Muicking Around

Yesterday I set off for one of my favourite Scottish walks – an 8-mile circuit of Lock Muick, near Ballater in Aberdeenshire. This grand loch is part of the Balmoral Estate and is located at the foot of Lochnagar, one of Scotland’s finest mountains and the inspiration for Prince Charles’s children’s book ‘The Old Man of Lochnagar’. I’ve scaled this mountain a few times and it is quite spectacular, popular with both hikers and rock climbers.

My trek around the loch involved both business and pleasure as I finally got round to the serious task of breaking in my gorgeous new purple boots.  Since I purchased them a few weeks ago, I have gazed on them admiringly, as more glamorous women would on their Jimmy Choos.  They have been fondled and photographed but, until yesterday, their action had been confined to my shag pile. However, my old boots are now losing the will to walk – bits are falling off and the soles are worn down – so the new ones had to be put to the test before I tackle the West Highland Way Challenge for Breakthrough Breast Cancer next month. So it was with some intrepidation that I laced up for the walk – partly because breaking in new boots can lead to that dreaded affliction, sair feet, but also because I feared they might get dirty.

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The Loch Muick circuit takes in some fine views and a variety of wildlife can be found there, including red squirrels, red deer, eagles, bats, oyster catchers, salmon and trout. As I bent down to adjust my laces, I saw some tadpoles.

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So how did my new boots shape up? Result! They are as comfy as they are colourful and, as luck would have it, the ‘bog factor’ was low so they remain fairly pristine….for now.

If you would like to donate please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Wendy-Smith2015/

For more information on The Challenge visit http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/support-us/find-event/west-highland-way-challenge

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Feet Up and Fizz

These boots were made for walking……….but just not today. In the last week, I’ve clocked up 33 miles of hiking, am stiff, have sair feet and am badly in need of a chiropody appointment. So I’m hanging up my boots for the next 24 hours, cracking open the Prosecco and tuning into BBC Radio Scotland. My pal Fiona Stalker’s new show ‘Out For The Weekend’ – a programme featuring the multitude of activities on offer in Scotland’s great outdoors  – begins this afternoon and we’re VERY excited (OK, maybe not so much about the gardening feature as we don’t even have a window box). I’ll be on air during the show, talking about how I’m walking my way back to health and happiness following my breast cancer diagnosis eight months ago and resultant surgery.

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I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that there’s been quite a transformation. When I began walking 10 weeks ago, I was physically and mentally wounded and was desperate to regain my strength and well being. Since then I’ve trudged, tramped and trekked more than 200 miles north, south, east and west in our beautiful country and I’m feeling so much better.

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While I’ve still got some way to go – and am slightly nervous about the West Highland Way Challenge I’ve signed up to in four weeks’ time – I know I’m on the right track and plan to continue walking regularly until I regain full fitness and beyond.

But tomorrow’s another day. For now, it’s feet up and fizz!

If you would like to donate please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Wendy-Smith2015/

For more information on The Challenge visit http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/support-us/find-event/west-highland-way-challenge

Stepping It Up

With only five weeks to go before the West Highland Way Challenge for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, I’m going to have shift my butt. Although I’ve been busy with preparations – new gear: check; fundraising: check; chiropody appointment: check – I’ve fallen behind in my target of walking 25 miles a week. To be fair – which it definitely hasn’t – the weather doesn’t help. In the last couple of weeks, balmy has turned to Baltic and it’s felt distinctly wintry.  We’ve had driving rain, hailstones the size of golf balls and temperatures plummeting to single digits again. This wasn’t in my plan.

The Challenge involves walking over 12 miles each day and there’s lots of steep bits, which we’re not very keen on. In fact, we’ll be climbing the equivalent of a Munro (Scottish mountain of 3,000+ ft). I haven’t done anything like that in recent years. So, yesterday I decided that miles and ascent needed to be clocked up. Being up north visiting friends and family, I started with a five-mile walk along The Deeside Way, a 41-mile trail from Aberdeen to Ballater that follows the route of the former Deeside Railway. Built in the mid 19th Century, it was used by the Royal Family to travel to their Balmoral retreat. The railway closed in 1966 but the route has been developed and maintained and is now popular with cyclists, walkers and runners.

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In the afternoon, after a bowl of her lovely home-made leek and potato soup, my dear friend Shelagh, Tara the Irish Setter and I did a 4-mile circuit of Elrick Hill, which involved 400 ft of ascent. Shelagh and Tara fairly sprinted up the hill, while I peched and panted (and maybe cursed a bit) behind them. Clearly, when it comes to regaining fitness, I’m ‘work in progress’.

If you would like to donate please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Wendy-Smith2015/

For more information on The Challenge visit http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/support-us/find-event/west-highland-way-challenge