I am reading a great book at the moment. It is written by Robert Krull and is called, ‘Solitude – seeking wisdom in extremes’. It is the diary of a guy who travelled to a remote Island in Patagonia’s coastal wilderness to live alone for a year. He wanted to study the effects of solitude as part of his university course and the diary is broken up by essays on the subject. I am only part way through it and I may even be inspired to do a review when I have finished it. So far well worth seeking out, you can find out more through his website here.
His book has started me thinking about my relationship with solitude. I have to admit that I really enjoy backpacking the hills when I am alone and recently I have started hankering for ever more remote places. You may have noticed from my trip reports that I tend to seek out the quiet and undisturbed rather than the spectacular but busy. My mind keeps on drifting back to the very wild and uninhabited west coast of Jura, just about as remote as you can get in the UK. I am starting to get the urge to pay it a visit in the depths of mid winter, now that would almost definitely entail deep solitude! The flow country of Caithness has also been on the backburner the last couple of years, I have planned a very wild coast to coast up there ,I just need to be brave enough to walk it. I am not sure if it is the bogs or the sheer empty size of the wilderness out there that has been putting me off. I think that I will find heaps of solitude up there.
I often find myself getting out a map of somewhere like the Lake District and putting it back on the shelf as I can’t find a satisfactory route. It’s not that the scenery and backpacking is poor, far from it, it’s a stunning place. It’s just the thought of passing large amounts of people that puts me off, there is also the high probability that the tarn selected for a wild camp will already be occupied. The Lakes for me is a place to be visited in the winter months.
I fear that I must be turning into a misanthrope, maybe that is represented in how I decide to tramp the hills. I do really enjoy being in the hills with friends and for some reason my ‘people on the hill’ tolerance is much higher if I have company with me. But when I am alone I want those hills to myself!
I am therefore thinking about setting up the Misanthropic Backpackers Association, i.e the real MBA. We could unite in our misanthropy with regular meets where we head to far flung parts of the UK. Alone. Anyone is free to join, just keep the fact to yourself.
Bugger, I have really strayed off course with this post. It was meant to be a pondering on what to do this Bank Holiday, a weekend when the hills will be heaving. I need to use my imagination and head for somewhere remote but without a big drive that involves getting tangled up in a traffic jam. Head where there are no paths, with giant tussocks and deep heather to slow you down. If the vegetation does not get you the bogs will. I visited one such place a few years back and it was empty. Tough, but empty.
If you want solitude just remember the word Migneint. And don’t bloody well go there this weekend.