Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
Aedan is doing his D of E practice next weekend so we took him out yesterday for a little navigation refresher.
I wore my Paramo with a couple of merino layers (I knew there would be a lot of standing around!) and I was warm and dry, but I want to wear it for longer in filthy conditions to be fully confident.
Maybe a day like today…
Sunday, 28 August 2011
Saturday, 20 August 2011
David found himself on a weeks adventure training at Grantown on Spey this week, so rather than return south with ‘The Boys’ on Friday morning, I drove down to collect him en route to another big hill, this time Carn Dearg, 945m on the edge of the Monadhliath.
The weather was promising at the start of the day, but as we made our way to Newtonmore it became more cloudy. It was still warm however, so I didn’t need to don a jacket until we reached the cairn and it only rained towards the end of the walk. We were a little later setting off than I would have liked, due to my own lack of planning, but we soon found ourselves parked in the same place as we had last year when we tackled the children’s first Munro, A Chailleach.
There were midgies as we faffed by the car, so whilst we were faffing, Smidge was applied. This seemed quite effective, there were still midgies, but not so much nibbling.
Off we set.
This time we left the car park and crossed the bridge over the Allt a Chaorainn, then before the bridge at Glenballoch, we took the path heading north westish, following the Allt Fionndrigh. This is not a bad path and we made good progress until we stopped for lunch after crossing the river by an unmarked bridge. One of those interesting types.
There is a large rock, just off centre on the above photograph, where we perched for lunch. We watched an eagle soaring above Creag na h-lolare opposite.
I knew once we set off again that the path would soon disappear, which it did, and we then had to navigate some ‘rough ground’ along Gleann Ballach to the foot of Carn Ban. It involved a bit of bog trotting. Quite a bit, but if we hadn’t had such a prolonged dry spell at the beginning of spring, I think it would have been worse. (Or maybe, having the crossed the bogs that I did in May, it didn’t seem so bad!) We squelched our way along for a while before we started the climb towards Carn Dearg. Somewhere in the middle of this bogginess, I found a lizard. We also started to see quite a few frogs.
There doesn’t appear to have been a photograph of me taken at the cairn, it was chilly and breezy when we got there, so we only paused briefly for me to don my Paramo and then we were off again, descending the southern side of Carn Dearg in search of a path. As we paused, I was a merlin chasing a small bird. Wow! David missed it.
We headed for Loch Dubh, en route to which there was a lot of discussion as to the best way. Some bits were steeper than I’d expected, even though I’d acknowledged the closeness of the contours.
We bashed on and found one or two vague paths that took us to the head of the loch, but the hut or bothy marked on my map did not appear. Not in itself a concern, but I’d hoped it would help us locate the path we were looking for. No path materialised. This meant we struggled on for what seemed like an eternity, following the Allt an Lochain Duibh along Gleann Lochain. It was hard going, we occasionally found a vague path that would then peter out and this continued well into Glen Banchor and along the River Calder. It started to rain as we made our way along the river, but I tried to think of it as trying out my Paramo! (I liked that I didn’t feel as hot wearing it as I had on the Challenge in my Dynamo and Quattro, but I accepted at the time, I was over-wrapped!)
Eventually, after I’d started to stumble and fall a couple of times, we got to something like a reasonable track before we found ourselves crossing the bridge at Glenballoch house and heading back towards the car park.
I had enjoyed the first part of our walk and even the climb to the summit. Getting to the head of Loch Dubh was ok, but after stumbling along the rough ground for a while, my patience was wearing thin. However, even I noticed some remarkable advances in my attitude to walking. Just a few years ago, I found going ‘off piste’ quite disturbing. Being an Englishwoman, it felt decidedly wrong to stray from a path and I would be worried we were doing something wrong or unacceptable. Yesterday it didn’t even occur to me, I didn’t feel remotely misplaced or disturbed by it. My approach to fording is vastly improved. I might still prefer to find my own route across rather than following David, which is quite normal for anyone, but I will then cross with much more confidence and with barely a second thought. Much less time wasting!
Roughly 18.6 km 767 m 3 kmph
(About 12 km across rough ground and bog)
(Very roughly, still not good with metric, but I’m trying!)
Friday, 12 August 2011
During the Challenge, my Rab gaiters had developed a fault. One of the rivets at the bottom of each gaiter holding the hook on had come out, so the hook was swinging. Strangely, over time, David’s pair had developed a different fault.
Last week I finally got around to packaging them up and returning them to Webtogs from whence they came last November. I received an email to say they had arrived and been forwarded to Rab for investigation. I had assumed that David’s would be repaired and returned and that mine might have to be replaced.
Imagine my delight when I received a package this morning containing two new pairs, ten days after I first posted the original pairs! Excellent service I’d say and this happy customer will be returning to make more purchases sometime in the near future.
Another success has been the purchase of a Gram-Counter Gear Side Guy Kit from Ultralight. Again, a very quick service (I love free P&P, especially living in the north of Scotland, some companies seem to find it an outrageous £20 of difficult to reach!) and I’ve experimented by attaching a Grip Clip to my Kraz and pitched it in the garden to see if it helps with the saggy bottom (the tent, not mine!) Success, a very useful bit of kit and the second one (they come as a pair) is light enough to carry, with a length of guy and the spare peg, if my long side ever decides to get overly flappy in a stiff breeze.
Of course, still not the best pitching ever, but I was limited by the obstacles…
Happy, happy, happy.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
We’re suppose to be boiling our water in this locality, e-coli has been found. I found out accidently using the BBC red button just before I went to bed last night. About 10.40pm, a little man shoved a warning card through my letter box. “Useful,” I thought, “How many people will rise in the morning, clean their teeth, eat their breakfast, then leave for work and find the warning as they go to the front door?” I at least managed to take a mug of previously boiled water into the bathroom to use to clean my teeth. Shame I forgot about it until I left the bathroom.
Mind you, at least their kettle and mug cupboard won’t be being guarded by an enormous spider…