Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Blink and you miss it!

That was another year gone by, and so fast! It was quite slow to start, quite average, but very pleasant nonetheless.

In January and as an RAF family with links to both the Nimrod and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, we were invited to the naming of the last remaining (non-flying) Nimrod, Duke of Edinburgh, a very proud and moving day.


In February, we had some lovely visitors, and some nice walking was had in the Darnaway Forest, in good company.


Lunch stop

In March, there was more walking, this time with My Bestest Walking Buddy.


A pause…


…to admire the view

And then in April, er, a little more walking with Laura! We started our new occasional series, Trigpointing, with a little adventure up Carn na Loinne to find a rather well hidden trig.


Near Bridge of Brown


Carn na Loinne trigpoint

Áedán also started his rather successful (so far) Air Pistol career, with an incredibly close second in his first Scottish Championships. More of that later…

May was obviously a busy month, as this is the month of The Great Outdoors Challenge, and this year Laura and I Challenged together as a team in Ls Belles’ Tea Shop Tour of Scotland. Well, sort of tour. And not many tea shops as it goes. But lots of fun under unusually blue skies and bumping into a lot of friends, old and new along the way, including Steve Crofts. We first met him at Glenlicht House, where he took a guitar from the wall and started to play and sing the most beautiful music. It was stunning and marked the start of a great Challenge.


Shiel Bridge start




The waterfall we ‘slid’ down. It was fun!


Muckle Cairn, from Shielin’ of Mark, one of the best nights of the trip


Toe-dipping at the finish

Then there was June, which was quiet, except for DofE expeditions, which were fun. Followed by July, which is when things started to get busy and quite exciting.


Ciara and Rhiannon, with their beautiful long locks, before…


…and after they had it all cut off for charity, donating the hair to be made into wigs. Amazing!


We climbed to the top of the Knock of Braemoray, at last, a hill we’ve been passing by for years.


And then Ciara carried the Queen’s Commonwealth Baton!

In August, there was a little more walking.


Anagach Woods

Áedán represented Scotland in his first Junior International Competition at Bisley. He was sixth in the 10m final and gained a team Bronze. People started to notice him.


September saw the last but one DofE expedition and not a lot else.

October and we had a spectacular autumn, we took advantage of some glorious weather and did some navigation training with Conall at one of my favourite places, Altyre Estate.


Autumn leaves


Measuring 100m at Dallas Dhu


The Bin of Cullen (I think…) during the last expedition camp of the year

And of course, that was also the month of more excitement of Bisley, but that tale is still continuing, so you can wait!

November and there was a little more walking and trigpointing with Laura, we had lovely visitors again and I even did a little solo walking. We popped down to Fife to help David’s mum celebrate a special birthday too.


Pikey HillPB010546

Towards the Cromdale Hills


A hut with a view


Escaping the farm yard on the way to Brodie


Along the beach to Burghead


Looking west


Silly selfie!


A Special Cake!

December has been much quieter. I have not walked as other business has been a little overwhelming. There have been the Blackpool Illuminations (here in the street, not in Lancashire). And then there was Christmas!

We had a good one, I hope you did too. The New Year is looking busy already, with lots going on and yet more exciting news on the horizon. And I wish you all the very best for 2015 too!

Sláinte mhath!!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

It's Christmas!!

Well, the presents are opened, turkey is in the oven, the Queen's speech watched, Pictionary won and lost and aperitiffs are in hand.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A walk through the woods

David had some business to conclude, so I grabbed a lift to the College of Roseisle to do a little investigation of the woods.

I’d noticed quite some time ago a new sign post pointing into the forestry at the edge of the village so this was where David dropped me. I had a momentary faff before heading off and shortly afterwards came across a couple of way markers. I had a choice. I chose the footpath as opposed to the bridle path, not because I have any problem with the possibility of meeting horses, but because I thought the path might be less muddy. Wrong. Apparently, horses can use the footpaths as well and it was nicely churned up and muddy. Great.


I think I’ll go…this way


I have to say, not particularly inspiring


Handy bench…


…with such a nice view?!!

I wasn’t exactly sure which paths the route would take, but I intended to make my way to pick up the Moray Coast Trail in Roseisle Forest, just south of Burghead. The first junction I met was a way mark away to my right, but it was just marking the bridle path to return to the start. I followed my personal rule, if there are no other indicators on a marked path, keep straight on. So I did, and for the next couple of junctions until I met a T junction. My choice here was east or west. Well, as I was intending to walk to Findhorn, the sensible thing was to head west. This would take me to the road, quite a busy road and I would then have to quickly trot about 250 m south to pick up the track leading into Roseisle Forest where I would meet the Moray Coast Trail.

As I stood contemplating crossing the road, several lorries passed by and I wasn’t particularly happy. I wondered if I could just trot straight across the road and in to the edge of the forestry which was quite open at this point and whilst it was likely to be rough ground, it would at least be off the road. I trotted across at the next available opportunity and was delighted to find that others had indeed found themselves in a similar position and there was a lovely track worn, winding it’s way through the trees with ease, popping me onto the track into the forest. Bonus.

Off I went. A lorry turned off the road and made its way along my track. Followed by a heating and electrical engineer van. I think he was in the wrong place, because he turned around and went away. I continued on until I happened across a couple of signs, ‘Diversion’ and a map. As I was peering more closely at the map, a small van pulled up along side me, I turned on my best smile as I heard the window wind down, turned and said “Good morning!” in my cheeriest voice.

After a little chat about forestry works and diversions and heavy machinery, he decided I could continue on my route (I wouldn’t have minded taking the diversion, it was obviously close by although the sign I’d seen was heading the wrong direction, there must have been one heading the right way, if he’d pointed me to it) as long as I was aware of the machinery and waited for it to stop to pass safely if necessary. I didn’t see much evidence of it as I hurried on my way, although I could hear it working near by.


Useful map

I know these woods and most of the routes in it and it wasn’t too long before I was in the picnic area where the toilets are shut for the winter. I sent David a text to let him know my whereabouts whilst I nibbled on a granola bar, just in case he was on his way back, but hearing nothing from him I texted again to say I was leaving the car park and continued on my way. There would be no opportunity for escape now until I got to Findhorn.

It was a glorious day, crisp and cold with a touch of frost, but clear blue skies and that low golden sunshine. A great day for a walk. I sauntered along quite the thing, I met no one after leaving the car park and didn’t expect to until I made it to Findhorn. The track continues through the trees for a while, following the line of the shore until eventually it turns north and takes you towards the sea. The path then turns west again and wonders along through the edge of the woodland and close to the eroding cliff edge. The original path that I first walked about 8 years ago has slowly been eaten away by the sea and very little of it still exists. New bits of path have been cut through the trees.

Eventually I left the trees behind and made the surprising decision to scramble down a sandy bank to walk along the shoreline. An unusual decision as I hate walking on sand or shingle beaches, I don’t know what possessed me. Especially as, knowing the route like I do, I knew there would be no way back up the bank for quite some time. Ho hum.


Where the path used to be


I don’t know what I was thinking…


Nice layers

I tried to walk along the wet sand for easier going, but the sea can’t count and what should have been every seventh wave (usually the Big One) was more random and I had to take an occasional sudden sideways skip to avoid soggy boots. I made my way slowly along the beach, just pausing to take a phone call from David checking on my progress. I eventually made it to a lower bit of banking where I was able to clamber back up and onto the path. It had been nice to walk on the beach for a change, but I was glad to be back on the path and was soon speeding my way towards Findhorn. Along the front is a view point with one of those map thingies showing the mountains on the horizon where I stopped to take the last few photographs of my walk before making my way to the pub for well earned fish and chips and a pint. And a lift home.


Name the gadget Gayle please!


Seaside selfie!!

Approximately 8.14 miles and 306 ft total ascent.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

We like an adventure, honest

Now that my Bestest Walking Buddy lives a little closer, we’ve realised we can walk a little more often together, which is a good thing.
We have put this plan into action almost immediately (koff) and yesterday I set off to meet Laura at a layby just south of Fogwatt in order to bag a trig that I’d spotted nearby in a new walking area for both of us. An adventure was afoot!!
Off we set and shortly after leaving the car we found this exceptionally friendly chap (or chapess, I didn’t actually check for a change) who whinnied at us as we passed by and I had to stop to chat and take a photograph.
Photogenic pony
It was a bit of a dull damp day, with varying levels of damp from above and below, sometimes more than either of us liked, but I’ll come back to that.
There was another purpose to this walk and after a short while, having passed the quarry, we reached a junction. I had expected a junction, but there was a slightly bigger choice than anticipated. My second purpose was put into action and I whipped my compass out and took a bearing on the path to find the one I wanted. In the end (the bearing didn’t help much…) I chose the path that went uphill into the forest as per the map, rather than along the edge of it or the one running alongside a pond with a picnic bench and a big house at the end of it. (I’m making myself practice, okay?!)
Track was a fairly typical forestry track to start with. Well made, not too horrid underfoot, a bit dark and dingy as is the average plantation, but sheltered from any wind and possibly a bit of the rain too.
Fairly trypical, at this point
We reached another junction and I automatically took the right hand fork, but it didn’t feel right and Laura correctly questioned my decision. After bit of discussion, map examination and thought, we decided to take the other track and headed uphill.  Shortly after, there was another questionably junction. The reason it was questionable was because the track going in the right direction was obviously no longer in regular use, whereas the one we were on was well used and maintained. Not surprisingly, this was our preferred option, but I thought we should be taking the rather over-grown, gloomy, wet, uninviting looking one. Sadly, I was right. So we did.
Cute fungus
Slightly less than inviting
It’ll get better, we said, hopefully. It didn’t, for quite some time…
The theme of a few of our walks of late have been trees and quite often fallen trees blocking our progress. This walk was to be no different, except we were at least able to find our way over and around these few, a vast improvement on the last lot which entailed a couple of miles detour. Ugh.
But we can’t be bothered to turn back
More fungi
Eventually we dropped down to the Gedloch Burn which we had to cross, but it was only a tiny little thing. Shouldn’t be a problem. Which is why I dangled my left foot in it mid-flight. Luckily, the way the tongue is attached in the boot, there was no water ingress and my foot stayed dry. However, the track became more tricky to follow. A little bit of fumbling about and we decided on a course of action.
The remnants of the track eventually petered out, but it’s still marked on the map. It was maybe a fire break adopted as a track at some point that has since gone out of regular use, but the deer still use it and we followed their trod as closely as we could. It became more tussocky and wet underfoot and continued to rain from time to time, sometimes quite persistently, but we decided at this point we ladies were not for turning and we plunged on. Me headfirst. Ho hum.
It seemed to take forever, with regular pauses and exclamations of “Not far now, nearly there!”
We did eventually burst out of the trees and were met with an extraordinary view over open moorland to distant, misty hills, all rather lovely! This bit was easy, we just had to follow the fence line and once we spotted the vague track and broke free of the damp heathery tangle we were in, we were back to making good time. At the corner of the forestry we had a trig point to find. That took quite some ferreting around and Laura was the heroine who eventually found the Pikey Hill trig, hidden away in a dark dingy corner of the forest.
Bursting out
Found it!
Lunch became a more insistent need, although I held out little hope of finding some shelter any time soon. At least the track was clear and easy to follow from now on. Well, for a little while anyway.
Wind farm on Cairn Uish
Around about this point, my whinging may have increased. My little leggies were a bit tired and sore and protesting quite a bit and I realised I had no paracetamol in my first aid kit. A sit down would be nice.
We plodded on.
The track I had picked out for us on Memory Map wasn’t marked on Viewranger, but after a little discussion we decided if it was on the ground, we’d take a punt.
Best punt ever!
At the end of the track there was a pond. With a picnic bench! Not only did I recognise it, we decided that we’d sit at it and have our lunch, despite being close to the car park. It was too good an opportunity to miss. (The people at the big house wouldn’t have been able to see us, and the lady with the spaniel we saw as we set off again did say hello…)I also snaffled some paracetamol from Laura, to try to ease the little leggies a little for the drive home.
PB190583Lunch stop!!
A rough total of 8.47 miles and 1,026 ft total ascent and actually quite good fun!!
Thanks for the company Laura, must do it again soon. Love an adventure!