Archive for Around the World

Snow. In Africa?

Myself and Ewan went to Africa to see if we could find some snow!

SNOW. In AFRICA? from Misha somerville on Vimeo.

Radical Road

The Atlas

Far be it for me to destroy the grand Scottishness of the High 8  …but a high 8 deserves a high 8.





Big smoke

Now this is well off theme, but my latest adventure took place – nowhere near a mountain or wilderness of any kind – but in the heart of the British capital, London.

I had an exhibit showing at the artcrank poster show, so in an effort to mix it with the cycling community at large I bmx’ed it into central, threw the bike in the bike van and settled in for the surprisingly painless journey of 5 and a bit hours. My first challenge was finding the venue away down near Shoreditch, so a bit of meandering through friday night traffic in the dark provided quite a shot of excitement. Those roads get hell of a busy. Venue found, I got a beer and went outside to take some photos when i heard the unmistakable howl of the teenwolf. There they were a bunch of couriers from Glasgow down for the messenger event London calling. They filled me in as to where the party was and with post-exhibition activities sorted I set about the social mill. The exhibition ended at about 12ish, everything had gone well, so me and show organiser and my host for the night Chris Verbick headed of in search of a warehouse deep in the east end where the messenger chaos was in progress.

Now, I’ve not been a messenger for a long time now, I got so bored of riding the streets and the seemingly pointless tail chasing that defines life in the heart of hive that i developed a serious distain for city centres in general. In developing this complex I had completely forgotten how much fun weaving through traffic in a group of bikes can be, the bmx however is not designed as a primary form of transit and requires some physical commitment to keep it close to the wheels of more suitable bikes. Still I had a great buzz sliding in the gaps and holding onto taxis for a little extra boost when i fell off the back. The streets at this time were alive with bikes, i have never seen so many fixed wheels in one shot before and it is safe to say that the so called (fixie – culture) is in full chat down south. The warehouse we were seeking gave itself up through sound – amongst a swathe of identical industrial carbuncles – and what a warehouse it was. Man, this place was RAD! full of amazing murals (some of which were banksy’s) a full on sound system, lasers and lights, live tag-team hip-hop, dark corners full of tired / minced couriers hunched over tables and a giant pizza oven which set off the stark urban vibe with the sweet smell of pine smoke and cooking dough. We had a fine time although all off us were spent, Niall Dobbie (ex weegie courier) had cycled from Glasgow on a fixie and was in fine form despite his trek. Along with Brian Dunsmore (Westcoast messengers) we spoke of travelling the world, latest adventures, family and the state of old friends all conducted in un-cooth Glaswegian style over a bottle of Glenmorangie. Thoroughly well oiled we left to find Chris’s flat, rumbling along thin singletrack canal paths through the industrial veins of the city, I felt at ease with a city I have always had a healthy dislike for before.

So will i be buying another track bike rolling up one trouser leg and riding the traffic for fun? The answer would have to be no. I would rather spend my time in the peace and solace of the un-civilised hills…

Bressay wandering

The MacDonald clan ventured north for a family wedding that lasted for 3 days and spanned 4 separate locales, it was wild and great craic but not so conducive for keeping my fitness up in readiness for Tour de Ben Nevis and Relentless endurance races. I took the opportunity of a lull in the festivities to walk the bits of Bressay I had not ventured into before.

The south east coast of the island comprises the largest area of un-settled wilderness, littered with old villages, sheelings and military outposts it’s clear that this area was not always as empty and bleak as it is now. The coast is intricate with imposing, ragged cliffs rising up over 100m and although the island is small it takes quite a time to thread your way around the cliff edges. Although this area is pretty much devoid of any human activity now it remains a thronging and bustling place, sea birds dominate, screaching, swooping and playing on the thermals, thankfully the bonxies weren’t in dive bombing mode this time of year so walking near the cliff edge wasn’t as dangerous as it could be. How folk survived out here through the winter being openly exposed to the north sea is beyond me. Even in the fine weather i experienced the salinated wind is persistent and wearing. I still have to make it up Ronas hill which is the highest peak of 450m so it’s a definite must for the next visit. Shetland is very different from mainland Scotland, the people and the land have and unwavering, distinct individuality that is rich and engaging. I can honestly say that there is nowhere on Earth like it.

The Howick Tannery

After 3 weeks in my tent in the Drakensburg mountains it felt adventurous to be heading into civilization.
Ash and I ventured with wide eyed excitement along the dirt roads  towards the small town of Howick.
Our mission; to find the rumoured tannery in the industrial outskirts to purchase some sleeping skins.
(Old faithful the thermarest having given up the ghost with an unidentifiable slow puncture)

This place blew me away.
Stepping through time into a bygone era of thick smells and grime. It reminded me that adventure and exploration can be found in the oddest corners, in this case;  between the animal rescue centre and the taxidermists.

In this tiny tannery skins are processed as they have been since the middle ages, hand sorting, dipping, tumbling, stretching and fluffing. They work mainly with sheep and cow skins, but you can bring in any road kill /dead pets  that take your fancy.

The folk that work there are smudged black and striking, like Dickensian characters, probably with  Victorian pay and working conditions  to match.

Any hoo; I’ve just realised that this is in the Zulu lands, not Scotland or even outdoors. Oops. Promise some mountains
next time ..

Patagonian Wanderings

It’s ironic really. You save all your pennies, finally book the Big Trip and fly out to Patagonia for four months of trekking through landscapes you’ve spent years reading about and dreaming about, and what happens? You time your trip of a lifetime to coincide with the best Scottish winter in 20 years…. Sounds like you guys have had a cracking winter!

Not that I’m complaining you understand.

Patagonia was still everything you could ever hope it would be. The landscapes really are as varied as they are magnificent: you can be walking among perfect towers of granite one week and boiling pools of mud and volcanoes the next. Sometimes surreal, often majestic and always beautiful.

I was down there working primarily on a landscape photography project (the exhibition opens next week in Keswick if anyone’s interested) but I thought that I’d try my hand at some video too, partly to try to broaden my horizons from a creative point of view, and partly because it was a great excuse to stop and put my bag down from time to time. Misha suggested I post the result on here so, well, here it is….

I hope you enjoy it.

About High-8

High-8 is a loose gathering of like minded adventurists who document first person, on the ground experiences with words, photos and film. The hope is to form a rough guide to outdoor adventure sports in Scotland and provide a warts and all, honest representation of what we find. No sport is excluded from mountaineering and mountain biking to gorge walking and kayak all are welcome and encouraged.


If you want to share some of your adventures just drop as an email and we'll register you on to the system.


Are you into facebook? Then hook up with us there...


We have compiled a list of usefull weather forecasts to help with planning trips. This list is designed to work on mobile phones, so it can be used when out in the wilds. Signal willing of course...

The Code

The Country Code, which most of us learned in school (and we probably haven't read since!), was updated in 2004 when it became the Countryside Code. Here's the updated version:
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, there also exists the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business.
There's obviously a lot to to be learned from these - it's amazing how many people get out to enjoy the countryside but are still happy to leave it in a mess. Even with the recent updates, the Countryside Codes seem slightly outdated when considering the wider issues involved when lots of people get out into the countryside. Some places just can't handle high volumes of people, no matter how they behave and publicity, no matter how interesting or well-done , has the potential to attract lots of people to an area. Blogs including video, pictures or words, form part the the wider media which could easily contribute to tipping the balance, and so we as bloggers have to consider the implications of what we decide to post. Can the place we're writing about take more people, and if not, it might be wiser to leave maps, place names or grid references out of posts. In Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association has been careful to protect the location of some Bothies due to mis-treatment and, in some cases, even malicious vandalism. That is not to say they would not advocate people using them - in fact, a well used, maintained and loved network of bothies exist, and the MBA as an organisation is there to encourage this. Some bothies are busier than others but generally it is the less remote places which are more susceptible to abuse - something which might be worth considering when deciding whether to post information. It must be said, in most cases it's obvious what should or shouldn't be publisiced, but it's worth taking these considerations to mind.

Please note: The Code is constantly being revised and added to. If you like to add something login in to the discussion on the forum.