The Angry Corrie 53: Apr-May 2002

Down at the Streap joint...? Up on Meall Horn...?
All a-tingle on Dingle...?

After the soggiest, stormiest, most useless winter in living memory (well, since the last one), spring is upon us and the sap is rising again. Denied their annual dose of cloudless chills and crunchy-topped ridges, it's inevitable that a young person's mind now turns to the realm of the senses. So, on this and the following two pages, TAC has invited Robert Dawson Scott, Dr G W McSharkie and Gordon Smith - each an expert in his field - to muse on that great hill triptych. No, not Liathach, Beinn Eighe and Beinn Alligin, but sex and drugs and rock'n'roll.

THERE HAS BEEN A PERCEPTION, to put it at its mildest, that sex and the hills do not mix. Either it's too cold, or too uncomfortable, or too public, or hill walkers are literally a sad bunch of wankers. Or, as Gordon Smith put it a decade ago (TAC8), the only way to get Laid in the highlands of Scotland is on the maps of Caithness and Sutherland. There is, as Smith pointed out, a pretty obvious metatext in Munro-bagging, all that mounting and reaching a climax at the top and then running down to the wet patch at the bottom - but it all goes a bit limp when you refuse to do number 69 with your partner because you've already done it with somebody else.

Smith rather stands out - lucky chap, at his age - in his enthusiasm for alfresco haughmagandie (which, for readers from the Plain of Albion, is not a new top on the Cuillin Ridge, rather a good old Scots word for shagging). But I think he was simply ahead of his time. Enough Sex and the City, already. Let's hear it for Sex and the Country.

"Country matters" is one of the oldest gags in the lexicon but if it was good enough for Shakespeare and Chaucer, who am I to pass it by? All those buds ripening, all that seed swelling, all that livestock busily reproducing. Chaps feel the sap rising and get all butch. Ladies, when pressed in the right places, will admit that while champagne and roses may be all very well, rosy cheeks, the wind in their hair and some stallion covering a mare in a nearby meadow - not so much dobbin as nobbin'- are far more likely to get them shouting at the Almighty. (You know - "Oohhhh God!!!") One keen outdoor enthusiast thought her luck was in one night when a shy boyfriend finally asked if she would like to "come and see the stars" on leaving the pub one night. They got down to the end of a secluded lane all right but by the time he got to Orion's Belt without any attempt to undo hers she realised that he was more Patrick Moore than Patrick Swayze and the romance faded as fast as the shooting stars overhead.

For readers of this august journal, mere sea-level shagging will clearly not be enough, and you are not alone. It was not so long ago that the authorities had to go and clean up Box Hill in Surrey which, even with its modest elevation, had become a virtual outdoor knocking shop. Mind you, with a name like that I'm surprised it wasn't done for soliciting itself. Those of us who like the hills, after all, we all like a stiff ... ah ... climb. Who does not feel that frisson of excitement as the contour lines converge, the beauty of the bealach, the lure of the lochan, the thrusting perpendicular of the summit cairn, the hard corrugated indentations of the Vibram sole...

Whoa, sorry about that. It's just that most of the "objections" to sex in the hills seem to me to be attractions. The dangers of being discovered? Tell that to the couple who made the mistake (or was it?) of taking up their positions in the path of the cross-country run of an Outward Bound course. They were still at it when the 60th teenager sweated past. And not for nothing did they have to reshoot part of the Harry Potter film in the west Highlands around Glenfinnan when a naked couple were spotted in the rushes (that's the film rushes, not the rushes on the banks of Loch Shiel). And please don't think there is anything exclusively heterosexual about this. Just ask your Ed, who recalls an encounter with two gentlemen with, um, just the one pair of shorts between them on a bracken-covered slope in the Ochils.

The discomfort? Just about every amatory sophistication above and beyond the basics seems to involve that delicious boundary between pleasure and pain. Birch twigs? There are plenty to hand. Something jagging you in the back? People, including Jamie Theakston, pay good money for that kind of thing. All that clobber you've got with you? Just because you're only rambling around the Rhinns of Kells doesn't mean that a rope and some slings and a few prussik loops (for those delicate holds) might not come in very handy. The cold? Nay, but the contrast between hot and cold ... I've suddenly thought: am I giving rather too much away here?

The best excuse I've ever heard for a bit of hillside hanky-panky was from a friend who was nearing the end of the West Highland Way and was, frankly, a bit knackered. You know how it is; you're holding everyone up, you've tried every excuse for a bit of a rest and there are only so many times you can say let's just enjoy the view for a moment. But, as she says, tip your partner the wink and before you know it you can be having a nice rest on your back, the weight's off your feet, the heather's quite comfy and no-one thinks you're just being a wuss. Plus it might slow your partner down for a bit. You may end up with an Aran pattern on your arse, but trust me, the marks fade.

Robert Dawson Scott

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