Thursday, 8 September 2011


Duncs and I used the oppurtunity of RB being away at a school residentual trip, and the fine weather, to go out for a days hillwalking.  The plan had been for me to 'bag' my final Mamlorn hill, Ben Challum and do a wee horseshoe by going round the 2 nearest Corbetts also.  The alarm was set for 6am for a nice, early start but the whole plan went kinda pearshaped when I switched the alarm off through the night and decided that a nice lie in was a better plan.  D had been up through the night coughing and rather than wake me (he already had) he tried, quietly (and unsuccessfully) to head down to the spare room.  That was me awake and just sleeping in fits and starts through the night.  The bed became cold with just me, the room was too dark with just me (yes, I'm sure I've admitted to it before, but I'm scared of the dark!) and I was thinking that because D had not come back upstairs, then he must be feeling poorly and would appreciate a lie in.  So the alarm was switched off and although I had hoped to enjoy a leasurly lie in bed, D came up at 7.30am proclaiming that we'd missed our 6am start.  Oh well!

I snuggled under the covers again and promptly fell back asleep, determined for my glorious long lie!  I got it in the end, rising at the slovenly hour of 9.30am to be greeted by a faintly autumnal, glorious sunshine.  Not wanting to waste a day of sun, I suggested that we head out after lunch and go up the 2 Grahams I had left to do in Angus, Corwharn and Cat Law.  It had been my intention to do both of these Grahams seperately and keep up my tradition of running up the Grahams.  But I've having a lot of problems with my neck at the moment, that running is on the hold for just now.  My neck and subsequent nerve pain in my arms has been really behaving itself all summer but an awkward fall on the bouldering wall last week, followed by lugging a heavy sack up Eagle Ridge (and climbing for the first time in ages!), then a day at the gym doing weights, followed by some training on my 45 degree wall in the garage *and* 50 ice axe pull ups, has somewhat irritated my cervical spine again, so I'm suffering from muscle spasm, horrible shooting pains in my arm, burning shoulder pain and numbness.  Boy it's all so familiar, here we go again!   And I've tried to get out running but all the pounding is just not agreeable.  However, I did have a wee sneaky run on the hill today until my neck gave an almight spasm and said STOP!

So we started off at Balintore and walked up Corwharn first.  This starts along the really pretty Glen Quharity and then cuts off up Milldewan Hill and Cairn Corse before reaching the summit.  The sun was beaming and it was a vest top kind of day and I felt light and unburdened without a rucksack and just my running bumbag on with a jacket tied round my waist also.  Maybe secretly, I really wanted to run.  Even without the sack though, my neck and arm protested, I think my back just doesn't like going uphill when it's at it's sorest.

We went off path after this, down to the path to Glen Uig and I certaintly didn't feel like running here as it was just too heathery, interspersed with long grass, total ankle killing terrain!  It was the next section where the running started.  There's a really, really steep pull up to Tarapetmile with 200m gain in height, short and sharp!  Though it didn't feel short on my wee leggies that's for sure!  D commented that this would be a nice, wee section of hill to do hill reps on and I commented that it was probably far too steep for me, but then of course had to try it!  I think I managed just over 30 secs for my first stint, stopped for breather, with D still behind, then managed another couple of 20 second stints with longer breathers inbetween and D catching up.  One more 20 second stint and I had to stop and wait for D as I was slowly dying!  I managed to persuade D to have a go and I think he managed about 10 seconds before giving up.  I had another couple of 20 second stints but then had to go down to 10 seconds and by this point, my recovery intervals were so great that D was overtaking me.  Time to walk!  D wandered off in the wrong direction and this gave me the oppurtunity to give one final push at a run and beat him to the top.  That's when the mighty neck spasm from hell put pay to that!

It was all horrible and heathery again but a good path soon followed and I was sorely tempted to start running again, but I'd told D that I was just out to walk and besides, I wanted the company.  I did have a point when I was walking pretty fast, like a train D said, between Cormaud and Monthrey, but this section is only slightly uphill.  The pull up to Cat Law was crucifying though!  I'd decided not to take my poles with me, going for the light option and wanting to toughen my legs up a bit for winter!  But before long we were up and having a quick bite to eat.  A very quick bite to eat!  Rather than have my salad for lunch, I'd splurged out on having a sandwich, so I presumed that I'd not need to eat anything on the hill and thus hadn't taken any food.  Well, I was having sugar lows on and off all day and was having moments of horrible shakes, so thankfully D had brought some cereal bars which I munched on happily.  Fish finger sandwiches are not good hill food!

We took the South West spur off the hill, using the sun for navigation and picked up the path down to Balintore.  D had been up these hills before and had mentioned that when he was here last time, he had seen people working on Balintore Castle, to renovate it.  It's an old Victorian Castle that has lain in ruin until someone bought it, but we didn't know who.  I mentioned that I'd like to see it so we went for a nosey before heading back to the car.  Now, I'm not normally a fan of castles or stately homes but there is something moving about this castle, though what that is I'm just not sure.  But I felt pulled to see it and to wander around.  There were 'Danger' signs and I wasn't sure that I should be wandering around but we weren't actually going into the building just peering round the outside.  Though I did have a wee peak at the Northern side which looked like it had been worked on more, having glass windows.

So, I'm sat back at home now and one of the first things I did once on my pc was to google Balintore Castle to see what I could find out.  A guy called David Jones now owns the castle and is in the process of renovating it.  It's so nice that someone has done this as it seemed so sad to have that castle sitting there becoming more and more ruined.  The dude, David, has a blog about his ongoing story of the renovation and it's very interesting to follow.

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