Drive. The city recedes in my mirrors. Head west into the low afternoon sun. Negotiate the muddy and pot-holed road and park. Laces tied, sack on, straight off into the forest. Mulchy, muddy ground under foot, blue skies above broken by white clouds racing through on a strong breeze. The gloomy forest smells of decay and the end of the year. Toadstools grow on mossy banks in the shadow of tall pine trees. The path climbs steadily, skirting the hill. Pass a young family out enjoying the fresh air. Clouds sculpted into spaceships hang low in the late afternoon light. A pause for the view and then head to the boulder. Hand over hand, feet scrabbling for grip on polished rock. Up and up and down. Repeat. Learning the holds. Finding new ways. Rays of light stream onto the South Deeside Hills. A haze fills the valley and the distant mountains are grey in the gathering dusk.
Race up the boggy path to stand at the summit. Wind. Air. Sunlight. No sound but the wind and the laughter of children as they climb the tower. The lights of the village below twinkling as twilight gathers. A bite to eat and a slug of water and then off down, following the tracks of the mountain bikes. Slippery roots and beds of pine needles. Back in the shade of the forest there are more toadstools. There are no people. The gloaming creeps through the forest. Tree follows tree follows tree into a defocused nothingness. Then there is a turn. A way marker. A last steep descent. Back to the car. Lights on. The sky erupts in a final spectacular light show, welcoming in the return to Greenwich Mean Time. Back to the city. A cuppa. Rest.