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Archive for the ‘walking’ Category

Meall Ghaordaidh

Today was a momentous occasion in Rory’s life: his first Munro. He’s been up lots of hills this year, including three ascents of Ben Ledi! But until today he had never bagged a Munro.

Chris had heard reports of ring ouzel and ptarmigan on Meall Ghaordaidh, and hoped to add them to his Stirlingshire year list. We set off for Killin with our friends Ben and Helen, and headed off up the hill.

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Chris and Ben on the ascent, with Glen Lochay behind.

Despite walking at a fairly leisurely pace, we reached the top in 3 hours.

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Helen, Chris and Ben with Rory at the summit.

Despite a forecast for the weather taking a turn for the worst in the afternoon, we only had a brief shower of rain, and the cloud lifted from the top, allowing us to get a good view to the north.

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Glen Lyon from the summit.

We took a different route down.

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Eventually we got back to the car and celebrated with hot chocolate and cookies.

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Rory has been given a bath and the obligatory tick check and is now lying beside me on the sofa in his favourite position, with all four paws in the air. And I’m afraid Chris didn’t see any ring ouzel or ptarmigan. A good day, nonetheless.

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Ben Cleuch

Yesterday we tackled Rory’s biggest hill to date: Ben Cleuch in the Ochils. We started from Tillicoultry, and walked up the Law. To those who are properly hill-fit, the Law is probably not too daunting, but it is very steep and I’d run 8 miles with the running club before starting out on the walk! All the same, I think we managed a fairly respectable ascent (although I still can’t imagine being able to actually run up it – and people do! There’s a race and everything!).

From the Law it was an easy ascent along the ridge to Ben Cleuch.

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Rory kept diving into the snow and coming up with a face covered with snow.

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In fact, it’s very difficult to take photos of Rory when he’s outdoors because he never stands still.

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From Ben Cleuch we walked down the ridge of Ben Ever and then down to Alva Glen.

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This was the first outing for some of my new outdoor kit – an OMM Last Drop 10l backpack and a Platypus. Both performed very well (although the plasticky taste of the Platypus will take some getting used to). I’m particularly impressed with the backpack – despite its small size it comfortably fitted in it a litre of water, our lunches, my woolly hat, gloves and cowl, spare gloves, my lightweight waterproof, emergency torch, a map and compass. And I was barely aware of it on my back! I’ve also used it for running part of the way home from school, and it’s perfect for carrying my clothes, iPad, portable hard drive, etc.

I think we’ve done more walking this January than we did the whole of last year. It’s fantastic, and come Spring I think all three of us will be ready to take on some Munros…

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King’s Seat

Today was a momentous occasion – Rory’s first hill! We made it a small one – King’s Seat, in the Ochils, from Dollar Glen. We went with my inspiring running buddy Helen and her husband, Ben.

Rory and Chris were on a mission from the start:

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By the time we got to the top it was cold and foggy, but that didn’t dent our enjoyment!

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As you can see, Rory rarely stays still long enough to take a photo of him. He spent a lot of time off-lead, racing around joyfully. He got so muddy we had to give him a bath when we got home. He’s now curled up on the sofa, looking very tired!

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Dumyat

This afternoon we walked up a small local hill, Dumyat. We even cheated and parked, effectively, halfway up the hill, meaning that it only took 45 minutes to get to the top. We also had to leave Rory at home, as he ran into something in the dark a couple of weeks ago and is still limping a bit.

Short though the walk was, it was absolutely glorious – the weather was so clear we could see right to the Forth bridges and Arthur’s Seat. It’s definitely whet my appetite for walking! We could have spent the afternoon tidying the house, but true to those New Year Good Intentions we opted to make the most of the (rare) sunshine and get outside! And I’m so glad we did.

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And here’s me looking windswept at the top (yes, the hat is Cairn, and I’m wearing Warriston underneath my funky new jacket):

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At the top we met a couple of people with their dogs, and got chatting to them. Turns out they were hill runners, a sport which I’m planning on trying! They recommended the local hill running club, so I might try one of their training sessions.

All in all, a great afternoon.

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I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to start each year with some good intentions for the year ahead (the difference being, I am less likely to beat myself up for not managing a “good intention”).

This year’s Good Intention can simply be summarised as:

Have More Fun.

That’s not to say I was unhappy in 2011 – far from it. I have a great husband, wonderful friends, a fantastic job, and a PUPPY. But as the year drew to a close I realised that I had spent so much time doing stuff that I hadn’t done enough of the things I do simply for enjoyment: hanging out with friends, going hillwalking, that kind of thing. I became used to being constantly busy – if I wasn’t working I was walking Rory (hardly a chore, but time-consuming), cooking, cleaning, or doing some other errand.

In 2012 I intend to try to simply relax a bit more about chores, find ways to spend less time doing them (I got a slow cooker for Christmas, which should help!) and spend more time training and exercising Rory, spending time with Chris and our friends (quality time, not just crashing out in front of the TV or the Internet), and getting outside.

I didn’t particularly enjoy the Edinburgh Marathon, I decided not to do the triathlon I’d registered for, and due to general busy-ness and Rory being so small, we haven’t got a single Munro to our credit in 2011.

This year, I want to get out among the hills much, much more often. I want to bag a few Munros (my wish list is Ben Nevis, the Ring of Steall, Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Croin), but I also just want to walk Rory in nice places and I want to try my hand (or, rather, feet) at fell running. I’m tired of running on the roads!

My race wish list for this year currently stands at:

*The Highland Fling relay (one day, maybe, I’d like to run the whole 53 miles, but not this year!)
*A Spring half-marathon (or two), possibly Loch Leven.
*The Corrieyairick Challenge
*The Kielder Marathon

That’s probably more races than I’ve ever done in a year, but I’m geniunely excited about all of them. With the possible exception of the Spring half, they’re all different to what I’ve done before. They’re all trail races, for starters, and the Corrieyairick has a substantial cycling component. I want to enjoy them, not get hung up about times and PBs.

Finding time to train will be challenging, but that is, believe it or not, all part of Having More Fun. I’m hoping I can manage to cycle to school once or twice a week once the days get longer, take Rory with me on my shorter runs (he’s allowed to run a mile or so at the moment, but he’ll be fully grown in the Spring and able to go for gradually longer runs) and maybe run home from school once in a while.

So here’s to More Fun in 2012!

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Our honeymoon on Skye was incredible. Here are a few highlights:

Sunday

We went for a 10-mile circular walk along the coast from Kilbride, taking in Suisnish and Boreraig, ruined villages that were forcibly evicted in the 1850s during the Highland Clearances. Sometimes the crofts were burnt to the ground to stop the householders returning. This sort of thing is all that’s left:

The reason the crofters were evicted was to make way for the landowners to raise lots of these:

It was a very poignant walk, both considering the hard, isolated life the crofters must have led and the terrible circumstances in which they were thrown out of their homes.

Monday

We set off early in the morning for a much-anticipated ascent of Bla Bheinn, supposedly the most beautiful mountain in Britain.

Considering we are reasonably seasoned hillwalkers, this hill completely kicked out asses, and it was entirely our own fault. Despite being well equipped with compass, GPS, OS map, etc, we misread the directions in the walking guidebook and spent nearly two hours guddling about on a terrifying scree slope before turning back, tired and frustrated, just as other walkers started arriving and merrily going up the correct route. Still, our unfinished business with Bla Bheinn will be a good excuse to go back to Skye!

Tuesday

We visited the Quiraing, a famous and decidedly weird series of rock formations to the north of Portree. While we were there, two white-tailed eagles treated us with a fabulous display right overhead:

Wednesday

We took a walk from Glen Brittle up into the Coire Lagan, a popular starting point for the ascent of some of the famous Black Cuillin mountains. The cloud was low and it was very windy, so we settled for a trip via the Eas Mor waterfall up into the Coire, and then back down again.

Thursday

This was the day we made up for our failure on Bla Bheinn. We left the car at Sligachan Glen, and headed up the path towards Glen Brittle. To our left rose the beginning of the Cuillin Ridge.

From left to right: Sgurr Nan Gillian, Am Basteir (with the Basteir Tooth sticking out) and Sgurr A Bhasteir. Our target was the Fionn Choire, to the right of Sgurr A Bhasteir. We had the vague idea that we might attempt Bruach Na Frithe, the “easiest” Cuillin (although “easy” is a relative term when you’re talking about the Black Cuillin), located on the right of Am Basteir but out of sight behind the peaks in the photo. When we got up the the Choire and looked up at the pass via which one can access Bruach Na Frithe and Am Basteir, the Bealach Nan Lice, we decided it didn’t look too hard:

The Bealach is to the left of the crag at the top, while the summit of Bruach Na Frithe is hidden behind the ridge on the right.

We stormed our way up the Bealach and were soon at the summit, which was absolutely incredible. I just love the buzz of reaching a summit, and this was one of the best. The main ridge was under cloud, but we could see the entire island laid out below us, all the way from Portree to the Old Man of Storr to Carbost to Elgol. And, of course, across to Am Basteir and the exposed peak of Sgurr Nan Gillean. Two to tackle in future, I think…

Friday

We went on an amazing boat trip out of Elgol to the Small Isles of Rhum and Canna. We saw porpoises, a minke whale, Manx shearwaters, distant white-tailed eagles and, best of all, a basking shark.

We left our adorable rented cottage the following morning for a leisurely drive home, stopping off in Fort William to meet friends for lunch and staying overnight at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe, where we were treated to excellent whisky and live music by a funky blues band called Wolftrain.

Back home now and back to reality with school starting next week! But I do have some knitting to show you and exciting new yarn.

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