Major blog catchup needed!
Righto, so from Glendevon in the Ochils, which is nearish to Stirling, I walked up and over another pass to take me out of the Ochil hills. As I descended I was again rewarded with fabulous new views north of fertile lowland Perthshire and then the BIG hills in the distance. Although I’m very familiar with the Highlands, seeing them this time, knowing that I had to walk through them, suddenly felt more intimidating.
My route that day from Glendevon to Crieff was a bit of a hit and hope. The first bit through the Ochils to Auchterarder was fabulous. Then I hit a bit of a dud as a disused railway path that was marked on the map turned out to be a proper leg trapper after a bit. Trees, brambles, and branches blocked my way. Instead I took to quiet roads. It was a roasting day. How often will I be able to type that? By the time I arrived in Crieff I was drained. It was just an 18 mile day, but it came on the back of a number of long hot days. I was disappointed in my route planning, and suddenly, for some reason, felt completely intimidated by the scale of my whole venture. Which is rather ridiculous since that very day I’d passed the 900 mile mark. Looking back now, I can only think that physical exhaustion affected my emotions.
Luckily I have an amazing husband who was due to come and spend a week’s holiday, meeting me each evening in our motorhome. He arrived a day early and spent the following day appearing intermittently in lay-bys, with sandwiches and cold drinks at the ready. Walking without a loaded rucksack made me feel like I was walking on air, and the miles passed quickly. Although, again, my route planning wasn’t brilliant. I aimed to follow the remnants of General Wade’s road from Crieff to Aberfeldy. Once again, not all these tracks translated into easily walkable terrain. The following day I still had a portion of this stage to complete, as well as a short (c. 7 mile) stretch into Pitlochry. I’d recovered from my tiredness, so I had an unusual day in which I walked for 90 minutes. Then I crossed a road and so met Ian. I changed into my running shoes and ditched my rucksack altogether. I ran through a forest on great tracks and down to the Tay, then along a riverbank track to Grandtully. That took 2 hours. My hiking boots went back on, I scoffed down a salad on board Celeste, and yomped over a hill for 2.5 miles to Pitlochry. Sounds crazy, but it was a fun day, and it was nice to travel at a different pace.
The day was also notable for meeting a couple who were also long distance walkers. I was probably overly chatty as I was excited to meet other walkers. My first since walking with Guy and Alastair during my final days on the Pennine Way.
Pitlochry to Blair Atholl is just 8 miles, so it was an easy morning’s hike to follow my walk-run-walk day. I spent the afternoon getting my camping gear together, and feeling nervous about my next couple of days walking. My aim was to walk into the Cairngorm mountains – up Glen Tilt and through the Lairig Ghru pass, wild camping along the way. I’ve done this fantastic walk before, so heaven only knows why I was feeling nervous. I think it is just that I knew how small it makes me feel out there, miles and miles from any roads or communications. But I also know that it is an amazing experience to be there.
Finally, some nature notes. These few days were notable for seeing: red squirrels, a weasel, a wonderful oystercatcher right outside Celeste’s window, and a pintail duck with 12 TINY ducklings. I caught the oystercatcher on video, so there’s a tiny clip below in my photo compilation.