1st January 2024 - technically and when I next update (maybe this week) this will be a new Diary. The main news being that I drove to the Lakes last week, avoiding the floods but having to drive through some deep water on route. I stayed in the campervan with Wisp and on Thursday morning we went for a short run in the storm and then collected Bruce at 10.30am. The drive back was ok and he settled in well. He's not Joss and his character is different. He seems so little and fragile and we're trying to keep one step ahead with the eating and anxiety. I will be glad when we have done a week. Wisp and Paddy are being tolerant except when he tries to play with them. I have uploaded the photos of the day I collected him and since he's been at Mark in the new Gallery 2024/Bruce
Today I have managed to get the JAlbum working again. Every time I have a computer issue I end up starting a new Gallery as otherwise I have in the past over-ridden the old one with the new rather than adding more to the old. So a successful today and the sun was shining for once so Bruce was able to spend more time in the garden and is well on the way to house training himself!
21st December - so there I was getting really good at updating the website and about to create www.BrucesCrown.co.uk (ie I have bought the domain) and boom! computer crash. I had a big panic and sent it off to the lovely Marc to hopefully fix while I went running. I then went to collect it last week and see Charlie, Carol and Lottie at the same time.
I have some exciting news about getting a new puppy. I am collecting one on Thursday 28th and I've got a list of names at the ready. I'm thinking now of Bruce - being a nice Scottish name. It's a month since Joss died and I can talk about him without crying. He's buried on the right of our path as we leave the house and so I tell him what's going on. He would approve of a new puppy.
And then yesterday after the Alpkit webinar that I did with Emma Stuart, which was a great laugh, Steve and I drove to Bury St Edmunds to buy a new vehicle and trade in the big white van. Living where we do we need a 4x4 and I know we have the landrover but it's also for sale now as it's not practical for long distances and with it's history could be being used by someone who wants an amphibious landrover as well as a land one. So watch this space for when it goes up for sale! We bought a VW Amarok (yes I like VW's!) and incredibly we managed to do everything in one day and drive it away, leaving our white Transporter van in Surrey. I'm still in shock that it's ours. We had taken Wisp and Paddy and it's got a back on it so they travelled home in the back. We had booked into the Tan Hill Inn and stayed there last night on our way home.
Roger and I spent three great days reccying the last section of the Spine from Greenhead to Kirk Yetholm a week after doing the Cheviot Goat. The weather forecast wasn't great but in reality it was a lot better than we expected! Wisp enjoyed the trip a lot and especially having the camper van to herself (well with me in it too!). It was a packed three days with mileages of 25 miles to Bellingham, 16 miles and car moving to Byrness then 28 miles to Kirk Yethom. We also enjoyed two nights of wonderful meals and hospitality in the Border Arms! Photos Gallery 2024/Spine Reccies
3rd December - Cheviot Goat yesterday - I have been lo9oking forward to the Cheviot Goat as I haven't run much since Joss has died because he was 99% always there when I ran. The weather was looking very cold -5C and there had been snow but none was forecast for the race day which I was glad of. We stayed with Steve's sister in Hexham which was lovely. I never feel quite ready for this race but it's always gone well for me. I think of it as two halves - the first half is flatter and more tracks and so runnable and then the second half, after the Cheviot is mainly all bogs, tussocks and heather with a lot more climb. So I try to set off steady and eat well in the first half to prepare for the second. I set off steady but I felt sick. I tried to eat but everything I had was sugary except some honey covered nuts (sound sweet but they aren't) and I managed them. I was thinking about my dogs a lot and thinking that I would be rather running with them. I was generally not in the mood and not enjoying nor sorting the race out. I ran into CP1 and got my dropbag - I had packed a can of Iron Bru instead of the usual coke and a rice pudding. However on opening the pudding it was off. Sharon suggested flapjack and another supporter found me a banana - both of which I was very grateful. The first lady was just leaving but I wasn't sure I wanted a battle. Sharon sorted me out and gave me a big hug. I set off feeling much happier - the sugar, the coffee, the Iron Bru and the hug. And probably the idea that I could win this race again!
I didn't catch the First Lady until the Cheviot and then I tried to open up a gap knowing that the section after the Cheviot suits me. The ground had been frozen mainly till now but I was hoping that there were some bogs as they suit me! I had been gathering ice balls on the elastic on my gaiters and decided that this was heavy and I couldn't run properly. I asked the Mountain Rescue on the approach to the Cheviot if they had a knife and they said they would find me one. The race route does an out and back to the Cheviot so this was handy. When I got back they handed me a knife and I cut the elastic off! Wow that was better! I had noticed that everyone had these ice balls and hoped that the gaiters would keep the snow out of my shoes still. I felt so much lighter!!
I had a good run along the fence line catching a few runners and passing them. My stomach was sorted and I was eating everything I had. I was looking forward to the next 30 miles and finishing. I ran into CP2 and saw Euan, David and Marc there. I had seen them coming off the Cheviot as I climbed it earlier. I had hoped to run with someone over night and it was now 4pm so I was quick sorting my stuff and eating a "not off" rice pudding, another can of Iron Bru and a black coffee. We all headed off together and soon started chatting about where we lived etc. We ran well together as we had different strengths and so we naturally took it in turns leading. It was hard leading as navigation was tricky and there were only a few footprints. You also had to watch out for the puddles / bogs that weren't frozen. I was usually in front going up steep hills ad finding it hard to keep up going down hard, knarly downhills. It passed the time being in a group as in no time we seemed to be trotting off Hedgehope towards the road and the last climb. Euan and me pulled away a little and always being conscious of being caught and losing my First place we pushed on. Euan knew a cracking line up the last hill and in no time we were running down to the finish. We finished Joint 7th in 15 hours and 11 minutes.
I am really pleased with this race. It has shaken me up and given me the boost I needed to get on with Spine preparations. Thanks Euan, David and Marc for running with me and the ColdBrew team for putting on a cracking race. https://live.opentracking.co.uk/cheviotgoat23/ Photos of the race - Cheviot Goat
2nd December - Two weeks has passed since Joss died and time is being a great healer. The weekend after he died I was working with Due North in Kettlewell doing an outdoor session and a talk on How to prepare for an Ultra. I had to really pull myself together as I just wasn't functioning very well. Steve agreed to come with me with Wisp and Paddy so that I had company over night and also on the spur of the moment I had contacted the breeder where I got Joss from and she had a male puppy for sale which we could see on Monday. I didn't know if it was the right time but I thought I would when I saw him. We booked into the Tan Hill inn as I had been there on Spine reccies and thought Steve would like it.
The session and the talk went well I think because the participants asked lots of questions and didn't talk about Joss. Whether they knew or not I don't know - but it helped. We stayed in the van both Friday and Saturday nights with the dogs and it was -4C! But we were toasty with the heater and dogs warmth too! On Sunday we went for a circular walk from the Tan Hill Inn to Keld and back which did involve a bit of cross country heather bashing! A good tea (I can highly recommend the Tan Hill Inn ) and a room booked for Sunday night. I didn't sleep well thinking about Joss and the new puppy. We woke to a layer of snow but Steve wasn't concerned!! By 9am a few vehicles had been down it and we got out ok which was a relief. We got to Rachel's farm and she was lovely letting me have loads of time to look at the puppy and his mother. It felt right and especially as he won't be 8 weeks until the New Year which will give us more time to get ready for the new arrival.
24th November - The saddest news. Last Saturday Joss, Wisp and I stayed at the Mortal Man hotel - all in the same room overnight which is a lovely memory to have now. We had been for a little run on route and on Sunday we left early to meet the Inov-8 runners in Kendal at 8am to run to Staveley. Joss was his usual, full of life self, greeting everyone and eager to run. We left Kendal on the run and when we got to the open moorland I let them off the leads. Joss was running back and forth to the front runners and then coming back to me. He was having a fantastic time. The run finished in the Forge shop and most of the the runners left. Joss managed to "lick" some flapjack off the tray and made friends with Dan Milton, getting special hugs. Dan gave us a lift back to Kendal in his van and dropped me, Joss and Wisp at my little van. I put the dogs in their cages and got on the telephone as it was binging away. I learnt that my dad had been taking to Inverness hospital for an emergency operation on a hernia/ appendictus. I made plans with Charlie to meet him there. I quickly headed into town to tell Tory and headed back to the van to set off to Inverness.
I drove to the M6 at Shap where I thought I would take the dogs for a short walk before a long journey. I opened the van doors and Wisp got up. I let her out and Joss hadn't moved. I just knew. I grabbed him, looked in his mouth, shook him, felt for a pulse. There was nothing. He was dead. He looked so peaceful. I'm a farmer and I could see there was no sign of any stress or pain. I was already crying and howling. I was in bits. Wisp just wanted to walk so I walked. It was horrid weather so after she had wee'd I put her in the van and rang Steve. Thankfully he rang me back straight away and we arranged to meet at Dumfries. The rest of Monday and Tuesday I was up in Inverness. My dad's operation went well and he is on his way to recovery. I came home on Tuesday night and we buried Joss on Wednesday where he used to sit waiting for us to come out of the house. I've sorted all the photos of Joss out that I can find. There is a lot and they are all jumbled up but I've put them all here. I also put a social media post up trying to chose the 10 best photos. It's been a very hard week and I miss you so much Joss.
Photos of Joss from his arrival at Liley, to learning about the fells and mountains, to going everywhere with me and having lots of adventures
18th November - I've been very busy with talks and Spine reccies over the last couple of weeks. And then some very exciting developments on the Bruce's Crown race that I've been wanting to put on for years in the Galloway mountains. I have spent six days reccying with James, Stephen, Roger and Joss and Wisp. We've covered some miles and the photos are on Spine Reccies The most recent one was last Thursday when Steve dropped me at the M62 and I ran to Gargrave to catch the train (the last one!!) back to Armathwaite where I had left my van. It was quite a fast day as I realised that 39 miles in ten hours was going some! But we made it with 45 minutes to spare. There was no relaxed picnics along the way but the weather was kind, being warm and still. There had been a lot of rain and the fields were so waterlogged - I never thought I would be the one to cheer when I spied flagstones but I was!
I did a talk in Keswick for Due North events with Emma Stuart that went really well. We have so much in common and are so different too! I'm heading to Kendal today to do an Inov-8 breakfast run tomorrow morning and take part in the Endurance session tomorrow afternoon. I'm enjoying the talks and have the National Running Show in January followed by a talk in the Malverns on the Monday.
The exciting race news is that after submitting the permissions to the Forestry back in September I haven't heard anything and was coming to the conclusion that I couldn't organise this race on my own in only a few months when Galloway Mountain Rescue contacted me and are keen to co-organise the race as a fund raiser for a new Team Base in Newton Stewart. I had contacted them in May offering this however I was waiting for permissions before following it up. We had a great meeting a week ago where everything was discussed and lots agreed. They are confident that we will get the permissions and so really it's full steam ahead! I have another meeting on Monday 20th and then I hope to open up entries. I'm am blatantly copying the High Peak Marathon format as I love it so much. So teams of four, navigation through the night, recommended route available but no gps's allowed, staggered starts, two very good food checkpoints, MRT on the hill, and a lenient 24 hours cutoff. Keep watching this space!!
3rd November - Steve and I had a great weekend in Glen Coe with me working on the www.GirlsonHills.com Ultra weekend. I think the weather was probably the best that we've had for this weekend and even then it was pretty blowy!! We travelled up on the Friday and went up a Munro when we arrived which was a great leg stretcher. However when we got to our caravan we found out that there was a power cut and so instead of having a shower we went in search of something to eat. The local pub The Clachaig was also out of power so it was a hurried trip to Ballachulish for fish and chips. Passing the pub on the way back the lights were on and so we called for a pint, or two! The electric was back on in the caravan when we got there and by then we were desperate for the welcome hot showers. On Saturday Steve took the van to Kinlocheven and walked to the Meanach bothy with Paddy, while I did the Running with Poles workshop and then went for a run myself with Wisp and Joss. An evening talk by the fireside for me with Girls on Hills. While Steve and the dogs watched a rubbish Halloween film!!
On Sunday I had an Ultra Preparation and Training talk to give first thing and then we headed off so that I could recce Leg 1 of the Tyndrum round. The weather was not inviting at all with squally rain and wind but it was a low level (ish) route that had a fair bit of woodland in it and being dropped off and collected is a luxury for me - so off me, Wisp and Joss went! We didn't hang around on the tops, but the wind was behind us and the woodland was warm and sheltered. It was a very useful recce in daylight and only the second time I'd been on the leg. The first time was with Tim Rippon on a very hot evening where we battled against the forests a lot!! Photos - Girls On Hills Ultra weekend
Steve was waiting for me which was a nice sight and he had been a good Samaritan while he was waiting (after coffee and cakes in Oban!) and taken two Chinese students to the nearest train station after they emerged from the woods in the carpark, wet and cold after a couple of night wild camping.
21st October - FRA Relays in Keswick. Lisa and Tom had done an amazing job of organising the teams and we (the lady vet 50's) had a great team consisting of Pippa Wilkie, me and Helen, Kirsty Bryan Jones and Julia Nolan, and finally Liz Batt. There were an A and B ladies team plus a Vet 40 Ladies team plus loads of Men's teams. I travelled down on Friday and stayed at the hostel Lisa had booked, meeting Helen about 10pm when she arrived. Saturday we walked to the venue at Brathwaite and settled down. Leg 1 started at 11am and then we didn't have much time before we were off on Leg 2 (pairs long course). There had been lots of talk about a contour line and I was undecided about it as it was a bit claggy. We ran hard and over took a few teams even though the paths were narrow. It did seem very busy and the rocks were lethal! Getting to CP2 Helen said "Shall we go for it?" and I agreed! So off we went. It was lovely to be on our own but quite a narrow path. Then a straight up climb to CP3. It was hard to tell whether we had gained but we set off to CP4 running hard again. We were very well matched this time although as usual Helen is better at the running on the flatter paths than me. Flying down the last descent was hairy and then a small climb and we'd finished! We are so pleased with our leg and had a great celebration. Our team was 1st LV50's but also had we entered the LV40's class we would have won that too! Results on Sportident We all had superb runs and I've been so happy all week since looking back on it all! Photos - FRA Relays
14th October - While doing the Scottish Classics I was asked by Andy Chapman if I would do a talk and an Ultra training day up in Aberdeen. This sounded a great combination and so I said yes! I travelled up on the Friday and did a recce of the local hills for the run on the Sunday. It was bitterley cold and I was wearing a lot of clothes - the first time this year!! Wisp and Joss loved it and I found a reasonable route that should take us about 3 hours. Then I went into Aberdeen (it was now raining) and met up with Andy at the University. We got everything set up and I was just about to start when the fire alarm went off! Everyone piled outside and huddled under cover however we were told we had to move away from the building even though they were sure there was no fire. So into cars we went. I invited a lost looking man into my van to save him getting soaked and then found out that I knew him - or knew of him as it was Bruce, a friend of Nicola Redgwell who I had coached to the Lakeland 100 twice! After 20 minutes everyone was milling at the entrance but we still couldn't go back in apart from to collect our stuff. We were offered another lecture theatre in a different building which we jumped at! Everyone trailed over there and I set up again! This theatre was huge and a bit cold! But I did my talk a little quicker than I would have done and everyone was happy!
On Sunday I met the five people on the course and we spent the morning in the classroom and the afternoon on a run! It was a great day and everyone got on really well and hopefully learnt a lot!
7th October - Steve had entered the Atlantic-coast-challenge with Amanda and Andrew Heading but knowing the route (as the end of the Arc 100) and having not seen my aunt Maggie for ages I said I would only do the last day and spend the first two days with Maggie and on dog sitting duties. This was the weekend when Scotland was having a storm and Devon/Cornwall was having a heatwave. Steve said Day 1 had been extremely hard in the heat and I know that even a gentle dog jog was too hot for me. Day 2 was the same he said and I hope he liked Day 3 better. I arrived on Saturday night and everyone was very tired - all in bed by 8pm!! We were up at 6am and having breakfast etc. I couldn't decide whether to run or hike with Steve. It was an odd feeling coming into the middle of a race like this. We got the bus to the Start at Lelant together and Steve set off. I faffed and then set off after him. When I caught him I just though how nice it would be to spend a day together so that's what we did. It was very hot at times but Steve enjoyed the knarly route more than the other days and the checkpoint had loads of nice food and drink so it was very pleasant (for me) overall. I tried not to be too cheery and I helped by navigating, buying a cup of tea and generally encouraging Steve. He was really strong and we finished in 9 hours at Lands End. That night we went to an Indian in Hayle and celebrated Andy's birthday! Photos - Devon and Coastal Challenge
October Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Optimistic October - Climbers Against Cancer contacted me about doing the Breast Cancer Awareness exercise every day in collaboration with Breast Cancer Charity. I agreed and they sent me some pink vets, hats and a buff to wear. I have really enjoyed making myself get out every day and doing something, even though sometimes it's really hard to find the time. I'm not sure how many other people are doing this as there has been very little on social media about it however once I started it I got some really good feedback so had to continue! Half way through the month I spotted that it was Optomistic October month and I did realise that exercising everyday was really improving my mental health and I always felt better afterwards no matter what a faff it seemed to get ready and get something done! So if you want to help me finish this challenge then please donate on my Justgiving Page These are all the photos that I have taken to date from the month's exercise Oct Breast Cancer Awareness
26th September - I've started reccying the Spine which is a mammoth task but well worth while. Roger and I did East Marton to Tan Hill over three days where I also got a puncture at Hawes when I managed to change the wheel! I'll ke3ep adding photos to this album as I get more and more prepared - Photos - Spine preparation
18th September - It was the last race in the Scottish Classics of Two Breweries and I travelled over on the morning to Broughton in the campervan so that I could stay the night. The weather looked good and not too hot which I was pleased at. It was interesting getting the bus round and I chatted to a young lady runner. Registration was a relaxed affair out of the back of a car and Tranquair House was a nice place to wander about in before the Start. I knew about the long road and track to the hills and I was glad when it was over. The bracken was all squashed down up the valley and then we were out onto the hills. I was glad of my reccies as there were places people went wrong. It was actually really nice to get to my recce turnaround place and know it was 10 miles to the Finish. Ellen Bryan Jones was running and her family was out cheering her (and me on!). Running over the last few hills I was with a lady I'd been with for a few miles and we both took the same descent down off the last hill. Again I knew about the road and was ready for it. Passing Ellen's family was nice and uplifting! The road didn't seem as long as when I had reccied it in extreme heat and I was soon running to the Brewery! All done! I was 4th Lady and 1st LV50. Overall I was 4th Lady and got a special mention because I did all the races which was lovely. It was a great way to explore new areas and get to know people. SHR Classics News
11th September - I travelled to Yorkshire to take part in the last Summer Series race and do the Presentation in the pub. I do miss doing these races and it was great to take part, bash my way over heather and through bracken and then catch up with everyone in the pub. I also caught up with Helen Elmore, Keith Holmes and Mary Garthwaite with a surprise meeting with Tim the plasterer who was working at Liley. Tim did most of the plastering at Mark, spending a week up here at a time so it was nice to see him too.
That weekend was the last in the Scottish Championships and it was Merrick fell race. The nearest one to me and not one I was looking forward to yet I really enjoyed it, especially as it was claggy and quite cold! I managed to win a nice bottle of wine for coming 1st LV50. This meant that I was able to win the LV55 category in the Scottish Championships. SHR Championships
8th September - Steve has always wanted to go to an airshow and he found out that there is one at Ayr and so we went along on Friday night with Joy and Russ (our neighbours). We took a picnic and it was a lovely warm evening with clear skies. There was a great atmosphere and there were three displays which were all different. Firstly a helicopter thing, then the jet plan and then two gliders with motors that also had led lights all over them and set off fireworks every now and again. A really enjoyable event. Not too bad photos of the airshow!
5th / 6th September - I have been reccying the race that I can and so I penciled in a recce of the last Classic race - the Two Breweries. Steve said he would do some more of the Southern Upland Way and so a plan was formed where I could drop him at the start each morning and then go an do an out and back recce and then collect him at the end of his leg. Day 1 we drove over and I dropped him at Wanlochhead. I drove to Broughton and ran the route backwards to Glenrath farm. arriving after 3 hours. It was an interesting route with farmers fields getting you onto ridges of nice hills before you drop down again across farmers fields and a valley with roads before climbing again. There were sections of everything including deforestation, boggy wooded paths, tracks, tussocks and bracken. I met a farmer at the turnaround point who seemed amazed I was parked at Broughton! The weather got hotter and hotter and the dogs were glad of the streams and bogs on route. I text Steve to say I could pick him up but he said he would walk to Moffat campsite where we were booked in.
I drove to the campsite and waited while rehydrating with a beer! Steve text to say he had walked the wrong way and was walking back. He had headed south not north and only realised when he saw a sign pointing the opposite way he was walking to Moffat! We had wonderful showers and walked into Moffat for fish and chips. Next morning we were up quite early and I dropped him back at the SUW where he had left it. I then drove to Innerleithen and started the Two Breweries race going in the race direction. Again farmers field onto hills and along a ridge. Today was more fells and less roads but a good section of head high bracken to start with - so I won't be flying off at the start! I did about 4km in an hour bracken bashing before emerging onto any runnable stuff. Then it was a pleasant day bar up and down valleys with the temperature still hot but welcome water found for both me and the dogs on route. There was a lovely valley on the way out which was deserted with a good stream and I planned an afternoon break there as the climb back was going to be tough.
We descended down towards the track at Glenrath farm after 3.15 hours and turned round to plod back up. I was finding some good paths and the dogs were enjoying the bogs and the breeze. Dropping back into the deserted valley - it wasn't deserted anymore and the shooting party weren't pleased to see me. I was quite surprised to be so obviously unwelcomed. I walked through, had a quick water top up and set off up the hillside on a grouse butt line I had spotted. It was hot and I was determined not to stop so I kept going until I was out of sight. I had only seen three grouse all day so maybe that's why they were so miserable. I trotted back through the bracken and down to the van. Steve was doing well although he thought he was slow and I only just got there as he was trotting along the SUW towards the road. A good couple of days out. Photos of my recce
2nd / 3rd September - I travelled to Arran with Nancy Kennedy to run a Girls on Hills two day guiding and training sessions. There were only four lovely easy going ladies on the course and so we had an extremely enjoyable weekend running on the hills of Arran and chilling out on an evening.
26th August - I travelled up to Stirling to do the Ochils Race and it was great to meet up with Kirsty Bryan Jones and her daughter Ellen who were also racing. I'm getting to know a few Scottish runners now as well and feel like I know people to talk to. The weather was hot and due to rain which I was glad of. It was an hour's bus journey to the start and then a bit of hanging around. The race started and as usual there is a horrid two mile or more, slightly uphill forest track. I have been trying to get better at them but I just find them really hard work! I was looking forward to getting to CP4 where I had reccied from. We climbed up along a fence I recognized from a run with Eleanor that I had done in spring. I knew we were running up the path and that made me try to run it too! I was trying to get into a rhythm but my legs were heavy and my breathing was laboured. A few checkpoints done and we were doing the out and back to CP4. Reccying was paying off as people were heading off down the wrong path. It all seemed to be going a lot quicker than on my recce too. We continued along the ridge and I could see Ellen in front of me. It seemed to be getting hotter and hotter and I started tipping some water over my head. Eventually we got to the end of the Ochils and started the descent. I had been studying the lines and decided to go with my recce lines. This worked well apart from one cut through that was too over grown to be useful! I passed Ellen on the downhill and thought she would fly by me on the next climb. I arrived quite overheated at the checkpoint where Kirsty's parents were doing the marshalling. They had lots of water and I was offered coke by some lovely kind stranger too. I gulped that down thankfully as Dumyat was going to be hot and hard! I plodded up it trying to keep my place and just thinking that it will all be over soon! The top comes quicker than you think and I staggered over it and tried to get the downhill legs to work one last time as I could see Ellen just behind me. Downhill I was keeping pace with the two ladies in front, but I wasn't going to catch them. Through the woods and onto the road where disappointingly we had to do the longer and more boring track to the finish. I tried really hard as I knew Ellen would be near and I finished and collapsed on the grass as usual! Results - put 2023 and search for Ochils
A great race and I'll be back to do it again - maybe with fresher legs and in cooler conditions!
21st August - Steve and I travelled to Yorkshire to meet Charlie, Carol and Lottie along with Jane, Scott and Anne and Alex. It was a Scott family funeral on the Monday and so Steve and I spent time with Charlie, Lottie and Scott in Chatsworth House. The weather was perfect and we were there from 10am to 5.30pm. We didn't go in the house as there was enough to do in the garden, farm area and playground. Carol and Jane came to meet us at 4pm and we sat in the playground area watching Scott and Lottie make things in the sand pit area. Photos of our day at Chatsworth
19th August - Steve and I had an exciting long day out on the Bruce's Crown route in Galloway. I have written it up as a report! Bruce's Crown Tomorrow we are off to Yorkshire for a few days to meet up with Charlie, Carol and family which I'm looking forward to.
15th August - The only news is that the pond (or Plake) is coming on well. It took until a lot of rain on Sunday for the pond to fill up and then overflow! Since then we've let some water out so that Steve can start building a bit of a wall round the edge. Today we've been levelling the ground around the pond back to garden level.
9th August - I've been busy on the racing front as I'm doing the Scottish Classic Championships and the Scottish Champs too so 29th July was Ben Rhinnes which was run from Dufftown Highland Games. Steve and I travelled up in the camper and stayed the night before which made the morning very relaxed! I left Steve with all three dogs watching the games while I had a horrendous time racing! I knew it was going to be tough what with not seeing a proper hill for a month and only doing shorter runs but with the heat I just felt like legs of lead and exploding heart and head all the way round! I ate all the gels and sweets I had taken in a vane attempt to inject energy into myself but to no avail and then I got cramp with 3 miles to go! Oh I was so glad to enter the games field - do a lap round that being cheered on by the crowds and collapse next to the water butts! Steve and the dogs hadn't been able to move as crowds descended and so they were thirsty and hungry. the The rest of the day was spent enjoying the show, having a beer and then a great meal in the local Aberlour Hotel to end the day. On Sunday we drove to Glenshee Ski centre and walked round half of the Glenshee 9 race route. Steve was motoring along and I couldn't keep up! The dogs all loved it and we celebrated by having our very first for twenty years Kentucky Fried Chicken in Ayr on the way home! Race Results You have to choose the year and then each race. I was 3rd V50 and got a prize through the post which was nice! Dufftown and Glenshee photos
Last weekend I travelled to Glenshee with Joss and Wisp (Steve and Paddy elected to stay at home) and on Saturday I persuaded the organisor to let me on the Early start as I was still feeling pretty shocking after a week of "recovery runs". It was much cooler and forecast to rain at midday. I set off and was soon 2nd in the slower pack which suited me. The clag came and went all day and navigation was needed, with a compass that had a bubble! I had a whale of a time out there on my own - just racing myself and saying hi to all the marshalls. I would have made the cutoff with 40 mins to spare. The last section I hadn't reccied and it was pretty tricky as there were loads more tracks and paths than on the map. It started to rain on the approach to the second to last summit and then hailed on me for the last 45 minutes. It was great doing the out and back and seeing the front runners coming towards me and then the first lady. I was completely soaked when I finished but very happy. I finished in 4.44 hours which I was happy with. The dogs were pleased to see me although Wisp always sulks when I run without her. I had the lovely soup and cake from the Glenshee cafe Tea@the Shee cafe which was great and the dogs shared a sausage roll. I was very surprised to be 3rd lady overall and win a bottle of wine. A very encouraging day all round. On the Sunday I drove to Stirling and caught a bus so that I could recce most of the Ochils 2000's with Wisp and Joss. The recce seemed easy for most of it just up and down paths over obvious tops until we reached the last few hills and dropped to Menstrie. Now we were tired, it was hot and I'd run out of food but never mind only 400m of Dumyat to do and a fiddly route through the woods to find. Wisp always seems to know when we're nearing the van and perks up considerably! We enjoyed a nice egg sandwich and cup of tea before heading home. Few photos of my recce and shop on route
And then - big garden news is that Steve had been very busy clearing stones out of the pond (almost a lake) and had got the underlay down. This morning Rus came and helped pull out the lining and Steve turned the water on. It could take a few weeks at this rate but we will have a pond one day! General garden and pond building photos
1st August - Quick update to check I can still upload as I wrote the below on Friday 28th and then spent that morning and yesterday (in between work) trying to get the FTP to connect. I really hate technology when it gives you "Access denied" "Critical Error" etc etc. Last night I don't know what I did differently but low and behold it suddenly connected! If it works again this morning I'll update later with my weekend news.
28th July - Another big gap between updating as I went down to the Love Trails Festival on July 6th and did a weekend there with three S&C sessions, one running session and a talk. The weekend went well as it's a very well organised event and has the right mixture of running, music, entertainment and lots of other outdoor/wellbeing sessions on. It was great to catch up with Hannah and Rhianna from Girls on Hills and also Beth and Fiona Pascall. Photos
From the Gower Pennisular I travelled to Berkhamsted and spent a couple of weeks with my brother Charlie and his family, Carol and Lottie. Lottie persuaded me and Carol to do the Go Ape in Wendover Woods and insisted on doing the "Extreme" version whenever there was a choice! While on the course (luckily the last section) the weather also became windy and rather wet so we were rather glad to be hurtling down the last zip wire to the welcome warmth of the cafe!! I was please that I didn't fall off and managed to complete the course but it was very hard! Lottie loved it and just swung about in her harness when the sections became too hard - she is 11 after all and the course is set up for adults! Photos with possible garden tree ones too
Now I'm home and heading to the Dufftown Highland Games show to do Ben Rhinnes race tomorrow. I've hardly run in the last three weeks but I'm just looking forward to running and enjoying the day. It will be lovely to spend time with Steve and the dogs over the weekend. I've missed them.
Thanks to everyone who sent in an objection to Knockodhar wind power station. I'm not against them for the sake of it but the energy companies are now siting them where it's easier and more cost effective for them, without any regard for the people who are living in the rural community and their health and wellbeing. The turbines that are being proposed are 200m high and are off shore turbines. The effects on people has only been tested at Hunterston and had to be demolished because of the effect on the people living within 2km of them. My objection is here Objection to Knockodhar Wind Power Station Ref ECU00002153 Nicky Spinks.pdf
25th June - Another busy couple of weeks starting with supporting Damian Kilpin and Jack Swindells from Woodhead Mountain Rescue on the Paddy Buckley round. The weather was hot and muggy which thankfully turned to rain, but then heavy rain before drying up nicely for the last leg. Damian struggled after leg 1 as he was recovering from a virus but he made it to the end of Leg 3 at Llanberis before stopping and being bundled into bed. Jack continued on through the wet night and was joined by a merry band of supporters on the last leg. Two summits from the top he wondered whether a sub 26 hour round was possible and we belted down the last summit to finish in 25.50 hours.
I then went to Hardraw to support on the Spine race at a checkpoint. It was very interesting being behind the scenes with some hours being a steady flow of runners and then some hours flying by when a huge number came in or woke up at the same time. I really enjoyed my time on Checkpoint 2 and hope to be back for more next year (both running and supporting!).
Yesterday I travelled to Arrochar to race the classic long hard race there - 27km with 2700m of climbs - it's a brute! Having raced it years ago with Helen Elmore and saying "Never again" I reccied it in spring and said "Never again" and then just had to race it to see! It was still bloody hard with a 4 mile flat run out, then three munros up, down, up, down, up, down before doing the last hill on paths but then having to descend all the way into the valley on a horrid stone stepped path. What made it a great race though was a) the clag as I just straight lined everything but got the nav spot on and b) I was told at the 5th checkpoint that I was 22nd and I finished 16th! I was annoyingly overtaken in the last mile by some faster runners as well! Apparently the "fast line" off the last hill was all overgrown and so I was actually faster on the horrid steps (and concrete panels, and rocky stream bed!) than a lot of the other runners. Well chuffed!! I won a three pack of beer and avoided being eaten alive by midges or clegs! And the sandwiches back in the hall were amazing! So all in all I might do it again!
14th June - I didn't realise that I hadn't updated for so long - three updates with photos below!!
10th June - Last weekend Steve wanted to do more of the Southern Upland Way and so we drove over and I dropped him off above St Johns in the Dalry. We realised that there was a race on and it was the GBUltras 50 & 100 who had set off from St Johns. Steve set off on a very hot morning and I drove to to Carsphairn and ran up into the northern Galloway hills with the dogs. It was very hot and the route was slow going. We also stopped at every stream for the dogs to cool down and eventually even I jumped in one on the way back to the van! After 3 hours we still had 14 miles to go and so I opted for a forest bash, upstream/wall "shortcut" which wasn't bad for 1km. We then hit a track and saw a sign with what looked a promising path. However it was under construction I think as it dumped us in the middle of deforestation. The dogs found a deep water channel which they enjoyed and we were soon back on the ridge where the wind blew the flies and clegs away! More sandwiches and sausages and a lovely run back to the van through some quarries. I drove round to pick Steve up and watched the GBUltra's runners coming through. They all looked tired as the heat had been relentless. Apparently more than 50% dropped out of both races. Steve was quite late and really shattered too after being out for 10.30 hours and done 30 miles as well! Fish and chips on the way home was very welcome! Photos
3rd June - I have also been to Skye and complete the fantastic Trotternish Ridge race - with the same distance and ascent as Jura but an hour quicker. The organisation and the route is just amazing and we got enough clag to make it tricky but some amazing views as well. I still had tired legs but I was really pleased with how the race went and my 3rd Lady position. Trotternish race results From Skye I went across to Harris and up to Lewis to visit Dad and Penny. It was great to be able to visit properly and spend a couple of days with them. Photos
29th May - I did the Jura Fell race two weeks after the UTS and the legs were tired which didn't help trying to run/clamber across wet rocks. The forecast was for an hour of drizzle but we got it for the full race up on the Paps of Jura which was a shame! Navigation was tricky and I was trying to remember lines from 2017! I did get to meet Jura who also works for Girls on Hills as she did a marvelous job of leading me off the last Pap! I was 2nd LV50 in a time of 4.54 hours Full results Jura Fell Race 2023 It was a great weekend and I caught up with all the Dark Peak runners that I haven't seen for ages. Photos
Recovery went well from the UTS with no long term injury. I have written up my report UTS 100 mile 2023 and apologise for the moaning! I actually realised while I was writing it that once I had figured out my game plan that I enjoyed the rest of the race and was moving up the ranks as more and more runners dropped out. It's a really tough route and race; I knew that going into it and it took a lot of effort to complete in the heat for me!
21st May - I am writing the UTS 100 mile race report up and will get it up this week. It was a hard race but actually as I'm writing I realise that once I had figured out what was wrong and had a game plan as to how I could manage (the heat) and finish the rest of the race passed quite well really. I just recollect the first 6/8 hours of pretty awful hell at the moment! The results are here and now I'm really pleased with my 28th position out of 250 starters. 5th Lady and 1st V50. https://livetrail.net/histo/uts_2023/
10th May - we've had two lots of visitors since Arran - my sister and her husband, Lydia and Phil for a lovely couple of days and then just last weekend Jon and Di Barker from Atlanta, US. The weather was kind both times and we had a good walk up Merrick and around with Jon and Di. This week I have been packing for the Ultra Tour Snowdonia 100 mile which starts on Friday at 1pm and you should be able to track me on https://live.utmb.world/uts/2023/100m My bib is 17. I'm looking forward to getting the first sections done and settling into the Friday night and then Saturday's running. I'm glad we reccied the course and it will be reassuring to know what's coming when I get to Capel after 50k.
30th April - The rest of April has flown by - but half of it I was under the weather with a cold/cough which I caught after having a weekend in the Lakes with Rebecca on the BG. I have decided to try and finish the house and so set myself the task of making the sitting room curtains and completed all five sets in a week!! I then travelled to Arran to be part of the Girls on Hills weekend. It's a shame I wasn't feeling great as it was my birthday as well but we had a good weekend and celebration on Saturday night. The following week I felt a lot better and was back to training for the UTS-100 Mile Race and finished the week off by competing in the Stuc a Chroin race which went well and I'm getting used to these Scottish races that pack a lot of ascent into a shorter distance, however always have a run out and back that's fast! I was really pleased with 3.06 hours and just waiting for results now. I was 2nd LV50 and won a bottle of Gordons Pink Gin! A selection of April photos are in the Gallery here
10th April - What a huge few days in Wales reccying the Ultra Tour Snowdonia 100 mile from Capel to the finish with Emma Stuart, Joss and Wisp. Day 1 was supposed to be 32 miles and ended up being 37 and 2900m taking us a whooping 11.30 hours due to the usual "well maintained Welsh paths" !! The route took us off the back of Moel Siabod and down across to Blaenau Ffestiniog through some amazing quarries. Then up onto the Moelwyns and looped over to Moelwyn Mawr before dropping us straight down to Croesor (for icecream and cokes!) before ascending Cnict !! Then, rather cruely if you know the Paddy route, we did the reverse Paddy on the horrid "path" to before Carnedd y Cribau and descended in to valley where we had a long run down to Nantgynant!! What a long day that was and we nearly didn't get any food as everywhere had shut so it was thanks to the Bwyd y Fynd cafe that made us the most delicious kebabs!
Day 2 was supposed to be shorter, starting at Aberglasyn and going to the finish but missing out a loop up Snowdon on route to save us 10k and a massive climb. Knowing the Paddy helped me as from Moel Hebog the route is the Paddy until dropping off Y Garn. I still had to borrow Emma's poles as my legs were complaining bitterly. We then did some "free running" as Emma calls it on a forest track to meet the route before the Llyn Cwellyn. A steep, long climb up and over Mynydd Mawr and down to Betws Garmon for the last hills of Moel Eilio, Foel Gron and Foel Goch before a long section of free running back to Llanberis and fish and chips!!
I then finished it off by doing Nantgynant to Aberglaysn, then the Snowdon loop on Sunday as I wanted to make sure there were no more surprises in there and headed home afterwards with a very welcome stop at the Truckers Cafe, Junction 38 on M6! Highly recommended! I think some of Emma's obsession with food is rubbing off on me!!
I've uploaded all the photos but some of the thumbnails are displaying correctly - the photos are there if you'd like to see April 2023 UTS Recce
6th April - Since the Barkley I have had a weekend in the Peak District to run with Helen Rippon and talk at Hope Adventure festival. The weather was challenging but we had a good run from Fairholmes and a lovely coffee / cake at the cafe there. The talk went well although I felt out of practice after a break during covid. It was great to hear the positive feedback afterwards. It was the Last Winter Mondays race from the Strines and presentation in the pub afterwards. I'm making the break to properly living in Scotland now by doing races up there and not coming down to the Peaks as much. The house and garden is progressing (the house still needs finishing off!) and it's great to be able to work outside again now when the weather allows.
Steve and I travelled to Dunkeld so I could run in the Birnam Hill race. Only a short race I knew it was going to hurt! The runnable tarmac at the start had me going backwards, but then a great long (it's all relative!) of 300m, steep and walking had me gain a few places back. There was a long descent which was quite technical and then the worst bit on tired legs - a couple of kilometres of undulating paths through woods where I lost a couple of places! All in all it was a great race and I was placed 3rd V50 which I was very chuffed with. I also bumped into Joe Mann and Malcolm Patterson which was lovely to catch up with them. Results on Protay timing - Birnam-23
On the Sunday Steve and I did separate routes from Arrochar with me reccying the Arrochar Alps race route (15 miles +2900m) and Steve staying more local around the Cobbler. I should have taken some proper food as the legs were tired and in the clag it took me longer than I had estimated. The first two climbs are proper munro ascents and although one is on the path the second was straight up the steep face of it. I got views off the last descent and so took the only photos of the day! Walk with Steve and Arrochar Alps recce
21st March - I had a great trip to the US with Emma Stuart. We were collected at the airport by Jon Barker and had a couple of days relaxing in Big Canoe, a couple of hours north of Atlanta. On Friday we collected the campervan and set off to Oak Ridge where we met up with Damian Hall. On Saturday Emma and I ran round the Barkley Challenge loop on a lovely sunny day. On Sunday Emma went for another run and I sorted the van and my kit out. We met up with John Kelly and his family on Sunday and John's dad Gary was a superstar rigging us up some interior lights as the van lights had failed (along with a lot of it's electrics!). Emma and I had a great sleep up at the camp on Sunday night and it was quite surreal to be there before all the hussle and bustle of the Barkley. On Monday morning we had a lovely breakfast down at the Kelly's house made by Kathy, John's mum. Jasmin and Konrad were there as well as John Fegyveresi (Barkley finisher in 2012) and Jodi Isenor (Fun run in 2014). Fegy was supporting John Kelly and Jodi was supporting Damian. They have both been at the Barkley a lot of years and have loads of experience and knowledge. They were also great company throughout the event even though they hardly slept!!
After breakfast we headed up to the camp. Registration opened about 1pm and I didn't rush up as the queue was long and slow moving. Damian had registered and mentioned that I was No 1 which is the Human Sacrifice. This was quite a shock to me and not very pleasant but loads of people (Jodi included) said Laz often gave it to someone who was a strong runner just to mess with their minds. Apparently Jodi had been given No 1 on his first attempt and also Nick Hollon! I went and registered and handed over the Hoppits wedding teeshirt as my Entry fee. I explained to Laz what the teeshirt was about and took my race pack. Marking up the map always takes ages however Jodi was a great help to me, Damian and Jasmin so we were all happy with the map and directions when we had finished. Emma and I had to walk down to the Visitor centre to complain about the van so we didn't get to bed until 9pm.
After a sleepless night where I designed the garden at Mark to keep my mind off the Barkley, we woke and got up about 8am. I was all ready at 8.54am when Laz blew the conch. So the start time was 9.54am and we had one CW loop, then two ACW loops and another CW loop. Talking to Billy we had decided to run together along with Eoin Keith. I just wanted a one loop completion to begin with and then would see how the night went as we've never been ACW before. The weather was cold by dry and so I was happy setting off with a full layer on plus a bag full of warm clothes as we were going to be finishing in the dark.
We had a great day trotting round the loop. Sometimes it felt too easy but we were concentrating on the navigation and finding the books, plus taking note of features so that we could find our way back again in the dark. Eoin was spot on with the nav and Billy and I chatted a lot about the book locations. It was great to combine memories and overall we didn't make any mistakes and kept being overtaken by the same runners who had gone off course. Tom Hollins joined us for all of the loop as well as Dale Holdaway who had been to the Barkley a few times and so also had great insight as to routes and books. Nearing the end of the loop we looked for runners coming towards us and saw Jasmin in a group with Pavel and Jared Campbell so we were pleased that she had a group to run with for a bit. We saw a couple more runners coming towards us on their ACW loop, as we descended in the dark, but it was hard to see who it was.
As we approached the finish we talked about how long we wanted to stop in camp and agreed about 15/20 minutes so using the watches that Laz had given us it was now 11.20 and so we would meet at the gate at 11.45. Laz was busy as there were runners coming in and runners going out. I had my pages ready and Laz counted them out. That's 13 he said and I was off. I dived into the camper and started giving Emma instructions while eating pizza and Expedition foods meal! I had sprained my ankle on the descent and so wanted it taping. I also wanted to put the gaiters on as the thorns were getting my shins through my tights. Everything else was good. Emma was a star and got everything ready while I packed my bag with more food. At 11.43 I dived out of the van and headed to the gate. I was first and so asked Emma to fetch my Expedition foods meal so I could eat that while waiting. Dale appeared and said he would set off walking. Billy appeared and then Eoin. I shouted for Tom and together we got new pages, 133,135,137 and 139 and set off.
I was glad that we had a long trail to do so that the food could digest. We found the first book ok and descended into the valley. Eoin was the main navigator and it was tricky to find the right ridges to descend and climb in the dark. We hit all the books straight on except one later in the night where we were slightly too high (despite Andrea, a US woman that joined us, being convinced we were too low). Hanging around discussing possibilities was very cold and I was glad of extra layers. Eoin decided that we had to descend to the main track and took a bearing. We had only dropped a few metres through the trees when Billy and I recognized the bench (old mining road) we were now on and swung right. And there it was! We still had a long way to go but Tom thought we might make it back in time so the pace increased as everyone pulled together to make it happen. I hadn't eaten or drunk enough as my water had frozen despite having powder in it and so I was struggling but determined not to be the one that slowed the pace. It was hard and to be honest I wasn't sure I wanted another ACW loop. It was just so hard as all the long CW descents were now awfully, long briar bashing ascents. Even RatJaw seemed hard although it was a cleared path. Anyway I decided that if we made it back then I'd be going out on Loop 3 so I'd better start getting some more energy down me. I was scoffing sweets and food as fast as I could and after the second water stop I realised that I was dehydrated too as I felt much better after a drink. Most of the night I was carrying around frozen energy juice which was extremely annoying as it was heavy and not drinkable! At last dawn broke and the sunrise was spectacular. We all cheered up but were soon deflated by the massive climbs towards the end of loop 2. It became obvious that we were going to be timed out so Eoin and Billy and I had a lovely couple of hours soaking up the sun and chatting away. Tom had taken off with Andrea to see if they could get in on time.
I was very pleased with having completed one CW loop in 11.22 and one ACW loop in about 16 hours so we were about an hour over the time limit. Tom and Andrea had been 20 minutes over the time limit. Standing there at the gate while the bugle tapped us out one by one Billy, Eoin and I were a happy but tired little group. It had been a great experience to spend many hours out on the Barkley with those two.
I went for some sleep and missed Damian coming in from the Fun Run and starting his 4th loop. Jasmin was out on Loop 3 and due in later on Wednesday night so we went for some food with Fagy, Jodie and some friends. Jasmin came in looking good and was soon organised and off again. This time CW on loop 4. She said "I might be some time" as she left meaning she thought she would be over time but wanted to complete the loop. Both Emma and I slept very well on Wednesday night and I set the alarm for 6am to catch John and Damian coming in. I woke and wondered why! But then leapt up and got dressed. Jodi was up and about. John came in looking strong but tired and there were reports that Aurelien was just behind him. John wanted to be first out so that he could choose CW for the fifth loop. (On the 5th loop the first person chooses the direction they want and everyone else takes it in turns to be opposite). Aurelien came in looking strong and it was very tense as John hurried to be ready. John left going CW first with Aurelien following 5 minutes later going ACW. We all hope that Damian would be next but Karel Sabbe came in first and after a short break went out on Loop 5 going CW. Damian then came in about 8am and was quite chatty. He was eating and looking strong. After he had set off we had food and decided to walk up to the Look out Tower to see them through. Waiting at the lookout tower a couple of hours later we got the news that Jasmin had finished Loop 4 (but over time) and Damian had returned to camp having not found the first book on the ACW loop. That was disappointing but a huge achievement to do 4 loops on his first attempt. John came through looking tired but focussed. We then descended back to camp to wait for the finish. Jasmin was asleep and Damian was chatty!
It was amazing to hear the cheers when Aurelien came in first from the ACW Loop 5 being the first person in 2023 to finish the Barkley in 58.23.12 hours. And then a little wait with John's family before he came running up the road and touched the gate to a huge cheer in a time of 58.42.23. Then there was a tense hour or so as Karel needed to finish within the 60 hours cutoff. We saw lights high up the mountain and then only 20 minutes later he came running up the road to touch the gate with only six minutes to spare in a time of 59.53.12 It was an amazing moment to witness the three finishers talking at the Yellow Gate that night. Everyone got off to various hotels and homes and the campsite was quiet by midnight.
The next day it was back to typical Frozen Head weather of heavy rain so we packed up and headed to John Kelly house to meet Keswick the puppy and see John, Fagy and Jodie along with John's family. After a couple of hours we headed back to Jon Barkers calling in at IHOP on route for a great meal! I was getting a bit jaded with the fast food but Emma was still in full swing! We had a lovely relaxing meal with Jon and Di then a night's sleep before heading to Atlanta to drop the van off and fly home.
On reflection I am very contented with how the 2023 Barkley Marathons went for me. I have not had the best training winter and have dentist visits ongoing. I just wanted to do my best while enjoying the full Barkley experience as I know it's probably the last time for me. The weather was perfect and I ran with Eoin and Billy the whole way round, being joined by Tom Hollins, who helped nav by running off in front. It really couldn't have been better. My legs are fine and I'm feeling positive about my next race - the UTS 100 in May. Thank you for all the well wishes that I received while out there.
4th March - I'm speaking at Girls on Hills this weekend and having a last run out on the Trossacks before heading to the Atlanta in the US with Emma Stuart, next week to meet up with Jon Barker and then head up to the Barkley. Training hasn't been great with holidays and tooth infections but I'm quite happy and excited to be going out again. Inov-8 will be putting up as much updates as possible and the other way of following progress is by following Keith Dunn on Twitter. https://twitter.com/keithdunn I'll put some photos up of the trip on Instagram and fb as I can.
I'm speaking at https://hvaff.co.uk/evening-event-2023/ on Saturday 25th March so if anyone wants to hear all about the Barkley 2023 then come along to this event!
1st March - I was in Yorkshire for a week (plus a trip south to the dentist yet again!) sorting Hoppits races out. It was great to catch up with Mary (the new tenant at Liley Hall Farm), my friends and all the runners that came along on Sunday. We got just the right number of Junior and Senior runners to make the day lively but not chaotic! Dave and Eileen Woodhead also came along which always add another level of excitement to the day with their wonderful photos as memories. The results are up on http://www.hoppits.co.uk/
This is a photo that Dave took and I just love it!
18th February - Next Sunday is Hoppits Hill races so I'm getting ready for that and I'll be down in Yorkshire from Wednesday onwards. Please come along and support the races if you can.
The weekend of 11th February was pencilled in for Kirsty's Winter ACW BG attempt. My legs had been in bits from the Grampians and also I have another bad tooth which was giving me a lot of jip so I was very worried I wouldn't keep up. I met Kirsty at the Moot Hall on Saturday morning as she set off at 4.30am. I don't think any of her supporters believed her when she said she would stick to the 23.45 schedule and low and beyold she was over an hour up by Wasdale where I was on Leg 3! She arrived looking good and ate some food before we set off up Scafell. I was finding it hard and not looking forward to the slipper rocks either. We eventually got to the col and I said I would take Wisp and Joss down West Wall Traverse. It was long before Kirsty caught us and we stopped for food. The weather was drizzle and a cold wind when we were exposed to it but overall it wasn't bad and we had a bit of visibility. As we continued on my legs woke up and I was enjoying it. Tim and Kim knew the route and we discussed the decision of Raise or Sargent Man first with all 3 of us voting Sargent Man! Now that the clouds had lifted a bit the descent off Raise is lovely into the valley and we all enjoyed it. Wisp and Joss especially as they love the soft grass. We trotted into Dunmail nearly two hours up and Kirsty looking good.
After she left Dunmail we headed back to Keswick and got ready for the last leg at 10pm while watching the tracker in case she speeded up! She arrived at Threlkeld with a bit of stomach issues and didn't eat much. There were enough support to share everything out and off up Halls Fell we went. I could understand how horrid Kirsty felt as I felt the same going up there in 2016 on the Double BG so I walked in front of her just giving her some steady feet to follow. The climb just goes on forever, sapping any energy out of your legs that you might have had. We were all glad to get to the top. And a big bonus was that the skies were clear and the rocks had dried out. A long drop to the valley and they a long soggy climb up Great Calva. Kirsty was just digging in and had a good steady pace. I was staying ahead as I felt tired and she had Flora, Kat and Clare for company. A cold bitter wind at the top and off we went quickly into the valley again. Then the long slog up Skiddaw, initially through bogs and then thankfully some firmer ground. At the top the wind was bitter and gusty. Typical Skiddaw! It was lovely now to be running down, down, down into Keswick knowing that it was over and Kirsty had been successful! Well done Kirsty. First woman doing a winter ACW BG and 2nd fastest Winter BG too in 21.39 hours. Kirsty ACW Winter BG photos
We had a relaxing day afterwards then I headed to Greendale to meet Helen where we had a lovely loop round, looking for and finding Joss Cairn, now with Peter's Plaque on it!! Photos at the end of Kirsty ACW Winter BG photos
The weekend of February 4th Steve and I had a day in the Grampian mountains heading up from Hotel Orchy and having a dry but blustery day on the Munros from there. I had a good route planned and I was able to test some winter skills which was very pleasing. The day finished by following Steve's footprints up the last Munro and unbeknown to me he had sent me a text saying "don't follow me!". I did think the route choice wouldn't have been mine but it was do able and reassuring to be following Steve (and Paddy's) footprints. Grampian day out Photos
7th February - On Tuesday 10th we flew from Edinburgh, via Doha to Melbourne to meet up with Rosie, Ronnie, Otis, Juliette, Oliver and Joesph for a few days before driving north to Evans Head and staying with Kia, Jett and Dax. We then drove back again a different route and flew home a few days later. I've documented it day by day below and sorted the photos into date order so they might make a bit of sense!
Wednesday 11th - we had two reasonable flights but missed a night's sleep and were a bit zonked when we arrived at 7pm. Rosie met us at the airport and helped us collect our Sixt rental SUV which she was able to drive us to her house in. All the children were waiting excitedly for us and it was great to see them and then head to bed!
Thursday to Sunday - we spent with Rosie and family. Rosie and I went for a few runs which I found hard as it was very hot (28C to 36C) and my legs were like lead however I enjoyed them as it's a good way to explore and I got to chat to Rosie along the way. We had a few family trips out to the park, to a waterfall and to the zoo. Over a few days we enjoyed spending time with Rosie and Ronnie and the kids got used to us.
Monday to Wednesday lunchtime - we drove to Albany and then inland over the mountains to the coast arriving at the first campsite a bit late at 9pm. But we found a spot and put up the tent, sleeping quite well as we were using all Rosie's camping equipment which included a lovely airbed! We were up early and drove up the coast and round Sydney which was very busy! The next campsite was right by the sea and although it was busy it was a lovely spot and everyone was very respectful and quiet. There were kangaroos grazing around the campsite! Although it was hot I wasn't a fan of the cold showers! We were up early again as we wanted to get to Kia's before lunchtime. We had a lovely drive the rest of the way there.
Wednesday to Tuesday - we stayed with Kia and had a lovely week walking on the beaches, swimming everyday (after we went and bought Steve a pair of swimming shorts - he hadn't brought any!) and spending time playing lots of games with Jett and Dax. We went fishing (or rather Jett, Dax and Steve fished while I laid on the beach mat!) and Jett caught a fish which he threw back in after the photos! Jett also taught us how to body surf which I've never done before and it was rather a challenge but exciting when you got the hand of it. Daily football was also a requirement in the garden!
Tuesday - Thursday - travelling back south but in between the proper Outback and the mountains. We went through Narrabri, Dubbo and Parkes. This was a good choice as the roads were good, it was interesting and the temperature was nice overnight for camping. We camped at near a river on the first night and at Henty the second night which had hot showers! It was a community everything ground - so football, events etc and had a shower block. As we left we went to the bakery as we had got a liking for a morning pastry and coffee however because it was Australia Day it wasn't really open - however luckily a road trip of bikers had asked for it to open a couple of hours and we managed to get a coffee and a pastry too!
Thursday to Saturday - camping at Mollyullau near Bendigo with Rosie and children. We arrived at 2pm and Rosie was setting up their tent so we helped out. The campsite was a privately owned and basic but lovely with great views and a nice cool breeze. Every day we went to the swimming pool which everyone loved. Otis and Oliver were jumping in the big pool and swimming. Juliette went on the slide on her own and Joseph also progressed from being caught at the bottom of the slide by Otis to being able to slide down and land in the water unaided. It was a lovely quiet pool with very friendly staff. On Saturday we packed up and headed back to Melbourne stopping off at a great bakery where I had a pie and Steve had a big sandwich thing!
Sunday was spent chilling out and playing in a nearby park on the swings, along with cycling round the park on bikes. It was a lovely end to the holidays.
Monday 4pm we flew home, arriving back on Tuesday morning at 6am in Edinburgh.
And the photos are here - generally in order! Australia 2023
9th January - Over Christmas I was competing in the great challenge set up by Tom Brunt of Dark Peak which is the Twelve Trigs of Christmas. I started down in Devon, collected another in the Peak District and then spent Christmas and New Year in Galloway. The Galloway trigs were quite high scorers but I did have to work for them with miles or forest tracks, always a tussock bash and obviously a fair amount of ascent! Wisp and Joss had done 11 and I was doing the Trigger without them, where I would collect another three - thus as it's your best 12 scorers I could drop some low scorers. So to enable Wisp and Joss to collect twelve I did an extra one for them and it was the best weather day of the whole holiday! I was trying to take photos as I went along but sometimes the weather was just so foul that we got the hell off the hill as soon as we could !! The competition ended at midnight on the 8th January and I don't know the results or winner yet! Photos of Trig collecting and Trigger
Then yesterday I ran the Trigger and as soon as I set off my legs were complaining about all this running and no they were not going to run fast. So after trying to cajole them to Crowden I thought I would just have to dig in and instead make sure I ran what I could of the wet, soggy bogs and also got my navigation spot on. So that's what I did as well as eating all the sugar I could lay my hands on! I was quite happy by the time I was being blown over Kinder and down to the finish! I finished in 4.44 hours about 10 minutes slower than in 2022, 4th lady and 1st Vet.
Well done Brent and Woodhead Mountain Rescue for putting on another great event.