Tag Archives: hill

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.

Trusting the book

Weds 8 August 2012  –   I had to be back in Edinburgh by 4.30pm because I was performing in a show on the Fringe, so Debbie suggested we just do a little low-level walking instead of heading for a mountain. She had come across a booklet by John Davidson giving detailed descriptions of various walks around the Linlithgow area and proposed number 23, a 5 mile route starting from and returning to the Korean Monument near Torphichen .  She was highly skeptical that the walk  could actually be ‘strenuous’ as he classed it, (well both of us were doubtful I admit),  after all, the hills were really just pimples with only a tiny amount of ascent.

I left Edinburgh earlier than initially planned thanks to an unexpected telephone call which got me out of bed, so we were able to set off from Linlithgow pretty sharpish. The route was to be Korean monument / Witches Craig / Cairnpapple / The Knock / then back to Witches Craig and the Korean monument via Wairdlaw. We decided we would trust the book and follow his route conscientiously rather than devising any shortcuts.

According to http://www.scottish-places.info/features/featurefirst10318.html the “small wooden pagoda is surrounded by 110 Korean pine trees (one for every ten Britons who died in the conflict), 1090 Birch trees (one for each of the fallen) and picnic tables along a pathway named United Nations Avenue. This avenue is surrounded by 21 trees, representing the twenty-one nations involved in the UN force in Korea. The traditional Korean pagoda contains lists of those who died in the conflict, the vast majority of whom were young National Servicemen. Maintained by the Scottish Korean War Memorial Trust, the site opened on 27th June 2000, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the war. “

Further up the hill we came across the Witches Craig wall which is made up of rocks from all over Scotland.  Some of the rocks are lettered and details about them given on an information board.  Said board listed rocks lettered A to Q but we saw an R on the ground level.  We couldn’t see any further info though. There were three seats set into the wall but, apart from both taking a photo opportunity, we didn’t have much use for them – tough walkers like us didn’t need to sit down – hmmm!

Set into a wall nearby was the Refuge Stone  –  According to http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/24270/refuge_stones_of_west_lothian.html .  “ ‘Sanctuary Stones’ were at one time common in Scotland, mainly around large religious sites. Once a miscreant had entered within the bounds marked by these stones, he was considered ‘safe’ and could not be touched by civil law. It was then up to the religious experts to decide if he should be cast out! These stones were often of megalithic origin, re-used and ‘christianised’ by the incision of religious symbols. ”

From there we followed instructions which took us across a field and through a wood but then we just had to retrace our steps to Witches Cairn.  We were supposed to see something of interest but I confess I forget now what it was to have been and anyway we didn’t find it!  Duh!

We followed the crest then down through fields and woods along quite well defined paths to be stopped at the end of this section by a wire fence .

Debbie could clamber over with a large stride across it but I stood no chance with my  titchy legs .  I tried climbing it (leg over with foot lodged in mesh)  but it was too flexible to hold my weight steady while I lifted over my other leg.  Luckily Debbie spotted that further down it changed to a barbed-wire fence which had room underneath it so I was able to squeeze through there.

Across two minor roads then up a long winding road to Cairnpapple, the 4000 year old  burial mound.  There are steps cut into the side of Cairnpapple Hill to make ascent a doddle.

At the gate to the site I managed to drop the map into a cow pat – as you do.  Luckily it was only a tiny splash so it wiped off fairly easily (I just had to make certain I didn’t use that particular tissue for my nose!).

Sadly it was not open so we couldn’t visit the burial mound itself but we made full use of a bench there for eating our lunch. The site is run by Historic Scotland – http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/places/propertyresultsold/propertyabout.htm?PropID=PL_050&PropName=Cairnpapple Hill.

From there we rejoined the road and trundelled along to The Knock.  This road was definitely my least favourite section.

I found this wee video on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT40RUcqDvI –  which shows the views available.   I often make wee films myself but this time just took photos for stitching into panoramas.

I couldn’t find much information about it but according to another blogger – http://www.kimharding.net/blog/?p=330 – “Local rumour has it that this was the site of a coven of witches up until the 17th century. A little to the north you look down on a ring of stones in field which looks like an ancient henge, however it only dates back to 1998 as a birthday present to the farmer from his son.  “

It took us all of four minutes to get up the wee hump but we spent over 15 minutes at the top taking pictures and generally enjoying the views.  Three minutes to get down then off again retracing steps back to Cairnpapple then onwards to the edge of Beecraigs Country Park to Wairdlaw Path.

We saw a lovely well maintained path going in the correct direction so assumed that was it, but a gentleman farmer we met half way along assured us we were erroneously on the way to his farm.

I hadn’t registered that the instructions referred to crossing a stile at that point – double duh!    The track was a matter of inches from the farm path but not exactly that clear to see.    Following  said track we doubled sharply back on ourselves across more fields.  (That was one slightly unfortunate aspect of this route – there was quite a lot of retracing steps and doubling back rather than it being a genuinely circular route.)

We passed the old silver mines on this stretch but there wasn’t time to detour to them . Every now and then during the day Debbie enquired if I thought the route really was “strenuous” but by the time we had reached this point she had stopped asking – the answer being only too apparent!   I received a phone call so she grabbed at the chance to have ‘a wee sit doon’.   We were both  tiring by then to be honest because we had already been walking for 4 hours and were not finished by any means!  (The booklet estimates 3 hours but that is without the stops we took for photos and generally gazing aboot. )

The way was fairly level for a wee while but just as we settled into the level rhythm it changed to 45degrees (the kind of angle where you feel your feet just are not designed to bend up like that) and cruelly it took us up a short but steep stretch back up Witches Craig .   Down to the Korean Memorial and the car – phew!    Was it strenuous?  By gum –  – yes!  One doesn’t have to be scaling the heights for wee treks like this to be challenging.  Most importantly though, there are enormous rewards for making the effort.

And BTW, I did manage to get home for half four in good time to shower and get ready for my show without stressing.  Despite driving for an hour and a quarter and walking for four and a half hours I was fine – adreneline having kicked in by then.

Me as ‘Mrs Gamp’ in a short extract from ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ in ‘All About Dickens’ with The Mercators.

Not so much a Corbett as a Caw!

Debbie and I had initially planned to go to Ben Ledi near Callander for our next Feeding The Soul trip on Wednesday 25th July and our good friend Sid reckoned he would like to join us.  It had been a long gap of two decades since Sid had done any serious walking and his interest had been aroused by hearing about our recent hill-walking adventures.  (See my other blogs).  However, Debbie was in the middle of moving house so we had to postpone Ben Ledi yet again.  Instead we decided to do a local walk but Sid was still keen to join us.  Upon learning we only going to a wee hill, another friend, Ionwen, also decided to come along with us as a wee test of her fitness while recovering from an illness.

Debbie and I  had planned to go to Cockleroy Hill near Linlithgow a few weeks ago, but as it turned out high winds had caused major tree damage at Beecraigs and many of the  paths were closed.  (See Onwards and Upwards)   We knew it was a popular local beauty spot but knew very little else about it.   This time, as we were aware of the path closures, we opted to start from Balvormie car park at the foot of the hill itself instead of walking through Beecraigs first.

Now then….as all experienced mountaineers and hillwalkers know, it is essential to prepare properly.  I made sure I had all the safety stuff such as compass, first-aid kit and the relevant maps; packed myself a lunch box, bought juices and chocolate bars, ensured I had waterproofs, boots, walking stick, towel, plastic cover, anti-midge spray – all the usual checks for safety in the hills and to cope with the vagaries of Scottish weather.   The anticipation started to rise as the packing took place – yipee,  soul-feeding awaited.

I collected Sid from Edinburgh, then Debbie from Livingston and made my way to Linlithgow.  At the car park we met Ionwen and decanted from car seats to rucsacs .

Gobsmackingly, the weather was fine for a change so I decided to leave my waterproof in the car – adventurous soul that I am!  Debbie and I opted to brave the elements and rely on after-sun if needed, but Sid and Ionwen both lathered on a good layer of sun lotion.  Mind you, he still kept on his fleece (Sid feels the cold).

The way was clearly marked from the carpark.

The path was flooded at the start and was rather muddy for a few yards but undeterred we soldiered on. 

Once out of the wee wood we started up the hill……..

I’d hardly got going again after taking the above start-off shot when I realised my companions were already half way up…….

No sooner had I caught them up than I found we were at the – ahemm – summit!   On the mountains, the Munros or Corbetts, there are often false summits …one thinks one sees the top only to find there’s yet more to climb.    This time it was the opposite – we all looked around frantically to see where the hill continued but no, this was it – this was the top, the heights, the summit, the end of the route.  Aw naw!  Not so much a Corbett as a Caw!

A fellow walker asked me to take a photo of him and his toddler girls who had come running up behind us (NB: ‘toddlers’ !) so after I had obliged, he took one of us.

There are in fact lovely views from the  – ahemm – summit of Cockleroy so I took shots of

The Forth Bridges  

The Pentlands

The iconic viaduct in West Lothian

Grangemouth

A wee ruin close by (don’t know what it is)

The views are certainly rewarding and, after admiring them, I glanced at my watch  to see that  a mere 20 minutes had elapsed since we started so we must have been ‘up’ in ten!!!!  Ten  minutes to the top!!

I stared at the others with embarassed disbelief thinking “But, but, but – I thought I was going to feed my soul……, Oh blimey,  I’ve invited the others for an adventure…….,  Oh bother, I’ve made a packed lunch ……….oh heck – we can’t go back now!” .    I knew we didn’t really have the time to drive further afield to try another ‘proper’ hill, and in any case that wouldn’t have been feasible for Ionwen, but we had to do something else.

I went to the other end of the wee ridge – ( I use ‘ridge’ for want of a better word) – to see if there was another option for us, but was informed by the chappie with the babies that the only other route down was one which annoyed a farmer, so we had no option but to retrace our steps.  Undaunted and determined to get something out of the day, I suggested we have a walk around Beecraigs and the others agreed.

The way to Beecraigs Loch was through a large play park which was packed with kids having a fabulous time on the various equipment.

To digress…. wouldn’t it be a good idea if there were play areas for adults as well?  I think it’d be great if there was equipment for us to swing on or climb up or bounce on – it’d be much better than just hingin’ aboot watching the kids having all the fun and exercise.  Recycled teenagers rock just now but we could be the oldest swingers and sliders as well.

Anyway – on with the story, such as it is – we stopped at the Beecraigs visitors centre to have our lunch – see the photo below of our joyous group revelling in the sheer excitement of the adventure!

( Seriously, this was just an odd  moment – they weren’t like that the rest of the time.   Honest!   )

I never go anywhere without a camera of some sort so at least I got some  snaps  ……….

Fishermen on Beecraigs Loch

Lovely wee flowers near the causeway crossing the loch…

Just an arty-farty shot of the overflow water rushing past……

Greylag goose from a flock feeding alongside the loch

Reflections of Beecraigs Loch…

There has been a lot of damage done to the trees and many have fallen or been chopped down….but there are many new ones being planted.

The walk around the loch is very pleasant and wee Cockleroy Hill presents a gentle introduction to the rewards of making a little effort. My problem with it was just not realising it was so very tiny.  However, when the loch circuit was included,  we had walked about 4 miles, which was a wee challenge for Ionwen and a nice wee break for Debbie, Sid and me, if not exactly demanding.  The weather was perfect for walking – bright but not hot and with a slight breeze – so I admit I was somewhat disappointed not to have gone further and higher, but we always make the best of what we have at the time.  It may not have been quite what I had hoped for but it still did feed the soul, this time with the pleasure of the company of friends.

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…..

Onwards And Upwards

Onwards and Upwards

On 13th June time was once more very constrained so Debbie and I were canny and didn’t attempt to go far or high. We went instead to Beecraigs Park and Loch near Linlithgow with the intention of going up a teeny wee hill, Cockleroy.  It was a very pleasant walk, not particularly ‘challenging’ but still very enjoyable with lovely clear views including over to the Forth Bridges.

I say “not challenging” but a few of the paths around Beecraigs had warning notices about fallen trees and we had ‘fun’ clambering over massive trunks stricken across the paths.  Now, when it comes to leaping over ditches or stepping stones in rivers, Debbie’s long legs come in ever so handy and she often has to help ‘short-ass’ me across,  but when it came to clambering over tree trucks with other low hanging branches my titchy height proved best cos Debbie got trapped by her rucsac.    Once I had come to the rescue (I’m really milking this now! ), we discovered to our great dischuffment that the path to Cockeroy was closed for forestry work! So – snookered by the closed path but undaunted, we made our way into Linlithgow itself and had lunch there, followed by a visit to the museum and maze at Annet House.  I used to live in Linlithgow, which is a lovely town full of character and historical going-on,  but the wee museum wasn’t there then.  It was very interesting and well worth another visit.

On 20th June our adventure was to Tinto Hill in South Lanarkshire.

 This was Debbie’s highest hill being just over 2,300ft.  It is  well known as an perfect introduction to serious hillwalking but is not quite a Corbett (Corbetts being hills between 2,500 feet and 3,000 feet which have ascent of 500 feet on all sides.)

It has the largest summit cairn of any mountain in Scotland and is the highest hill in the Central belt.

It has Bronze Age connections and I had read that there was an Iron Age fortification not far from the bottom of the hill, but I confess we didn’t actually spot  it .  Apparently the name means Hill Of Fire possibly because of the red rock often revealed in the grassy sides. 

We kinda played ‘Tortoise and Hare’ with Debbie going ahead at the pace best for her while I  puffed and panted at my slower pace and got there just the same. It was wonderful not to feel any time constraints or other stresses – just to be able to wallow in the moment.   I tend to assume it’s ‘just me’ when I struggle with ascents so I was most surprised to note just how steep the path was when I came to go down again.

  Despite this pretty steep ascent and descent over about 6 miles my legs were fine – no twinges or aches, so I have acknowledged that I cannae be that unfit after all. All my breathing difficulties must be connected to repressed emotional tension – and this will be conquered as I continue to feed my soul on the hills.  Fingers crossed for the weather being kind next week.

Healing The Soul

Healing The Soul

Some folk find solace and gain freedom through listening to music, through looking at paintings or any number of activities, but for me it’s the simple joys of walking in the countryside.  Being in the great outdoors, and especially on the hills or mountains, makes me realise how we are all just an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny part of the whole scheme of things. Just one tiny element in a vast universe. The beauty of the world is overwhelming .

Now, some folk don’t do Mondays and I don’t do weeping, especially since my husband’s death.   Throughout my life I have restrained my emotions and tried to keep “in control” (perhaps in response to the horrendous lack of control involved at other times thanks to the grand mal seizures that plagued me from childood until my forties). I have had a number of traumatic events to cope with over the years too, so eventually my body had kinda had enough and rebelled.  My voice has always been a weak spot insofar as losing it would be the first symptom of a cold, and after my pneumonia in September 2010, my left vocal cord became paralysed, resulting in the loss of my voice.  I had no more than a tiny whisper for about three months then improved to a squeak for another ten. This is not condusive to contentment for an actress!! Gradually I have regained some voice, albeit higher than my previous one,  thanks to the support and advice of Vocal Performance Coaching and have come to learn that much now depends on my coming to terms with my emotions.

In addition to gaining supreme pleasure just from observing the beauty of the world, on the hill my mind just switched off from the problems, troubles and pending decisions.  All the stresses & strains of childhood fears, bereavements, estrangements, medical conditions, To Do lists, timetables and all the rest of the emotionally restrictive and oppressive ‘stuff’ that had affected me to the extent of robbing me both of my breath and my voice, either paled into insignificance or were put into perspective. 

On our walk from Dreghorn to Hillend emotion suddenly overcame me and poured out to my surprise, initial discomfort then immense relief.  Going back hillwalking  I have rediscovered the therapy that being in the hills can be for me and my soul has started healing.   So, onwards and upwards……

If At First…….

If At First……

On 18th April, despite a poor weather forecast, Debbie and I decided to go from Dreghorn to Hillend – or to Balerno or to Glencorse – we didn’t really mind.  However,  after a long slog up the horrible steep path from Dreghorn (which is more like a trial than a trail – ugh!), the weather “came in” as they say, and in every direction we were met with thick cloud at ground level.

We had lunch at what I think of as ‘the junction’ where the various routes meet and decided we would have to abandon the walk. Another walker felt the same – it was simply not worth the risk when we couldn’t properly see where we were going.

But, believe it or not, we were still having a great time and my breathing seemed to have improved a teeny bit despite the challenging conditions.

The following week we were far more pressed for time as Debbie had to be back in Livingston for another appointment early afternoon, so I suggested we go to Threipmuir from Balerno for a lower level walk. Huh! The lesson of this one was to prove to be ‘never believe what other walkers and/or cyclists tell you if you don’t already know the route and/or you can’t see it marked on the map!!’ After we had been walking for about an hour we were ‘reliably’ informed by a mountain biker then an elderly hiker that if we went on a bit further there was an unmarked path which would lead us back to where I had parked the car – but this path never appeared! It was a bit chilly but generally fine and once again we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves having our adventure.  We had a lovely time soaking in the beauty of the surroundings and slowly the weather cheered but – but sadly not in time for us to change our plans.

Sadly time really was pressing and we eventually found ourselves two hours away from the car with the shortest way back turning out to be the way we had come! Anyway, to cut what can be a very long story a bit shorter, at Loganlea we came across a fishermen’s hut, complete with fishermen, one of whom was just about to go home in his car. Never being backwards in coming forwards I explained our predicament and by a fortuitous coincidence his home route was on the A70 which leads to Balerno where my car was parked.  This kind gentleman took pity on we damsels in distress and gave us a lift all the way back to my car. Thanks to this good Samaritan I managed to get Debbie back to Livingston just in time and we pledged then not to do any more ‘by the skin of our teeth’ trips (if we can help it ).

Our next day out was three weeks later after we both had holidays abroad. We started again from Dreghorn, (a short walk from my flat) and afterwards declared with a passion that we are never using that route for a way-in again. It is a good path as far as the surface is concerned but it has been dug out far below the hillside and is unremittingly steep, so much so it is not enjoyable at all.  Rant over!   To ameliorate the drudgery of the path  the weather was fabulous – we were soon soaked again but this time with perspiration not precipitation. Once off that dreadful path we continued to Hillend across the lovely hills of Allermuir and Caerketton with our spirits buoyed by the heavenly views over Edinburgh and the rest of the Pentlands on such a beautifully clear, sunny day. We were two very happy bunnies. I felt it was not fair on Debbie for her to keep having to stop with me so I persuaded her to go ahead at the pace comfortable for her. I then found by just going at a much slower pace I was able to keep going for far longer without losing breath. Result!

In fact it proved to be a most cathartic day for me.……………emotions came to the fore and Debbie encouraged me to let it out……..the healing of my soul had started.