Adventure is relative. It completely depends on what your “normal” is. For those people we think of as adventurers, their normal would be considered extreme by most people, yet for some people walking to the shops in the rain would be an adventure. My normal is somewhere between the two, but I’d like to think that my antics put me in the more adventurous half of people – at least that’s what it seems based on the reactions of people at work to what I do in my spare time.
And it’s because of work that my normal is a bit out of kilter at the moment, tied up on a long project that requires me to be away from home for a couple of weeks every month – an existence that whilst it does mean staying in a nice hotel and eating out on expenses every night, nonetheless restricts my ability to get out to wilder places due to short winter days and long working hours. It also means that it’s difficult to escape to the hills on the weekends I’m home because of the need to maintain at least a modicum of family contact.
And so it is that my hill muscles are atrophying and my waistline expanding at just the time that I most need to get out. Measured against this “normal”, any adventure is welcome as I battle against the erosion of my sanity. Today’s adventure was miniscule in the scheme of things, yet would still be considered crazy and unnecessary by some people I know.
I desperately needed to get out, and so a plan was formed for a minute adventure one night when lying in bed listening to the hotel air conditioning that won’t turn off. Having walked to work the day before and seen only the last echoes of a spectacular sunrise hidden by the buildings of Edinburgh’s old town, I decided that I wanted some of that, and so would get up early and take a circuitous route to work in the hopes of catching some inspiring sights that would help boost my flagging morale. The aim was to get out of the city without really leaving the city, and an adventure that could be done in my work clothes.
I rose early, got ready for work and snuck out furtively lest colleagues in nearby rooms detected my presence and thought I was joining them on an early work start. I set off, heading down the Royal Mile as if heading for work. Which I was, sort of.
I turned onto St Mary’s Street, scene of 3 recent assaults on the waistline, crossed over at the next junction and was onto unexplored territory. The road sloped gently upwards and started to look more and more outskirtsy the further I got along. The dark sky dotted here and there with lighter patches promising at least some hope of seeing some colour in the sky when light arrived.
To my left the bulk of Arthur’s Seat rose silently over the city buildings and I quickened my pace. I turned left onto Holyrood Park Road, where early traffic was already building into a steady stream, and left the lit city. Across the road and I was onto the lane that winds around the lower part of the Seat, popular with early joggers.
Above me a light flashed from the summit, and I smiled at the thought that I wasn’t the only one defying the city and extracting what adventure was to be had from the urban. Behind me the moon shone as if lighting the way to the airport and my ticket out of here, but also illuminating the north eastern end of the Pentland Hills. Below me the orange glow of city lights spread like a sparkly rug at the foot of the hills.
I continued up and around, Duddingston Loch appearing below me and the coast in the distance. Faint glows in the distance showed the sun trying its best to wake up, but without much enthusiasm. Today wasn’t going to be much of a sunrise.
The road flattened and I reached the place where the hordes park to bolt straight to the summit of the Seat. Today though, the distant hum of traffic and the sounds of feet pounding tarmac were all that was to be heard.
I paused briefly by Dunsapie Crag with its little loch below and stared at the emerging reflection. Further around the loch, the dawn light reflected off the waters of the loch and added a bit of atmosphere.
With time slipping away I quickened my pace and headed down and around to St Margaret’s Loch, in reality just a big duck/swan pond and then slipped back into the margins of the city. I arrived at the office a little late, but invigorated at the early excursion and ready to face the day.
It’s not much of an adventure, but it felt a little bit naughty and it got me out of the city for an hour or so.