Sunday, 19 August 2012

Day 2 Scotland


Day 2 Scotland

The woods had made some odd noises through the night or at least what lived there had. I was surprised to find that I couldn't see anything when I opened the tent flap. The mist was so thick in the glen below me and only the sound of the birds talking could be discerned. Later as I was packing away, the mist began to lift and I had a great view of the lakes on the grounds of Duns castle. A few people were now out walking their pets and children and I walked down across the fields towards the lake to see for myself all the goings on here.

As I began to walk back to the town of Duns, a man came alongside, who had neither dog nor child but was walking briskly. He didn't seem dressed for a walk particularly and I thought maybe he was a member of the castle administration staff. His name was Alan Moore and he was great company for the mile back to town. He shook my hand and wished me well as he set off to work I guess. He like many others, was keen to let me know what was worth seeing here at Duns and I thanked him too for this information sharing.

I went into town with writing to do so chose the Trotters tea rooms, and half expected Delboy and Rodders to pop over with uncle Albert carrying the tea and scones. The staff were friendly here and they asked a few things, but I got the sense that they were a little shy and reluctant to get into deeper conversation, or just not that interested in a guy walking around Great Britain. I thanked them for the tea and sandwiches they packed me of with, and got out onto the road to the hills.
I had decided that I needed to see a bit more of the world and what better way than to get to the top of it, litterally...!!!
The road out towards Longformacus had been sold as one full of great scenery, wildlife and oh yeah, hills. The first few hours was glorious as I picked and ate fresh wild Raspberries and chuckled at my good fortune to be here at the mercy of the elements and mother nature.

Later I renounced this theory for a rather more concerned one as things changed rapidly.

Nothing to do with this old girl either.

About two hours into the hike I was approaching the area where the road had been closed for repairs, thinking it would be a mere blip in my day. It was like an assault course trying to navigate my way through the fences and over the obstacle of the new drainage pipe they were laying. Anyway, that was the least of my worries.

Soon I found a nice spot in the trees where I had my lunch picnic and was just about to set off again into the village of Longformacus, when I felt a few spots of rain on my face. Now those of you that had read my previous journey from the old journey blog, will know just what foolishness it had been for me before to underestimate this warning, lite as it was. The sky had clouds in it but nothing close enough to worry me unduly. Still I finished my lunch quickly and got out all the wet weather gear and suited up for the tempest that must be coming even if I couldn't directly see it. This is what intuition is for sometimes.
As I stepped out back onto the tarmac and began towards the village, a crack of thunder peeled across the sky above me and I braced for the onslaught. Holy mother of god did it come down...!!!!
Like I said, past failure to adhere to the warning had left me soaked in about five seconds, so today I would possibly miss this fine opportunity. The Goretex jacket I had bought was going to get a severe testing now, as too the overtousers, both made by Berhaus. Within about I would say 200 meteres I was beginning to think it would have been better to have erected the tent, as the water was bouncing off the road and I was getting seriously damp. The boots were wet within the first ten minutes, those that are sold as waterproof and hard wearing hiking equipment. My ass...!!
Anyway the scenery was gone behind the wall of water and all I could focus on was moving ahead.

The village appeared as if by magic as I couldn't have seen it for the rain lashing down. I stopped briefly beneath a shelter telling me all about the routes to walk around here, and the Scottish coast to coast path. It was futile to stay here all day so I headed out for the mountain and the great views over the surrounding area, and a possible kind person to take me away from this and offer me lodgings and warm drinks, or at least a lift..
I looked longingly in through windows of cosy houses were people sat drinking hot tea and meals. It was I realised late in the afternoon now, and I had no idea exactly how far the next place was, but as I intended to follow all the rules of the mountains, I was at least prepared with food and supplies and warm clothing. Well the clothing was presently warm because of the sweat building as I climbed the first long gradual incline out of the village and into the higher open grazing lands where the sheep roamed almost free.

After what seemed like hours I was way up in the mountain but could barely see my feet or further than about 20 meters ahead. Occasionally a gap appeared and I could glimpse a lake or a valley, or a car....
Now as I said before about my road survey, the people in vehicles do the most weird things. Except stop and help or offer help to a stranger walking in the mountains when it is clear that his safety is being marginalized by their road manner. What I mean is this. I step out of the way for my safety and every one assumes that is my obligation. They seemed to look away rather than have to acknowledge my presence, or even be aware that a smile or a wave would be appreciated as a token of respect for my actions. Then again, I shouldn't expect anything then I wouldn't be disappointed. Who in their right mind would offer a lift to someone clearly dripping wet and carrying a large bag? Oh yeah, the two older ladies on my second day of walking across the lanes north of Newark upon Trent. The only ones in 2 months of walking, apart from people I had previously met, to actually see my need as something that they could help with. Surely they knew what I didn't and that I would run out of daylight before the road came out of the mountains on the Haddington side. By about 9.30 pm it was actually bleak and I had now ran out of water. The temperatures had dropped and every road was a flowing river. I was warm if nothing else but the breathable coat was not breathing, and it was leaking, as I felt water dribbling down my arms from the top of my shoulders. So much for Goretex coats. These people must test them in a desert environment. I wondered if in my naivety to spend so much on a decent waterproof coat, I had missed something that said only works if you are not carrying a bag. I mean how many walkers do you know that don't carry some kind of day pack if not a back pack? As the coat is held against my body by the straps of the bag I considered that this might have an impact on the workings of this design of jacket, but when I consider the cost of the item, I'm sure I could have gotten just as good a performance as from a much cheaper coat. Be warned, this gear is not always as good as the claims. Waterproof Goretex boots that are as waterproof as flipflops and a coat nearly as bad.

Rant over....! On with the trials....

By about 10.30pm I could see some strange light gathering at the top of a hill I perceived ahead, and nearly wept for joy as I began to see the lights of civilization once more below the crest of the mountain. My calf muscles were beginning to show signs of my lack of fluids, cramping a bit now and again. Lack of fluids what with all this water about me? If I would have been in grave danger I would have just drank form the burns, running water from this height is normally pretty free of toxins, being directly out of the sky almost minutes before.
The festivals of Edinburgh were underway I could make out the fireworks displays away in the distance, maybe 25 miles north north west of me. It was a spectacular view now that the rain had finally stopped and the clouds had moved on. Dunbar to my right and North Berwick directly ahead as I left the top of the Monadhliath mountains.
About another hour later I found a suitable shelter for the tent beneath a mighty oak tree and set myself up for a damp nights sleep. Most of my clothes were very damp, so I changed and got as dry and warm as possible. Fortunately the outside temperatures had risen again and so I wasn't going to freeze.

Below an ancient tree I ended my second day in Scotland.

1 comment:

  1. Why do you thing they called the place Long for Mack us??Intuition MY ass! :)