Off The Trails

On Sunday, Lindsay, Phoebe the Spaniel and I went out for a ramble around Mugdock Park and beyond. We got lost. And muddy. How exactly two fairly intelligent businesswomen failed to plan something as simple as a walk is something we wouldn’t particularly want our peer group to know about. So, if you read this and tell anyone, tell them not to tell anyone.

When we started off, the bogginess factor was about 5/10. If we’d known what was to happen later in the walk, we wouldn’t have bothered so much about skirting round muddy puddles, trying not to get our lady boots dirty. Much worse was to come.  Mugdock and the tracks around  are well-signposted, but we blithely eschewed the waymarkers, trailblazing across open land, with a vague notion that we were doing a loop and would end up back at the car.

How wrong we were…..and hour into the walk we ended up on the wrong size of a padlocked fence, talking through the rails to a fellow dog walker who assured us there was no escape from our incarceration and sent us back the way we came. She patiently gave us directions – pass the two benches, go through a gate, ford a stream, climb up onto the moor, pass a big boulder and go straight on back to Mugdock. We eventually found ourselves on the moor and looking for a sign – but it seems the signmaker forgot to put his working jacket on the day he was meant to complete it. We drew a blank.

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We then spotted a gate which we landmarked as a short-cut to our destination…..which was our next mistake as it was bordered by a bog as deep as Loch Ness. On the lead, Phoebe was keen to get over the gate. Just as Lindsay was balancing perilously on a bank working out her next move, the spaniel lunged forward dragging her into the malodorous midden. There was a mud-curling squelch when she extricated her boots. We trudged muckily back to the car, vowing never again to go ‘off the trails’.

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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

Breaking Sad

There are certain times in a girl’s life when the only therapy worth investing in is of the retail variety. Yesterday was one of those times. It was a bleak, cold day, punctuated by sharp rain and hail showers. It reminded me of the long, long winter I have just endured post-surgery when I was more than a bit miserable. During those dark months, I was sore, afraid, anaemic, susceptible to infection, healing oh-so slowly and watching a raft of box sets. Perhaps watching Breaking Bad – a show about a struggling chemistry teacher, diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer who turns to a life of crime, producing and selling crystalized meth – was not my smartest move. The series had some very macabre scenes and wasn’t exactly cheery.

The show’s title is based on a southern colloquialism meaning, among other things, ‘going wild’ and kinda describes my shopping expedition yesterday. It was expensive but boy, did it brighten my day. I bought a bright pink ‘Sawtooth Hoodie’ (actually the colour is ‘Lupin’ which I love), purple lightweight hiking boots, mauve socks and sunglasses with interior green stripes. The hues of my purchases are important. I’ve spent months skulking around in baggy dark clothes, colours which suited my mood. For months, my only purchases were two post-surgery bras which are the most unflattering garments known to womenkind and were a fusty shade of ‘Scotch Mist‘ when I eventually ditched them. So, it was with a mission to Go Bright that I embarked on my spending spree. The outdoor centre where I made most of my purchases has both a cafe and a climbing wall. I stoked up on calories in the former to stave off any potential shopping fatigue – which was wise as it was a heavy shift.

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