I ramble

I’ve spent the last few days in the northern half of Great Britain. Wednesday, I was an external examiner for a (successful!) PhD exam at the Durham University. Thursday, I was at the University of Glasgow in service to the other end of the PhD experience in the UK, giving a one-hour lecture on the Cosmic Microwave Background at the STFC summer school for incoming students.

But after the summer school I woke up early for the Caledonian Sleeper up to Fort William in the Western Highlands. I rode through some of the UK’s most spectacular landscape, hills and lochs in the morning fog:

Once I got to Fort William (a typically characterless UK town, unfortunately), I hit the trail, walking along the last few miles of the West Highland Way, taking in some detours to the Cow Hill Summit and the iron-age Dun Deardail Fort. The local hills, including Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Britain, were nestled in low-slung cloud all day:

West Highland Way 010 West Highland Way 008
West Highland Way 003 West Highland Way 001

Along the way, I spotted flora and fauna

Flora Stone Wall and Sheep
and the occasional designed object:
Outlandia
I thought this might be a not terribly well-hidden bird hide, but in fact it’s Outlandia, a treehouse artist’s studio suspended midway up a hillside forest. And I could feel the stress and cares (of my admittedly pretty easy life as an academic in a prestigious institution) fall away, mindful not of telecons, teaching and reports, but of just putting one foot in front of the other, and staring at those hills and lochs. Legend has it Macbeth lived on an island in this one:
West highland loch

More photos of my wandering, staggering, walking and ambling here.

And as an added bonus, here are the Mekons, with their own take on walking in the British countryside:

(Cockermouth is a town in Cumbria near the Lake District, although this was apparently filmed in Wales, Scotland and Leeds. And this being from the Mekons, it’s as much about armageddon and the Rolling Stones as walking in the countryside.)