Wednesday 31 October 2012

Monday 29 October 2012

A postponement and a paddle

Laura and I had intended a get together and a little stroll on Saturday, but as the week drew on, it became obvious that the weather forecast was a little discouraging. By Friday teatime, as snow was falling both here and there and probably heavier in between, the call had to be made and the walk postponed. As it turned out, the snow gates at Tomintoul and Cockbridge were indeed closed on Saturday morning when I would have been setting off, so it was just as well the decision had been made. With any luck, we should have our get together on Thursday this week, although this will mean an earlier than is natural rise from my bed so that I can have the car. Oh well, a small price for much pleasure.

I also had a walk planned with TTS yesterday, a gentle stroll around Loch Affric to enjoy the autumn colours. The forecast again as a bit grim, a deluge all morning but perhaps brightening up mid afternoon. Knowing how accurate these forecasts are, sometimes, and knowing the route was simple, we decided to pop over that way regardless, armed with lunch and waterproofs. Just as we were preparing to leave, Aedan received a phone call from his weekend employer, could he provide sickness cover and work over lunch. As there are no local Sunday buses he would have to cycle, but to make this easier, we left a little later than planned so that we could be good parents and drop him off with his bike and he would only have to cycle home. Bless.

By the time we reached the car park, it was lunch time, so we were forced to snaffle our sandwiches before  powdering our noses in the smart new facilities then donning our waterproofs. The rain was not as bad as I’d expected, but it was wet enough. It did however brighten up and more or less stop raining by the time we reached half way, with this just the odd sprinkle of light rain from time to time.

We last did this walk in May 2010, when we didn’t make the draw for the Challenge, so we knew the path is better on the southern shore of the loch and that there is a tricky crossing to make.

We had a lovely walk, even with the damp start. There certainly was plenty of autumn colour, even if it was wet and grey. We did eventually see some deer high above us on the sky line and we could just hear some stags roaring, although that was tricky above the tremendous thundering of the water coming off the hills and the rumbling of David’s tummy. (Anyone would think I was starving the poor chap!)

Back to that ‘tremendous thundering of water’, we were right about the tricky crossing to be made. It was more so this time! The Allt Coulavie, which provides the wonderful Sputan Ban  waterfalls was in full spate. When we arrived, the chances of teetering across the rocks and keeping our feet dry were nil and to be honest, I find this method more nerve wrecking, trying to keep dry and not fall in whilst balancing on knife edged, slippery rocks. So, after a little discussion, we decided we’d come too far to turn back and wouldn’t have much further to go with wet feet, we’d wade. Eeek!

Apparently, I’ve done more of this than David and I tend to be so reliant on his superior knowledge and experience. I must stop this.

I hadn’t come prepared with my wading sandals and I didn’t want to risk stubbing a toe or worse on hidden rocks, so we opted to just take the plunge. The current was strong, but I’d chosen a point where there was less white water, the rocks were obviously causing less turbulence and were likely to be less problematic. The water stayed below my knees, which was better than the thigh deep monster I had to cross last year! Having successfully reached the other side, (“Confidently done!”) we each found a perch to remove boots and socks and squeeze out as much water as possible. Not much as it happened, I know I certainly had water squelching around my toes as we made our way to the car, but at least it was warm, a nice surprise!

It was getting dark as we returned to the car, the path was lit by moonlight, but not so dark to need to get our head torches out. I was able to don dry trousers, socks and a jumper, but I hadn’t let TTS bring his spare trousers ( he needs new ones) so he could only change his socks and boots.

I have to say, an easy day out but really good fun!

SDC14137 SDC14138 SDC14147 SDC14158 SDC14160 It was worse than that in reality, honest!

SDC14161 Making my own puddle

SDC14165My Viewranger GPS says 11.2 miles, 1,668 ft total ascent, 2.3 mph moving average, 4 hours 45 minutes including stops. I really enjoyed myself, what fun!

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Start of the sparkly season

I regretted not taking my camera out in the fog with me yesterday, there was some spectacular lighting as the fog broke up and the sun shone through. Today, I remembered it, but as I left the street I began to think I was wasting my time. Now, I’m no photographer and there didn’t seem to be any likelihood of any light. However, there was enough to make the droplets of water hanging from the twigs, seedheads, grass stems and thousands of cobwebs sparkle.
SG104099 SG104102-edited
This is fairly normal activity for this time of year around here, unfortunately.
SG104074 SG104075 The wildfowlers, finished for the day

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Organising while waiting

I’ve been having a few problems with my Memory Map, so today, when it decided it was going to behave nicely, I took advantage and finished planning Route II. I have now got two routes completed and ready to insert into a route sheet, should I be a lucky girl in the draw. I’ve also saved them to an external hard drive, just in case it’s my computer not Memory Map that’s on its last legs!

The choices are, if Laura and I both get in, we may walk a while together, go our separate ways, then meet up and finish together, which will be great fun, or, if Laura doesn’t, I have a different route that will be a little more challenging for me. If I don’t get in, I cry.


But it’s all going to be fine!

In the meantime, I’m hoping for a couple of lovely walks this weekend, one with my BF and one with TTS at one of my favourite places. Can’t wait!

I’m also waiting for a parcel. I was contacted by a friend who asked if I’d like to do a review. I said yes. So I’m waiting for a garment to arrive and this weekend would be the ideal opportunity to put it through its paces, whatever it might be.

So, that’s about it.

We wait.

Monday 15 October 2012

Going nowhere

We left slightly later than planned (the conversation went along the lines of “When are we leaving?” “Seven.” “In the morning?” “Yes.” “Oh.”) at around 9.30 am (much more civilised!) after a bit of faff with gaiters and map case. Making our way south on the A9 we witnessed some shocking driving, but we soon parked up in layby 94 and left them to it. Meall Chuaich was our goal today. When we arrived, the top was hiding behind a veil of clouds, but it wasn’t too grey or heavy looking, so we made our way along the track beside the aquaduct that runs down to Dalwhinnie.

SDC14083 Hiding

Near the dam, the chap that had started out after us caught us up and overtook, saying hello as he passed by. He soon disappeared into the distance, we were in no hurry today. After about an hour, we reached the bothy at NN 689 869. It was locked, as expected, so we could only peer through the window at the comfy Olympics seats inside, along with the new woodburning stove, piles of dry wood and matches. Ho hum. Behind the bothy were the old seats neatly stacked and someone had hidden their mountain bike, obviously to be collected later. We unstacked a couple of seats so we could have a sit down lunch whilst we surveyed our surroundings.

SDC14089 Just before the bothy

We could see the chap that passed us by, slowly making his way uphill. Above him, two figures were making their way down and another figure eventually came into view, just below the cloud base, also on his way down. The clouds were moving quite quickly over and around the hill and I began to have doubts about our plans. I’ve done my foul weather walking for this year (trust me, it was foul, several times!) and although I’d quite like to practice my navigational skills in less than perfect conditions, I do not think it necessary to flog myself up a big hill to do so. It can be just as foul at low level and that will do me! The thrill for me is to get to the top of a big hill and have tremendous views. This was simply not going to happen today.  I would be wet, miserable and whiney. Not good. After a bit of a chat and we decided we would go back and regroup. We let the two fellas come off the hill, pass the hut and allowed a discreet interval before following them back down the track.

I tried so hard not to look back. I couldn’t face the disappointment if the clouds were to lift. At one point, they did just that and we caught a glimpse of the top. I momentarily regretted our decision, but shortly after looked back to see the hill once again shrouded in cloud, this time, thick, heavy and foreboding. The other chap coming down the hill was obviously the owner of the bike and he shot passed us as we dodged the puddles. By the time we got back to the car, the clouds were half way down the hill and the rain pouring in the surrounding glens. Phew! Definitely the right decision for me. I'm more interested in a good walk than a tick on a list. Besides, if we hadn’t have turned back when we did, we wouldn’t have seen the two golden eagles, soaring across the glen. Fabulous.

Still managed 5.72 miles, a moving average of 2.2 mph and around 418 ft total ascent.

We’ll be back!


Sunday 7 October 2012

Killing time (alternatively An orange adventure)

(Or The day of forgotten stuff)
Aedan had an archery master class yesterday with the GB archery coach, so we set off a little before 8.45 am to the venue, just south of Inverness. The master class ran from 10 am to 4 pm which meant we had six hours to kill. Maybe for your average, pink, frilly girly this wouldn’t be difficult in the city shopping centre, but that particular activity makes my blood run cold. I had other plans. Shortly after arriving at Bogbain, I realised I’d forgotten a rather useful item. No matter, we’d manage.
We deposited the boy with his gear and headed off towards the chambered cairns at Clava, parking the car in the layby near Dalroy. Some idiot had dumped their garden rubbish there,  in the middle of the layby, rather annoyingly. I don’t understand these people. We set off up the track past Finglack and soon discovered this track goes persistently up, all the way to the top!
SDC14060 The views over the somewhat bleak landscape looked promising
We had an early lunch break at about 11.30 am, behind the shooting lunch hut, but we’d had an early breakfast so felt justified. It was also the only shelter we were likely to find in this remarkably bleak area.
SDC14062 Cowering with a sandwich
Onwards and upwards along the mainly good track, except for the bits washed away be heavy rainfall. Eventually, we came across a cairn by the side of the track and guessed it probably marked a path to the trig at our first target, Beinn Bhuidhe Mhor. Luckily, we guessed right.
SDC14067 All smiles!
SDC14068 Looking towards Beauly on the left with the Kessock Bridge in the centre
SDC14069 Fort George, near Ardersier (where we lived when first married) just off centre right
SDC14070 Looking west
SDC14071 Looking south west
Then it was back to the track and downhill for a while, back to the junction for the track which would take us to the second target of the day, Beinn Bhuidhe Beag. Another climb, this one more gradual, took us easily to the cairn just off the track and more views.
SDC14077 A substantial cairn for a relatively small hill
SDC14078 Looking back, towards the northern Monadhliath
It was a rather more steep descent off the north side of the hill, to pick up the track running along the south side of Saddle Hill and Ben Uan, which was well made and easy. We soon found ourselves back at the car, where I remembered the other forgotten thing.
This was a walk simply to kill time, nothing taxing or challenging, but very pleasant never the less and I really enjoyed myself. Far better than trailing aimlessly around shops for six hours!
Roughly (because it’s become a habit) 8.45 miles. 2.4 mph average, 1928 ft total ascent.
A thoroughly good day out!
The orange adventure? Ah, well, that was the first forgotten thing, my own Paramo Velez Adventure. Ooops. As I’d leant my Torres Gilet to Aedan (he was going to be hanging around in a stiff breeze all day) I had to borrow David’s orange Velez whilst he was able to wear his Explorer Smock thingy over a merino base with his Torres Gilet and thankfully, it didn’t rain, or I would have been in trouble!
The second forgotten item? I’d carried my own camera for a change (I tend not to carry it as it’s heavy) but was so taken with the views from the trig, forgot to get the damn thing out and take photographs. I ask you!
Ho hum.

Monday 1 October 2012

Getting back into step

Today was a beautiful autumn day, sunny and warm and I had a spring in my step and a smile on my face. David is home, normality has resumed and all is right in my world. The spring in my step was a bit of a surprise, considering yesterday.

Last weekend I’d received an invitation to a belated birthday get together for one of my Girly Walking friends. I hadn’t seen them all for quite a while as David has been down south, but now he’s home this was an ideal opportunity for a catch up so I went along. Whilst there, a forthcoming walk was mentioned and I realised I’m now free to join in again on these regular events, so I decided I would. The plan was vague, at this point only a day, time and meeting place had been arranged but I wasn’t too worried and arrived at the right place at the right time with minutes to spare, enough to don my gaiters.

A riverside walk had been decided, to Logie Steading for a coffee and then a return stroll along the Dava Way, so the seven of us set off in the right general direction, through town to cross the bypass and pick up the path heading  more or less south along the Findhorn. I’ve done some parts of this walk before, but not all, so I was looking forward to the new bits.

It wasn’t long before I realised I’d left a vital bit of equipment at home, so I only have one or two photographs taken on my camera. Not the best, but passable.

At this time of year, some parts of the path are quite overgrown with broom, gorse and grass, but it was mostly beginning to die back and there wasn’t enough to stop progress.It was a gorgeous day, warm with a perfect breeze, although this became a little stronger before we reached home.

We made good time along to Cothall, where there are access issues. It is, I believe, a local solicitor who lives here and several of the paths have been blocked on previous occasions. This has been reported to the access chappy at the council and there have been negotiations to find some sort of an agreement. On this occasion, we decided to sneak along the path we wanted and if challenged, wave our map with marked paths on it. Perhaps not very helpful, but as we weren’t spotted, we got away with it. Obviously overexcited by our success, Angela was soon striding ahead, going the wrong way. Jo and Sally, leading from behind,  shouted and pointed her in the right direction and off we went again.

1349001275018Alison, Angela, Jackie and Rickie striding ahead 

At some time in the woods we found ourselves on a ride through the trees strewn with trees and branches, obviously dumped there during harvesting rather than wind blown. This hampered us a little and there was some discussion as to whether this was the right path, but we pushed on regardless before finally tumbling into the car park at Sluie Walk. This was interesting. We knew where we were, but we shouldn’t have been there! No matter, a path from the back of the car park took us to rejoin the track where we should have been and we walked along a pretty woodland path on the side of the gorge, looking down onto the Findhorn below us. A bit of a precipitous path that is not my favourite sort, but manageable.  There may have been some slipping and sliding on this slightly muddy path, someone’s bum cheek (just one) may have briefly brushed the ground in a hurry, but no damage was done and only everyone noticed.

1349002451027 Jo, Alison, Sally, Jackie, Angela and Ricky (who didn’t want her photograph taken)

Before too long, we reached yet another junction. Another discussion. Down and then some steep up, or gentle up, gentle down and sneak through the gardens in front of The Big House. The latter option was chosen (we’ll be getting walkers a bad name at this rate) and soon found ourselves strolling happily along springy grass paths by the side of a beautiful pond at the bottom of the garden. I’m sure no one noticed, despite our sneaking being perhaps a little less than quiet.

Ah, the Coffee Shop. There were lattes, soya milk cappuccino, hot chocolate and one or two pieces of cake enjoyed along side sandwich sculptures (Sally’s sandwiches were somewhat squished and moulded into an unusual shape), salads and fruit. The obligatory visit to porcelain ensued then we were off again, minus Jackie who wimped out and had planned a lift home from her husband.

We took a route past The Big House to take a track up to the road I wished I’d known about last time I was here as it was much more gentle and there was no traffic. At Peathillock we joined the Dava Way and headed north for home, only stopping briefly for a couple of  breaks en route and we were soon back at the start where I waited for my TTS taxi home.

A thoroughly enjoyable day in excellent company and lots of laughs along the way. I’d forgotten life could be so good!

Roughly speaking (because that’s just the kind of girl I am!) 17 miles, 1369ft total ascent, 2.3 mph average.

Just brilliant. Even if my Achilles (both of them!!) were playing up when we left The Steading after lunch. They settled once we were on level ground again. I should perhaps pay some attention to this niggling little problem.