Looking through my angling pictures set me wondering about why I go into the hills. I take photographs of insects, plants and landscapes because I find them interesting; I try to present them in a way that makes them interesting and viewable by others; I am there to fish, so why am I taking my time to do that? Why not just take the camera and leave all the fishing gear behind, it would certainly make less weight to carry.

While this thought process was going on I tried to think of a time when I did that. They were all short walks of little duration and short distances. I enjoyed them but it was a case of up the hill, pictures and back down again. Could I have dragged it out to a week, I don't think so. I could probably have managed an overnighter, camping so that I could get the sunset/sunrise, but that would be it, any longer in the one place would have been a waste of time.

The next thing I thought about was the pain to get there. Carrying a 20 Kilo pack with tent, food, sleeping bag, cooking gear, spare clothes, fishing waistcoat and rod for eight or so miles up two thousand feet of hill, pushes the stamina to the extreme end of the range. My wife and work colleagues think I have totally lost it, sometimes I do to. It is when you get there that the pain is forgotten, the tent is up, you relax with all that scenery round you, as long as it isn't raining or the mist is down, and you can look at why you did it.

The reason for all that pain and effort becomes clear. The loch in front of you has the smallest of dimples marking the rises of the object of all the planning and exertion, TROUT!! You are there for a few days, the area chosen has three or more lochs within walking distance, although this could be two or three miles it doesn't matter. The time there is spent fishing, watching the wild life, taking pictures and getting more and more relaxed as each day passes till it is time to pack up and walk back the long road you came, this time mostly downhill and with a spring in your step.

Would I walk that far, carry all that weight and spend all that time in the hills just to take pictures? No. The only reason I have to do it is if there is a loch full of trout and permission to fish it. Would I do it for any other reason? No.

Those trout have a lot to answer for.

2008 Alexander Birrell
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