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Life Chez Dee Episode #32: Bagging a Munro with Edward

Today we had a day out … as a family … out in the outdoors. We donned our walking boots, but also plenty of layers, hats, scarves, gloves as the weather was pretty cold, very windy … well, we are in Scotland.

We’re staying just outside Killin in a lovely cottage, one of many in fact, in a stunning location, surrounded by hills, fields, and just nothingness as far as you can see. It was a last minute decision to come away, but I think we were just really lucky in finding something so last minute, especially as it was such a lovely location, lovely cottage, and at a really great price too!

The cottage is absolutely boiling inside. The radiators working ridiculously efficiently … I have no idea why the radiators in my house aren’t as hot … but maybe because it was a small cottage, rather than a larger old house, this was the difference? Anyway, it’s not often I’m too hot … very rare in fact … but I have been so hot in the cottage … so hot … feeling ill hot … it has felt tropical! We’ve turned all the radiators down to minimum, and it’s still boiling. I never, ever thought that I would EVER be complaining that a holiday home was too hot! In Scotland! In October! However, it does lull you into a false sense of just how cold it is outside, and certainly how cold it is when you decide to go walking up a mountain.

Justin found a lovely walk for us to do … he’s paid for the OS map app, and downloaded several maps for the area; such a great app. With just a nominal annual fee you can access all OS maps, download the ones you need to your phone, and then you don’t need a signal to access them, they work off GPS. Far cheaper, and far more convenient than carrying the paper versions. Although I do still like to own these … there’s something quite special about maps I think.

We found a place to park the car, in the national park, in a National Trust for Scotland Car Park … our NT membership coming in handy yet again. We took the road … not suitable for caravans or HGV’s … no kidding … really steep, really narrow … but the thing is, if they don’t announce it, you’ll get some idiot trying to take their caravan up there .. unbelieveably. But the thing about finding all these lovely walks in Scotland is that you don’t see that many people. If we’d been in the Lakes we’d be falling over people, but here, its remote, and it feels vast, it feels like you’re out there on your own, just you and the great vastness.

Opening the car door, I was blasted by the wind … it was incredibly strong; it was terrific. My hat was already on, so too were my sheepskin gloves. William had no hat, and no gloves …. this is what happens when you leave a teenager to collect all the necessary things he needs for holiday … always assuming that he’ll will be ok, he’ll manage. Good job then that I brought another pair of gloves. Yes, that’s right, I packed a spare pair … the reason being, that I thought as I ALWAYS, yes ALWAYS, have really cold hands, and if my gloves get wet, then I need a change of gloves. Anyway, mum to the rescue again, and William wears my black gloves … just a pity I didn’t pack two pink pairs … that’s the wicked side of me coming out again! I did however, only have the one pink bobble hat … so he had to manage with his hood!

The scenery was spectacular … absolutely stunning. Nothing for miles; mountain tops looming in the distance, covered in a mist, a beautiful clear sky, and the sunlight so strong that it lit everything up … that winter sun, so low in the sky, casting that really lovely light on everything. The grass shimmering; the path glistening. We walked along the path, having to brace ourselves several times, as the wind was so strong it was knocking me sideways. I was convinced on a couple of occasions that it was going to pick Oliver up and carry him away. Looking back at the views, I was mesmerised by the grass on the hillside; the way it moved; the sunlight catching it so it shimmered; looking like water flowing along a stream or river; moving along, flowing, tumbling, swaying; like smoke pouring out of something as it dissipates further and further outwards. I took a video of it as I knew that the camera wouldn’t do it justice.

It was so cold, I could feel my face hurting. I don’t know if it was the cold wind blasting my sinuses, but I couldn’t stop sniffing either! After walking for about an hour or so, we had the usual whining from Oliver about legs aching, and not going any further …. but eventually, after much discussion and persuasion, he carried on and seemed to forget all about his aching limbs. The pathway was rocky, and a bit boggy, but there were plenty of wooden duckboards which had been put there rather helpfully by the NT rangers. I was wearing my leather walking boots, which I haven’t worn in absolutely ages, and they’re years old. I think I bought them back in about 1992 … I paid a fortune for them then, but I’ve really looked after them, Nikwaxed them pretty much every time they’ve been out and about, and they are as perfect as they ever were. I was rather upset when we arrived on holiday, as I’d forgotten to pack my lightweight walking shoes, but to be honest, the walks I think we’ll be doing this week, warrant something far more sturdy, and my trusty Scapa boots were perfect for today.

At about 2,200 ft we spotted a rocky outcrop. It was beautiful, and very photogenic, and Oliver climbed to sit on top. The scenery was so lovely, the views stunning, and it seemed the perfect place to leave a stone for Edward. It was one I’d painted a while ago, but I had this in my rucksack today, I always have stones for Edward in my rucksack, ready to leave when the time is right. I knew this walk was one which Edward would have loved. He adored the outdoors, mountains, out and about battling the elements and climbing as high as he could. I really felt close to Edward today. I can’t really describe it, but sometimes I really feel a presence. I knew he was around, the feeling of his presence was so powerful.

We carried on higher and higher, and the wind got stronger and stronger. We found another rocky outcrop near the mountain top and went to the lea side of it to eat some lunch. Someone had rather helpfully left a wooden sleeper there, which was rather lovely of them, as it stopped me getting a wet bum and having to sit on the mossy ground. Stopping, even in the lea of the wind, it was freezing, and I could feel my fingers burning with the cold. J and the boys had sandwiches, but I’m so glad that I decided I’d take a flask of soup with me, I really needed that hot liquid inside me.

We were at 3,000 ft … on Ben Lawer … the boys’ first Munro. Not that we were Munro bagging at all, but it’s rather nice for them to say they got one in the bag … I’ve far more years of walking behind me, and I’ve now only got three in the bag! But I'm bagging this Munro for Edward anyway.

Bracing ourselves as we stood up, we managed, just about, to stay upright and head off down. I always think it’s harder going down than up a mountain. I know that it’s hard on your heart and lungs climbing up, but my poor knees were feeling it as we walked down.

We got back to where we’d left the stone for Edward, and some of the mist came down and we had a slight shower, the sun was shining too, and as we reached the tree line, the most beautiful, strong, and complete rainbow appeared for us; such a treat.

It was such a lovely walk, I absolutely adored it, and will go down as one of my favourites I think. Now where to go next, as whatever we plan will not compare to this... it has really set the bar high.

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