Walking is the new climbing!!

8th Jun 2009

More fun and games to report on the van- poor thing!! More about that later…

For the last few weeks I haven’t climbed hardly at all, I seem to be in the middle of a break. It wasn’t really planned and as I said when I returned from Spain I was still very psyched for my climbing but for some reason my psyche seems to have disappeared.

I’m trying not to let it worry me, I do have these little non-climbing phases every once in a while, it’s just the way I work mentally. Some people can just plod away with their climbing all the time, whereas I’m quite all or nothing and at the moment I feel that life & stuff needs quite a bit of my focus, so that’s what I’m doing. Also, I’m trying to run instead (which I’m not very good at) just to try and keep vaguely fit; it’s not really working though, ha ha!

Last weekend was a bit different for Tim and I. Having spent very little time in Scotland; for a long time I’ve wanted to get up there more and have an explore. Well Tim got a job with Trail magazine to shoot an article (on fast and light walking and camping) up in NW Scotland, so great, off we went.

We were heading up to the Kintail area just before you get to Skye and decided to take a couple of days over it. We dropped in to see the Marmot guys near Kendal, which was good and then made our way further north. We stopped near Rannoch Moor quite late, found a nice little spot near a river but had forgotten about the dreaded midges. Ahhh, little bleeders, they know how to spoil your evening.

That night turned out to be a bit nasty as Kodo had a very funny turn, almost like a seizure. It was very scary especially because we were a long way from civilisation and if she’d needed medical help it would’ve taken a while to get any. We just had to comfort her and monitor her through the night, in the morning she seemed a lot better. It was a big relief, as she almost seemed semi paralysed at one point.

The weather was pretty pants but the forecast for the walking days was glorious so we were crossing our fingers they’d got it right.

Tim was meeting Trail magazine contributor Pete Macfarlane on Friday Morning (see here: http://www.petesy.co.uk/?p=2224 for Pete’s account of the beautiful, HOT walk he did with Tim). While we were waiting near the Kintail outdoor centre, the weather just got better and better, in fact dare I say it? Too hot!! It was great, we were soaking up the warmth while Tim finished packing his ‘overnight’ bag!!

I would’ve liked to spend the night up there with them but didn’t really have the right gear and would’ve had to share my sleeping bag with Kodo, which wasn’t going to happen. Instead Kodo and me walked in with them for a few hours and had a very pleasant break up by a remote Loch in the sun. Kodo seemed a lot better after her scare a couple of nights back and was really enjoying herself; she even managed to find a fluorescent pink ball in the hills, I don’t know how she does it!

After our break it was time for the guys to head up their big hill for the night. I decided instead of retracing my steps back, I’d carry on and do a round walk. I could see from the map that I wasn’t that far along, maybe a quarter but hadn’t estimated quite how long it would take me to get back. While the guys were trudging up their 1000m hill imagining me and Kodo lording it up back at the van with a slap-up dinner, I was trudging along imagining them set up in their tents on top with it’s fantastic views.

Well, both our walks took longer than expected, it was partly the heat and partly that Scotland is BIG! It’s not quite the same as pottering out in the hills of the Peak district! I loved it though. Even though for the last 3 hours of my walk my feet were in agony. I’ve got flat feet and they just can’t cope with prolonged periods of use, oh well. Kodo and I were still walking at 10.30pm and it was light and warm, I was still only wearing shorts and a vest- it couldn’t have been more perfect.

The next day turned into another scorcher and I decided to check out the Falls of Glomach. These were well worth the walk, not as far as the day before (only 10 miles) but just as lovely and enjoyable.

On the way back, I went skinny dipping in a beautiful secluded river, which was a real treat. I wasn’t expecting to see the guys back when I returned; as their day 2 route had looked fairly involved but when I got back to the van there they were with big beams on their faces. I think they’d modified their route due to the heat and had made it slightly less arduous, which seemed like a good plan.

Tim had really enjoyed himself, even though it had been very hard work because he’d had to carry all his photography gear on top of his camping stuff, he said the views and the environment were worth all the sweat and toil.

So I think after that we are both quite into the idea of doing some more walking, it’s something we can both do together and we can discover a bit more of our beautiful island.

Now back to the van…the journey home turned into a bit of a nightmare. To cut a long story short, we dutifully topped up the water in the van as it had been so hot and forgot to replace the water cap- so guess what? Yes, the van overheated big style and is now sitting outside with a cracked head gasket.

Poor van, it was going so well and now this!! It was very annoying as it was our fault and could’ve been avoided but it was a very expensive mistake.

I spent a few days trying to find out the best course of action. It was looking like we were going to have to scrap it, which would’ve been absolutely gutting but I am taking it to be fixed soon for less than we first thought.

So fingers crossed it all goes to plan. I am working in N Wales this weekend so I will probably hire a car to get there and Tim and I were meant to be going to Germany and Luxembourg next week to shoot two articles on some new crags. But (for the second time) this is going to have to go on the back burner as the van might be in the hospital for a while. I am disappointed about the trip being cancelled as I was looking forward to visiting some new venues, especially as one of them was trad abroad.

My next trips on the horizon are Europe in August and a UK trad tour in September, with my English friend Ali, who lives out in Reus.

Hopefully, next time there will be good news on the van…