The Hidden Valley – Glen Coe

I don’t have an actual bucket list on paper but the never-ending list being compiled in my head grows by the day. For every one challenge I complete, another two appear and this year already has seen quite a few ‘wow’ moments for me. I have gone off the idea of getting a tattoo, I will one day get round to giving blood and I’ve already done Ben Nevis before I turned 50!! I am fair flying through this list…

Last weekend, experience number 3,619 (or not far off!) was to visit the Hidden Valley.

Last year, I had started walking with a small group of lovely people and I had been harassing, annoying, black-mailing ‘gently persuading’ them to go to the Hidden Valley (or Lost Glen as I kept calling it!) Twice before, several broken dates fell through due to bad weather conditions and this third time the forecast didn’t look too enticing either. There was, however, a promising window which looked to give us a long, dry episode but being the seeker of the perfect experience, I wanted nothing but glorious sunshine and a gentle breeze to keep the beasties away. After my initial grumbles, and 90 minute drive through very erratic weather, we arrived at the 3 sisters parking area without rain.

The walk is relatively easy and if you have a moderate level of fitness, you should find this effortless. A few ‘yikes’ moments with steep drops from a firm, narrow path and a (non-dangerous) climb up a smooth rock face but nothing too dramatic. Maybe not best to do with a hangover if you have the wobbles… The whole walk can be done in about 2.5 – 4hours. We took 4 hours up, down, with lots of wandering, photography and lunch in between. The 360 views even from the Three Sisters carpark are quite spectacular and i did spend the vast majority of the climb looking back and all around me, it’s impossible not too (although don’t do that near the drops to the river as it makes you dizzy spinning around trying to take everything in!!) There is a river crossing which we found fine even though there had been some rain over the days prior to the walk. Having a walking pole or two is helpful for balance across the well-positioned stones.

The walk up there is quite breathtaking in itself and i have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to see such majestic views on looking down into the glen. I swore because saying ‘wow’ didn’t quite capture the scene before us. The 4 of us stood and looked before the descent into the actual valley. It’s difficult to describe: walking on the moon? Not quite. It just has to be experienced. The expanse of the plateau is surrounded by a horseshoe of steep mountains and really is quite surreal. It’s so huge and difficult to comprehend. Its weird, I can’t explain it but it’s definitely down as my second best outdoors experience. I loved it

If I remember correctly, the visit to the valley stayed dry while we were there but as the scenery was such a distraction, it could have hailstoned and i wouldn’t have noticed. Once lunch was over, the rain arrived to give notice that it was time to move on. Then the MEGA huge raindrops fell when we were 20minutes from the car…

If you leave the house for a wee challenge once before the year is up, you could do so much worse than the Hidden Valley. See for your self but in the meantime, here are some pictures of the day… (in no particular order)

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Posted in Autumn Walks and Wanderings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finnich Glen aka Devil’s Pulpit

I like to tell people where I’ve been, I like to regale folks about the hills I’ve climbed, the long walks and adventures I’ve experienced and I love it when people read my blog and are inspired to cover the same route. Me and about a million other people do the same and in turn, we promote a wee piece of Scotland encouraging people to visit. It’s why I like to write my blogs; I love our countryside and I adore Scotland.

However, on my long-awaited first visit to Finnich Glen, I was disgusted by the level of litter and mess left from the hoards of tourists and visitors since the series Outlander was aired. I’ve never watched the programme to be fair, but it must have made some impact on the nation to inspire so many vandalising, cider swilling, Waitrose red wine quaffing, M&S sandwich scoffing, self-centered inconsiderates to visit an area of such natural beauty. From towels and trainers to tin cans and dirty nappies, mountains of rubbish piled high under bushes and trees, people thinking that keeping the pile together is being thoughtful, it is not, you are lazy and damaging. Take your crap home or don’t visit. Don’t blame your mum for not picking up after you, don’t blame the council for not providing bins and don’t blame the smells in the car on the way home. There is NO excuse for leaving crap except for the fact that you are bone idle and quite frankly, it’s a surprise that your lazy body managed to make it to the glen at all considering the lack of energy and effort you have. And stop leaving boxer shorts on branches, why would you do that?

If you’d made it this far through my ‘speech’, well done. I can say my rant is over and now I want to show you pictures of this glorious place without any rubbish in shot…

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It is a beautiful place even in the cloudiest of weather, so moody and evocative. It started to rain slightly which added to the ambiance. Its romantic, scary, hypnotic and invigorating. I have lived most of my 48 years within a 7 mile radius of this and quite shockingly, this was my first time. We went mid-week and quite early, about 9.30am and it was relatively quiet with maybe another 10 people joining us throughout the morning.

A word of caution though: The steps down are quite slippy and i imagine even more so when the rain is heavier. The steps also pass through a narrow gap spanning maybe about 60cm in some places which i found quite claustrophobic and there is a fallen tree to navigate across which is on an angle. If heights, narrow spaces and tree clambering isn’t for you, keep following the path along, keeping the river to the left and as the gorge drops you can get to the water and when it’s low enough you can walk a short distance along. Also, please park considerately. The road at its busiest sees cars abandoned, causing obstructions and accidents resulting in hold-ups for miles. The council have put bollards up, albeit not very securely, and cars have been bumping them to make space for themselves. And dress appropriately, flip-flop terrain this is not…

My final and last point is PLEASE enjoy responsibly. I’m not against bonfires, picnics and drinking wine outdoors but take your sh*t home with you please and allow others to enjoy this great and free experience.

Posted in Summer Walks and Wanderings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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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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