Buachaille Etive Mor

Although we’re halfway through the year, it’s been a while since I attempted a ‘proper’ climb. You know the ones; hills that push your boundaries and leave you absolutely done-in at the end of the day? Walks where you come home to a mountain of washing but actually, you’re too knackered to care? Well it’s been a good few months…

I recently joined a walking group that my friend Claire was in. They have been walking together for nearly a year now and I’ve managed to tag along on a couple of walks and climbs recently. The most recent walk I joined was in Glen Fyne and I hinted heavily to Vince, “if you do the Buachaille again, can I tag along?” (more of a heavy request than a hint I admit…), “Of course” he says and I presume that it won’t happen soon. Fast forward a few days when a message comes through on the group chat “anyone fancy doing the Buachaille Etive Mor on 3rd June”. I jump at the chance and the butterflies start… I read the Walking Highlands description: hmmm, I do like a bit of a scramble and I’m keen to bag this as munro number 18…

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Black Rock Cottage with Buachaille Etive Mor behind

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Stag at Kings House Hotel, backdrop of Buachaille Etive Mor

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

I meet my climbing companions, Vince and Joe on an overcast Sunday morning. We jump in Harvey RV, stopping at The Green Welly for supplies and loo breaks, looking out for blue patches in the sky which seem to making an appearance. Parking at Altnafeadh is already busy so we park slightly further up the A82. The Buachaille stands tall and menacing and the butterflies haven’t calmed down. Excitement gets the better of me and I shriek a little bit as we pull up. My companions offer a smile and I realise I don’t know either well enough to show my true psycho-on-the-hill colours yet… I best calm down.

As we had parked a bit of a distance from the main track, a bit of cross country was required taking us across the river and through the heather, we arrive on the track with my legs well and truly warmed up.

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Photography by Vince Bertonesi

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

The entire climb is steep with stones in all shapes and sizes underfoot. Roars of motorcycles on the A82 drown out my complaints and frequent stops are requested so I can catch my breath. I state that if I need to go back down, they must let me go alone. I don’t think I have uttered those words before but I mean it. “A mountain has never got me yet” I say, a bit alarmed at my own confidence… It is mostly beautifully pathed but easy to navigate if you come off. Basically, you just head straight up to the bealach. We had snow to aim towards the snowy patch that day.

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

When I first started to climb I had been used to long distance walking on low-level ground, slightly undulating at best. The muscle group you use on an incline is totally different and the 15–20-mile distances I had been undertaking had given no preparation at all. The first few climbs, the legs were able but not the lungs, then the lungs caught up, then overtook and the legs struggled with the pace. Eventually, both lungs and legs found a happy medium and I could walk more capably and content. This had been the case since my 4th or 5th climb: until the Buachaille. I really struggled, and although my recovery was quicker than when I first started climbing a couple of years ago, I was surprised to be back at ‘stage one’ on this hill. Still, I had no intention of turning back though, wobbly legged or not…

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

The last scramble to the bealach was quite an encounter. I was terrified and exhilarated at the same time and my gallant companions kept offering hands to help and to carry my rucksack to which I declined. Although my mind kept wandering to the thought of losing balance with a heavy pack and the consequences, it did keep my mind on the job in hand. I feel if the climb is too easy, awareness can dilute and then accidents happen. I have had a couple of (very small) tumbles in the silliest of places due to blethering and looking at the scenery!

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Photography by Vince Bertonesi

The most difficult part is complete! Vince knows (and has climbed) most of the surrounding mountains and tells us which is which. Of course, I immediately forget but the information was great! The final part of the journey is an easier walk and we swing a left (East) and walk to the summit of Stob Dearg. Beautiful views are absorbed, sandwiches are consumed, photographs are taken, ravens are befriended.

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Photography by Vince Bertonesi

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Photography by Vince Bertonesi

 

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Packed up, we head back the way we came via the ‘scary’ scramble but we all survive. As we descend, we are serenaded by the echoes of the ravens, possibly telling us to stay away from their nests but it was beautiful whatever they were saying.

Just as we arrive back at the van, the heavens open and high Buachaille Etive Mor is covered in mist. The drive home in torrential rain involves extreme concentration and I don’t realise that my 30 miles an hour had caused a considerable tailback. Sorry Glen Coe’rs… And my hands did not slip from the ten to two position, it was that kind of driving! With enough adventure under our belts for the day, I drop off Vince and Joe, thank them for their patience and the invite to climb. I think they breathe a sigh of relief as the drive has made their legs wobblier than the mountain

And the big pile of washing? Well, they can stay another day. Now pass me the corkscrew…

WalkHighlands – Buachaille Etive Mor walk description

And a BIG thank you to Vince and Joe who were incredibly considerate and patient with me!

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

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Neist Point Lighthouse 1909, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Echoes of the Past

While on holiday in Scotland a couple weeks ago, May 2018, I managed to photograph quite a few lighthouses for my Stevenson Lighthouse Category.  The best one for location, was Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Skye, on the most westerly tip of Skye near the township of Glendale.  I had read that you could climb down steps to the lighthouse, that they were steep, but there was a handrail.  We arrived to find it was very busy, in fact everywhere this year was busy……I think everyone has found out how wonderful Scotland is for a holiday……anyway, we parked the car and headed in the direction of the lighthouse.  We climbed down to the start of the steps, down a few steps and then….that was it, far too steep for me, far too many people trying to get up and down at the same time.  If we had been on our own, or if there had only…

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Finding a Work Life Balance…

Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk…

At the end of May, I am taking the giant and super scary leap to leave my safe and secure job of 8 years and go freelance to do what I do best: organise and plan! I’ve been looking for a challenge for quite some time now but trying to find the impossible has become quite, um, impossible! Needless to say, I have never found that impossible job. One came close recently but it plummeted through a great hole followed by my great disappointment…

So, what is it I am looking for? Along with several million, billion others, I want, no, I NEED a job that is flexible enough to walk in the sunshine and work when it rains, I want to wander the mountains of the world and write about it. Of course, I have bills to pay so that’s when the freelance work comes in… I have always pushed myself in any role I have undertaken and because of that, I have quite a skill set under my belt to utilise in a whole range of organisations.

So, let’s meet up in 6 months time and see what has happened in that time. Here’s a sneaky look at the letter leaving my sweaty, anxious hands soon…


Have you had enough monkeying around with Mail Chimp?

Social Media becoming a virtual drag?

Losing track of paper trails?

Imagine the freedom of hiring a multi-sector specialist without the lengthy recruitment process or the added cost of an agency… No need for payroll, holiday or sick pay, no bonuses, agency fees or travel expenses and definitely no complicated contract. No obligation from you at all except to settle the invoice at the end of the month (although I can organise that for you too!) You’ll also be surprised at the cost…

As a freelance office assistant, I’m ideally suited for small to medium businesses as I can offer a wide range of services from social media marketing, web design to basic bookkeeping and warm reception welcomes. I have over 20 years of experience as an administrator and PA and have worked with a varied range of establishments being a ‘jack of all trades’ in health, creative, clothing, construction and beauty industries!

Skills…

  • Social media management (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram)
  • Web maintenance (CMS) and design (Wix and WordPress)
  • Sound knowledge of Microsoft Office
  • Email marketing campaigns (MailChimp)
  • Android photography and image manipulation
  • Adept at writing articles: press releases, promotional handouts and blogs
  • Inputting orders, processing payments, updating data and invoicing using ‘Sage 50’
  • Editing & Proofreading
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, analytical and problem-solving skills
  • I can also make a mean cup of tea and demon gingerbread…

Your company can benefit from this skill set with a minimum of 3 hours in any one session. If you are looking for regular help or as a one-off ‘re-plan’, you are assured that the workload is tailored to suit you…

Want to meet up to find out more?

Call. Text. WhatsApp. Let’s talk without the jargon…

Kate

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Three Lochs Way – Jacqueline Glass

therunbetweeners

An absolutely mind-blowing, epic challenge. Not much more needs to be said.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 20.52.31 Running an Ultra and Having a Blast – As You Do

Having run one ultra before it’s definitely for the hard core and there are none more so than Jacqueline Glass and June Macleod who undertook the Three Lochs Way last month with good friend Karen Hattie. The camaraderie amongst ultra runners is the stuff of legend and this comes across in Jacqueline’s review.

Ultra Running is undergoing a boom at the moment. As a result more and more events are springing up with several multi-stage events extending the parameters beyond even single run events. Many well established races like The Fling continue to grow and have been complimented by new races on a diverse and intriguing ultra calendar with races such as The Wee Eck Ultra and The Cowal Way Ultra in Argyll.

Sadly preparations were not ideal…

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The Joy of Group Rambles

Although I’ve done a few organised group rambles (BlencathraBen Nevis, Four Harbours / North coast) I tend to stay within my comfort zone: walking with friends and being able to catch up on the weeks we’ve not seen each other. It’s the way I like to multitask and spending a whole day with people you adore doing something you love is just the best therapy. A nice lunch, hot chocolate flask and cake helps too…

Facebook and social media, in general, has great potential for businesses, individuals and a platform for common interests but a lot of ‘specialist’ groups and pages can have some negative followers, not necessarily aggressive, just dismissive. Of course, they themselves have never wondered about the ‘best tent to purchase’ or ‘how to wash waterproof trousers’ or even is ‘a boot or shoe best for the hills’. They must have been born gifted with this knowledge *rolls eyes*…

I had been following the (closed group) Rambling Roses on Facebook for a while and they seemed a friendly crowd. Very active with lots of walks and hills organised, offering a warm welcome to all levels of fitness and capabilities, full of encouragement, not at all full of their own self-importance. The first weekend after Christmas I was needing a good walk. I’ve been pacing the living room wearing away the carpet desperate to get out of my central heated 4 walls. You know what its like. Eating, drinking, late nights for the whole of December and the New Year dawns and you realise: “back to work in only a few days and what have I done?”  The next group walk was The Glen Loin Loop. I’ve been wanting to do that for ages and the Roses had just posted an ‘event’. I ticked the ‘going’ box, contacted the group organiser and read up on the meeting point, start time and read the route map.

18 of us showed up at the Loch Long carpark and the new walkers and strangers politely shook hands while the more familiar, regular Roses hugged and wished each other a happy new year.  We all purchased our £1 parking tickets and off we headed.

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The Glen Loin Loop runs approx 11miles (although I clocked it at 12!) and runs through the glens of north Arrochar. The initial section is a gradual slope through forestry with enticing peaks through the trees of Ben Vorlich. Bens Narnain and Vane are also seen on this route and had a good covering of snow with lower levels being free from the white stuff.

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Everyone chatted. Everyone exchanged stories of hill climbs, long walks, short jaunts, holidays and dog walks, waterproofs, crampons and partners who don’t like to climb. There were all ages. All shapes and sizes. And all levels of fitness. Everyone was included. No one was left alone at the back of the crowd. It was a great day and at the end of the walk, a couple of folk headed across to the tea-room for a nice brew. I went home to my un-climbing partner in another attempt of persuasion to get him up a hill. I failed. But he had ran me a bath, made me dinner so I didn’t nag for too long…

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If you have considered group walks before and been hesitant. Do it. Join a group page on platforms such as Facebook and get a ‘feel’ for the group before tagging along. I know its out of your comfort zone, we’ve all felt it but I can highly recommend as a way to not only keep fit, lose weight and get healthy but to make new friends, learn new things and discover your beautiful countryside.

What are you waiting for…?

 

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Loch Long – January 2018

 

 

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My Dirty Weekend on Blencathra

In the last few years, I’ve been concentrating so much on conquering Scotland’s mountains, I forgot there are others out there. My experience of  England is driving at 70mph (ok 75)  from north Glasgow down to London to visit family. A few times we have stopped overnight at friends in Norfolk or a quick stay at a Travelodge to break the journey but generally, not encountered much outside the Scottish confines. I considered climbing Snowdonia once for summer solstice but that was as close as I got as Ben Nevis stepped in…

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Trail Magazine were advertising on Facebook; a weekend in Blencathra at the Field Studies Council centre. Sounds interesting… Alan Hinkes would be there (who?) and Terry Abraham (nope, not ringing a bell) With work commitments and other obligations, the few friends I asked couldn’t make it so I hesitantly decided to go myself. I think it was the huge Gear sale that they ran on the Sunday; that was a big draw!

I arrived the Friday an hour early and made my mumbled excuses at reception. They pointed me to the quiet parking area which would be my home for the next 2 nights. I had opted to stay in the van; in my own bed. Later that day, others pitched tents in great spaces and accommodation was on offer in the main building at a great price. I pottered around the premises a bit lost. No one else there except a couple of young lads sitting on the picnic tables “oh s**t, did I read the description properly, will I be hanging out with teenagers for the weekend?” A few hours later, a warm smile was offered by ‘Rob’ who showed me around the building then shortly after others started arriving. Everything was still so quiet except for the Trail crowd; they were full of energy and seemed excited for the weekend ahead. I don’t think its ‘just another job’ for them, the genuine passion and kindness oozed for the full 3 days… The lounge had a few folks in, quietly flicking through copies of the latest Trail mag or mobile phones. Closed mouth smiles and head nods were offered. Silence… After 5 minutes of doing the same, “anyone for a cup of tea?” says I, standing hands on hips. Everyone automatically declined in surprise except one who gingerly accepted. Returning with 2 mugs, the chatter had started, my awkwardness subsided… Ok, I think I’ll enjoy it here.

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Love this image, sums up the weekend perfectly!

The whole packed weekend from that point on was superb. Food was fantastic, Trail and field centre staff were great. The entertainment in the form of pub quiz, navigation skills, discussions with Alan Hinkes (FYI the only Briton to climb the world’s 14 highest mountains) and Terry Abraham (humble but expert director) climb up Blencathra with nature talks, boot advice and fitting, ‘guess the rucksack weight’. I loved it all and attended everything except the pop-up tent challenge, I couldn’t do that with the audience it drew!

I would normally never do something like this on my own but I am so glad I did. In fact, I think it made it far better. It’s too easy to huddle unsocially in a corner with a pal. Mixing with walking people, hill climbing people, outdoorsy people, camper van loving people, music loving people all knowledgeable and willing to share information and stories was just the tonic I needed and made it a hugely memorable weekend for me. Everyone was welcomed and accepted in whatever form they took. I wore a bobble hat to breakfast, where else could you do that comfortably?

My weekend highlights (small as most might seem)

  • Making tea for that one person
  • Listening to Phil talk about different moss
  • Alan Hinkes / Terry Abraham film on Saturday
  • 5 minutes early to the gear sale as we won the pub quiz which bought me a ‘non-panic buying’ session!
  • Standing in the rain, watching Alan Hinkes mountain goat-like across Blencathra
  • Sticky toffee pudding
  • A warm and welcoming smile from a friendly stranger when I was ready for heading home
  • Getting a Whisperlight stove for £20
  • Meeting awesome, like-minded people and making new friends
  • Wearing a bobble hat to breakfast!

I am looking forward to attending again, wherever camp sets up and whoever attends, not just with this team who organised this but will look further afield too. I am keener than ever to wild camp (Scotland – Spring 2018) and step far from this comfort zone that’s been built for 47years. I may even partake in a pop-up-pop-down tent challenge next time, that will really push me…

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Why I Climb…

Through my childhood, I was fascinated by a mysterious volcanic form on the horizon I could see from our garden. I was aware it was something called ‘Ben Lomond’ but never could I have realised what it would bring me 43 years later.

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In May 2016, my work colleagues and I ascended this mighty fellow. The climb was relatively short and as we were walkers of all fitness levels, we staggered ourselves taking time to wait for the dawdlers (that would be me!) Several expletives were released from my mouth that day along the lines of “who’s bloody idea was this”, “for fuck sake, will this ever end” and of course, that old favourite “are we there yet”… We arrived safely at the top. Visibility was clear, the views were spectacular and the wee tot of whisky added some ‘charm’… For the next 48 hours, every muscle shouted disapproval, my knees stabbed with every step and my feet endured a constant pulse. However, something got under my skin that day and it wasn’t a tick. From then on, I was hooked; I couldn’t wait to get out and do it again. “I’ll stock up on plasters and Ibuprofen.”

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For a few years prior to this climb, I was unsatisfied with life. Not depressed or particularly miserable, just unsettled and in constant search of something better. A better job, a kitchen extension, a tidier house, slimmer, just something… The more I walked and climbed, the less I was bothered about ‘stuff’. My achievement was still being alive once on ground level and it fuelled my contentment and acceptance of being me. I love being out there, even in the rain. The weather is spectacular in whatever it’s mood brings. Even seeing only 3 meters in front of you is an experience in itself. It’s serene. It’s unsettling. It’s another planet. I am lucky to have such accepting friends who appreciate and listen quietly to my raptures without considering that I am having a breakdown. They allow me to gush unashamedly at the cloud formation, at the silence of the scene, the monotones of a misty forest on a distant hill: it’s all so humbling.

2017-06-23 11.37.21It has taken 47 years to find my happy place, emotionally and spiritually. I have never accepted being me, always wanting to be someone else. Something about being in such a huge space, with few people around, everything makes perfect sense. It recharges what I never knew was depleting and once on ground level, the world is right and I am me again. If I haven’t been up a hill in a few weeks I have been known to wear my waterproof jacket to work for the smell and the feel of outside. Yes, I know that’s weird but it works for me!

I am working my way through Scotlands mountains with a small achievement of 16 munros but many more little hills in between and loving every step, even the ones that make me swear. My problem is now I have stepped out of my comfort zone, I am yet to find that boundary and things, scary things have been planned for the following years while I can. Rock climbing, mountain wild camping, and long distance expeditions are just a few but bloody hell, I am 47 years old, who do I think I am? Aucht well, age is just a number as is munro number 17… So I’m going to jump into my wee camper van and take the next left…

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Posted in Summer Walks and Wanderings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments