A Time for War, and a Time for Peace


Kent in the bleak midwinter

I am currently taking a break in Kent, far from any mountains, and the crags that are near, such as Harrison Rocks, do not appeal. However, I feel content to rest after a very busy autumn, and it has been satisfying to have the time to do the things that have been sidelined. I took the photo above from the house, and it is strangely satisfying watching the snow and ice take control and adapt life according to its terms.

Apart from that, I have been running in the local area to keep my fitness up, and have enjoyed picking my way through the snow that has transformed the quaint, gently rolling scenery. The cold, watery hues of the snow and winter sun have drawn out a different side to this landscape – it almost has a harsh, broody edge.

I am content also, as I know there will be many opportunities next year: climbing on the Gower in January and winter action in the Cairngorms in February. By contrast, many climbers (well, those on UKClimbing.com – clearly a representative sample!) seem to be quite bitter and moody. I refer to a comment in reply to a fairly innocuous question about the funicular railway on Cairngorm. I recognise the irritability, as I have seen it in myself – there is nothing worse than wanting to be out doing what you love, but being constrained by circumstances, and then reading about other people doing it instead of you. Forums such as UKClimbing are a bit of a blow out in that way.

My wife was pretty incredulous, asking what I was laughing about, and said it was either that, or that these men were not ‘getting much of it’ at home, if you see what I mean. You have to see the funny side of it all…

Anyway, it reminded me of something: ‘For everything there is a season… a time for war, and a time for peace.’ We go through life and there are times where we do one thing, but not another, e.g., work versus leisure. Each has its place and cannot be altered. In this way, I am happy (predominantly!) not to be able to climb until the New Year. I remember this time last year and the great walks I did up Great Gable and Blencathra in conditions that will not forget for a long time, and I know there will be chances to climb – I just need to wait and be patient. For now it is a time of peace, but soon it will be a time of war, as such, and I will be able to continue working towards my goals.

Enjoying the views on Blencathra last year

So then, why get angry and frustrated? What does one gain from being bitter and yearning after what cannot be? In one sense climbing mountains is utterly pointless – beyond self satisfaction, what does one ultimately gain? It is also said that ‘the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing’, so satisfaction will never be found, if it is placed solely in the hands of a climb or walk.

It is a challenge to lay down the things we love – definitely true for me – but often it is necessary. Just remember, though, the mountains will always be there and it might soon be your time for war.


2 Responses to A Time for War, and a Time for Peace

  1. Alistair says:

    Suddenly I don’t feel so guilty avoiding all this deep loose snow here! Let’s hope it doesn’t all melt by the time you get to the ‘gorms.

  2. Simon says:

    Hi Alistair,

    Good to hear from you. Now I realise why things have been relatively quiet on your blog – pretty soul-destroying wading and swimming through the white stuff!

    Judging by last year, I think I should be OK for February, but it’s hard to tell… Probably best not to speculate.

    Do you have any recommendations of circuits or routes in the Cairngorms? I’m hoping to get some good days out for my WML logbook.

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