sgurr na Banachdaich. The summit was reached after 2 hours and 45 minutes. Congratulations to Gillean for summiting his first Munro at the age of 11. I was 36 when I bagged my first Munro (Ben Nevis).

His first Munro, Sgurr na Banachdaich

Ledges leading to Sgurr Dearg
A cold wind was blowing so we put on our jackets before having lunch. Three of the 4 walkers we met were continuing to Sgurr Dearg and I fancied joining them but Gillean didn't so we joined the fourth walker and baktracked to Choire an Eich.
At 15.30 we reached the waterfall near the YH and spent more than an hour playing with rocks and water.
A very satisfying day.

zondag 5 september 2010

Thursday May 6th : The Old Man of Storr and The Quiraing

From Glenbrittle YH it was a 45 minutes drive to the the parking near The Old Man of Storr. This day meant new territory for me. I had never been here before but had seen it several times from the summits of the Black Cuillin. Low clouds shrouded the rockformations of the Trotternish peninsula. We started walking and soon came out of the little forest underneath The Old Man. The man himself wasn't visible although we were right beneath the rock itself. Visibility was down to 20 yards, sometimes less. Quiet. And spooky.
My son and I soon went into the labyrinth behind the Old Man and Needle Rock, despite a sign saying not to proceed because of possible rockfall. We're Dutch so we proceeded.

Routefinding didn't proof difficult despite the mist and rockfall didn't occur. We enjoyed this mysterious world of strange formed rockformations in a silent white world. As we reached the southwestern end of the corrie, after some tricky bits of path, the clouds had risen and were slowly resolving. We walked along the edge of the forest back to the main path. Tourists were already gathering in the sunshine to take the obligatory photograph with The Old Man in the background. The carpark had completely filled up. Our next destination was to be The Quiraing.
We parked near the graveyard and walked upto The Prison and soon passed the Needle and The Table. We abanded the idea of climbing upto The Table, a large flattopped rock big enough to play a footballmatch. Too much loose scree would drain our energy in the by now warm afternoon.
We returned to our car via a path leading to the viewpoint and massive carpark at NG 440 679. The views towards Staffin and onwards to the mainland are indeed grand.

dinsdag 25 mei 2010

Wednesday 5 May : to Glenbrittle and Coire Lagan

This morning started with an overcast but while driving to Kyle of Lochalsh the higher clouds dissolved. The hills around us - having their own weathersystem - kept their blanket of clouds. Despite major road maintenance on Skye we reached Glen Brittle YH at 9.45am. Enough time to check in and put on our walking clothes.
Our goal today was Coire Lagan, a relatively short walk but still wetting the appetite for more hills. This was going to be Gillean's first hillexperience. His previous heightrecord stands at 160 meters.
The track started at the Mountain Rescue building and we soon caught up with a group of - excusez le mot - tourists. To Gillean's delight one of the members of the group turned out to be a Dutch woman. Someone else to talk to instead of dad !
From Loch an Fhir-Bhallaich we saw the Rubha an Dunain peninsula covered in very low clouds while we were walking in glorious sunshine. Coire Lagan itself was also hidden in clouds. Negotiating the vulcanic slabs just before entering Coire Lagan itself turned out to be a doddle for Gillean. His first wee scramble and he was ahead of us all on the lovely gabbro.
In the picture you can spot Gillean at the edge of the lochan just left of the big boulder. The low clouds added to the mysterious feeling of being at a sacred place.
We had lunch and a walk around the wee lochan before returning to the youth hostel.
I think Gillean did very well today and tomorrow we'll be going to The Old Man of Stoor and The Quiraing.
I've never been there myself and hopefully Gillean will experience some more of Scotland's mysterious touch.   

zaterdag 22 mei 2010

Tuesday 4 May : arriving in Newcastle

Yesterday we left from IJmuiden harbour in The Netherlands. The sea was quite rough and during the first hours big waves were crashing the ship from the north. The 'King of Scandinavia' from DFDSSeaways is a big ship but the movement of the ship did put another dimension to walking. One big step forward, two to the right and other variations. Gillean and I didn't get seasick and we slept well regarding the circumstances.
This morning we arrived in sunny Newcastle upon Tyne. Our goal was Ratagan YH near Shiel Bridge. We started driving at 9.45am and followed the A1 towards Edinburgh. Of course (?) it started to rain as soon as we crossed the border with Scotland.
At 4pm we arrived at Shiel Bridge, it had dried up and there was occasionally sunshine.
Tomorrow we'll drive to Skye.  

maandag 26 april 2010

7 days and counting

Next Monday we'll be leaving Holland. We is I and my 11 year old son Gillean. Our ferry leaves IJmuiden on the third of May at 6 o'clock in the evening. On Tuesday we'll arrive in Newcastle and drive to Shiel Bridge to spend the night in Ratagan YH. The next day we continue driving all the way to Glen Brittle, Skye, and hopefully do some good walking in the Black Cuillin. We'll be there for 5 days after which we'll move onto Glencoe for two days and after that another two days at Loch Lomond YH. The Cobbler will be our main hill over there. The longterm weatherforecast says 'unsettled', so everything is normal.

zondag 18 april 2010

Have you noticed ....

.... this colour in the sky ? Without any condensation stripes from aeroplanes at all !
No noise from planes on a sunny day. Incredible. I live roughly 30km from Schiphol Airport where 45 thousend people arrive or leave (or do both) every day.
Thank you Volcano !

All dressed up ...

Just to show my favourite shade of green.

woensdag 31 maart 2010

A Sunday walk : Black Mountain

Of course this is the Dutch meaning of 'mountain', a hill at least 5 meter higher then its surroundings. She Who Has To Be Obeyed, kids (Those Who Have To Obey) and dog and humble me went for a sundaymorning walk south of Hilversum.

We parked the car near nature reserve 'Zwarte Berg'. Much to our surprise we encountered total destruction. In The Netherlands Ecological Connection Zones are being constructed for flora and fauna to be able to migrate more easily from one area to another. Nearby this Distruction Area a new Ecoduct will be build crossing a busy local road. A many millions costing project and therefore you need to destroy nature of course.

The kids loved it. Climbing up and down those heaps of black earth and nobody telling you to keep your clothes clean. It reminded me of my youth when building sites weren't fenced in.
It's just a bloody disgrace old pinetrees had to be killed to 'save' nature.
In Holland nature is 'managed'. How much does that cost (us) ? 100 million Euros ? Each year. And how many years will they be managing ? 10 ? A 100 ? THOUSEND YEARS ? Nature will take over eventually so my advise is : give up managing right now. It's a battle humans can't win.

woensdag 24 maart 2010

21st of March : spring has started

Not only on my calendar but also in real life. Yesterday was mostly cloudy with some very heavy downpours at the end of the day but today the temperature reached a staggering 14 degrees Celsius with a lot of sunshine.
A perfect day to go to the Soestse Duinen with my eldest son and our dog Atilla. The Soestse Duinen are part of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug : a ridge of sand deposited during the ice-age period of the Saalien. During the last ice-age, the Weichselien period, the ridge became partly covered by sand due to the dominating westerly winds. Heather and forests formed after the ice had definitely retreated but after the introduction of men and cattle most of it disappeared. The wind formed 'walking' sanddunes even covering small settlements. During the last 100 years or so vegetation and trees got hold again of the sand and nowadays the dunes have to be protected by cutting down the trees and removing vegetation.

Normally the dunes are completely dry but because of the cold and long winter the ground isn't very permeable at the moment. I've never seen so many 'lakes' here, only the lowest point contains some water after heavy rains.

It was a surprise for me and a very enjoyable one for Atilla who likes to swim. Gillean, my son, tested his new goretex lined Lowe boots he will be using in Scotland in May.
Despite the 'lakes' there was still enough loose sand to train the muscles.
A lot of people with dogs used this beautifull day for walking and some for horseriding. Atilla likes to run at topspeed (he's fast for a big dog) for hundreds of yards towards horses and once close he comes to the conclusion it really is a big animal and returns at topspeed again.

woensdag 10 maart 2010

Still winter

Meteorologically speaking it's spring but at 9.46 am it's 0 degr. Celsius and feeling bitterly cold. No hint of green leafs at all atm. I'll use this old beechtree as reference and will return here regularly this year.