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16 October 2014

mountainman - June 2008

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Live and Dangerous

Nothing to do with hills, mountains, coasts or geology!

30 years ago today, the album "Live and Dangerous" by Thin Lizzy was released. Reckoned by some to be one of the finest live albums ever produced (although I reckon Deep Purple's Made in Japan gets close...) it shows the sheer brilliance that was Thin Lizzy in their heyday.

My first ever major gig was Thin Lizzy at the Glasgow Apollo in 1979 - by that time they had Gary Moore playing for them again. That was one seriously good gig, with lots of the Celtic rock elements that characterised so much of the TL sound.

Thin Lizzy's front man, Phil Lynott was a genius and theultimate showman. His banter with the audience was legendary, and this comes out well in "Live and Dangerous" - sadly missed, another statistic of drug abuse.

However there is still a lot of Thin Lizzy stuff out there on the web.

In particular the "Roisin Dubh Trust" web site is well worth a look:

Rock on!
Posted on mountainman at 11:48

A Tale of Two Lairigs

Back on the Rocks again!

Every year, usually around midsummer, I head off to my favourite hills the Cairngorms, for some serious walking. I like to walk from one side to the other through a couple of fairly well known mountain passes, and then back again.

There are two main passes cutting through the massif - the Lairig Ghru is the more famous of these, but further east there is another called the Lairig an Laoigh. The Lairig Ghru is very well seen from Aviemore - a great U shaped valley running deep into the hills - an absolute classic example of a glacial U shaped valley, gouged out by ice about 15000 years ago.

The Laoigh isnt quite so famous, but is also a nice walk, not so rugged but it passes through some great scenery.

The best place to start is the car park at Linn of Dee, just east of Braemar. A whole plexus of paths emanates from this area and much of the walking is among ancient Caledonian pine forest.

I set off last Monday and headed through the Lairig an Laoigh. Unfortunately, I didnt have a decent camera with me, so the only pics I have are taken with a phone - however, you get a flavour of the place.

Looking up the River Dee, west of Braemar

Well up the track now, heading north

Still some snow on the hills. If you look closely at this next pic:

Which is an enlargement of part of the last one, you can see a snow tunnel over the stream, where the snow has melted.

About 2/3 of the way, there is this little refuge. It looks like a large cairn. Its called the Fords of Avon Refuge (next to the River Avon - pronounced aan - no "v"!). Not the nicest or driest of places, but in a winter blizzard, it might well be very welcome.

And that is all the pics I have before arriving at Loch Morlich.

I stayed overnight at the Loch Morlich Youth Hostel and then headed back through the Ghru the next day. I have always felt that this is the more "natural" direction in which to do it.

Looking across Loch Morlich, near the Youth Hostel

Another view near the same place - the pointy hill across the loch is called Carn Elrig. Elrig, being a Gaelic word meaning a deer trap

Right, this is more like it. Heading into the Lairig Ghru

Right up high in the pass. The glacial "U" shape is obvious here. As are the red screes. Most of the Cairngorms are composed of a coarse granite. In some places however, the rock is much finer grained - a "microgranite". It also appears a lot redder.

Near the highest part of the pass are several lochans called the "Pools of Dee". Originally called "Lochan Dubh na Lairig". They are ALWAYS freezing cold - even in the hottest summers!

Looking up into the great "Garbh Choire" of Cairn Toul and Braeriach - two of the highest hills in the country. Still a bit of snow left. Some people reckon that the last glaciers in Scotland were here. Easy to believe - in some years there is nearly permanent snow here.

Heres an interesting rock - a fairly weathered porphyritic granite. Note the large crystals in the rock, like white laths. Many igneous rocks have larger crystals in a relatively finer groundmas - these are "porphyritic". Now this stuff in the pic can be seen at several places along the path, but it is not in situ. I have never found the actual rock itself, but the unweathered stuff must look quite neat. Weathering of granites causes the feldspar minerals to break down into kaolin - which is what the whitish colour is.

And that was that. After getting back to Braemar Youth Hostel and some dinner, it was off to the Pass of Ballater to look at more rocks - good granites to be found there, but that's a blg for another day!

Posted on mountainman at 15:11

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