Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunshine Sally rides again

Saturday saw us embarking on the end of March Girly Walk, this time an easy stroll along the River Nairn to Cawdor and back. It wasn’t the adventure I’d originally planned, but due to the recent heavy snowfall followed by a major thaw, the rivers and burns had been in spate and a decision had to be made in good time, so safety came first and a walk to the pub it was! The Girlies were Me, Angela, Alison C., Babs, Jo, Judith, Pip and Sunshine Sally. Not forgetting Molly the black lab.

SDC11336 Heading south to the pub

SDC11338 Coffee break

It was a jolly old saunter, surveying the devastation from recent floods along the bank, some of which had been washed away. The weather was up to Sunshine Sally’s normal high standards, warm, mostly dry and generally sunny.

SDC11340 Scarlet Elf Cup,(Sarcoscypha austriaca) found in shady, damp places on twigs and fallen branches (especially hazel)

SDC11342 A recently stranded holly tree and friend


More debris

SDC11345 Bog of Cawdor picnic, with table provided

We all had a pleasant time in the pub, the porcelain was well visited and a range of drinks consumed, tea, Pimms and lemonade, Crabbies Green Ginger Wine and hot water, whisky and hot water (for the sicky), half a shandy and two halves of Orkney Ales Corncrake (yum!)

SDC11346 Show me the way to go home…

A lovely day out, 13.2 miles, 372 ft total ascent, 2.7 mph average, not sure of times. The general consensus was “very civilised”. Good training for me, walking and a pub!

Monday, 21 March 2011

From high tide to full spate

Yesterday, Ciara and I grabbed a lift to Roseisle Forest with David and Aedan (on D of E business) and walked home along the Moray Coast Path. It’s a pleasant route which I’ve done various bits of at different times. Yesterday was a nice day, a light south westerly and it was high tide.
SG102462 Morven
SG102466Culbin Forest on the left and Ben Wyvis with a bit of snow
SG102467The path goes on for a while through the trees
SG102468 But…
SG102469 When David and I first did this route a few years ago, the path used to go this way. The speed of the erosion is shocking. Six miles and 70 ft ascent, whoop de do! Two hours walking.
Today David and I walked again. I have a girly walk at the weekend and I had fancied a bit of an adventure in the hills above Cawdor Castle, but with the huge dump of snow last weekend and the major thaw this, I thought we might encounter a few watery issues. I decided David and I should go on a reconnaissance trip.
Well, it was quite fun right from the word go. We couldn’t find our way out of Cawdor! Eventually we found ourselves on the road out if Cawdor (as the Castle grounds are still shut) until we found a track that lead into the woods. This was an extremely pleasant path through the varied woodlands, alive with birds and easy on the eye. We found the bridge quite easily and although it wasn’t a nasty, wibbly wobbly bridge, I did not like the rushing water way below.
SDC11319 Look at that unhappy foot…
SDC11320This really doesn’t do it justice, you need the roar
There will probably be lots of photographs of water, me thinks.
We continued on this path through the pretty woods until what should have been the end. Only it wasn’t. There’s a house with a sign, “Strictly Private, Keep Out”.
Hmmm. Well, we didn’t want to walk through their garden if we didn’t have to, so we backtracked and found another faint path going in the right direction and at the end of that was the road and bridge we were looking for. Oh yes!
SDC11326 Bit full
SDC11328In fact, in quite a hurry
By this point, we knew we wouldn’t be able to ford even the feeder streams, but we could stay on the east bank of Riereach Burn and complete a circuit of Clunas Reservoir, so off we went. Another pleasant enough path through farm land until eventually we came to the ford we knew we wouldn’t cross today.
We were sooo right!
SDC11329 No way, no how!
SDC11330I’m not sure we’d even ford this when not in spate, I shall have to return during a drought
SDC11331Someone had kindly left a hut (locked) and a picnic table, so we made ourselves at home for lunch
Unfortunately, despite it being a beautiful day, the wind was getting really strong. If we had continued along the east bank, there would soon be a steep climb to a path along the edge of a sheer drop down to this burn. I’m not good at heights, drops, rushing water and high winds, so I voted for a return to the road and take an alternative route back to Cawdor.
We took the road for a while before turning once more into the woods at Achindown. There were some detours taken due to fallen trees and we did encounter a path along the edge of a sheer drop that was wet and slippery, but I managed admirably. We disturbed three roe deer, warming themselves in a sunny glade, they were so graceful as they disappearded through the woods.
SDC11335 Cawdor Castle
This was just a bit of fun, a fact finding mission and it was very useful, I enjoyed it greatly and found the experience of being so (safely!) close to the river in spate awe inspiring, thrilling, enthralling but a good, powerful reminder of the dangers.
7.85 miles, 632 ft ascent, 2 hours 43 mins walking, 50 mins 'resting', 2.6mph average.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Can’t see the wood for the trees

What is it about walking into a wooded area that suddenly causes navigational difficulties?

I’ve had a relatively quiet walking week. After a rest day on Sunday, I had a regular Monday walk, four miles Tuesday including walking home from the station having dropped the car in Inverness for repair. On Wednesday, I took the longer route to the station to return for the car and notched up five miles. On Thursday I did my daily brisk one  and planned yesterday’s walk.

David  has another long weekend, so we’ll walk. Yesterday was not a good day for big hills, the forecast was windy and there was plenty of snow around, so it was a stroll from Insh, to Drumguish, through to Glen Feshie, then back into the Inshriach Forest to return via Uath Lochan. We sometimes use a walking website for walk ideas, which this was from, but they can be a bit ‘iffy’. Like this one.

SDC11286 Sgor Gaoith is out there somewhere, but not for us this time

I don’t know why the 8” of snow took me by surprise, but it did. This made for a strenuous walk and I’m quite sure I shall feel it today.  Initially there were footprints to follow, but shortly after Inveruglass, they disappeared. On we went, the going got easier as we reached the forestry works beyond Drumguish, as they’d kindly cleared the path. We had lunch sheltering from the stiff breeze before we made our way to the bridges and made a decision.

SDC11292 Practising, but this isn’t a nasty, wibbly, wobbly bridge

We felt that, given the depth of the snow we were about to encounter and the heavy grey clouds approaching, discretion was the better part of valour. We diverted through Corarnstilbeg before joining the Glen Feshie road as planned. From the point we re-entered the forest, things were ‘interesting’.

SDC11296 I’m going this way

SDC11298 I know my place, bringing up the rear

It was deep, virgin snow. David broke the trail for me for a while, but shortening his stride for me wasn’t too helpful, plus I was pulling my Achilles from time to time, which worried me. Then, the directions took us off the main track and on a rather strange/unnecessary route over rough ground and through bog for a while. When we did find the forestry track again, the directions didn’t make sense even when the grid references were right, so we went our own way.

I think this will be a nice one to do when the snow has gone. Oh! Part of it is on my route in May, fancy that!

10.4 miles 863 ft total time including stops 5 hrs 10 mins.

Post script

I drafted this before I went to bed last night and have woken up this morning to find I don’t have any aches or pains, yey! There’s hope for me yet.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

That’s it then

I’ve bought my bus ticket to Shiel Bridge, £5. I don’t think I’ll bother buying a train ticket from Montrose, most people will be going in the opposite direction! My accommodation for first and last nights are booked, food is bought, got all my kit, I’ve just got to make contact with the camp sites.

Makes it all a bit, well, real.


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Return to Aberlour

Last year, we did a lovely walk from Knockando to Aberlour and back via Monahoudie Moss. As I won’t be able to join the girls for a regular monthly walk anymore, I called together The Core Group (Angela, Jo, Judith, Sally and me) for a return to Aberlour to explain my new circumstances. We had a blast.
SDC11217 Tamdhu stationSDC11219
It was forecast for snow from about mid-afternoon onwards, so it was a little surprising when it started to snow as we left the car at about 9.45 am, but we walked on regardless.
 SDC11221 Snack stop
The route joins the Speyside Way which is a little disappointing in other places, but this bit is obviously well used and thus well maintained. When we got to Aberlour, three of us went to the wonderful delicatessen to purchase a few provisions whilst the remainder went to the pub, The Mash Tun. We found them drinking Pims, one summer one winter and another summer was duly ordered whilst the other two ordered Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine and hot water. Yum. Judith also ordered cheese burger and chips to share as a snack between us.
The pub!
Before we fell asleep, we decided to leave and continue the rest of the walk, over the horrible, bouncy bridge and up the hill.
SDC11224 Nasty, wibbly, wobbly bridge
Did I mention it was snowing? It started to snow much more at this point and we were more exposed for a while, but then we popped into the secret walled ‘garden’ we found last time to seek shelter whilst we consumed our purchased goodies. We were soon on our way again and would have enjoyed some lovely views had we not been walking through heavily falling snow at the time. We still had fun.
SDC11227 Secret Garden picnic
SDC11229 Having fun (Sally, Judith, Angela and Jo, she’d found weasel poo on her tree stump!)
SDC11230There’s a view out there, somewhere
Sadly, part way back, I suddenly suffered a Reynauds attack, completely out of the blue. I was perfectly warm and I have no idea how it happened, maybe there was a sudden temperature drop, maybe a change in wind direction, but it happened and I was disappointed with myself for allowing it. I changed my jacket, (despite being quite snug in my two merino tops and Dynamo) to my Montane Anti-freeze and Judith lent me her down over-mitts. I felt rubbish for a while as we walked on, quite sick at times, but after a while I was feeling better again, what a relief. It always leaves me with sore hands for a time afterwards, so typing is difficult, but luckily David is happy to cook dinner and I’ll soldier on!
We got back to the car and then the adventure really started, as the roads home were a little interesting, to say the least. We had an absolute ball and I am so glad I have these wonderful girls as friends. They’ve changed my life and I shall miss my regular walks with them, but I’ll squeeze them in whenever I can.
13.5 miles, 1087 feet total ascent, but I don’t actually know total times or speed.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Do not disturb

David had a study day today. I went for a walk so as not to disturb him. He kindly dropped me off before he hit the books, at Clashdhu, just outside Forres. I set off north on the Dava Way, feeling a little irrationally vulnerable, a habit I must get out of.

SDC11207 The dark, snow laden skies behind me

SDC11208 The way ahead

I walked through the trees on this reasonable track that used to be the rail line. It’s quite a pleasant route, this particular stretch being very quiet and mine were the first foot prints this morning, other than the deer.

SDC11209 Not keen on this bridge. It doesn’t move, but it is a metal mesh that you can see the rushing water through, uh

SDC11210 Can you detect a nervous tremble?


Rather nice bridge

SDC11212 Scurrypool Bridge

At Scurrypool, the track takes the steps up the side of the bridge as to follow the rail line would get very, very wet. The path through the trees follows the western edge of Newtyle Forest until rejoining the old rail line just west of Rafford and continues north to the Dallas Dhu Distillery.

SDC11213 Rafford Church on the left, Blervie Castle on the hill to the right

After passing the Distillery (sadly, no longer distilling…) I left the Dava Way just before the end and skirted the southern edge of Sanquhar Woods to meet St Leonard’s Road at Baraine.

SDC11215 Forres Flood Alleviation

SDC11216Quiet today

I took the road past Muiry Wood and cut down to the A96, which I crossed carefully, then took the minor road through Crows Wood to pick up the road home.

9.13 miles, 3.1 mph average, 255 ft total ascent, I was home in time for lunch. I had to be quiet this afternoon, yawn.

Oh, and it did snow. Just as I passed the distillery it came down thick and fast, easing off as I photographed the flood alleviation, then starting again as I crossed the A96 until I got home. On the whole though, it was a nice day.


Monday, 7 March 2011

Lost and Found

David was away last week for a few days, but I didn’t get up to much. On Wednesday I’d taken a stroll into town to collect some boots for the girls and bank a cheque. It was a beautiful day and I had a lovely gentle walk, taking an alternative route home. When I got back, I was gutted to find that somewhere along the way, I’d lost my summer Buff. I knew I’d taken it off and popped my hip belt through it (I have difficulty reaching into the side pockets without removing the pack) but I’d undone the belt when I was in the bank. I was so cross with myself, I never lose things (permanently, things sometimes get temporarily misplaced…). When the children came home from school, Ciara came into town with me because she has sharp eyes. I went into the bank, but nobody had handed in a Buff (poor chap hadn’t a clue what I was talking about, but he did check for me) but when we went back into the street, Ciara spotted a sad, screwed up bit of rubbish that turned out to be my Buff! Thank goodness it’s a dull beige, nobody had thought it interesting enough to pick up.
David came back Thursday, so we walked together on Friday, just a variation of the walk I did with the Girlies in January to Romach Reservoir. It was another beautiful day and we took the opportunity to do some map and compass work, just for a bit of practice. We didn’t get lost. 10.5 miles, 1219 ft ascent, 3 hrs 20 mins walking, 2.9 mph average.
SDC11170 Some bits were muddy
Today we took the opportunity (beautiful weather again) for another little jaunt, this time starting from Carrbridge near Aviemore.
SDC11180 The Bridge in Carrbridge
SDC11183 Not looking happy about the Highland Coos
We took a slightly circuitous route to Sluggan Bridge
“The arrow pointed that way.”
“But the map says this way.”
“The arrow definitely said that way.”
“We’re sticking with the map.”
The path ‘on the map’ ran out in a glade. Out came the map/compass/GPS.
“The path’s just through those trees”…
Some stumbling, climbing over fallen trees, bog hopping and fence climbing ensued.
“Ah! There’s a path!”…
So we found Sluggan Bridge and crossed it. Onwards on reasonable tracks, part of a cycle route and off again to join General Wade’s Military Road. Lo and behold, there was a burn to ford, Allt Lorgy, the first time I’ve had to deploy my Keen sandals in anger.
SDC11197 It was cold, I hurried…
The sandals did their job and I crossed happily and very quickly dried my feet, put my socks and boots on toot sweet. Shortly after, we had lunch. I practiced attaching the gas and lighting it myself, as my Trusty Sidekick usually does this bit.
SDC11199 Looking oh so happy and wrapped up. There was a draught.
We continued on and crossed back across the A9 safely, walked a short way up the B9153 to take a path into the woods to join the cycle path again. Here, things got a little tricky. The path petered out and was messed up by forestry works, so we followed the line of pylons we knew would transect the cycle path. That was fun.
SDC11206We found this strange memorial, in the middle of nowhere. Couldn’t make out if it was for pets or babies, but obviously visited.
We eventually stumbled across the cycle path and followed it back into Carrbridge and back to the car. A lovely day, but definitely a bit lost and found. 10.9 miles, 985 ft ascent, 3 hrs 52 mins moving, 2.5 mph average.