Monday, 10 September 2012

Lesley's first Munro

It all started off with Scott , Lesley and I saying the usual "what's on next weekend and to Scott what run do you fancy ? Callander to Killin was the reply ! Well I thought that's Scott by himself then as Lesley and even more myself did not stand a chance of running that far. I came out with the fateful remark well we could do a walk and meet up and somewhere later and somehow  Ben Vorlich was mentioned. "I have never done a Munro said Lesley" !! Oops I thought what have I done now as it's been a year since I managed one. We will see what the weathers like and make a choice later .
As it turned out the weather was not going to be very good in the west so the Friday night was spent working out where to go and what to do.Scott was quite happy to do his long run anywhere and just said stick to the east highlands. I must admit I did have a urge to go somewhere I had not done before and so the final call was made a walk up the northern end of Glen Isla and if able head up a Munro .
We had arranged to meet Lesley at our place then head off north so at 9am we all piled into Lesley's car and headed to Perth. The plan was to "throw" Scott out at Perth and let him run to Dunkeld and we would continue via Blairgowrie then north on the A93 before heading over the B951 to Glen Isla.All went well until we went to turn off on the B951 to Cray the road was closed ! so it was about turn and drive back for a few miles before taking the detour we had missed on the way. Eventually we were back on the planned road before taking a single track way up Glen Isla to Auchavan farm where the road ended.A few hundred yards of land rover track and we parked up by the river. Lesley changed into her boots and we sorted ourselves out for our "little" adventure. I must mention at this time we had perfect blue sky and it was a gorgeous day for a walk.
A happy Lesley ready for the start

To be fair on Lesley she was just holding the walking poles for me as I needed them not her for when we went up the hills.The first 3k we were walking on a good land rover track to Tulchan Lodge along the river Isla
John on his way up the track

Look at that sky
We were having a good walk up the river but the old man would not stand still for a Photo so Lesley had to do her little run stops to get ahead to take one so here it is included . One point about the walk Scott checked on line and the Estate were quite happy for walkers to make their way over the land if they stuck to the known routes.To make the point about being responsible walkers we heard the shooting going on and saw that the beaters were out on the hills on the other side of the river we did take a few photo's but they were difficult to see at that distance.
yes there are people shooting on this hill
We were in no hurry and were just enjoying the nice walk up the glen mind you I was waiting to see what the first climb I had let myself in for was looking like.There was no way we ( I ) could not try going on the tops on a day like today just knew that I would be knackered by the time we got there.We had a break by the last line of trees before starting up the hill to get on the ridge.
the first look at Monega hill before rest at trees
We followed the faint track up the side of the hill after cutting a corner off and crossing the burn which in retrospect we would have been better going past the signpost and picking the track up later, but never mind even Lesley's little legs managed to get over with the little help of a walking pole.
This is the time when when the "baby steps" came into play to prevent getting into oxygen debt and end up gasping for air. Well that's what I have to do anyway and Lesley managed to control her enthusiasm and do the same.I must add at this time that may have been a mistake as she was talking all the way up while I could only manage a grunt back so I had to say she could talk as much as she like but not to expect an answer.We had a short break on the first shoulder of the hill and just sat enjoying the views and both admitted what a good day we had for walking.I just hoped I would feel the same if or when I got to the top.
rest break part way up Monega hill
We climbed the hill to the top at 908 meters and had fantastic views of the corries at the head of the river Isla. To be honest we had missed a very faint track that cut out some of the climb up the hill and was a shorter route to Glas Maol but we were glad we had come that way.We took our time and had a good look round as now we had "cracked" it and were standing on the plateau with sheer drops down into the corries
giving fantastic views far and wide.
corrie view
Lesley above corries
top of corrie
long way down 
We spent some time enjoying all we could see but then had another 2 miles to walk to get to the objective of Glas Maol . The cloud was starting to increase from the west so we headed off over the plateau in case the weather caught us out.Walking down and up again over little Glas Maol at 973 meters I must admit I did not have much left in the legs but Lesley was enjoying it and only 1.5k to go. We had to drop down a little before the final climb up to the summit and she asked if I was ok and that little devil in me came out and I said " that's far enough we can go back now". I can't tell you the look of disbelief on her face but she always gets her own back someway.Hence out with camera for the red face old man.
red face revenge photo on final climb
The wind had increased by now and we had lost some of the blue sky but we knew we had made it so walking over the last rise we could see the cairn. We walked to the top together and the pleasure we both had was brilliant, Lesley had climbed her first ever Munro and I had managed another one much to my surprise.
Lesley top of Glas Maol 1068 meters
We sat in the shelter of the cairn and had a wee nip from Lesley's flask and something to eat as we were not in a hurry not in a race just enjoying the moment. A few more walkers came and went but I think we just wanted to make it last.
needed to lean on something
Lesley took photo on her phone but we had no signal to send to Scott and Olga so having a last look round we reluctantly started the long walk off the hill and back to the car.
When we had finished we had covered just over 15 miles and over 1100 meters and both a happy couple . I was so pleased to be the companion to escort Lesley up her first Munro and see the pleasure on her face at the end of the day.The pints of guinness in the pub that night went down very well.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Great Glen Way support

After a great weekend doing my support role with Scott's ultra running I thought it was time to update my blog.
In a nut shell we have been talking about the Great glen way run for a while but the weather was never friendly frame of mind or free weekends were never available. At the beginning of the week Scott said he was on for this weekend was I up for it , it was no contest I was hooked even though still shaking off man flu.
Scott did all the planning for accommodation and what stages he wanted to do and I worked round how to make sure I was in the right place at the right time with the right "food". This is my view of the weekends adventure and I'm sure Scott will be doing his on the running side so both perspectives may be seen.
I met up at Scott's flat Friday evening after he got home from work transferred my gear over to his car and headed off to Fort William with an early start for Saturday morning scheduled.We did manage to arrive at a reasonable time and a couple of pints taken before alarms were set for silly o'clock.
Dragging ourselves out of bed Scott got ready for his run complete with head torch and we left 05:15 disturbing the night porter. Scott had said I could sleep in and catch up later but I felt that part of the "fun" of support is to be at the start and finish.
I watched Scott disappear into the night and i completed loading the car before heading off for Neptune's staircase at Banavie. As I normally did when doing support "work" I had a few geocaches to look for while waiting to meet up but unlike Scott I was not geared up for "night" searches so it was a very slow drive to the staircase.
I parked up and walked over to the lochs where I new I would see Scott at some time and by then it may be light enough for my search.
Neptune's staircase

Within about 15 Min's after I took this Photo Scott arrived and the light had improved enough for me to wish him well as he started up the canal side and I went geocaching. I new I had well over an hour to get to our planned meeting point at Gairlochy so my my own search started and I found the cache quite quickly so I thought what the hell I'll just have another slow drive up the B8004 and settle myself in at Gairlochy. I am always a little worried that I can't get parked were it's easier to help Scott on his run but I suppose that's the "support" side thinking. The B8004 looks down over the route in places so took the chance of an early morning photo in the slight mist.
Caledonian canal
I never saw Scott at this time but he would be running up the right hand path by the canal which can just be made out over the water.I did disturb some of the wild life but never met one car in an 8 mile slow drive.
I had plenty of time when I reached Gairloch and parked up with ease ( so much for worrying ). I even had a picnic table by the side of the way so I set up shop on it while waiting for the man.
Among the treats I had with me today was a portable gas stove loads of water thermos flasks two large and a small one with fresh milk.As we were treating this as an adventure run etc not a race apart from the usual banana's / marmite crisps / bread rolls / cans of soup cookies / coffee instant and ground plus a small cafetiere. I boiled some water up and made a coffee and put the rest still boiling into one of the flasks as it saves Scott hanging around getting cold / stiff waiting for hot water and I had only a rough idea of when he would arrive so had the place to myself and walked about taking photo's and watching what wild life there was. I must add at this time it was never cold and it was very pleasant to be outside at that time of the morning. There was no wind and all water surfaces were like glass mirrors but my photo's don't do it Justis
water mirror
Scott turned up and had his "proper" coffee and we chatted for a bit before he disappeared over the bridge and away from the canal to run round Loch Lochy as the path wound along the hillside in the forest.This is where the road goes on the other side of the loch so we would not be meeting up until the end of the Loch Lochy Another picnic area had been agreed to meet at as the way came back over to my side at Laggan Lochs. I again arrived in plenty of time and set up camp on a picnic table this stop had been counted as a "proper" refuel stop so hot soup was going to be on the menu.
vegetarian french onion soup
Note cafetiere on the left , blue flask full of boiling water and the soup waiting it's turn and was going to be put in the grey flask if I got the timing wrong. I did my usual photo shoot and even the big loch were windless and to think the number of times I have driven past this place and never bothered to detour for a look.
looking back down Loch Lochy
 I would be having some time to myself while Scott headed for Fort Augustus as the track and road parted company again.
I new I would have plenty of time at Fort Augustus so went geocaching again and even had a little jog down the Great glen way myself for a few minutes as that's all I could manage.
I had found another picnic table for later but was to early to set up yet so spent some time chilling out as I think the early morning was catching up and to think this only just coming up to half way.Scott came along and again we had coffee and snacks and as he said coffee was going down well but would not be a good idea for a serious race. He headed back up into the forrest and I headed off to the next meeting point at Invermoriston. This is another of those places that I have driven through in about 5 minutes and what a sin it's too nice to bypass. Parking no problem more picnic tables village hall with new toilets and drinking water made available very nice place.There were local walks around the village so i did some exploring before Scott arrived and saw the largest highland bull ever .
some great  animal
Telfords bridge
Plenty to do here and had a look at some of the paths and "caches" plus one of Telfords original bridges
and some pleasant trails to walk.
We rested up for a bit before Scott set off on one of the legs he was not to sure of 14 miles no support or opt out places so biting the bullet and a change of shirt off he went.
So Drumnadrochit was my next point of call and I headed off up the A82 which could have been a pleasant drive apart from a few speeders that were racing along. At drum I set up base again and had a walk round town but refused to go to the Nessy exhibition just put the seat back and closed my eyes for a bit. Again more coffee and cookies and crisps later Scott was ready for the last leg of 18 miles and I was pleased to see apart from getting a bit tired he was moving well.I saw him off then had to find my way to some very minor roads which he would come out on at the top of the hill a bout 7 / 8 miles away. After a hairy drive on a very minor road I did my last couple of caches before waiting for Scott to arrive and now I was really feeling the early morning start and I was lucky to find a place to squeeze the car in so the road was clear and I could stretch my legs. I did take the chance of looking up some bronze age remains so educated myself while waiting.
old settlement
The great Glen way exit to the road.
Scott arrived out of the forest and we met up on the minor road so we topped up his drinks changed shirt to a dayglo yellow as we new it would be dark by the time he reached Inverness and he set off again now knowing 10 miles and it would be over.
I headed off to Inverness and had intended to see Scott once more after about 3 miles for a final check before the road and path parted ways again but was caught out after a couple of miles where the path had taken a new route so I missed that chance. I drove down into Inverness and managed to park the car and walked up to the Great Glen finish at the castle which had a very convenient pub on the corner looking down the way so pint in hand I sat waiting for the runner to appear up the hill. He came into sight with  Sandy one of his old mates who lived in the area he had met up with earlier on the run  and had arranged jogging the last few miles to the finish with him. After a couple of Photo's on Scott's camera (so not in this blog) we all adjourned across the road for some well earned pints and a satisfied look on our faces so well done the runner.