I didn’t know what to expect on this run since I’ve had a cold all week and didn’t run Wednesday or Thursday and felt sluggish on my easy five miles on Friday, but Saturday’s weather forecast was for cold, bright and sunny, I wasn’t going to waste a cracking day plodding round a wee route at home. The plan was Bridge of Orchy to the deer fence at Crianlarich and back, last weeks run started and finished at Crianlarich so I thought it would be good if I could link the two runs.
I decided on a just run and see approach, no pressure, if I was struggling I’d just turn round earlier. I felt ok to start and took it gently, but within 10 minutes I stopped to take photos of icicles, and when I got to the frozen waterfall, I thought “Sod the distance, today is too spectacular to waste just pushing on with my eyes watching the ground!” So I scrambled down to the river for a few photos and just enjoyed being there. As I climbed back on the path, two walkers came towards me; with the sun in my eyes they were just silhouettes, it was Ann and hubby, her wee brother was in my class at primary school! So stopped to blether for a bit, they walk the WHW every Easter and today they were doing an out and back from Tyndrum, they had watched The Adventure Show and thoroughly enjoyed it, I told them my plan for today but wasn’t too worried how far I got. Said cheerio and headed on towards Tyndrum, I’d just emerged from the tunnel under the railway line to meet another bunch of cheery walkers; this sunshine certainly makes folk happy.
There were patches of ice and lumps of frozen snow on the path, it was mostly fairly easy to get round apart from an occasional bit where I did a wee bit of arm waving. I took a bit of time picking my way across the water heading down past Tyndrum, although freezing wet feet were not on my to do list, neither was slipping and cracking my skull, I’m a lot more wary on dodgy terrain when I’m running alone. I made it over and then remembered to breathe, skull intact and dry tootsies. Bonus!
My next stop was for a scramble up the lumpy grassy slope to get a photo of the frozen Loch of the Lost Sword, I was having to faff about with my camera batteries, with it being so cold I had to keep putting them in my glove to bring them back to life.
Back on the path I trotted on through Auchtertyre, I crossed the road to climb the hill to the rollercoaster, I checked my watch and tried to work out if I had time to get to the Crianlarich deer fence, I’d had a lot of “time out” taking photos. My original turnaround time of 1.30pm was approaching but I was happy to extend it to 2.00pm, there was nothing really to hold me to a strict timetable except I was to pick up my daughter at her pals house at around 7-ish and that there was a pizza and a bottle of wine waiting for me at home.
It was freezing, the sun never penetrated the trees and there was a lot of old frozen snow and ice to watch out for on the ups and downs but I’ve always thought this bit fun, that’s why I call it the rollercoaster! I pushed on. Two young lads with big rucksacks were lumbering down towards me, I stopped again for another wee blether, they asked me about the WHW race and I asked them if they were camping, they said yes, it was my turn to ask a daft question, “Was it cold at night?” They ask me how far away Auchertyre was. I asked how far away the deer fence was. They said about 15 minute, brilliant, I’ll bash on. Tagged the fence at about 2.10pm with a running time of 3.01hrs, I was well pleased I’d reached my goal, all I had to do now was not to stop on the way back and I’d be back at the car by about 5.15pm. I enjoyed my second go on the rollercoaster, and back on the road towards Achtertyre, as I caught up with the young lads; one shouted “Here’s that mad runner again!” Hee hee, I thought, that’s a bit pot and kettle; I’m not the one sleeping under flimsy nylon in freezing conditions. But apart from the cold they were amazed at how the terrain and scenery constantly changed and were enjoying their walk.
I started to have a wee struggle after Achtertyre and the climb out of Tyndrum was just a slog, it was time for some Mad Aussie inspiration. “Come on Fiona TTFU!” With Keith’s accent, it worked a treat.
The light was starting to go, the few wee clouds were turning pink, I headed down to the tunnel under the railway and met Ann and hubby at just about the same point as this morning, they too had had a brilliant day, I perked up a little knowing I was in my last hour of running, then met the cheery bunch again, they were also heading back to Tyndrum. The sun had gone and it was starting to get dark, so I pushed on playing the let’s see if I can get back to the car without getting my torch out game. My legs were a bit sore and tired now but I was pleased they were also still loose and strong so I pushed on. (Later at home when I checked my watch, I’d been consistent with my split times out and back except the Tyndrum - Bridge of Orchy comparison, on the way back I was 9 minutes quicker than on my way out! I was running easy at the start but wine and pizza has some pulling power!)
I was heading down to the Bridge, it wasn’t totally dark but the light had all but gone, I heard something to my right, I looked across and stopped dead in my tracks, not more then 10 yards away stood a magnificent beast with a royal set of antlers, we stood still, staring at each other for what seemed ages until I was dismissed from his presence. Wow! I briefly thought about hauling out my camera but he’d be gone before I’d manage. I just enjoyed the privilege of my Monarch moment.
What a finale to a day with no expectations, as long as I remain upright the WHW will always be a source of joy!