Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Deep Atlantic Low

Well that’s what they call it; don’t know why ‘cos I was high as a kite after my run yesterday.
Looking out of the window it didn’t look too promising. The rain lashing against the windows and the wind regularly gusting up to 50mph. So what do you do on a day like that? Go for a run of course, just a short on up my local hill, up onto the shoulder of Craigentaggert then down by the modest 1400” top of Kinpauch.
Running through the catchment area of Highland Spring was reasonably ok if a little slow, the wind occasionally bringing me to a complete stop. Then rounding the shoulder into the glen the wind swung to a tail giving me a good helping hand up to the gate at the track top.
The final push up onto Craigentaggert shoulder was where the fun started though. It was wild and I found myself running steeply uphill, at times completely out of control. Then on the ridge I started to feel the power of the wind like I’d never felt before.
The only way forward was to turn sideways to my direction of travel reducing cross section area and at the same time leaning forward at 45 degrees. I was then able to carefully inch forward a bit at a time. Even then I had to keep throwing myself down flat or be blown goodness knows where.
Running was impossible along there, except for Moss the dog that is. She took it very much in her stride. She gets excited by the smallest of air blasts from my bike pump so in this wind she went insane completely. She was racing round in crazy circles like somebody had let go a balloon, nipping annoyingly at my feet and tugging my trouser leg as she passed me.
Passing the cairn on Kinpauch the wind got even stronger and I had to slither down the first 50m on my backside as it was impossible to stand. Moss was way down the hill at this point standing watching in abject disgust at my pathetic attempts to make headway.
Reaching the track again was blissful as the wind finally reduced to manageable proportions and I eventually got back to the road feeling absolutely thrilled by my experience.
It may have been a Personal Worst time but it was a Personal Best in terms of how much I enjoyed it.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Maggie's Millions

Well that’s what they used to call it, finding yourself without a job. This week my employer who's been a lame duck for a couple of years now has finally had the rug pulled from under them and the lights are about to be turned off for good.
It's really strange, I mean this has by a long way been the best job I've ever had and I'm surprised how I feel. I don't feel sad or even apprehensive about the future. I feel fired up, happy and excited. To be honest a couple of months back I'd pretty well decided to move on and then a week ago I'd fully committed to going and I think being in this frame of mind already has undoubtedly helped when this hit a couple of days ago,
So it's a case of moving on to pastures new but luckily the job I've been doing is fairly specialised and not many are out there doing it so I'm hoping a competitor snaps up me and all my fantastic work mates who are like a family and at least some of us can work together again. If not I'll do something completely different and as an electrical engineer there's plenty of scope for that.
So, heyho the jobs gone but now I can’t wait to see where my life goes next.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Let the Train Take the Strain...

....Or at least some of it anyway. That was what we did on Saturday. We’d camped overnight at the Victoria Bridge car park and set off to walk over the hill to Bridge of Orchy station, catching the 10:45 train just for one stop 20 minutes down the line getting off at Rannoch Station.
Conditions were perfect as we headed west across Rannoch Moor, a bright sunny, warm day with a brisk following wind and as we’d had a nice long dry spell the marshes were fairly dry underfoot too. We were in the woods to begin with walking on a good track that formed the first few miles of the route. The packet of sandwiches lying forlornly by the track spoke of a poor traveller ahead of us who maybe even yet had to discover the loss of his lunch.
Moss, the dog plumbed new depths of depravity today discovering a pile of poo, possibly human in which to roll. Later on a dead deer gave another roll opportunity and an abandoned cow horn complete with scalp provided a tasty snack to accompany the deer thigh she’d been carrying for some while.
Once clear of the woods the route strikes out across the open moor with a temperamental path sometimes there sometimes not though one thing not to desert us was the view. Looking across toward Glencoe it felt almost Tolkienesque like we were marching across Middle Earth on route towards the mountains of Mordor. I fully expected Gollum to pop out of a peat bog at any moment.
This is a thoroughly wild area with very little shelter. The lonely ruin of Tigh-na Chruaiche provides a roof and walls making a good lunch stop. Despite the lack of path, navigation is easy. In good weather, heading west aim for the distinctive Buachaille, heading east aim for the equally distinctive Schiehallion. In bad weather there’s a handy power line to follow. The track suddenly reappears a few miles from Kingshouse and guided us quickly into the Climbers Bar for a welcome break.
The rest of the way followed highly familiar West Highland Way route back toward Victoria Bridge. Strangely, in all the times I’d done that section I’d never done it north to south so taking in the views this way on was a very refreshing change.
A thing that struck us along the route was the number of dead deer. There are loads of them all over the place, a testament indeed to the harsh winter just gone.
Forest Lodge was a welcome site and the motorhome even more welcome. A great end to the day involved much red wine and hot shepherd’s pie watching the sun go down behind Beinn Suidhe.