Your breath is coming in short gasps and your feet don't want to move any more. You've been going at this all day--ascending over 2,000 feet since a too-early morning--and gasp as you stare up at that elusive peak still above you. You want nothing more than to chuck your hiking boots and shrug off that bulky rucksack. Your comrades look scarcely winded, though, laughing and talking and chomping their granola bars. Your guide (the one with a dreamy Scottish accent) looks at you condescendingly. Humph.
Maybe you think that sounds like a barrel of fun. I'm not so sure, but I do know that I enjoy looking at the mountains of Argyll through the fabulous photographs other industrious photographers have brought away with them.
Last light on Beinn a'Bheithir from Beinn Fhionnlaidh, a photo by Richard Childs on Flickr. www.richardchildsphotography.co.uk
There's a very good reason for Scotland being less densely inhabited than its southern neighbor, England. These vast pinnacles of solid rock are a good reason. Who would want to farm in this country? No, this is the place for fishing harbors on the coast, flocks of sheep, and wild shepherds with a poetic streak.
Argyll is sprinkled (you might even say "slathered") with mountains of all shapes and sizes. The Steeple above Loch Goil taunts you with its history of landslides; The Saddle is a real muscle stretcher; The Cobbler is a genuine corbett (a Scottish peak between 2,500 and 3,000 feet ); A' Chrois acts as the gateway to the Arrochar Alps; Ben Lui intimidates with its vast ridges and corries (it's the highest mountain of the four Munros south of Glen Lochy).
The Paps of Jura remind me of descriptions of Sheba's Breasts--two mountains in King Solomon's Mines (highly recommended, by the way). My mom read that book aloud to my little brother and me when we were little. I remember snuggling up to her on the couch in the morning and she would open the big green book with the black spine to read more exciting adventures. Every time those two mountains came up she would shy over the words and say something different. Aaron couldn't read back then, but I could.
P.S. If you're interested in doing any hiking yourself in the near future, let me suggest visiting the adventure travel fitness specialists over at www.fitfortrips.com.