From austere to sublime to tragedy

by backpackingbongos

The damp chill in the air made a mockery of the fact that it was mid August.  The swirling low clouds clung to the mountain slopes, briefly revealing their presence.  We sheltered behind the ruins of the mine building, its ruined state adding a certain amount of gloom and foreboding to the surroundings.  Bellies filled we set off into the uncertainty of a complex mountain world, in search of the next feature that was clearly identifiable on the map.  The rest of the day was spent in a hidden mountain world, ragged holes in the cloud giving occasional glimpses of rock and moor.

Twenty-four hours later two men and two dogs were striding (ok slowly walking) up a high mountain ridge to the cone like summit.  The views from the isolated peak were breathtaking, large mountains in the distance framed by extensive moorland dotted with lakes.  The dogs claimed the summit as their own, their human companions sheltering from the wind to eat their sandwiches.  A great day in the mountains.

The end of the day was marred by tragedy and human stupidity.  Descending the peak we watched from a distance through binoculars as two dogs chased down and eventually killed a sheep.  The chase was prolonged and brutal, the dogs owners ending up at least a kilometre away and making no effort to descend and intervene.  The incident was reported when we got to the road, hopefully the owners have been dealt with.  The image of the sheep tumbling over cliffs now firmly imprinted in my mind.  The unnecessary suffering of an animal and the local image of hillwalkers marred.

Otherwise a fantastic weekend with great company, thanks to Pete, Fiona and Dougal for inviting me along.  I am  sure a trip report will be up on Writes of way very soon.  I’ll write one too once I have dealt with my current backlog of posts!

Amendment: Indeed there is a great account on Pete’s blog here.

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22 Comments to “From austere to sublime to tragedy”

  1. That is a fantastic black and white! I love the photos you post here.

  2. The incident with the sheep really makes me angry. Some time ago I was climbing on Attimire Scar and spoke to someone about letting their dog chase sheep. It made little difference as they simply ignored me and walked past. I usually have a camera with me but on this occasion did not, otherwise they would have been filmed and reported to the police. A couple of other climbers were more direct and pointed out that he would be unable to walk his dog for a while if he did not put the dog on a lead. The dog was placed on a lead straight away.

    On a more positive note I like your mono shot, the derelict mine buildings and low cloud certainly create a bleak atmosphere.

    • Hi David, it really was a sad and shocking moment watching the dogs chase down the sheep, easily prevented. Many thanks for you kind words about the photo.

  3. Soon-ish… As you say, a great weekend’s walking marred by a grotesque scene at the end of Sunday’s walk. Thanks for leading the excellent walks.

  4. Last year I managed to catch a dog terrorising a lamb before it did any damage. http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/lake-district-may-10-part-2/

    If owners can’t control their dogs, they ought to keep them on a lead. I don’t blame farmers for shooting dogs for worrying sheep. Perhpas they should shoot the owners as well.

    • Being with two dogs at the time Robin it was a sad sight indeed, we did comment at the time that if the farmer had witnessed the attack the dogs would almost certainly have been shot. I hope that the farmer caught up with the owners by the time they got back to the road, we supplied very good descriptions of the dogs and owners who we had met on the summit.

  5. Looks a bit like the Level 9 barracks at Rhosydd Quarry. Is it? And if so, was the “cone” Cnicht?

    Damn shame about those irresponsible owners.

  6. heart breaking… I grew up on a croft here in the north of Scotland, and we would occasionally get dogs attacking and killing our sheep. My father had no qualms whatsoever about shooting them. Irresponsible owners were in effect robbing us of an income.

    nice first pic… black and white really shows off the atmosphere.

  7. Thanks for the comment David. I may try and use black and white a bit more on the blog, especially for places such as this.

  8. That first picture is very moody, I like it a lot.

    The owners should be heavily punished for such uncaring attitudes towards the behaviour of their dogs. Hopefully it was an enjoyable weekend apart from that final afternoon.

  9. James, I keep a small flock at home and know how frightening dogs can appear to sheep. It is so easy to slip on a lead when near livestock, or better still keep them on the lead all the time. Look forward to your posts in due course.

    • Mark, Reuben and Dougal were off the lead a lot of the time but were kept close or put back on the lead when there were woolly temptations all around. Both of us were trying to get them used to sheep. You need to be able to trust your dog on the hills.

  10. Hi James, look forward to reading your full post, I’ll pop over to Pete’s site and take a look at his post. Horrible finish to the day. I used to walk with my dog on a retractable lead attached to my rucksack hip-belt at all times. I barely noticed him most of the time. Tried skiing with him once that way, worked until he went one side of a fence post and I went the other with expected comical results

    • Hi, make sure that you visit Pete’s blog as he has got some great trip reports on there. Reuben has a retractable lead although he does get to go off lead when no fluffy sheep on the hills.

  11. Pete’s got a cracking blog, especialy his posts about Jura which funnily enough is how I came across your blog in the first place when I found your Jura post! Off there for a long easter weekdend with some pals next year so big thanks to both of you for giving me loads of ideas, plans, routes and inspiration

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