Monday, 31 May 2010

Glen Finglas ~ Sunday 30/05/10

Fully recovered from yesterday, an early start again for a Sunday as we were on the road by 8.30 a.m. and heading to Glen Finglas at Brig O Turk, not far from Callander. The weather was being kind to us. Dry and warm but not the intense heat of the week before, thankfully! We arrived at Glen Finglas car park at 9.45 a.m. and wasted no time in getting started. Our route for the day, a 15 mile circular trail around Glen Finglas. These type of routes, circular ones, we have found are better than the ones where you walk out to a point and then have to turn and walk back the way you have just come.

This walk began with a walk (climb) through woodland around Lendrick Hill before emerging at the viewpoint where we enjoyed some amazing views. Wow, Scotland sure has the most beautiful scenery. We are very lucky! Continuing on the woodland path we eventually joined with a private road which led us into the heart of the estate. We then headed into Glen Meann on a hill track, which climbs over the back of Meall Cala and reaches a height of approx 1800 feet. The track was undulating, although there were some very steep climbs too. Underfoot the path consisted of rough stones which meant keeping an eye on where we were stepping. Apart from a couple of small groups of walkers it was relatively quiet compared to the Pentlands. Only cows and sheep for company. Michelle, with camera in hand, as always, was keen to photograph our friends, as you will see!!!

At the sign post for Balquhidder, just over 2 hours into our walk, we had a quick 20 minute break for something to eat. It was incredible how quickly we cooled down with the short stop and when the temperature dropped slightly too. Energy levels replenished we continued on our uphill climb. At the trail summit we placed a stone on the cairn and had the obligatory photograph taken as proof!! A fairly steep descent followed and caution was necessary ~ not only to avoid going over an ankle but also to avoid the many 'cow pats'!!

After the descent we stopped at the edge of Glen Finglas Reservoir to refuel. We found a beautiful picnic spot and basked in the warm sunshine. Shame actually that we couldn't linger for longer but as we still had a couple of hours walk ahead of us so we had to forge on! It wasn't too far or long to go before we joined the estate road that brought us to the last stretch of woodland path that led us back through the woods to the car park. It was 4.45 p.m. when we reached the car park and Michelle had the camera out to capture the moment! No time to worry about how we looked and neither of us felt it mattered anyway. It was a good feeling that all our months of training and preparation for the West Highland Way were completed and we're ready to face the challenge ahead of us!

The countdown has definitely begun ~ Sunday, 6th June ~ 9.00 a.m. will see us begin the 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William. We will post our route on the blog (dates and miles) for those wishing to keep track of where we are each day. We will also be updating the blog, daily, God willing, whilst we are away so please log on to follow our progress.

Steph, in the words of your McFly song, "It's All About You" and with that focus at the forefront of our minds I know we will do it!

R.I.P. My No. 1 Daughter!

The Ochils ~ Saturday 29/05/10

In stark contrast to last Sunday's heatwave, Michelle and I set off on Saturday afternoon in heavy rain to Tillicoultry. Our aim was to climb to the summit of Ben Cleuch, a height of 2,363 feet.

We were well equipped with waterproofs, gloves, hats etc, which were much needed and used as you will see by the photographs! The trail started at the Alva Glen car park and took us through woodland to begin with, which sheltered us slightly from the heavy rain. The steady climb of Craighorn Ridge as we made our way to Ben Cleuch wasn't spoiled by the weather as the rain eased off. The higher we climbed the more wonderful the views were. It was brilliant reaching Ben Cleuch, although it was cold. However, we managed to find some shelter to take a sort break and something to eat. Of course, a photograph at the trig point was a must to prove we had reached our goal!!

This was a 10km circular route, not the distance we have been used to but nonetheless a good training exercise because of the climb. The descent from Ben Cleuch was not as easy as we thought it would be because of the wet conditions. The rain had made it very slippery underfoot and even with walking boots on caution was most definitely required. There were some steep drops so we treaded carefully! We arrived back at the car, injury free, and rewarded ourselves with a light refreshment in "The Woolpack" in Tillicoultry. A lovely pub with good atmosphere where the staff and locals were very friendly and welcoming. We would highly recommend it and it's only a few hundred yards from the car park.

We felt it a good afternoons work which will help us with the terrain ahead of us next week-end!!!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pentlands 2 ~ 23rd May 2010

Well, there was no escape for Michelle as she and I arrived at Bonaly for a re-run of my previous week's trek in the Pentlands. We had picked the hottest day of the year, so far, to put ourselves through our paces over the same course I had done the previous week with my brother, John.
We arrived at Bonaly at 9.30 a.m. and were eager to get started. The sooner we got started, the sooner we'd be finished!! Michelle had no idea what lay ahead of her!!!
Detailed instructions of the route in hand, courtesy of John, we made our way up the first incline. Even that first part of the climb was hard work as the temperature began to rise. Uphill and out into the open hills where there was no escaping the sun as we headed over Capelaw. I was impressed that we managed to find our way to Castlelaw Farm, next to the M.O.D. shooting range, without getting lost!! John's directions were proving 'foolproof'! Obviously he knows me well!!! Enroute we met quite a number of students, in groups, taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme overnight camping excercise. With teachers strategically placed throughout the Pentlands, this ensured they would come to no harm. Our first stop was at Harlaw Visitor Centre for lunch and a most welcome break. We quickly chose a vacant bench in the shade to avoid the heat from the sun. Michelle and I were wearing our "Steph" T-Shirts and this encouraged a conversation with two teachers (who were patiently waiting for a group of their students to arrive) about the West Highland Way. They had completed the 96 mile walk on two previous occasions. It was encouraging talking to them and finding out things to avoid, whilst gaining some useful tips too.

If they're reading this page, Thank You!!!

After lunch, and also smothering ourselves in suntan lotion, we were on our way again towards Nine Mile Burn Path and headed up the ridge leading to West Kip, East Kip and Scald Law. I hadn't enlightened Michelle to the climb that was ahead of us as I didn't want to spoil the surprise!!! Actually, I didn't want to put her off as the sun was relentless and beating down which was energy sapping. Plenty fluids was the secret and Michelle never once asked for a "Blue WKD or Pimms"!! At the summit of Scald Law the views were every bit as spectacular as before, except this time the wind was much calmer and warmer than it had been the previous week. If it was that warm at the top of Scald Law then we knew those running in the Edinburgh Marathon were having a tough run!

We then headed down towards the road where we 'refueled' beside the house and burn at the bottom of the hill. It was great to sit in the shade of a tree, although we didn't want to sit for too long and stiffen up.

The next part of the walk was on road for about 2 miles before we branched off to go back over the hill back to Bonaly and our starting point. Our chauffeur for the day, Arthur, kindly headed in to meet us with extra water, which was greatly appreciated. It was a 'feel good' factor on the descent down to the carpark where we arrived back at the car at 5.30 p.m. A long day, in extremely hot conditions, and fair to say we were exhausted. However, we felt a great sense of achievement completing the course without going off track. Albeit John had given us step by step directions but two females, on their own, neither of whom can map read, I think we did well!!

Next week-end will see our last long training sessions on Saturday afternoon and Sunday as final preparation for June 6th. If we're not prepared by then, we never will be!!! Final countdown ~ both scarey and exciting at the same time!!!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

16.5.10 - Pentlands

Only two weeks to go!! Can't believe how quickly the weeks have flown past. Training has been going well and almost prepared for the "Big Challenge". Steph's Uncle John, has acted as our unofficial and unpaid coach! We've picked up lots of tips and advice from him, which has been great and invaluable. If we put it all into practice then we should have an enjoyable 'West Highland Way' experience!
Last Sunday (16th May) John (Big Brother) took me up into the Pentlands for a training session. Michelle was at a works conference and unable to join us. It was a fantastic training exercise with beautiful scenery and views at the top of Scald Law to compensate for the hard ascent. Approximately an 18 mile, figure of eight route, starting at Bonaly and heading to Capelaw and Glencorse Resevoir.
Our first stop of the day was at Harlaw Visitors Centre for a picnic lunch in beautiful sunshine, as you will see from the photograph. We were joined by a group of students who were, we think, doing part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. In fact we met quite a few groups of students, throughout the day who were all in great form considering they had been camping overnight in the hills ~ so we had nothing to complain about having just fallen out of our comfy beds!!

After lunch it was onwards and most definitely 'upwards' as John had saved the best climbs until the afternoon!! The views of Edinburgh from Scald Law were fantastic. Extremeley windy at the top though. The proof can be seen from the photograph but worth every minute of the climb.

Michelle needn't feel disappointed about missing out on the "Pentlands Experience" as her and I are going to repeat the whole thing again this Sunday. As John is to be away we're on our own!!John has given me a map and directions so we don't get lost!! Not quite sure that will be suffice to save two damsels from straying off onto the wrong path!!

Will let you know how it goes in our next blog update!!!