At the start of the year I challenged myself to ‘Bag a Munro’ which is essentially to climb a hill in Scotland over 3,000 feet. I included this in my list of challenges largely as an incentive to get out and discover more of Scotland. Well I have certainly been doing that! This challenge has actually played out quite nicely for me because I am also training for my 500 mile walk in August so I need to be spending as much time on my feet as possible right now to prepare.
It turns out bagging a Munro is yes challenging but actually easier than I thought, like so many other things you just have to stop making excuses and get yourself out the door to do it.
I have to admit I didn’t do much of the planning. Liam did most of the leg work, he has found some great routes for us to do on Walk Highlands. Then he’s sourced where to camp and literally packed the bags, I pretty much just give unhelpful opinions (as is my prerogative as a girlfriend) and turn up.
Our first Munro was Schiehallion in North Perthshire, approximately 2 hours north of Glasgow. We chose this based on the fact that I've read it listed as one of the easiest munros to climb in countless blogs and seeing as this felt like a really big task going for an 'easy' one first seemed sensible.
It's an out and back route covering just over 6 miles , climbing 731m. Its a well marked stone path most of the way up so you don't really need to worry about mud to much. The last quarter involves navigating a boulder field which I found quite fun but might be difficult to navigate if you are on walking poles.
There is a car park with a £2 charge for the whole day. It's pretty far from the nearest shop but luckily we had change. There are also toilets in the car park.
It was a reasonably nice day and Schiehallion being an easy munro is a popular one, the car park was almost full but despite this it didn't feel like the route was crowded. We passed people and others passed us but most of the time we felt alone. I like having a nosey at other walkers anyway, picking up tips for kit and what to do or what not to do.
The first mile was reasonably flat and a good way to get warmed up, it takes me a while to get my heart rate settled when it comes to exercise and I always over dress when I first start walking and then soon end up taking off the layers so it was good to start off slowly. Then we where into the climb, it's a zig zagging path at first which makes the climb bearable followed by steps which is always the killer for me, heavy breathing and stiff limbs soon kicked in but the nice thing about the hill walking was having the excuse to stop and take in the view.
I'd say after the next mile to mile and a half we reached a false peak which is where the path more or less ends. You can end your walk here and still get the same great views from the top so if you aren't up to the boulder field then don't worry you aren't missing out but this was the bit I was most excited for. The walk went from getting it done to something quite fun and technical an area I enjoy so much more. I didn't really notice the final climb here or the time it was just about getting across in one piece. Now this isn't as dangerous as that sounds, I'm just very clumsy so the fact I didn't fall is a minor miracle.
Reaching the top was an odd feeling, if I am honest I was slightly underwhelmed by the view and actually with the final climb being so steady I felt like I had been putting off something for so long that was really actually very doable. I think I was more disappointed in myself than the place. But hey I did it and I can only make sure I don't put off doing things again.
After a wee picnic , another reason I am enjoying this hill walking, we went back the way we came. Jumping from rock to rock we tried to make good time getting down but it was particularly hard to get any speed up, hats off to the fell runners who passed us!
Since then …
Well I now have the hiking bug and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you’ll probably be sick of me posting about it. After conquering Schiehallion the following week we decided to be even more adventurous and went up to Glen Coe to take on not one Munro but two in a day. We (Liam) did a bit of planning, we jumped in the car on the Friday night after work and arrived just in time to pitch a tent before nightfall. Waking up to the views of the hills was amazing and travelling ten minutes to the walk was even better. We took on Buachaille Etive Beag which is ridge that contais two munros which neither I can say or write but basically its a steep climb up the middle of two munros. Then you can do both, coming down in between the two just enough that it counts. A good way to rack up the munro numbers in a short space of time.
I am so happy to have ticked off one of my challenges for the year. I am doing well on working towards the others but just to have one in the bag and feel like it has spurred me on to doing more of something I enjoy is fantastc and exactly the point of setting these goals in the first place.
This was my first ever venture into buying walking boots, I'm very much the hill walking novice but I have a big challenge coming up (I'm walking the coast of the Scottish Highlands) and so I need something to get me through the training and the walk itself. Adidas is my favourite brand so it was only natural I turned to them first, I wanted something that both looked good and did the job.
Price: £67.46 from Amazon and they arrived in three days despite saying out of stock until the following week. Its more than I probably wanted to spend but these are an investment and when you look at price of walking boots its not a lot.
First impression is that they are easy to get on, I know that sounds like not a priority but when you are wild camping and dying for a wee in the night you got to be able to get your shoes on fast enough! I was wary these would rub at the back due to my partners experience, yes we have his and hers shoes, but actually they didn't at all and it is something I have suffered with before on other shoes so I was happy.
On the advice of other reviews I purchased half a size bigger and I think this was the right move as the shoes are very snug. My heel isn't slipping out when I walk and there is space in my toes for feet swelling. I did have tightness across the front of my foot just below the laces, and my toes did start to tingle with numbness when I was sat down but I adjusted the laces and all has been well since.
I did the thing you aren't supposed to do and wore the boots straight out the box on a 10 mile hill walk with 600+m climb with featured a huge variety of terrain: gravel, rocky scramble, boggy, snow and then a steep jog back down. I can't fault the shoes here at all, they were comfy, they stayed dry, they supported my ankle, despite them being low rise, and they had excellent grip. I didn't end up with a single blister!
It was important to me that the shoes I bought looked good, I want to go from the hills to the pub by the hills effortlessly. The look of the shoes was as shown in the pictures so I was happy, you also receive a pair of black laces if you aren't a pink person. My partner has the men's all black versions but I think the two tone of black and grey with these just gives them the extra edge. The tongue is quite chunky but it doesn't overpower the look of the shoe or make them look bulky. In fact the shoes don't make your feet look big at all which often boots can do.
My only note on these shoes is that I wouldn't consider these running shoes, you could pound out a couple of impromptu miles but I wouldn't plan on a major trail run in them.
Gore-Tex Upper : A textile mesh material is used on the upper of the Adidas Kanadia 7 TR GTX for offer breathability and comfort to the top of the foot. Synthetic overlays are used on the upper to offer support and stability to the top of the shoe as well as durable protection from various terrain that could damage the foot. A Gore-Tex lining has been used in the construction of this shoe which is fully waterproof and has superb breathability, therefore allowing your feet to stay cool, comfortable and dry no matter what weather conditions you are faced with.
EVA Midsole: A lightweight EVA material in the midsole allows for long-lasting cushioning and comfort. The EVA also gives the midsole a women-specific fit and offers support and comfort where the feet need it the most to keep your feet comfortable over various terrain.
Traxion Outsole: The outsole of the Adidas Kanadia 7 TR GTX features Traxion which is a superbly engineered outsole lug design that offers the boot multi-directional grip and multi-surface traction without putting extra pressure on the foot.
In August 2017 I am going to walk over 500 miles around the perimeter of the Scottish Highlands in a goal time of 30 days. I will be taking on the majority of this route alone, mostly wild camping and carrying my kit and my food on my back. My plan is to track the road route as closely as I can of the North Coast 500 starting and ending in Inverness. From what I can find and the people I have spoken to this route has never been completed on foot.
The NC500 is a scenic drive around the coast of the Scottish Highlands launched in 2015 and was billed as Scotland's answer to Route 66, a romantic notion I fell for hook, line and sinker. Since then it has become my pipe dream and something I revisit the idea of every time I start itching for an adventure. If it was something that already existed I may have embarked on this adventure already but until I started reading about a huge variety of female adventurers (try this article for a wee taster) I never would have dreamed of going it alone or that it was even possible. Even after reading about them it has taken me a while to get to this point where I am announcing my plans to the world. What finally got me to give in to my ambition was the realisation that all these women have one thing in common, they are just normal people that one day decided to do something out the ordinary. It is these women that have inspired me, they have powered me into this journey. I am Girl Powered and I want to inspire other women to #begirlpowered
I don't have it all planned out yet and I'm honestly very scared but if I don't give it shot then I'll never know if I could do it and surely that's worse than never trying something at all.
I'l be updating this blog as my planning and training progresses, if anyone has any suggestions or advice then please do get in touch.
PB Alert PB Alert PB Alert. Elated to say that today I took part in the St. Helens 10k and manged a PB of 53.50 shaving off almost 5 minutes from my previous PB of 58.49.
This PB is even more shocking to me given the horrendous weather, the race elevation and my recent flare up of my dreaded runners knee. The rain was torrential , I like running in the rain but not like this, it was driving and by the time I finished you would have thought there was a swim section to the race I was so wet.
I had looked up the route when I signed up to the race and saw it went up a notorious hill, North Road in the town centre, but I didn't dwell on it. Then I saw a friend on a night out a London Marathon completer who told me it was the hardest 10k they have ever done and thats when the dread kicked in. In the end actually I didn't hate the route as much as I thought I would. North Road although was initially tough I tackled it well, in long strides I strode up it and with the promise of my friends at the top it got me through. When I reached the top of the hill I thought that was it but what I hadn't realised was that when we got to the bottom at the other side we where then going to snake back up and down this hill for around the next 5km as the path lapped a local park. I had to quickly make a decision about my race strategy, I slowed my pace down the hill and kept some energy in the tank rather than going full pelt downhill. During these undulating hills I realised something, I am passing more people on hills than I am anywhere else on the course, this is my strength and I must use it. I adapted my strategy to suit this and I think it really worked for me.
I constantly worried my knee was going to give out at any point and on some of the downhills it stared to twinge adding to my thought process that I am stronger on the uphills. I did get a wrench down one of the hills causing me to shout fuck at the top of my lungs so I slowed and concentrated on engaging my core and pronouncing my stride correctly. The pain subsided and I was able to carry on.
The support of my friends in this race was invaluable and I wouldn't have got through without them. Thanks to all the girls stood on the sidelines screaming and shouting giving me an energy boost. Hannah, Sarah and Helen taking part in their first event and inspiring me to keep going. Then Becky who I ran along with for spurring me on and giving me a pace I could set to. Those ladies today made me Girl Powered.