Archive for May, 2010

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Night Walking

May 21, 2010

As the Caledonian Challenge lasts for 24 hours, it is inevitable that some of it will be walked in the dark.  Eeek.  The organisers recommend that you practise walking at night… so we did.

Equipped with my newly purchased 40-lumen-strong headtorch and accompanied by one of my team-mates (the other three having made their (legitimate) excuses not to join us), I left Edinburgh at 11:30pm.  This is not a normal time to be leaving the house to go walking.  It felt very odd.  An hour and 10 minutes later we set out along the Borders Abbeys Way.  We began our walk at St Boswells with the aim of reaching my team-mate’s parents’ house in Kelso (15 miles away) for an early morning post-walk cooked breakfast.

It was a cloudy night.  There was no moon.  There were no stars.  It was very very dark.  We could only see what was in the beam of our head-torches.  It was strange to have so little idea about what surrounded us but, at the same time, it was beautifully peaceful and it felt somehow special to be experiencing the world at a time when most people (sane people!) are tucked up in bed. Due to the aforementioned darkness, I can’t tell you much about what the Borders Abbeys Way looks like.  I can, however, tell you that it smells lovely.  Blossom, wild garlic, general country riverside freshness… delightful.

What was not so delightful was that it rained for most of the night.  But even this did not negate my enjoyment of the experience.  It was more drizzle that rain really, the kind you hardly notice when happily wrapped up in waterproofs. And, had it not rained, we would not have ended up sheltering in a phone box (the traditional painted red kind) at 4am eating blueberry muffins.  A surreal experience, the memory of which I will treasure.  Much as I will treasure the memory of the cooked breakfast that we made it to Kelso for. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a cooked breakfast more.

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Herds of deer and mountain hares

May 14, 2010

Back in March, I climbed my first two Munros.  Since then, I have climbed six more.  After Munro five, my Munro map got promoted from bookshelf to wall.  After Munro eight, I became a member of munromagic.com and started my own log.  I think the log is akin to the spreadsheet I previously identified as the one step I needed to take before becoming a Munro obsessive.  I think I have become that obsessive.

But, now I have discovered that padded heel grips stop me from getting blisters, I’m loving every minute of it.  I have found my legs to be stronger than I thought they were and that I’m much fitter than I was when I started this game (Stob Coire Easain and Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin). I have seen a whole heard of deer galloping across the mountainside and learned how important a compass is when the mountain has its head in a cloud (Geal Charn).  And I have seen agile mountain hares, in the midst of their colour change from winter white to summer brown, hopping across the snow and then hiding behind tufts of grass so that only their ears show (Carn a’ Gheoidh).

I love that each Munro is so different from the last. I love the feeling of achievement when you reach the summit and admire the view (assuming there is a view).  I love the feeling of impatience on the way down, the feeling that you can’t wait to start climbing the next one.  And I love that there are enough ‘next ones’ to keep me going for many years to come.

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