It's been months since I've been up here. It's funny, because it's not like I haven't been fell-running for a long time or anything. But I just haven't made it to Askham Fell. And in a very strange way, the absence made me realise what an irrational attachment I had to the place.
There have been runs in the dark. Runs basked in February heat, and retreats from battering August hail. Runs with friends, and solitary runs. Many of those. Where I practised navigating, pacing out bearings through bracken to piles of stones carefully arranged by those living thousands of years ago. Where the first baby steps of fell runs began through heaving lung gasps. Even though it is flat.
Last week, I shoo-ed off the gangly wild ponies sucking experimentally at the car and sniffed the wind, heavy with the smell of peat.
The Isle of Kerrera might not seem like the obvious choice for a mountainbiking island getaway. For one thing, it's a mere 10 minute hop away from the bustling kilt shops of Oban. But there was something that I'd always wanted to see there.
It was a massive pair of concrete fingers. Stu had found them 15 years ago on the east side of the island, in the garden of an old fisherman's cottage. There, pointed at the mainland, was an enormous, 6-foot high hand fixed in a V-sign, telling all the world generally where it could go.
Whilst the sentiment might seem a little vitriolic, it has become, over the years, something to aspire to in a funny sort of way. A small Scottish hovel with a V-sign in the garden.
Sadly, the concrete sculpture is long gone, but the folk of Kerrera are still, in a rather gentler way, holding their hands up to the mainland. We mountainbiked around the island, following the trail of a pack of wild goats with shiny, trailing manes.