Edited: There is also a huge fire raging on the Eskdale Moor around Loch Gorm, above Drumnadrochit, just for information.
Thursday, 28 April 2011
Edited: There is also a huge fire raging on the Eskdale Moor around Loch Gorm, above Drumnadrochit, just for information.
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Since having babies, so over the last fifteen years or so, I have developed a rare skill of being able to snooze in the afternoon. The One o’clock News sends me to sleep everyday and I cat nap for about fifteen, twenty minutes. The midwife had ingrained in me the importance of sleeping when baby did, so I did. Trouble is, I still do. (It’s also been reported that an afternoon nap helps lower blood pressure, which has got to be good.)
Or at least, I did.
It’s eleven days since I last enjoyed a mid-day snooze. Since the Friday I travelled down to the Borders, in fact.
There has got to be a less painful way of breaking such a lovely habit.
I miss my snooze.
We had a few time constraints yesterday, as ever, because it was Conall’s parents’ evening, so we decided we’d go for a nice stroll rather than an adventure up Geal-Charn Mor. The daypacks duly packed and boots slung into the, er, boot, and we were off to Rothiemurchus for a saunter from Coylumbridge, round Loch an Eilein and Loch Gamhna, stop for an ice cream at the little shop and back via Achnagoichan.
It was a nice day, quite warm and a slight breeze, just a little overcast to start. We made our way down forested tracks towards the Cairngorm Footbridge, just so that we could vary the in and out route a little.
We soon took a right turn and set out on more good tracks by heather and scrub with views of a little snow still on the tops of the Cairngorm Mountains.
I was delighted to hear my first cuckoo of the year, I’m sure I’ll be sick of them by the time I reach Montrose in a few weeks time… We soon joined the path around Loch an Eilein and the great hoards of people tittering around in their high heels and armed with handbags. To escape, I like to take in Loch Gamhna as well, because the tourists tend to find this too hard. Off we went into relative peace and, despite having done this walk a couple of times, it occurred to me as I forded a stream that I was not perhaps where I had intended to be. Obviously, me taking the lead and David having the map was not bright, but it was easy to see where I’d missed a right fork. We couldn’t be bothered to turn back, so found a route that would take us in a wide loop to the top of the small loch and back onto the main path. The advantage was not meeting yet more people for a while, the disadvantage was now time. We sped along that track as I was so determined to eat my wrap and have an ice cream at the shop!
The return route gave better views of the mountains in front of us as it is slightly higher.
In the end, my aimless stroll with mindless navigation turned into a bit of a training romp of 12 miles, 961 ft total ascent, 4 hours walking and 40 minutes resting. (Roughly. Not all our gadgets agreed on this, I know we were walking at about 3 miles an hour most of the time and did around 12 miles, but something somewhere is not adding up because I also know what time we started and finished. Unless I can’t tell the time…)
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Oh, there were lots.
With regards to kit. I was mostly happy with it, but have decided on a few changes.
My sleeping bag has always been good for me, but I’ve never used it when I’ve been so bushed before and I suspect this is why I felt the cold more than usual. I had ways to deal with this, but would probably fair better if I could hit the sack and go to sleep, rather than scrabbling around in the dark for solutions.
So a new bag is on it’s way (how did that happen?) a Marmot Arete down bag from Webtogs. It has more down fill than my current bag and same pack size but is 200g lighter, so I’ll see how that feels when it arrives.
I got on fine with my Campingaz Twister stove and although that, together with my Snowpeak pots (courtesy of Martin Rye) aren’t too heavy, it is all quite bulky as they don’t stow away together. So, having caught a glimpse of Laura’s Jetboil, I had a quick peek at them online. Eventually, David took control and has ordered a Jetboil Flash in Violet for me. It looks beautiful and has the advantages I was looking for, lightweight and low bulk aswell as a tripod base for stability.
It’s beautiful too, did I mention that?
The only problem I had was the Travel Tap. It’s a great piece of kit for it’s ease of use and convenience.
So long as you’re called Popeye.
This trip, I was distinctly lacking in my consumption of spinach and I had difficulty squeezing the bottle to extract the filtered water. I also felt there was a potential problem with my hands having to be in contact with the bottle containing freezing cold water, as this is exactly the sort of trigger for my Reynaud's that gives me the most concerns and if I’m tired and cold, could be crucial. Alan found my eventual solution to these problems very amusing as he was the only one with full view of me squeezing the bottle between my knees whilst aiming the water flow into the tin between my feet.
What a sight!
The solution is, so far, a 1ltr Platypus Platy Soft Bottle. So far, because I now have to options. I can either go for the Super Delios filter which Alan demonstrated (several times) and looks like a really useful bit of kit, or drops, which Laura demonstrated (with my help for timing) both of which will utilise the Soft Bottle. I’ll have to make a decision sometime. Soon…
(The Soft Bottle is violet too)
As to the weekend, it was fabulous. Mike planned us a superb route, the views were stunning and the toil to reach them was certainly more than worthwhile. Many thanks for your planning and hard work.
The company was brilliant, we all seemed to have very similar humour and my ribs were certainly sore from all the laughing. At least, I think it was from the laughing and not the heavy breathing uphill… Thanks for all the support, encouragement and ideas, these will be invaluable in a few weeks time (three weeks, two days…).
I had an absolute blast, even the hard bits were worth every minute and I’ve learnt so much, about myself and my expectations and tips for successful routines. I was delighted to find I hadn’t packed anything that didn’t get used, with the exception of those few items you have to routinely take on a trip. So with the few kit adjustments I’m making, I should be able to take another 1lb 8oz off the overall weight, but it’s all going to be far less bulky which will make the most difference.
Onwards and upwards! (A little…)
Didn’t feel to good on Sunday morning and got off to a slow start. The others all have their own, good routines for getting away from camp, I was winging it a little and was last ready for the off. I was frustrated with leaden legs, (not sore, just uncooperative) and fretted my way up the hill that started straight from our camp. Mike was a star and told me (what I knew, but was stubbornly ignoring) “Small and slow, you can walk all day that way!” and I did exactly that. I soon settled into a really good pace for me and although I was always bringing up the rear (I know my place, but I could have done without the hole in Mike’s Ron Hills…) and everyone was always waiting somewhere for me, I made my way steadily over lump after lump. There was much upness, with downs and some alongs with the promise of the pub in the distance.
When we got to the pub (after a downwards traverse of an awkward slope that made my feet sore) and we found a picnic bench to rest our weary limbs on as we consumed beer/orange squash/juice and lemonade and sandwiches. There’s a lovely campsite here, but sadly not for us. After using the facilities and filling water receptacles (bladder just doesn’t fit here) we set off at a rate of knots (flattish land!) along the shores of the loch three miles to the next camp Mike had spied for us.
I was more organised now and decided to leave the water in my Platty from the pub for the next day to save morning faff time, so used local water for dinner and a hot drink. I really enjoyed my meal this time and felt so much better than I had the previous night. Still struggled to get to sleep but was not cold this time. We were hoping for an early start.
13.8 miles and 1800 ft total ascent (ish…)
We found this striking moth before we eventually reached Mike’s proposed camp and then the boys bravely struck out in opposite directions to find the water that should have been there.
I’d signed up for the Moffat to Peebles Pre-Challenge event, so Thursday night saw some last minute packing and re-packing so that I could catch the Inverness train at 9.07am. We were at the station in plenty of time, just as well as, when I tried to collect my ticket from the machine, I hadn’t got the collection reference number with me, doh! The nice little man in the ticket office was able to retrieve my tickets, so my journey began.
On arrival at Inverness, I trotted off to M & S for lunch provisions and a comfort stop before on to Blacks to find a suitable container for my sunglasses.
The queue for the Edinburgh train was truly ridiculous and by the time we were all aboard (quote marks?) the train was running late.
The journey was unremarkable, the elderly couple that shared my table were, different, so I gazed out of my window and was rewarded with views of the Cairngorms.
I also saw a roe deer having a paddle in a flooded field near Loch Insh, a large flock of swans nearby, buzzards, a seal and eider ducks. All quite lovely.
I managed to get lost trying to get out of Edinburgh station, I don’t visit very often and there’s a lot of work going on with barriers and strange directions, but eventually I found myself on Princes Street and set off for the bus station. Funnily enough, I got lost again, (I don’t know Edinburgh well) but after asking a nice chap the way, found that I was actually going in the right direction, even though I’d taken a slightly circuitous route. Heaven help me on my own, on a hill, with a map and compass…
Laura’s bus was late, but we were soon climbing aboard the number 62 to Peebles. There was much chatting, comparing the contents of our packs and the prospects of the weekend. On arrival at Peebles, we made a quick visit to the sweetie shop and then went off to find the camp site.
When we had all arrived (Mike, Alan, Laura, Judith and Me) we went off to find a pub (I think the location was already known and earmarked…) had beer, popped next door for pizza/pasta and back to the pub for more beer before going back to the tents to sleep it all off.
From this point onwards, someone else was in control, so things were going to run a lot more smoothly.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
What have I done? I should have been weight training, not walking.
Dry weight for travel, the pack is currently 10.479 kg (23lb roughly to me)
So once I’m wearing gaiters, Tilley etc. and using my poles, it brings it down (??!!) to 10.282 kg. (22 lb roughly)
But then, of course, I’ll have water on board instead, so there’ll be little difference.
(Actually, I’ve done the sums from my kit spreadsheet. I live in hope that the spreadsheet is inaccurate…)
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
So I went for a walk with Ciara to make me walk at a pace more like the speed I’ll walk on the Challenge. In theory.
This was yet another variation of the Loch Romach walk through Newtyle Forest, because it is remarkably pleasant and extremely quiet. It was a bit of a damp, grey day for the most part, but it never quite rained enough for me to deploy my waterproof jacket, the Dynamo was quite sufficient.
We perched on the ends of some logs, sticking out from a wood stack for our picnic stop. Naughty I know, but it was a low stack and the ends were sticking out quite a way, I felt safe. We then took an alternative route to the Scurrypool Bridge and onto the Altyre Estate, so that we could check on the osprey.
I was very happy, so happy I took a dreadful photograph…
And we saw dippers too.
Another pleasant stroll.
803 ft ascent
2 hours 40 minutes moving
45 minutes resting
3 mph average roughly
Funny thing though, didn’t really slow me down, Ciara must be a little taller or a little fitter!
Monday, 11 April 2011
Final Details arrived in the post this morning.
So, there are 64 of us lemmings leaving from Shiel Bridge, 88 of us finishing at St Cyrus, (45 of us on the 26th) and 11 of us leaving Shiel Bridge and finishing in St Cyrus on the same days.
I don’t know why I felt the need to highlight all that information in my copy of the details.
I’m wondering why there are only 21 solo lady lemmings, there must be something someone hasn’t told me.
I’m putting the sudden overwhelming feeling of nausea whilst reading the details down to excitement, not panic.
I am very excited.