Tuesday night being club night I toodled over to the Vale of Leven and arranged with Captain Chris to walk with him on Thursday. Then off on a tour of the hillier parts of the valley's streets, it being darker these days, Mollanbowie estate, Haldane, and back to the club with Pat, Elaine and a newer member Andy, with whom I'd never previously ran. I must admit I was knackered after the Haldane and announced that I would miss the planned climb into Bonhill. Everyone else seemed to be happy with what I was doing so we ended up with 5.75 miles in 50 minutes, not bad considering the climbs involved. I've put in less effort in races! Not what I wanted between the club race and the Aviemore half I am running on Sunday!
As I was down south on Wednesday, I didn't run and missed JogScotland for the second week. On Thursday I met wee Chris and his mate Andy, both of who are retired, for a bit of hill walking. I had been trying to tie in with Chris and JR for a walk for a few weeks, but did't manage to get out due to work and other problems. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. JR called off as he had other things to do so it was just three of us.
Chris is a great wee guy. he is Chair of Milburn and indeed won the 10 miler last week. (No comment on his handicap allowance). Andy however was unknown to me but word was that he had been walking and climbing for many years and indeed spoke about days on the rock climbs on the Cobbler back in the 50's and 60's. Trouble was he planned the walk, which I'm sure would be easy meat for anyone who does any walking.
However, he is not in the best shape these days as witness his struggle to climb the initial path without stopping for a rest, and then decided that he didn't know where to find the path he intended as our ascent. So, we decided that as the initial climb was beyond us we would reverse the route and climb Narnain, via the boulders then cross to A'Chrois before descending via our original ascent path, or by any other name, reversing the route. The initial climb to Beinn Narnain was fine if slow due to Andy's lack of pace. On top it was hailstones and gale force winds. I was on the summit a good 15 minutes before the other two and I felt it was slow, so slow I was already fearing for the rest of the day. A bite to eat and then across the ridge to A' Chrois, again reaching he summit some time before the others. Despite the wind and hail visibility was fine and the views are stunning from the summit. We had been walking for 5 hours. At 2 pm we left the summit to follow Andy's route to the car. What a nightmare! Whilst in no danger at any time, other than of ankle injuries from knee deep clumpy,boggy grass and never at any time having any good walking underfoot, it took us 2 and a 1/2 hours to get down. There must be a better route, but Andy could only remember the route he had taken the last time he was up that hill, and that could have been any time since Christ left Partick, as they say in the west end. If I never come down that hill again I won't be sorry.
I don't have any confidence descending hills when running but I can sometimes get above jogging pace. However, this hill needed every step to be a careful one and at times the only safe way down was to sit and slide and hope for the best. Horrible!All in we were out for 7 and a 1/2 hours. I reckon it should take 4 and a half.
Better luck next time!