Monday 22 June 2009

A walk through the night

Ok, so Saturday, 20th June saw 107 people gathering in Grantown on Spey at 10pm to walk along the Dava Way to Forres.

Sunday, 21st June saw Angela, Jo, Nicky, Sally, Babs, Louise and Cathy wearily arriving at Delilah's house at 6.57am.

So, in just less than 9 hours, we covered 24 miles with numerous food, drink and pee stops and a bacon buttie at Dunphail. The first 14 miles were hard going, a steady uphill path that is the bed of a disused railway. You know what's at the bottom of a rail track? I do. It's lumpy, to say the very least. Jo called them chuckies. But in the dark on an overcast night, even with torches, it was a little tricky placing one's feet, so when we finished, the soles of mine felt bruised, although no blisters. (Boots Peppermint foot gel with Arnica is the business, by yesterday afternoon, my feet were completely pain free, yey!)

As we left Dunphail, refreshed and revitalised (I had been dreading this stop, I thought it would be hard to get going again and face another 10 miles) the sun rose and it turned into the most glorious morning, clear blue skies, birds giving it laldy in the trees and sky. It was absolutely beautiful and it was definitely the best part of the walk. Apart from the end. The weather throughout had been near perfect, just warm enough that we weren't sweltering but didn't chill on our frequent breaks. There were a few midgies around, but they only become annoying when we stopped for more than a minute and between us we had gallons of Avon's Skin So Soft, which does appear to be quite effective.

There's no denying it was hard going at times. I had inadvertantly been up since 4.17 am on the Saturday and didn't get to my bed again till around 8.45 am on the Sunday, but I didn't feel exhausted or particularly sore, considering the chuckies. No blisters, so the Brashers are performing well and stand a real chance of getting worn in, at last. Carried my pack and tried to take enough so that the weight would carry it down onto my hips comfortably without taking a heap of stuff I didn't need. Tried.

On the whole, we did all enjoy the experience, even with the tricky bits, (Linda had some cracking blisters by the end, if not half way point) in the end we settled into several smaller groups, spread amongst the 107 starters, so we all walked at a pace we were happy with, which wasn't slow by anyone's standards, but some were pushing on more than others wanted. It all worked out and we had regular regrouping before we all met up again to do the last few miles into Forres. There were 75 finishers in total, so it does feel good to have been one of them.

Well done to all of us!

Thursday 18 June 2009


"The Other" Louise has resorted to extreme tactics. Having invited everyone to her house after the Dava Way for coffee, croissant and Cava, she's thrown herself down the stairs and is in hospital having an operation to set it. Ouch.

This means I am an honorary Brownie leader tonight to help out, my name is Osprey. Don't_say_a_word.

Mind you, David did point out she could still do the walk, her legs are fine...

Wednesday 17 June 2009


For a girl that hates shopping, I may have got a little carried away.

It's the internet that's done it, it's led me astray...

Any road up, had two parcels yesterday. One was from with food I'm trialing on our wild camp in a couple of weeks, Drytech and Mountain House, just for comparison. They sent a chocolate Club biscuit to say thank you! I was chuffed, haven't had one of those since I was a teen. The other was from, a mouthpiece cover for my platty and little bits and bobs. Today I got the tech wash/proofer (that can be a little tricky to get hold of up here) and a pouch to fit onto the front of my pack to carry my camera, otherwise, by the time I get the pack off and the camera out, the moment will have passed. I know what I'm like and I refuse to carry the darn thing around and never use it, as I have been doing.

The other week I had ordered some tops. They are a little different from the mainstream. I've been hunting a tech top that actually does what it promises and have been extremely disappointed. At around £25 a throw, I thought I'd give bamboo a whirl from It's a revelation! I love it! I can wear it several days in a row, just pottering around or out on walks and it's as fresh as a daisy! Love, love, love.

I have had a couple of jaunts with the girls. Sunday was a 10 mile round trip from Angela's, to Sally's and back again, pausing briefly at Sally's for tea and cake. It would have been rude not to! Ofcourse, when we got back to Angela's we found she'd been slaving over a hot stove at 5am, making fruit scones, so had to force a few down with butter and jam, washed down with tea, just to keep her happy...

Yesterday, Angela, Judith and I did our regular 5 mile stroll, so nothing spectacular, but very pleasant all the same and got a glimpse of the osprey too.

Saturday is the 'Ghost Train', the sponsored walk along the Dava Way, all 23 miles of it, overnight. The overnight bit is a little odd, but I'm sure it'll be fun. My sister is joining our little group, so there'll be about a dozen of us, joined by about 85 others, so don't think it's going to be much of a quiet stroll! Bacon butties will be supplied at Dunphail and "The Other" Louise has invited us all in to her's at the end for coffee, croissant and Cava.

My champagne is already chilling in my fridge. It'll help me sleep...

PS. The delivery I didn't mention.

First, I should explain my sister and b-in-L, Ian, are coming up for the weekend so that Cathy can join me on the Ghost Train. I recieved my order of 36 bottles of wine yesterday and when I told Cathy, her response was "Oh, well that should last us a couple of days."

Don't know what she meant.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Really nothing exciting

Had to take David and the boys to see the eyrie (from a good distance!) and couldn't resist adding a few pretty pictures here.The Gut
My boys and part of a dolphin skeleton

Bee on the rhododendron
Mum, Dad and babies
Proud parents.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Wait a tick

Hmm, yesterdays excitement over the osprey was tempered last night when I found a stow away. I was a bit miffed 'cos I had checked carefully, or so I thought. I whipped off what I thought was a small scab, hanging by a thread, on my leg, as I thought "Odd, I don't remember nipping myself there...?" and on closer inspection, realised the scab had legs. Classic, what a muppet! However, it seemed to be intact, (until I mutilated it before flushing it!) and I couldn't see any remnants in my leg. It came off so easily I don't think it could have attached itself, so I was blooming lucky! Might never have found it, euw. Doesn't bear thinking about!

Anyway, I needed cheering up after a long, restless night dreaming about giant ticks, so I've indulged in a little retail therapy. It's something I've heard and read about, but not through outdoor sites or magazines, so I shall try it out in private before I report back as to how successful it's been. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Another Angela special

I have a weekly walk with Angela and we are often joined by Lyn, Alison, Alfie the retriever and Judith. We have two regular routes, one of about 5 miles, the other just over 6.5 miles, which I suppose could be thought of as being a little dull, but the walks are really pretty and we are chatting whilst walking briskly, so it's just a pleasant, weekly trundle.

Of late, Angela has been taking us on little adventures. These tend to be longer, very pretty and at a very brisk pace because Angela has to be at work at 11.30am. It sometimes involves a little nettle bashing, (thoroughly tick checked today, I can tell you!) we did 7.5 miles today, but today we had an added delight. Osprey!

We came by a ruined church that Angela, Lyn and I visited during the winter, (less undergrowth, two barbed wire fences.) I hadn't realised today's route would take us by the same ruin, so whilst they explored the inside, I gazed at the sky.

I heard alarm calls. They were not buzzard like, mournful and plaintive. Could it really be? No, surely not, but yes! A pair of osprey! I felt so bad, we'd obviously stumbled too close for comfort for them and whilst the girls were oohhing and ahhhing, I was urging them to move on. It was only for a minute or two and we stumbled off again through the undergrowth, skirting the barbed wire this time, but the undergrowth was over everything. We made it back to the main path (we were following a path marked on the map which is obviously not often used...) which is metalled and sped away. We eventually came to a clearing where we could look back towards the osprey eyrie. One of the birds was perched high in a neighbouring tree, once again looking happy and relaxed.

Now that was a good walk.

PS. The Brashers with the merino socks and zinc oxide tape performed well again, I'm gaining confidence!

Monday 8 June 2009

Training section one complete

I'll have to add one pair Marigolds to my kit list.

Did it though.

Now, where did I stash that Talisker...

More training

I tried many puns before I settled on a straightforward title for this post. The subject is just too unfunny for words.

It is widely known that ticks are becoming more common. Rife, in fact. We have regularly visited areas such as Glen Affric, the Cairngorms and more recently Wester Ross over the past fifteen years (as we live up here, it's not too tricky) and until relatively recently, had never had a tick problem. Ciara managed to pick one up on a school trip to Glen Affric, but in all fairness, most have been collected locally, in and around our own garden, not to mention the tricky little sucker that must have crawled up my arm to my cleavage from the ridiculously huge Christmas tree we had in December. (My husband peering at my chest with magnifying glass in one hand and fine nosed tweezers in the other caused much amusement. To some...)

It had become a topic of conversation that I'll be ok if (when) I pick up a tick as we wend our (hopefully very!) merry little way across Scotland, but it could be a little tricky for David. The sensible solution appeared to be that we would purchase a tick removing device and I would practice on the next critter.


Imagine my dismay when, ten minutes after David has left the building destined for Manchester for a fortnight, Ciara presents herself as I'm eating my breakfast, proffers me her foot and states, "I've got a tick on my foot!"

Not just on her foot I might add, between her big toe and the next one in the tiniest crease there is a tiny tick.

I think I can cope with the tick, I shall have to manage (carefully) with magnifying glass and tweezers.

But I_hate_feet.

I think this counts as rigourous training, after which I shall need a lie down, a cold flannel and I might have to sneak a dram from the Talisker I've secreted away for the holiday.

Someone round here has a particularly sick sense of humour.

Wednesday 3 June 2009


That might actually be a minor overstatement.

On checking my planned route against the dates for next years Challenge, should I get onto it, it would appear that I will be celebrating my birthday around North Water Bridge somewhere! I should imagine the hip flask will be drained be the end of the evening. Hopefully. Might have to forego the cake and candles... (Getting a little ahead of myself here perhaps.)

Went for another 'stroll' yesterday. It actually turned out to be a brisk romp through the Altyre Estate, 8 and a half miles in 2 hours and 25 minutes. I let Angela talk while I concentrated on breathing. However, I had the Brashers on with my new merino wool socks and a strip of zinc oxide tape on either heel and was delighted that after giving my feet such a hard time, not a blister was there in sight! Now I've found a solution I can get on with the job of wearing them in, excellent news.

Back to the maps and planning a couple of overnighters next month, love a good map.

Monday 1 June 2009

Girly walk

Another weekend walk with the girls (including honourary girly Delilah) from Forres, along the Findhorn, across from Altyre Woods to the Dava Way, off towards Craigroy and Burntack, round the bottom of Romach Hill, round Loch Romach, through Newtyle Forest back onto the Dava Way in a different place and back to Forres. We had another very civilised finish at Delilah's for a cup of tea, which was very welcome considering the extreme heat we were walking in, around 23 degrees. A shade to warm to walk in perhaps, but I think we all had copious supplies of water, some even had flasks of tea and plenty of nice salty crisps were on the go. Alison even managed to carry chocolate that didn't melt en route! A lovely walk in excellent company.
17.8 miles
2.8 mph average
838 ft ascent
5 hrs 53 mins walking
1 hrs 52 mins resting
Nothing stunning, but enjoyable nevertheless on a very hot day! No aches and pains today, which is nice, feet were a little sore, but I think that was due to the heat. I wore the Merrells instead of the Brashers, discretion the better etc. etc. The new bladder was great, no soapy taste, easy to use mouthpiece and the lapel clip was brilliant.