Tuesday, 19 September 2017

a hilly squirrel

the hilly squirrel:
an entire Skyline minus the worst bits at the start and finish 

The forecast for Sunday was much better than Saturday and yet it took a while for the clouds to clear. There were queues round the bypass yet again, and so it was after 2pm by the time we hunted for a parking spot in the jammed full Flotterstone car park. I was glad I had not stayed on at the Steading the night before after the Equinox run. Initially I didn't feel too hungover, and was glad Mary had saved her hill training for the better weather on Sunday.

we didn't race the longest climb up Turnhouse but still managed about 25mins


Scald Law

After Scald Law we went left to South Black Hill, following the Skyline route. Coming off we noticed a couple of runners legging it down Scald Law. We had thought we were the last skyliners of the day. They followed in our trail and were slowly catching up. We decided to keep them behind us for as long as possible. 

a couple of Penicuik Harriers, Rob and Gregor
following us up West Kip, in reality.....

still a whole hill behind

sheep on summit of Hare Hill

So we ran down West Kip and out the Drove Road to Hare Hill. I was pleased to have got that far without being caught, but had decided to stop for a protein bar on top of Hare Hill. Rob and Gregor went past and we exchanged pleasantries. By checking out a strava flyby Mary was later able to ascertain that they were doing a Carnethy 7 starting and finishing at the C5 start/finish, so they had not long started when we saw them first.

The coop have started selling these.
A bit gritty (with "some flavours that shouldn't be there") but ok.

I'd reckon Hare Hill is one of the worst of the Skyline - 
lots of splosh and tussocky ground that takes a lot of energy to cross

we descended the old route
I believe the new flagged route will be along to the right.

Somewhere about halfway up Black Hill I lost it. Possibly just low blood sugar or the hangover finally making itself known but I just started hating it. The wet soggy path was slippery and I wasn't much keener about running through the heather at the side. I was wearing Hoka Challengers rather than put on hill shoes, still wet from the day before. I couldn't face the thin soles of my older hill shoes over a long rocky run so wore the Hokas. Which were remarkably ok. And protected my tired feet. I didn't fall and only once took a bit of a skite. But around Black Hill I was cursing the wet Summer for making the path utterly shit. It will result in slow times in October for sure; even if the sun shines from now till then it will still be a slow waterlogged course. I was cursing all the hill shoes churning it up and making it worse. And there are a couple of deathly mud slides on the descent just before Bell's. I definitely lost my joie de vivre for an hour or so and it seemed a long way back to the car.

long haul up Bell's - narsty!

the most welcome 2-and-a-half stones of the skyline!

Slowly I began to feel better. As we ran on my optimism returned and I got caught up taking photos and appreciating the amazing landscape we were crossing. We had chosen to do the same route back to Flotterstone as last time contouring round Castlelaw, and it is a pleasant (mostly downhill) finish compared to the uglier Allermuir / Caerketton jumble of short and steep hills of the Skyline. In fact our 14.3 mile route was a far better Skyline course than the actual Skyline.

still smiling

Arthur with his head in the clouds

all downhill from here!

trundling down the contour round Castlelaw

We bumped into Madeleine out on her bike around here. The light was doing very pretty things on Turnhouse just before it disappeared behind the opposite hills. Something about the geography of the hills always makes photos taken here look tilted down to the left, unless you compensate. Something about the reservoir and receding hills on the right. Anyway it was very pleasing and gave us the lift needed to keep going the last mile back to the car park. We always seem to arrive at the Pentland Cafe (no photo this week) just as it's closing. Happily I managed to buy a delicious restorative cup of tea which was just what the non-alcoholic doctor ordered. Another good hill training weekend in the bag.

Monday, 18 September 2017

equinox run 2017

The Equinox (equal night) happens twice a year, when night and day are the same length, midway between solstices. I first ran on one of these mainly Carnethy affairs back in 2014 when Jim H was the organiser, and have probably been on a couple since. It's not always easy to remember given the amount of drink consumed. There is a vague harvest festival flavour, although it is mainly about copious amounts of booze being necked to offset the misery of the imminent long dark nights.

Lisa and Euan were the organisers this year although Jim was doing a fair bit of "back seat driving". Team L&E did an excellent job and probably hardly anyone was left unconscious on the hills all night. One small tiny quibble with the new regime vs the old: in the past whenever Jim has organised these pub-crawl type events he has provided hard plastic Drink Aware (no irony there then!) half pint tumblers which he gets as part of his lifetime membership of AA. Capable of withstanding a nuclear detonation they sit happily in one's back pack for the duration, irrespective of a fall in the heather, or indeed, the pub toilet. L&E enterprises provided us with plastic cups that could develop an invisible vertical crack, allowing the contents to escape en route to mouth. Mind you, by late afternoon this might have been a lucky escape.

The plan of the day is simple. Bus to Carlops, and run back to Hillend. (Drink as much as possible along the way.) I have never noticed the handsome sign on the wall of the Allan Ramsay. As Chris said, always too busy rushing in to get out of the rain or driving sleet.

I think there were about 21 (plus dog Ben) in total though people came and went.

There was lots of obligatory toasting at every stop. We started (a mile or 2 in on the first hill) with fizzy white and Euan raising a glass to 2 years of wedded bliss. The light rain got heavier and waterproofs were donned until Jim was the only person just in a t-shirt. As the bubbles coursed round one's system this, the rain, became less of an issue. Mike's Marmite and cheese swirls were pretty damn good as well.

There's nothing like a pint and some fizzy to make you lose track of the day. I tried to take photos of all the stops so that I could properly account for the day and thank those responsible. I think the next stop was after a Kip or 2 in the shelter between 2 hills though I could easily be mistaken. Rum and coke was the anesthetic of choice and Chris's excellent chocolate brownies were the snack. Was it raining? Possibly. Did I care? I doubt it!

Now I see we did Jeff's cheeseboard on the summit mound of Carnethy (below). If we did something on top of Scald Law I don't remember and didn't record it. I do remember a substantial nose dive on the descent of Scald Law, possibly. One moment jogging down, the next the foot was going through a clump of heather into the empty space below and I was lying prone on the ground, enquiring faces wondering had I broken anything. No damage done as I had fallen drunk and not bothered to put out hands or other breakable things to cushion the thud to the ground. And the rain washed the mud from my jacket so all was well.

Jeff's cheese board included a dairy free cheese, (cheese-free cheese?) and some Goat's cheese. I forgot I don't eat Goat's Cheese and had some. I love both goats and cheese, but there is something a little too gamey about the combination that doesn't agree with me and after an initial appreciation of said product a kind of undefinable flavour lurked in my mouth for the rest of the run.

I can't remember the accompanying drink. Was it port? There was port at some point. There was G&T also with a slice of lime (how civilised) but was that earlier on? One thing I do remember was the cloud started to lift at Carnethy and Jim predicted sunshine by Turnhouse, which wasn't far off the mark. The weather was definitely improving.

Glencorse Marina

Given the pouring rain (and pouring drinks) I had wisely opted to leave the new camera at home and carried the TZ35 instead. It got a bit wet and the photos from The Flotterstone Inn weren't great and did nobody any favours. Pints were bought and consumed. I think the staff were the usual mix of surly and stand-offish. Jim had popped into the new Pentland Cafe and collected a couple of trays of homebakes which were handed round. Top quality! We stumbled back out and up towards Castlelaw Hill Fort where more was consumed. A box of Rose wine was the curious tipple. On the upside we were well ahead of schedule and although headtorches were being carried we didn't have to put them on.

and that reminds me Neil produced cakes - Lemon and Banana,
I say Neil; in fact he confessed it was Tesco's. They helped soak up the booze though.


Whatever the opposite of Sunshine on Leith is, this is it.

Lisa captures the sunset


last snifter on the hill - whisky

From Castlelaw we jogged over to Allermuir and Caerketton, huddling in a crater to have a last drink and toast something else while the sun went down in fairly spectacular fashion. The weather improved all day and it was really quite pleasant by the time we left the hills and returned to the Steading, the spiritual home of Carnethy. I had the good sense to drink no more but had a pint of juice then caught the bus back into town. It would have been easy to stay and drink considerably more but probably unwise. A very fine day in excellent company. Big thanks to Team L&E and all who contributed a marvellous spread of delicious and exotic foods and drinks.