Tag Archives: Highlands

Memories are made of …….. paper

Sorting through some filing as part of my current house move, I came across these notes for an article to be written for the Epilepsy Assocation’s newsletter around 1993, which I had forgotten about.  There was a much edited version sent as well, but I have no recollection or record of whether either was ever printed. I was delighted to read the longer notes again mainly because I lost so many memories as a result of the grand mal seizures, that I need my souvenirs to prompt me.  It is good to see the beginnings of my ‘glass half full’ attitudes – I was a long time getting there.

TRANSCRIBED FROM HANDWRITTEN NOTES
“ Hello, my name is Susan, I’m 46 years old and I have epilepsy. Like many of you I’m sure, I spent most of my life being dictated to by that fact. As a result of parents and teachers ‘protecting’ me, until a few years ago all physical activity was a no-go area for me, despite most of my fits being nocturnal.
A few years ago I started hill-walking with Bob, my husband, and gradually this increased my physical confidence. Mind you, there was a great deal of ‘one step forward – three steps back’ but I persevered and saw such wonderful places. There are many hurdles in life for everybody to overcome but I’m sure you’ll agree that when something like epilepsy is involved the highest one is the fear of even trying.
We walked many munros (mountains over 3000 feet) and Bob planned to learn how to handle a rope, rock climb ad abseil to enable him to do the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye (the only munro requiring such skills). Me? No Chance! However, I saw some kids abseiling at a small crag in Glen Etive and thought it looked great fun, so when Bob went to the climbing wall at Meadowbank to prepare for the In Pin, I went along. I thought there’d be some stairs to go up to have a shot at abseiling down the wall and I was tempted to have just one shot.  Not so, you want to abseil down? You climb up!  Me climb? Out of the question! Why, what if …….. ? I’m sure the rest of that sentence will be familiar to you.
However, after watching one week, the second lesson I was tempted. Rab Anderson is the instructor at Meadowbank and what infinite patience he has! I took aaaages but I wasn’t caring, everyone was so supportive and although it was scary, the joy when I eventually reached the top was so all-consuming that I was hooked!
Then came real rock-climbing and abseiling totally under my own control. What a brilliant abseiler I am! Others may climb quicker and better but no-one can hold a candle to my abseiling. Well, OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but that’s how I feel inside, it is so good. The Inaccessible Pinnacle? Of course I did it! And the epilepsy? I haven’t had a fit for two years now and, although I wouldn’t be so rash as to ignore the change in my drug regime, I really do believe that facing my demons and learning to climb has had a tremendous effect in my staying fit free.
Here’s where you come in. Bob, Rab Anderson, Ted Agar (a film maker) and I are looking for people like you to take part in a film about climbing despite a disability. How about you? Do you fancy a shot at the wall with Rab? Isn’t it time for you to put your epilepsy in your back pocket instead of wearing it around your neck? If you have the teeniest amount of interest contact the Guthrie Street office and they will let us know. Come on, OK so you have epilepsy, but does it have to have you? Go for it, you’ll never look back. ”
2015 UPDATE
After being free of fits for five years (last fit 24 Oct 1990), in 1996 I started reducing my anti-convulsant drugs very, very gradually. My GP was reluctant at first but eventually was persuaded (aka nagged), and co-operated by prescribing lower dosage tablets to help me. I eventually stopped them totally in May 1998. My husband Bob, died in Oct 1998 so he was aware that I had achieved my goal.  He was my climbing partner so I never rock-climbed or abseiled again, but eventually did start hill-walking again with a friend two a few years ago.

Me on the summit of Scald Law in the Pentlands, Aug 2014

Me on the summit of Scald Law in the Pentlands, Aug 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have no recollection, or record, of any response to my appeal for folk to take part in the film referred to in the piece, but we did take members of the Epilepsy Association on hill-walks and taught some of them to climb and abseil at Blackford Crags. We also organised two abseils from the Bonnington Bond Building in Leith to fundraise for the EA – see 3 pic frame. Bob abseiled half way, locked off then took shots of me starting, mid-way and near the bottom.

The first abseil from the Bonnington Bind building.

The first abseil from the Bonnington Bind building.

 

Me climbing the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye. I do have a framed photo of the abseil but it's currently in storage.

Me climbing the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye. I do have a framed photo of the abseil but it’s currently in storage. It was the most glorious abseil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a free climb on Curved Ridge on Buchaille Etive Mor. This climb is often roped but I managed without and was awfae chuffed.

A free climb on Curved Ridge on Buchaille Etive Mor. This climb is often roped but I managed without and was awfae chuffed.

I love travelling and although I am perhaps past the physical scaling of heights, the emotional scaling is ongoing whenever I am feeding my soul from the simple wonders of the world. Hopefully I will keep these memories.

My beautiful Buachaille, my very bestest, favouritest mountain. I have been up it a few different routes, roped once on North Buttress, and unroped on the others.

Buachaille Etive Mor , my very bestest, favouritest mountain. I have been up it a few different routes, but now am gloriously happy just visiting and viewing from the glen. This was Sept 2015.

A Bit Of A MishMash

This blog is a bit of a mishmash with no proper overriding theme, but perhaps the almost-theme is little things meaning a lot.
Oct 23. I’ve been home a week now. The day after I was discharged we lost electricity.  We were offered hotel accommodation but we decided to stay home because we still had light and one socket by which we could brew up, charge phones etc.   So many little things couldn’t be done – by gum, don’t they all start meaning a lot!  We don’t realise how many things depend on electrical power until it’s not there.  A temporary fix was done the next day and a major repair will take place next week when once again we will be without power for a day.

It was a good job we stayed home because at 6.30am on the following day my nephrostomy wound started bleeding and I got the awful dread that Groundhog Day was back again. However, all was well eventually and it has been stable ever since, with just two days when there were tiny spots of blood from the wound. The drain has been working well and I’ve been peeing too, so I can be content that the left kidney is taking its share of the work. It’s funny how things like how much one pees and what colour it is, all start to matter and be worthy of remark. ( Pale amber aka ‘white wine’ is best ye ken.) Little things mean a lot.

Bodily functions dontarf gain in importance. When I was recovering from the first surgery I was in a lot of pain in my back and my abdomen became distended and hard. The former was as a result of damage to my ureter (see other blogs) and the latter because of trapped wind and toxins. Once I had a nephrostomy my kidney pain was eased and to my great joy I started farting which made such a massive difference to the rest.  Lesson from all that: never underestimate the importance of getting rid of flatulence folks – little farts mean a lot too. I reported it with great delight in texts to my partner and to the surgical team on their morning ward round – much to their amusement.

Small actions of support can be so valuable too. For instance, when I was first diagnosed, my partner immediately suggested we go for a drive to the Highlands, something which never fails to lift my spirits. When I am amongst the hills and the trees and the clouds and the water and oh! just absorbing this wonderful land of ours, my soul is fed and cares reduced.  11039845_10204965326752811_3696481917482359627_o

Feeding my soul in the Highlands.

 

 

 

 

How do I feel about the chemotherapy? Buggered if I really know. My first reaction was to be relieved that at least now I know what is ahead, the waiting was definitely the worst part. My second thought was to be very concerned about being sick – about which I was reassured – apparently nausea is not as much of an issue as it used to be, thank goodness.. I was not too worried about the idea of losing my head hair, although eyebrows and lashes could be tricky. I hope it means that my budding moustache and beard will go too and save all that pecky plucking (!).  That’ll be a little thing meaning a lot to me.  Since then have read more about the possible, and probable side effects, and it’s all very daunting, but with support from folk who have been through it themselves and others who will do their damndest to help, it should be do-able.  Allowing myself to get depressed would seem almost like letting them down, but sometimes staying strong is not easy.

One thing I am certain about is that I want to be rid of the external drain before starting the treatment. It’s a real nuisance having a bag of urine strapped to my leg (!), fitting clothes over the extra padding to protect the drain from getting knocked, and not being able to get comfortable in bed or in a chair – so I don’t want to be messing with that when I am feeling no-too-very-weel from the chemo. That may be a little thing to others but means a lot to me.

The main feeling at the moment is one of running on quarter power. It’s as though part of my umph-supply has been turned off. It’s probably a good thing because it seems to be preventing me from getting stir-crazy, but I am so very unused to not really being that bovvered about much.  Ach weel, I suppose my little things are going to have to mean enough for now.

The Devil and The Angel

This last week has been a strange one. I’ve spent the last four weeks feeling frustrated and pissed off by the waiting for my surgery,  yet a week ago at my assessment appointment everything changed when I had two of those devil/angel shoulder moments .  While still waiting to see the nurse consultant my ‘shoulder-devil’ prompted me to moan (yet again) “I still have a whole week to wait, a whole bloody week!”. Then not long afterwards when discussing the sorting/culling needing done at my flat before going into hospital my ‘shoulder angel’ elicited from me the remark “blimey, I’ve only got a week to do it”.    Honestly!

Not long afterwards the pair were at it again. The wee devil bemoaning the fact that I will be surrendering myself to the knife which will cause me pain, followed almost immediately with the realisation that I willing did precisely that when I underwent tattooing – twice!    Now come on – getting rid of cancer is a hell of a lot more justifiable reason for submitting oneself to a bit of pain than is a pretty butterfly skin decoration!
So – ever since then I have felt completely differently.   I am relaxed about the surgery and I feel calm about needing to take a back seat for a bit activity-wise.  I must add though that the tremendous support, encouragement and sheer love being shown towards me by friends has been totally overwhelming.   How could I not be inspired to overcome whatever is ahead.

12006457_10205152998484487_9828867155707189_oMy wonderful partner fed my soul by taking me to the Scottish Highlands on two consecutive weekends. I am a very lucky girl.

Soul-Feeding At A Lower Level

Walking in Scotland is wonderful ‘Food For The Soul’ but we don’t have to go up high to be ‘fed’.   For various reasons my walking chum, Debbie, and I have had to confine ourselves to lower level and local walks for a few weeks (and anticipate doing so more during winter weather)  all of which were equally rewarding even though not physically challenging.

Linlithgow Loch, Palace and St Michael’s Kirk.  approx 3 miles

The first walk in this blog was just 3 miles around Linlithgow Loch which is extremely picturesque.  The weather ‘came in’ as they say, but that didn’t spoil anything for us.

We also went in St Michael’s Kirk, the church nestling alongside the Palace.  The volunteer guide showed us around the interior of the kirk and related the
history and notable events.  It never ceases to amaze me how knowledgable are volunteers  in all types of historic buildings I visit and how they communicate the history and the events with such infectious enthusiasm.  My trouble is I tend to forget what I’ve been told quite soon thereafter(!)  Thank goodness for T’interweb!  More info here:

Mary, the future Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace  on the 8th December 1542. The infant Queen was baptised at St. Michael’s.  However, according to the link above,  “..in 1559, the Protestant Lords in their zeal to to obliterate all traces of Roman Catholic practises from the church destroyed not only the statues and alters but also the baptism font.  To this day occasional fragments of this orgy of destruction are still found around the church”.  The photo  is of the current font which I think dates from the 1800s.

As well as the historical artifacts the church has had more modern additions such as this stained glass window erected in 1992.  In 1964 a replacement, and at the time controversial, spire in aluminium in a modern style by the prominent Scots architect Sir Basil  Spence, representing Christ’s crown of thorns, was added. I lived in Linlthgow during the late 70s/early 80s and well remember neighbours discussing this in not too favourable terms – I have always liked it though.

As a result of my recent attempts to get back on my bike I was most interested to see this memorial plaque.  I can’t recall seeing mention of a cyclist battalion before.  See here for info about this rare battalion.

On our way home we called at a tiny church at the other end of town, St Ninians.  See here for more info.

We couldn’t go inside and I didn’t take a photo because there was scaffolding around it for work to be done on the roof.  However we did chat to the roof repairer – as you do – and found to our delight he was a font of knowledge about old churches in Scotland.  (no pun intended)  He strongly recommended us to visit Abercorn church – the oldest in Scotland – which we did a couple of weeks later. (Later in blog)

Prior to that visit though, we had walk on part of the Linlithgow Heritage Trail and River Avon Heritage Trail which includes the Union Canal.

Linlithgow, Linlithgow Bridge and back –  Union Canal_ – approx 5 miles

It was a beautiful day and again, although not particularly physically challenging, was a truly lovely wee walk. As it happens, I forgot to transfer my wee point and shoot from my handbag to my rucsac so I had to make do with my 2mpx mobile phone. But, as I say ad nauseum “the best camera is the one you actually have to hand” .   Our walk actually started in Kettlestoun, Linlithgow Bridge at an information point all about the battle of Linlithgow Bridge but really the route began in earnest underneath this viaduct.

Then along a river leading to the canal.

 

 

 

 

 

Going across the aquaduct….


This view is from the canal as we neared Linlithgow and is  looking across to the viaduct where we had started at Linlithgow Bridge. Along this stretch we saw a bird of prey in the far distance which, when I double checked about the shape of it’s tail at home, I am fairly sure was a White-tailed Eagle.

Canoeists getting their own Food For The Soul on the canal …..  

Being low level did not detract from the beauty that surrounded us and the sheer joy of being part of nature.

Abercorn Church to Blackness Castle and back  – approx 5 miles

The next trip was from Abercorn Church to Blackness Castle.  The church is a little gem with a history dating back over a thousand years.  For more info click here.

After visiting the church and the teeny museum we went through the woods then down onto the shore to Blackness Castle.

Our hearts sank as we got closer to the castle though – it looked as though we were snookered by a wee river – but luckily we eventually discovered a tiny bridge.   (Debbie could have leapt from bank to bank but I wouldn’t have stood a chance with my wee legs.) We had our lunch at the castle them made our way back – this time by the wooded path all the way back to Abercorn.

The final low level walk taken in the past few weeks was further afield and is part of the West Highland Way.

Tyndrum, Allt Kinglass and back  – approx 10 miles.

When I checked the weather forecast early in the week it looked good for Wednesday so we made plans accordingly.  We planned to go from Tyndrum to Bridge Of Orchy and to get either a train or bus back.  Then on Tuesday night the forecast changed drastically to our great dischuffment so we were going for a ‘plan B’ instead.   Luckily I checked again on Weds morning and it was back to being hopeful, so we reverted to ‘plan A’.  I am SOOOO glad we did.  The weather was absolutely beautiful all day – amazingly bright, quite mild, no wind (changing to lovely wee breeze later) and was downright gobsmackingly gorgeous.  However, we learned a good lesson….check the bus times FIRST!   We were a bit late starting off and had a couple of stops to take photos on the way, so we were not exactly giving ourselves the best chance.  If we’d known the times we might have made adjustments or simply got a move-on.   This is a stitch of Loch Lubhair taken on the way up.

 The words ” Dull would they be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty”  sprang to mind. (I know Wordsworth was referring to London but how well it fits. )

When we finally started on the section it was 1.30pm.  We consulted the computer in the Green Welly Stop to find to our dismay that the bus times from Bridge Of Orchy were 3.04pm  and 8.14pm!!   There was no way we’d cover seven miles in 90 minutes!   We also considered getting the bus TO Orchy and walking back, but that had long since gone too so we had no choice but to attempt the walk both ways.   Quite frankly I was happy just to be there in such wonderful conditions – it didn’t matter about actually reaching Bridge Of Orchy.   Oh what a day it was!  Just see the weather conditions at  the start of the walk just behind the Green Welly Shop.


Ben Dorain was lording it over the route.   I’ve driven past this mountain “millions” of times and been across the area on the West Highland Rail Line twice.  I’ve always wanted to walk it ….. so chuffed to have done so at last.

We had noticed two other walkers in the distance who appeared to be struggling a bit with heavy packs and by the time we stopped for lunch we had caught up with them. While we were stopped we had a chat with a walker who had just come off Ben Dorain and said chappie reckoned the others were two German ladies planning to walk to Glencoe that day.  They’d been on the same bus as him that morning and he had been up the mountain and back in the time it had taken them to reach that point.  There was no chance of their reaching Glencoe, over Rannoch Moor, by the time the sun went down!
The route is clearly signed to go under the West Highland Rail Line via a wee tunnel .  The German ladies didn’t appear to have a map, or be observant, because they set off to continue across the hillside and had to be called back to go via the correct route under the tunnel.

On the other side of the tunnel…
We never saw the German ladies again so we suspect they turned left after the tunnel to take  the other part of this path which eventually met up with the main road after about a mile and led back into Tyndrum.  I do despair of folk going to the hills or on walks over roughish terrain without being properly prepared and equipped.

We turned back ourselves at Allt Kinglass.  It was only about a mile and a half from Bridge Of Orchy but to make it feasible for getting back to the car in daylight, and taking into account a two hour drive home after that, we decided it made sense to go no further.  Unfortunately my wee point and shoot’s batteries had failed soon after taking the photo of the coos and my replacement batteries were dead (duh!) so once again my mobile phone came to the rescue for the ‘golden light’ on the way back.

We were quite warm, so much so that Debbie stripped down to a sleeveless top, but then she noticed someone coming towards us who appeared to be smoking and realised that it was in fact their breath visible in the cold air – not smoke at all – it was actually rather chilly my dear!   We hadn’t noticed that the route went downhill on our way out but we sure did notice it was uphill coming back!   Our wee hearts were racing at full pace but in a good healthy, exercise way – not stressful at all.

Even a puddle can be beautifully photogenic……

Then of course the sun went down behind the hills and the golden light vanished, but by then we had arrived back at the car.    A nice hot coffee from the wee shop and we set off back home, both souls well fed.

I am getting more and more confident of my fitness – not a trace of aches or tiredness on any of these walks – despite this last one being around 10 miles and having some steepish parts.  When the soul’s appetite is satiated the body benefits as well.

Wheelly, wheelly scary stuff

See that phrase “It’s like riding a bike – you never forget” ?? Huh! That is SO not true!   I never rode a bike as a child (yet another totally unnecessary  restriction imposed on me because of having epilepsy) and don’t  recall any particular trauma learning for the first time in my early 30s, but I do know my bike didn’t have gears and I never went far.

I didn’t cycle again for another decade and getting used to it that time round was horrendously traumatic.  Eventually I coped and my late husband and I went on cycle tracks all over Scotland and a couple in England.  I managed the gears OK though was never too keen on anything very steep, and could even signal (!) but very rarely went in traffic .   I loved the Sustrans tracks where there was a scupture every mile – it made the rides so enjoyable.  I have such fond memories of those journeys.  Here are some scanned images from those days – Cycle Route 75 .  I had forgotten where the foot soldiers and centurion could be found but a friend told me they are between Bridge of Weir and Kilmacolm .  The other one was taken the same day but I’m not sure exactly where.

We did a lot of the long distance tracks in all seasons.  I used to go shopping occasionally with panniers on the bike and have toured along English waterways, again with panniers and with a rucksack on my back – so I did get fairly competent.  We highered my saddle over the months until I could cope with just toes on the ground which made pedalling more physically economical.  By gum, I need my full feet firmly on the ground now and cannae even push off, I have to scoot to get going!  That is what hurt me so much when I found myself back to square one when it came to riding this last time.  Thank goodness for two albums of photos proving that I had been on these trips – otherwise it would seem like I was completely havering.  I suppose that was my biggest problem – it hit me really hard when I realised I had lost so much confidence that it belied the belief in my own history and memories.

You see I had a very nasty fall from my bike early 1999 on the Bathgate to Airdrie cycle track – out in the middle of nowhere.   Although I had to get back on my bike to cycle back to my car thence drive myself to hospital – I  hadn’t ridden since. I did not realise how severely I’d been affected by the accident until a few months ago when my partner decided to get a bike.  I knew I would need to get back in the saddle if I was to join him but when  I accompanied him to the bike shop I felt physically sick and had palpatations – just in the shop – how pathetic is that!   I tried to brazen it out and get back in control by getting my bike serviced but inside I was terrified.  Anyway, another friend told us about cycling training sessions being run for older folk by Ageing Well at Meadowbank so we registered for them and went along. (It puts a whole new perspective on ‘recycled teenagers’ ) .
The tutors understand how hard it is to get back to cycling after decades away from it and take things from absolute basics. I borrowed one of their small bikes and spent ages just scooting with it before being able to pedal but, once I did, I was proper chuffed and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  At home I enthusiastically got my bike out of the shed but I couldn’t even mount – I was completely inhibited by it.  So….I decided to buy a folding bike like my partner’s, so it’d be convenient to carry in the car and more importantly, easier for me to ride by having a smaller frame.

At Meadowbank the following week  I reverted to feeling very stressed by the effort of cycling with my new bike but I kept control of myself……just.  Walter’s bike got a puncture so he took the chance to get some snaps – here I am attempting to steer round a slalom. (that’s me on RH side in a blue top)

However, gradually my voice was becoming higher pitched again – a sure sign of stress.  I didn’t go back to squeaking but it was noticeably higher.  Then, this last week the tension built up to boiling point and I had to let go.  It might seem embarassing for a 65 year old to be in tears about riding a bike but I wasn’t fazed by that happening per se because I know now that repressing it is what does the damage. Walter was so supportive and the others all understood because they had fears of their own to tackle.  After I had ‘let go’ I did my own thing  rather than join in with the exercises.  The previous week I had so much tension in my arms and hands that it caused quite a lot of discomfort/muscle pain so I practised riding with relaxed hands and very soon I felt a whole lot better.  And low and behold my voice went lower too!

I am fairly sure that next Monday I will be able to ride far more confidently.  In any case I won’t give up – I am determined to conquer this.  It may be wheelly, wheelly scary but there’s only one way round it and that’s to push on through the fear barrier.

When ye cannae tak the high road…

When ye cannae tak the high road…

27th June

Huh! Low-lying cloud-cum-fog reduced visibility to 100 yards or so as I drove to my friend Debbie’s house in Livingston but we were living in hope that the weather would be different further north, so off we set for Callander with the intention of climbing Ben Aan.

However, as we passed Loch Venachar (on the route to Loch Achray for Ben Aan), we had to accept that with the cloud base still stupidly low, we were on a hiding to nothing – there really was no point attempting to get up high. So, when ye cannae tak the high road, ye tak the low yun instead!

I had a few printouts of walks in my rucsac, including low level ones,  so we turned back to Callander to find the route listed as “Loch Venachar and the hidden lochan”.  (Yes, I know I said we were at the loch already but that wasn’t where the walking route started . )

We’d started getting eaten alive by midges in the few minutes we were in the layby so our next stop was in Callander to get insect repellent.  Tesco was sold out, but I bought a pack of Mars Bars so the visit wasn’t wasted, and we had a wee walk further into town to the chemists. They were almost sold out too but we snapped up a Jungle Formula roll on and spray and applied it liberally.

We then followed the instructions to find the start of the walk – another huh! in fact triple huh cos we (well I – seeing as it was me driving)  went the wrong way twice (to the amusement of a walker we passed) then when we were finally on the right one we met a humungous lorry coming toward us on a no-passing-places single track road!  (No probs actually – he backed up for me cos I had no room to let him pass.)

Forty-five minutes  after starting to look for the route (!) we eventually located the elusive car park and set off along the forest track.

We were half way up it before I remembered my stick so, by the time I had gone back to the car and caught up again, it was 1pm before we set off in earnest.  Time for a Mars Bar each.

There was a slight wetness in the air – not rain (yet)- more like walking through the edge of low-lying cloud (hmm!), but despite this we both removed our waterproof jackets because the temperature was still quite high and we were uncomfortably warm in them. Near the top of the path we met a young woman from Texas who lives in London and was walking the Rob Roy Way from Aberfoyle .  (Our route followed the unmarked Rob Roy Way for the first section but, as it is unmarked, we wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been in the said printout). We enjoy talking to other walkers – ships that pass in the night and all that.

From here, according to the description of the 7km walk, there would be “excellent views across the loch to the unfamiliar southern slopes of Ben Ledi”

Hurrumph!

We didn’t mind really – no honest, we really didn’t – the most important thing was to be out in the countryside getting some exercise and just having some “me time” or in our case “her time and me time” .  No two walks are ever the same and we revel in the different weather conditions and terrain.  The path was steepish for a few hundred yards  but soon levelled out through a forest of sitka spruce and led eventually to Lochan Alt a Chip Dhuidh, described as “a secretive sheet of water so well hidden by trees”.  I can’t find a direct translation for it but  based on what little I know of Gaelic, “Allt” means “water”, “Chip” is yet another word for “hill” and “Dhuibh” is “black”.  It certainly did look black  today.   At this point  our “low lying cloud” metamorphosed into actual rain, so on went the jackets. As it happens it had got slightly cooler so we didn’t mind.

The walk through the forest is not challenging but it does have its own beauty with little waterfalls appearing amongst the trees, water-boatmen on the puddles and ducks on the loch.

 The path leads down eventually to “a grand view over Loch Venachar ahead” and joins the tarred path of the National Cycle Network 7 which extends from Carlisle to Inverness.

Now then, Debbie had the route printout at first and confidently told me there was to be a cafe along the return route.  Accordingly we held off stopping for lunch until we got to the alleged cafe.

Another Huh!  My tummy started growling like a lion with a thorn and Debbie’s energy was waning, so I checked the text and discovered it was “views across the loch………new Harbour Cafe on the far shore” . The other side of the loch!!  What on earth possessed the writer to tell us about a cafe we could only look at ?  Talk about cruel and unusual treatment!

So we had another Mars Bar each to give us an energy boost for the final quarter of an hour .  We arrived back at the car at 3pm.  I can’t tell you how chuffed I was to have done the walk in the time quoted in the printout – proving I cannae be that unfit.  And what’s more, every now and then my voice went really low – back to normal in fact.  It reverted to being high but it still proved that the normal voice is there – all it needs is for me to relax.  Once again walking provided food for the soul and worked its magic.

And finally, another view across the loch to  Ben Ledi – – – allegedly. 

We are going to ensure we always have a low level option for each of our planned hillwalks so that, like today, we can still have a great day out in the open in spite of whatever the Scottish weather throws at us.  If ye cannae tak the high road…..