Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Not mine, David’s

It was not a Monday or a Bank Holiday, so we figured it would be quieter in the hills yesterday. Slight miscalculation perhaps. Even the slightly dodgy weather didn’t  stop everyman and his dog heading for the hills today! But this one was for David’s list, not mine. He needs to document twenty ‘quality’ walks for a personal project he’s working on, so I’m tagging along because I can!
Off we set, south towards the Cairngorms and then slightly west to the car park near Auchlean. At 10.20 am we set off at a good pace along a short stretch of road and then headed up the path towards Carn Ban Mor.
When we last came this way, it took nearly three hours to get to the  3370 ft point. This time, the regular walking, food diary and less alcohol has obviously paid off as we were a good hour quicker. We’d started in fair weather, although  the cloud base was quite low and we’d hoped this would clear before we reached the top. At roughly 2320 ft, it began to get breezy. Very breezy. David estimated 40-50 mph gusts, but I just know it was trying to blow me over! The next 1000 ft were hard work, staying upright was decidedly tricky as we were buffeted about and I began to dread the rest of the walk, thinking we must be mad and possibly even putting ourselves in danger. But then, so was everyman and his dog!
We played hare and tortoise with a group of four chaps, one of whom was really struggling and we worried that he was left behind his group alone. They stopped and waited from time to time, but then he didn’t get a rest as he caught up and they moved on again. It struck me as perhaps not good practice. As we entered the cloud base (still being buffeted) they realised they were beginning to lose sight of him more quickly, but the track eventually levelled off and we hoped they’d be able to stay together better as they struck north-ish and we struck south-ish. We’d been passed by two couples, the second with a dog and the first couple obviously hadn’t gone beyond Carn Ban Mor as they soon loomed out of the murk ahead on their way back down.
SDC10655 Looking back towards Carn Ban Mor
SDC10656And this is where we are going… 
As we continued the wind dropped significantly although we were still in the clouds and our walk across Moine Mhor  felt vast, remote and barren. Soon, a figure appeared in the cloud ahead and a lone walker with huge pack passed with a cheery wave on his way in the opposite direction. We were quite confident even in the poor visibility, but regularly stopped to check with map and compass, cross-referenced with the Geko. A huge cairn marked a Landover track which we took and followed to a small ford. Here, we met another chap, map in hand, who asked if the path to Carn Ban Mor was easy to spot. He knew exactly where he was and just wanted reassurance which was understandable in the conditions. After the ford, we stopped for lunch, I was quite peckish by now and tucked into peanut butter sandwiches and hot chocolate,
On we went, soon to meet a group of  eight or nine men with the two at the front probably leaders from Glenmore as they wore matching jackets and they were all well equipped. Soon after, we met the couple with the dog on their way back, we couldn’t be far now.
At a significant junction, we found a couple of gentlemen consulting their map and GPS. They were in there late 60s, early 70s and we struck up conversation as we were all headed for the same high point. Off we went together into the gloom. A short while later, a cairn marked the vague path to the cairn of my second Munro, Mullach Clach a Bhlair. Yey!
SDC10657 Very cuddly, apparently!
We took photographs of each and then we had a gear faff while the gentlemen (I didn’t get their names ‘cos I’m a numpty, but one was originally from Leicestershire but has lived in Fife for several decades now) struck off using GPS to make their way back to the track off path. We stuck with the path (although David tried to take the wrong one, I wouldn’t let him!) and soon returned to the main track and made our way down off the hill. It’s a good path down, not rocky or rutted, but quite a gradient all the way and this gave mine and David’s knees some gip, which is an unusual complaint for either of us. The gentlemen, however, didn’t seem to be having the same problem. We had seen them just ahead of us on the path, but they were soon way ahead as we had a photograph stop and we were never in any danger of catching them up!
SDC10659David thought this would have been spectacular, without the cloud
SDC10660SDC10661Before the pain
SDC10662SDC10663  Looking back as we dropped out of the cloud
SDC10664Looking ahead to Glen Feshie 
I was so relieved to get to level ground, I was in quite some pain and had to resort to paracetamol as we needed to get back home at a reasonable time. To add insult to injury, we soon came to a ford at Allt Garbhlach, which I had been expecting, but hadn’t twigged it would be quite so substantial! David waited whilst I paced the bank, trying to find somewhere I was happy to cross, but admitted defeat and he helped me across, despite my whinging and tears. (I have this planned on my Challenge route. I’m going to have to do some serious thinking…).
On we went towards Achleum and then the farm at Auchlean. Another ford! But it was David who misjudged it and got wet feet. The path is slightly rerouted from what we had been expecting, but we were soon on the road back to the car park. Once on level ground, my pain had lessened greatly and I was so pleased my feet weren’t remotely sore. It was the first time I’d worn my Foothills socks on a longer, more rugged walk with no zinc oxide tape and the socks were marvellous!

14.3 miles
3046 ft ascent
3054 ft descent
2.5 mph average
5 hrs 49 mins moving
1 hr 43 mins stopped

Actually, I felt quite a sense of achievement after this walk, the practice using a map and compass work and ford crossing (hate this, must practice more!) was good and I got the high that others claim to have after running. I've never had that after running, it tends to be more of a relief that it's over, which I don't think counts.
PS. I did notice the above discrepancy, but it amused me.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Five Walk to the Pub and take the Scenic Route Home

On Saturday, 4th September, Angela, Jo, Sally, Rikky and I set off from Orchard Road car park in Forres towards the back road past Waterford to Kinloss. This was all very uneventful, for a change, but there was a large volume of traffic on what is usually a very quiet back road.

It was a beautiful day, the Sally Effect prevailed and we had clear blue skies, barmy temperatures and at times, the perfect cooling breeze. Definitely no rain!

At this point we were breaking the 3.2 mile an hour average as we gently steamed towards our first coffee break at the bird hide on Findhorn Road. We arrived at an empty car park and wandered aimlessly to find somewhere to park our behinds. We were shortly joined by three cars (mainly containing OAPs) and another walker.

Soon, we continued on our way. Somebody had mentioned, again, that "It's a perfect day for Pimms!" so we headed for the pub. Did it matter that it was before midday? That, in fact, it was only just past 11am? Sally and I looked at each other. NO! So, on we went to the Crown and Anchor. Which was shut. We had twenty minutes till the bar opened, what to do? They only have one toilet, it would take, ooo, twenty minutes for us to all take advantage of their porcelain, so we waited!

And waited.
And waited.
At 11.30 am we were told, "Oh no, we won't be open till 12 pm now."

So, we went to The Kimberley.

They wanted our business and opened the bar, just for us, switched on the cash register and lemonade pump, sliced lemons and limes and presented five, refreshing Pimms and lemonade for our delectation. The barman also tried to persuade us to have a meal, but we'd already tarried quite a while, so made off in search of the Water Taxi.

We found said Water Taxi and a very nervous young man made his way to the floating pontoon with five giggly, middle-aged women. We all donned our sexy bouyancy aids and wobbled onto the boat, giggled some more and off we went. Squealing all the way. What fun! This made Angela's day, and she's done it before!

The nervous young man was only too pleased to deposit us on the beach and sped off to the safety of Findhorn Marina without delay, relief all over his face.

We faffed a while, jackets on and off, waterproof trousers dried off in the wind from a coffee spill, camera in and out of it's case and then we were off again. I don't like struggling over sand, so we cut up the beach into Culbin Forest only to take a wrong turn (mine, what a muppet) back to the beach, which was now shingle. We struggled along the shingle beach a while before making our way towards Binsness, where we found a nice sunny spot for yet more refreshment and nourishment. And fend off wasps. So we set off again for a stroll through the forest before leaving the trees behind at Wellside Farm and making our merry little way to the ford and towards Broom of Moy.
Jo went for a paddle, which she thoroughly enjoyed, but couldn't persuade anyone to join her.

We strolled on, covering several serious subjects as we strolled, before reaching Broom of Moy and crossing the bridge back to Forres.

Jo and Angela were aghast that I had never been to Lidl.
I have now!

And there it all came to an end, as Jo's husband and son appeared, by chance, disappeared and then, as if by magic, reappeared with Jo's transport from the other car park.

What a day, pub, boat trip and shopping, what more could a girl ask for?

The statistics go something like this:

12.3 miles
190 ft ascent
206 ft descent
4 hrs 24 mins walking
1 hr 59 mins resting
2.9 mph average
(0.37 miles on a boat included)

More down than up, we like that!

Friday, 3 September 2010

I've been a busy girl

See, the children have been back at school nearly three weeks now, so I've had time to amuse myself doing 'stuff'.

Stuff like walking. Admittedly, this has been more of the functional type than an ambling pleasure. By functional, I mean maintaining a brisk pace over a relatively short distance (3-6 miles, depending on time constraints) five days a week. Brisk enough to break into a glow, (I'm a lady) raise my heart rate and make me breathe harder, but still be able to talk. Although I tend no to do this, it can be a bit one-sided and can attract attention to myself... Just enough to raise my fitness levels before I head further  and longer off the beaten track and slow down.

I've also started my next short course with the OU, Neighbourhood Nature. I need to read a bit (easy) and take photographs of my observations to post with IDs on the iSpot website (hate that bit), but it's a bit time consuming so I try to keep my fitness and study separate. Except for this little treat:

Oh yes, I was osprey watching on Tuesday whilst on my route march and it made my day!

On top of that has been the mundane, everyday, boring, ordinary 'stuff' of being a 'housewife'. I'm not good at this bit. Cleaning does not fill me with joy, nor does doing the washing, although once I've put the ironing board up, I don't mind mindless ironing in front of some easy viewing ont' telly.

Tomorrow is a girly walk. It's a week late, but these things happen. I 've no idea where we're going, Angela conveniently forgot to put my new email address on the walking list, hmph, but I know where and when to meet them, they can run, but they can't hide! I just won't have an appropriate map. My pack will be lighter!

And on Sunday, to celebrate David posting his Summer School assignment and becoming part of the family again, albeit briefly, we're going to Landmark at Carrbridge. Deep joy.

I'll be giving the high wires a miss this time.

I hope.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


Just a long and anxious wait now….