Pulpit Rock

For all my discomfort with uneven ground at height, I decided it would be a great idea to climb up a steep Norwegian cliff!

2017-06-04 Stavanger

I was at a conference in Stavanger last month, and having been there a few times and heard of Pulpit Rock (or Preikestolen), and seen it from below on a boat, I decided it was finally time for me to give it a go. It’s a popular tourist attraction, and there’s a lot of information out there about it, including the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge and Visit Norway websites.

Unfortunately on the one day that I could go it was rainy or misty at best, but hey ho. I got the ferry from Stavanger to Tau, and then a bus (cleverly timed to coincide with the ferry schedule) to Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, which is the ‘base camp’ and starting point of the hike. Pulpit Rock is 600 m above sea level, but the 3.8 km hike starts at a height of 270 m.

The journey from Stavanger to the Mountain Lodge takes about 1.5 hours in total. There are a couple of bus companies that put on buses from Tau, and you can buy a return bus ticket beforehand at the ferry terminal in Stavanger. Since I got the Boreal airport bus (Flybussen) into town when I arrived the day before, that ticket got me a 10% discount on the Tau – Preikestolen bus with the same company.

2017-06-04 Stavanger
A foggy start at base camp

When the weather is not suitable for hiking there are signs and warnings against going up, but summer rain and mist weren’t stopping anyone. Armed with my walking poles I headed off.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

Pulpit Rock has a mix of steep rises and falls, and lovely flat bits in between. There’s also quite a bit of tree cover most of the way, which I liked. There are also sections which have been improved over the last few years, and rock steps built with the support of Nepalese sherpas.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger
Interesting boggy bits

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Bog cotton

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Helpful trail markers dotted all along the way

The path is largely rock steps, some only little steps and some quite large. As it gets higher some sections are also ‘smoother’ and steep, which I think were a little more daunting than usual because it was wet.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

There are also one or two very steep sections, with narrow ledges to pick your way down or up, depending on which way you’re heading. Not terribly high, but if you’re going down it’s still too high to jump. Most people managed just fine, but some, like me, found it difficult. This was the only downside of walking poles, when you need your hands! But there were many kind strangers, and I had some help in places like this, and people waited patiently for slower ones to take our time.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

Halfway up there is a lake, which people do swim in when it is hot, but definitely not today. You could hardly see it! I really liked this bit; it was very atmospheric.
2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger

Finally, I got to the top, and by this time the mist had become rain2017-06-04 Stavanger
Final stretch – 1 km to go

Made it!
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Facing a corner, with the famous edge on the left

Although the weather meant you couldn’t see over the edge to the fjord all the way below, I thought the mist gave it a really unique feel that you don’t normally see in the brochures. Atmospheric, enigmatic, wild, mysterious, mystical (Thesaurus.com doesn’t disappoint!).

Makes for a cool photo, but I couldn’t ever do this!
2017-06-04 Stavanger
2017-06-04 Stavanger
Obligatory selfie – this is as close to the edge as I got

After sitting at the top for a bit and having my packed lunch, I then headed down again. This was harder! However the rain and mist had started to clear up, and I could see more of the surroundings that were hidden on the way up.

2017-06-04 Stavanger

2017-06-04 Stavanger
So many shades of green

2017-06-04 Stavanger

And finally I got back to the starting point, and jumped on a bus back to Tau, back on the ferry to Stavanger, and back to my hotel for a nice hot shower!

What a mad but exhilarating experience! It took me 3.5 hours to go up, and about 3 hours coming down (which is about an hour longer than average each way), but I had been going really quite slowly, stopping often to catch my breath, as well as stopping to take lots of photos, especially on the way up. I’m not a regular hiker, and I found some parts pretty scary, but other amazing parts made up for it. I’d told myself that I could stop and turn back at any point, but I’m really pleased I managed to push on and get to the top in the end!

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Bennachie

Having moved to Inverurie we’re now much closer to Bennachie, a set of forests and hills managed by the Forestry Commission. Rather enthusiastically, we’ve visited Bennachie Centre two weekends in a row now.

The visitor centre has plenty of information, kids’ activities, a great wildlife viewing section, and a stunning tapestry at the entrance.
2017-05-28 Bennachie

The first weekend Gareth and I went up the main hill, Mither Tap, following the ‘Mither Tap Timeline Trail’. We’ve been up this way a few years ago, and I found it pretty arduous – there were tears. I can handle a steep incline, but I’m not great with steps or ‘steppy’ rock paths, particularly when it’s above the treeline. Other people seem to whizz up and down like they’re on a flat road, and don’t even get me started on the runners who were literally running and hopping down the high, uneven trail…I felt very nervous for them, but they didn’t seem bothered as they went on their merry way.

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This time though, I was armed with walking poles, which I highly recommend! What a difference it makes, having those extra points of contact, and that little bit more confidence going from one step to the next.

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Gareth using a compass app to work out where our house was

2017-05-21 Bennachie

Finally, we got almost to the very top, but not quite the summit – the final bit is a little too much of a climb for us, and it gets really windy up there, so this is as far as we got. Not even walking poles can help with this. Perhaps with a little more ‘practice’ we’ll eventually work our way up there.
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Then, last weekend our friends Sam and Joules came to stay, and we went for a walk around the Colony Trail – no walking poles required for this one.

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View of Mither Tap

There was plenty to see, on a pleasant Spring day.

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Chaffinch

2017-05-28 Bennachie
Wood anemone Arctic starflower / chickweed wintergreen

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Bluebells

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Ultra yellow broom

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A pretty weed of some sort

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Mossy walls

There are many more trails around the hills and forests of Bennachie, and no doubt Gareth and I will become more familiar with these ‘neighbours’.

Spring is a time for all things new

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and it’s a special time all round. Along with Easter, this time of year brings New Year celebrations for many South- and South-East Asian cultures – for my family it’s Tamil New Year.

Here in Aberdeen, skies are blue, and there’s to plenty to admire outside.

2017-04-13 Cherry blossom
Continue reading

Hanoi

At the end of last year we were in KL over the holidays, and spent a few days in Vietnam over New Year. We had a great time in Hanoi, starting off almost as soon as we got there with a walking food tour.

We tried quite a few different things, but my favourite had to be good old chicken Phở – I can’t get enough of a noodle soup, especially if there’s lime and chilli involved.
2016-12-29 Hanoi Continue reading

International Women’s Day 2017

How is it March already?? Well, here we are, and here are some female driven film and literary things that have caught my attention.

The 2017 Bailey’s Prize longlist has been announced – an intriguing lineup here as always.

IMDB, quite probably the largest source of movie and TV information, has adopted the F-rating: a rating to show if films are written by women, directed by women, and/or feature women on screen in their own right. Admittedly, as this article points out, the rating isn’t featured on every film page, instead you can use their search tool to find movies that meet one or more of these criteria. I’m willing to give it time though, for this to be adopted fully on individual pages.

A shoutout to Scottish writers Claire MacLeary and Clio Gray, who I saw at an event during Aberdeen’s recent Granite Noir festival. Their books sound very interesting indeed, and are at the top of my list for upcoming reads. Claire MacLeary’s debut novel is Cross Purpose, set in Aberdeen City. Clio Gray, on the other hand, is a veteran writer (longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize last year), and her new three-part series begins with Deadly Prospects.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading the Chronicles of St Mary’s series, by Jodi Taylor. It’s about historians who study historic events in ‘contemporary time’, i.e. through time travel. It’s got some dark bits, but overall it’s fairly light reading and good fun. I’d say it’s almost like a boarding school series, but featuring the staff.

The little things matter as much as the big things when it comes to changing the world. So let’s be proud of ‘little’ things like celebrating female authors and filmmakers, and equally let’s not be shy about ‘making a fuss’ when something’s not right. This year’s International Women’s Day theme, Be Bold for Change, is a good reminder of that.