Sunday, 3 October 2010

Old Man on a hike (re publish)

Old Man on a hike

A change from the bike for Scott we planned a walk on the wild side with Scott's friend MC. The choice of where to go was debated and we agreed that glen finnan would be a good starting point and then head north twards Knoydart.I was quite pleased about this as 25 years before myself and three friends had started this walk but had to abort due to illness so to me it was an unfinished walk. Planning food for a five day trek and what to carry keeping our eye on weight was half the fun in preparing the outing. As we were all leaving from different locations we agreed to meet on the train to Mallaig on the Saturday which proved to be an eventful experience for Scott who managed to miss his train and with (someone up there likes me ) managed to get other trains to meet the connection from Glasgow. This is one of the few times that mobile phones were handy planning alternative meeting places if required.

Day One

Glen finnan

We arrived Glen Finnan lunch time and after failing to buy whisky (purely for medicinal purposes) we headed off under the viaduct following the very good track up the Glen. Arriving at the Bothy 2 miles up the track we stopped for a lunch break. Now this bothy is a wee bit unusual as it had electricity, kettle and the grass cut for pitching tents near the river. I could not remember it being like that 25 years ago (how times change). The problem being as there were a few tents pitched already with no sign of the occupants. It reminded us of a holiday camp and not what we were looking for on our trek so we headed on up the track planning to camp higher up. This proved to be harder than we thought finding room for three tents among the boulder strewn hillside. Pushing on up the steepening track (which was still good going) it was obvious with the black clouds rolling up the Glen behind us we were in for some rain. We reached the bealach and splashed our way down the other side still looking for some where to camp by now we were well and truely soaked.

 Both getting a soaking in heavy rain

Eventually we had to take what ever we could find and made camp in the pouring rain.It was not a social evening as we each crawled in to our tents some of us spending a cramped wet uncomfortable night ( MC's tent being the envy of Scott and myself ) he could sit up and spread out changing out of the rain. After a night of rain hammering down on the tent and strong gusty winds very little sleep if any was had (for me anyway).The next morning I crawled out of the tent into a bright dry day with no wind and wall to wall midges.

Day two Sunday

After cooking oats, drinking filter coffee (thanks Scott) the one luxury we had with us and fending off midges with any free hand we broke camp.
                                            Morning camp my coffin on the right

We headed off down the glen twards Strathan enjoying the warm sun a nice change from the last few hours.The faint track was lost due to erosion by the burn and a few detours had to be made during one crossing Scotts tent fell off and floated merrilly down the burn. One wierd event of the day occurred while we were resting by the burn. Scott had left his spoon in the bothy the day before and while sitting on a rock by the burn without moving bent down picking up spoon .(spooky). After a rest in the sun (we didn't know it then but this was to be our last day of blue sky),we continued down to Strathan and one last ford over the burn reached start of glen pean.
                                              Scott keeping feet dry

Heading away from glen pean twards Strathan and glen Dessary we were now on a forrest road which made easy walking on the south side of the glen.Still having some sunshine we stopped above the bothy and out of the trees for another "coffee" Scott spread his tent out on the hillside to dry it out after its swim in the burn.

                                              A'Choul bothy

At the bothy we met a german guy and a party from Glasgow,the glasgow party were just packing to leave and as they had driven to Strathan had a pile of goodies which they left for us! (who brings dips and bread sticks for a bothy trip?). The german was interesting from the point that he carried no tent or stove and was the main man for lighting and cooking over the fire.After we settled in Mc went for a walk and swim in the river, Scott put his running shoes on and set off for a 90min training run, me,well I just sat outside the bothy resting.At this time the sun finally gave up and the rain swept into the glen. Later Mary and jane ? arrived they were planning a munro bash the next morning and very kindly gave us all a tot of whisky each which went down very well reminding us that we failed to bring some along. Apart from Mc we all slept in the bothy that night listening to the rain again.

Day three Monday

The next day after breakfast we had one of those do or don't we moments as bands of rain were still pushing down the glen, do we go or do we stay. (sounds like a song title). Finaly we thought it was set in for the day so we geared up for the weather and walked out. The first couple of miles we were on the forrest track so the going was good although a bit wet.

The main track ran out and we had to pick our way through knee deep bog which wasn't very pleasant,(thanks to all the rain we'd had).Leaving the tree line we climbed over the bealach still in pouring rain and going was hard picking a route over the top through bog after bog.
                                          Trying to find a dryer way over

A soup break was taken near the Lochans on the way down and sure enough our midge friends found us as we brewed up.Slipping and sliding our way down twards Loch Nevis MC enquired if this was the river or a path !. We had missed the crossing point of the river and couldn't be bothered retracing our tracks so as we were soaking wet anyway just walked accross the thing. At this point we could now just see through the weather Loch Nevis down in the distance its a pity the weather was so bad for any decent photographs but we our best.
                                            Loch Nevis in the distance

I knew from reading other journals that the Sourlies bothy could get busy at times but we were suprised when we eventually aproached it that a pile of rucksacks in rain covers were piled up outside. It turned out that a party of Americans had walked down from the north and after a very wet night were drying out in the bothy.The group was made up of two adult leaders and the rest were mixed sex teenagers and the bothy was full. The leader promptly said to his group that some would be in tents again to make room that night and not one complained. Scott and MC also put there tents up to make more room as our german friend arrived a little later.Give him his due he was carrying DRY wood wrapped in a waterproof and got a fire going so he was allocated the nearest bench. The bothy was full of smelly wet clothes hanging from every available point .

                                                        Not much room in bothy

Again very little sleep was had by most of us in there we were just lying listening to the rain hammering down on the roof dreading needing a pee!

Day four Tuesday

The americans packed up and headed off in the direction of Glen Dessary.I don't know why but they all filled there water bottles added iodine (yuk!) to carry up the pass. I'm sure they wouldn't have a shortage of water off the hills as it was still raining! Anyway that left our german friend complete with fire and ourselves alone in the bothy for now.
                                                   Sourlies bothy

To-day had been scheduled for a drying out and rest day I needed to give my leg a rest as it was still playing me up and I was not used to lugging a full pack on my back over the hills. After a lazy day dodging the odd shower and watching the tide going in and out we were joined in the bothy by an outward bound group, one leader plus three girls and a guy. They had had a rough night before and there main tent was too wet to use so we had a social night in the bothy in which we all slept apart from Scott and MC who retired to there tents. Again it was a night of heavy rain and wind and I was glad I wasn't in my little bivy tent which I had put up in case it was required. In retrospect I had bought the wrong tent for this weather and I felt very confined when I used it, it was more for emergency use than normal camping out. It was an early start 6am for the outward bound group so again little sleep had, it had stopped raining for now although it was very overcast and dull start to the day.

Day five Wednesday

After our usual hot oats and fruit breakfast washed down with Scott's filter coffee and a clean up of the bothy we set off on our final leg to Knoydart and Inverie. The old forge was the end of the rainbow and we had promised ourselves a few beers at the end of the trek. We headed along the Loch shore before negotiating the bog on the way to the ruins at Cornish.

                                              Finding our way over the bogs

From Carnoch the track zigzag'd up the steep slope 560mtr to the bealach. I found this to be my hardest time of the walk, I was tired after a few days lack of sleep,hauling a heavy pack over mostly slippery boggy tracks and blew up trying to get the climb over with !.Scott came to my rescue and led me up at a steady pace which kept me from blowing up again and to my suprise I managed almost none stop to the top.There was a very strong wind at the summit so a brisk walk over the top and down into shelter from the wind was completed.
                                               Inverie in the distance

I was glad that the main climb of the day was over and was looking forward to a gentle walk for a few miles down to the PUB !. The "few" miles went on and on and tiredness realy set in I don't know if we had all switched off by then but heavy legs were the order of the day.
                                                     Closer still

After what seemed for ever we reached the outskirts of Inverie walking down ever improving "roads" we tramped down to the shore.
                                                    MC on country road take me home mode

We arrived at the "old forge" for our much lookforward to pint and looked for somewhere to stay. The only choice was the hostel a mile back down the road where we could try for a bed or camp on the beach next to the hostel. I think we all felt an anticlimax at the "old forge" and just sat contemplating our next move. MC said the Mallaig ferry was due in ten minutes and as one we all agreed Mallaig was the prefered option to staying where we were and a brisk walk to the pier followed !.
On arrival at Mallaig we needed to find somewhere to stay I had booked B&B for the friday and we were two days early.All B&B's were full and desperation was kicking in when Scott spotted "Shoona's hostel above the tea room right on the main road.With luck they had three spare beds which we quickly took and settled in. It was only a small place with two rooms of six large bunk beds, a neat kitchen and comfortable sitting room. After a quick shower and change into the only clean dry clothes we had we went down stairs for a meal and it is to be recommended the food was excellent.Then a move to the pub for a well deserved pint and rest.
                                                       A very tired but happy old man

Well that concludes the walking part of the trip to Knoydart, we did spend a couple of days based at Mallaig before heading home on the Saturday.A trip to Rum on Friday was again spoilt by low cloud and we didn't get to see much of the island. Scott managed his "training" run among the clouds while MC and myself chilled out for a couple of hours before the return on the ferry.One last meal was had at the tea room before we said goodbye to Mallaig the next day.

Post script :- this blog was originally on geocities but was lost when they shut down thanks to MC who kept a copy I have republished on "grey hair" blog to keep a record of our efforts.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Glen etive / Glencoe weekend

Scott and I thought a weekend in the GlenEtive area would be good he could run a few Munro's and I would do some walking.Scott contacted Lucy and Richie to see if they were up to it and lucy was keen but Richie could not manage it.
The weather was not looking too good but we thought what the hell just go for it so with car packed with the camping gear I was to drive to Bridge of Allan and pick Scott up from the railway station as he would get the train from Edinburgh. I was keen to get up the west while we still had light to find somewhere to pitch the tents and set up a base. Lucy contacted and said she would be arriving later that evening.
We had a good drive up and managed to find somewhere to set up camp within walking distance of the one and only pub.Managed to meet up with Lucy and she pitched her tent "next door" to myself and Scott.Had a social evening killing beer / wine / and a "little whisky" fending off the dreaded midge and rain. Later all crawling off into our own tents out of the weather.

A very wet place in the morning Scott and I on the left, Lucy on the right.
We managed to get some coffee on ( thaks to Lucy as Scot and I did not get round to buying any on the way)
Had some porridge in the damp and talked about the days options , Lucy not sure about running due to injury recovery and Scott thinking the visibility for Munro bagging was to poor.I had a couple of Geocache locations one being very near to where we were camping so I introduced Lucy to the geocaching "game".
We made a call that we drive down to Loch Etive and do a walk back round the glen on a trail through the next Glen. Kipper ( Lucy's dog ) had been shivering and Lucy put her North face jacket on him which turned out to be the funniest photo shoot of the weekend. I have not the best one but hopefully Lucy will print the one she took.
We set off down the road twards the loch before parking up and heading off on our walk.We had a stange incident when we were part way up the side of the hill a car had stopped and someone was shouting up to us but we could not hear for the torrents of water. We just waved and climbed on up the faint track ( We think in retrospect he was trying to tell us the burn was to high to cross )
I 'm not sure when it happened but Scott and I were following Lucy when I thought were the hell are we and I'm not on a track anymore. So had a few hands out of pockets moments along side the raging burn and a bit of a drop if you went in.
After managing to find the path again and getting near the top we found that we wanted to be on the other side of the burn. After a bit of a look round and a will we wont we moment we went for it knowing it would be a wet one. Managed to get over without being washed away then Lucy and scott followed with "kipper" being hung on to at one point by Scott as his legs were just about washed away.I took my boots off and tipped a few gallons of water out and with soaking socks squelched off up the hill.
After this little adventure we looked around and realized that the visibilty had improved and we could see right down the Glen. I think at this time Scott made the call that he was going to run up the nearest Munro. Lucy very kindly took his rucksack so he did not have to come back down that way for it and we would meet over the pass.I walked on for a bit Knowing Lucy would catch up with me in no time even if she was carrying two backpacks !!. We had a nice walk over the pass meeting other walkers heading the same way "kipper" was having the time of his life sniffing / digging / and running all over the place.
Scott caught us up after having a good run over the ridge and we headed off together back towards the main road.
the view back
I think I will skip the next part as it just consisted of walking part of the main road and the most uninteresting part of the WHW, before back down in the direction for Loch etive and the tents / car/ dry socks and shoes
I got changed while Scott took Lucy back for her car (nice how they look after the old man ) Then it was off to the pub for food beer and a social evening. We all had a good night chatting with away with the other whw walkers etc and a few pleasant hours were passed.

A Night in the pub ( I think it was worth the wet / midges/ and poor sleeping.
The next morning (I had a rough night so little sleep ) we all packed up and headed for the green welly shop for coffee and breakfast I was nodding in the car while Scott drove down. After meeting up with Lucy Callander was the next call as the two ultra runners had an idea of doing a couple + of hours having a run the sun was out and sky blue only problem I was dead. Callander was reached and we parked up and Lucy and scott got ready for their run and me and Kipper stayed in the car. I did try to take Kipper a walk be he just wanted to stay in the car which we both did and we were both asleep at one point.Scott and Lucy came back after what they said was a very nice run and Luck kindly took us to a very nice coffee shop. Enjoyed a very nice bowl of soup and chink of bread plus tea and cakes. Have earmarked that place for a visit with Scott's mum sometime.We said our goodbyes to Lucy and we all set off home after what was a very pleasant if not uncomfortable (at times) weekend.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Alpine holday with Scott

Scott and I flew out from Edinburgh on friday evening 20th August heading for Munich and then down towards the Austrian border. Arriving late we had booked into a hotel near the station in Munich hoping to get down to the famous beer hall in the old town but were a bit to late so had to seetle for a walk round and then back to the hotel. We caught the morning train to Mittenwald where we had an apartment booked for the next three nights , so a Subway brekky at the station before getting the train.When we arrived at Mittenwald we were hoping to leave the cases at the station before heading off to Leutasch district in Austria where Scott had entered the Half marathon trail run??. Finding the left lugage lockers broken we gambled on going to our accommodation early and leave the cases there. The lady owner was cleaning the place when we got there and could not of been more helpful so leaving the cases we caught the bus over to Leutasch district over the border.
 Scott had plenty of time to get set up for his "holiday" fun run while I found the Austrain beer going down rather too well. Scott had a good run considering we were both tired from travel etc and came in a very criditable 5th place , I think I would be on my 5th beer by then as there was a beer garden next to the finish. The day ended with two tired but happy people crawling into the beds for the night.

Have inserted a couple of Photo's to show the weather we were having and the great walking area we were staying in needless to say Scott was not walking these hills he was having "Fun" running them.
We had three great days in Mittenwald in glorious weather and I even managed a couple of great walks the second one with Scott up to the highest ridge in town it took me all day but was very chuffed I made it thanks to lots of weight loss in the past few weeks and Scott's mentoring.

On the left is a sunset photograph of
 the ridge we walked to the top of from town and on the right is the man who helped me get up there.

After that good few days we headed off on the Austrain railjet train accross to Switzeland and a very little villiage called Burgen. Again we had fantastic weather and I was off walking again and Scott was doing some amazing running routes over the alps.

Above is a photograph of avery nice easy ridge walk I did with views on each side. I did say easy but did mean under foot I was still puffing like an old steam engine ! The problem i had is when I got over the last top I had a struggle to find may way down and the "nice" path had vanished into the next Photograph where i was following the red and white markers.
I struggled over the above but the character who did it the next day and took this photo for me RAN over it so i was going to make some comment about horses for courses etc. The day Scott ran this way (the day after my walk as he was away on another epic alp run ) I did a low level walk and we met up at a wee village with the one "pub"for a very welcome cold beer.
I had to head home the next day and went on the "palm express" bus to Lugano before getting on a train for Milan for a night stop over and that day was the first one with heavy rain for the first few hours. I did not see much on the way down from the alps to the lakes but did spare a thought for scott who I left at St Moritz to go alp running. I later found out he had to abort for lightening etc as on the hills is not the place to be at that time.
As a holiday it must be classed as one of my better ones and would like to get back out that way again but may have to sell the house to do it.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

River ayr weekend

This weekend had been planned  by Scott and Lucy to run the river ayr way. Scott was  doing it to see how his injury was going to stand up to 44 miles of running and Lucy wanted to have a look at the route and find out any awkward parts. I was just going along as support driving Scotts car and meeting up at various check points on the way.

We set off early saturday morning to meet up with Lucy at the start of the river ayr  way at Glenbuck . Lucy arrived complete with her dog "kipper" who was not too impressed at starting the run and he promptly jumped into Scotts car and refused to come out. Lucy did manage to get him out after a brief tussle and plans were put in place to meet up later. We had met up with another runner who was going to see how he would get on and his partner was also driving in support so that would be company for me at check points.

The first couple of meeting points worked quite well and I think Lucy was pleased to be able to run without carrying lots of "fuel" in the bum bag. I think she was even more pleased when Kipper decided that he had run enough and she could leave him in the car with me.
I set off to the village of Sorn with a dog that didn't know me and in a strange car, I didn't have to worry about him as he promptly looked at me lay down on the back seat and went to sleep.

After we left Sorn the other runner and partner stayed behind so now I had "kipper" for company. Arriving in Failford managed to get him out of the car for a walk but then after returning to carry on up the road he promptly pulled back to the car so I let him back in and from then on no way was he getting out. I think he had thought he had run and walked enough for the day. Lucy and Scott arrived a little later for a drink and food stop before heading off on their merry way to the coast.

At the next bridge I pulled over to take a couple of photographs when the couple who had started at the same time pulled up . He had done his running for the day but was taking the chance of getting a photo with Lucy and Scott. Right on cue they ran down the river bank and over the bridge where the requested photograph was taken.

The next stage was not too much fun as it meant driving through Ayr to find the finish . This was not going to be easy as I have never been in the town before. I just headed to the sea front and parked as near to where I thought the finish may be. I thought I would have a walk with the dog and get a coffee but he wasa not going to budge out of the car which limited my movements. I was saved after not to long by a call from Scott on his mobile as they had finished and were only about 100 mtr away on the sea wall. We all met up and went for a carry out and Scott and Lucy got changed before we headed back to Glenbuck. After saying goodbye to Lucy and Kipper,  Scott and I still had to find somewhere to put our tents ( we had planned to camp out that night ). As our first option was full we took pot luck and headed south where we managed to get a couple of spaces to pitch the tents in the "holiday park " at beattock. The saving grace of the place was it's own bar and reasonable priced  beer the down side was screaming kids and very merry adults, We headed off to a nice coach house we had spied on the way in and had a very pleasant night killing a few drinks then returning to the tents later.

Sunday :-
After crawlng out of the tents the next morning the "coffee " fix was badly needed so we quickly packed up and headed off in the direction of Moffat seeking the required cafe. We were in luck and had coffee and food vegi Scott scrambled egg and I just could not resist the famous morning bacon butty.After more coffee and a call in the shops we headed off towards the Grey mares tail for a mind clearing walk.

Parking at the start of the trail we headedoff up the track joining a gaggle of other families doing "the walk". My very slow plod got me to the top while scott was shooting off taking photo's. We thought of looking up a geocache but the gps died on us as I had not put new batteries in it.

It was abit damp and misty at the top but still a very nice walk which was far enough for me . Scott still feeling quite good after his 40 odd miles yesterday was going to "run" up White Coomb so off he disappeared while I retraced my tracks back down to the car. I had only just reached the car when Scott came bounding down the track passing very suprised "walkers" using it , arriving back the first words were "yes Brilliant" so I gathered he'd had a good run.
We headed off in the direction of home but wanted to find somewhere to sit and get the stove on for fresh coffee. Eventualy we settled on St mary's loch and moving away from the crowds found a nice quiet spot along the loch. We had folding chairs / stove / fuel/ water/ soup / crusty bread. and sat for a very pleasant hour looking over the loch. The final part of the journey home was in the direction of very dark clouds and it was not long before we hit torrential rain which the wipers could just cope with.We were both glad to arrive back at Scott's flat (forgot to say he was driving today ) after what had been a great weekend and it was hard to think we had only left the his flat the day before we had managed to get a lot in and great fun.


Sunday, 4 July 2010

Blog revival

Well I got back to up dating the blog after a couple of months of inactivity. June was the month that Scott won his Scotland vest for Ultra running
He had worked very hard to get to this level of fitness then the gremlins struck and he picked up an Injury a few days before making his first appearance for Scotland. With nothing to loose he gave it a go but after 50k his quads froze solid and through gritted teeth and some help from the English team Physio just managed to stagger round for several more hours in agony to finish the 100k.I was very proud of him and as some of the other team members said if Scott had dropped out they would have done so as well.
I can assure all that after that epic run the ale ran freely that night and the holiday booked for the week after was looked forward too.

One Week Later :-
We all set off for Lochcarron in the west highlands, Scott , his mum, myself and Midge the dog. A cottage had been booked a while ago over looking the loch and near to hotels (for drinks ) and shops (for drinks )

A good time was had by all even the old "Westie" had a second "childhood". Scott did a few Munro's but had to run several miles to reach them. We did a walk together for so far before he ran the "high" road and I walked the "low "road , the weather was great and loads of video and photo's were taken
 The above photo was one of the many taken on the walk, and yes the ridge on the right of the photo Scott ran up and I walked to the east well below the tops.
More photo's of the first walk on this link.

We did more walking on other days and Scott and mum walked up the hill behind the cottage one evening and had a good wonder about. I did one more walk with Scott and we set off together this time he had the camera and I took the camcorder. After walking together for a while Scott headed off on his run to tackle some Munro's in the distance, I walked at a steady pace filming the area. I did have a fancy at having a go up one of the hills which was said to have the best Munro views . I set off over a "wire" bridge and followed a stalkers path towards the top , I did get it all wrong and thought the first peak I saw was the top but it ended up only being about a third of the distance. It did take me ages but I was chuffed to make it to the cairn at the top and I did film the views which were as good as they said. It was very windy so I did not stay long as I was meeting Scott at the bottom of the hill . To put things in perspective Scott by then had run miles and had been to the top of three munro's while I had managed the one hill (865 mtr) we had walkytalkies and had kept in touch when we could so i headed back down to meet Scott.


"My " hill in the distance from Scotts lunch break.  The wire bridge at the bottom of "my" hill

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Family weekend Loch Lomond area

Eldest daughter Shirley and family, Paul , James and Mathew were on a flying visit from Australia so we planned a complete family get together over Loch Lomond area. We booked up three log cabins on the "bonny banks" all next to each other for a good social long weekend. The weather was fantastic for the time of year and we had temperatures of 20 degrees.
Lots of beer and wine flowed and it is safe to say a good time was had by all. We had the old dog Midge along and he just lay in the sun on the veranda

The sunsets were fantastic and sent an orange glow over the water and hills. It was not all just sitting around and a few good walks were taken up the hills and a little geocaching took place. Scott went his usual running up the trails and took some great photographs while up the hills. I have posted a series of photographs on flicker which are available to look at but will add a few more on the blog as they say a picture paints a thousand words. (well I say )

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter day out

Scott and I had arranged to have a day / night out in one of our favourite places ie the Trossachs.
Had booked a B&B for saturday at our final stopping place which as usual for us was Killin by Loch tay.
The idea for the day was quite simple we would drive to callander and Scott would have a "training " run to Killin using part of the route 7 cycle path. I would drive ahead and supply the odd water bottle as required but the points we could meet up were not too many over the 22 mile + route. We have done this before  with me on a bike and Scott running but this time I took the easy option as the only way I could stay in contact was in the car as he leaves me for dead even if I am on the bike.
The weather turned out to be good for the "run" so we set off from home to Callander our starting point at which time Scott headed off up the old railway line which is a great cycling / running / walking track.
 I did manage to get ahead at a few parts of the route and took a few photo's of Scott enjoying himself on the track.
The track went one side of Loch Lubnaig and I had to stay on the A84 up to Strathyre. The snow level was a lot higher than the previous days so the path was fine for the run. I went ahead to strathyre and had a walk round while waiting for Scott to turn up but the way he was moving I knew it would not be long and I could see he was enjoying a good run. We had planned a break at Balquhidder at the "old library" coffee shop so we met up as agreed for a nice coffee before Scott headed off for the last half of the run. I only met up with Scott once more after that break as the track was only available to me at one crossing point so I took a few more photo's before heading off to Killin for our final meeting place which was the old pub at the Falls of Docart.
I had gone ahead to the B&B parked the car headed back with dry clothes for Scott at the falls pub. Scott managed to get a prime seat by the log fire so we had a good few hours enjoying the hospitality on offer  after more wine and food and a walk round to find some live music we ended up very late at the B&B for the night.