Petestack Blog

19 January 2021

For John

Filed under: Running — admin @ 4:42 pm

Six blogless months since the world I knew was shattered by the sudden death of my mother and three more since my last blog before that, a tangible sense of loss finally compels me to write here again. But this isn’t about losing my sprightly and seemingly-immortal 85-year-old mother when I’m not sure I’ll ever want to write about that, but rather about my good friend John Kynaston, who was much closer to my own age at just 61…

Now, when I say ‘my good friend’, you have to understand that John had many good friends because that’s just how he was. He met and cared about people through multiple roles like family man, missionary, pastor, teacher, active schools coordinator and runner. And it’s this last I feel most qualified to talk about because running’s how we met and the main thing we shared over the years since we found our way into ultra racing almost together 14 years ago.

So when did I first become aware of John? Sometime late 2006 or early 2007 as we trained for the 2007 West Highland Way Race, which was his second ultra after the Fling that spring and my first when race rules still permitted such a thing. I took the train from Fort William to Bridge of Orchy early one May Saturday morning to run back with John and others as the second day of his planned two-day ‘back-to-back’ (he’d have months of training scheduled in meticulous detail where I’d have just the overall shape in mind to fill as I went), and joined him again for his June Milngavie–Balmaha night run, as I also did in 2010 and 2011. We were well matched and clearly aiming for similar times although John had been a quicker runner than I’ll ever be years before I belatedly became a regular runner at 40. Now he thought ‘Peter is a strong runner who I knew should finish ahead of me’ (from his 2007 WHW Race report), and indeed I did, although it took me till Lundavra to catch him off my purposely steady start and I really didn’t know if I could despite having cheekily answered his question ‘where?’ with ‘somewhere between Balmaha and Fort William!’

Since my 2007 West Highland Way Race was originally planned as a one-off and I withdrew my next (2009) entry about seven weeks before the race through a mixture of injury niggles and preoccupation with pursuing Mountain Training qualifications, the next time we actually raced each other was the 2010 Cateran, where we spent some time running together as featured in John’s wonderful video I still just have to watch every time someone links to it! Then we raced each other once more over the West Highland Way that year as well as twice again in 2011 at the Fling and West Highland Way, where we lined up for the 1:00am start with matching Nathan bottle belts:

While we both ran other ultras (John far more than me), we shared a particular fondness for the West Highland Way, which was indeed the only one I did more than once and in which I accumulated four finishes to his six. But, as John raced more and more and I raced less and less, we came together in this race just once more to record two unheard-of DNFs in 2017!

So what of our other contact when we weren’t actually racing or supporting races? While my yacht Fly was laid up ashore for years (for my entire ultra racing career!) pending refit, John consistently expressed interest in sailing with me and it was ultimately another year ashore for the 2020 lockdown after a successful relaunch in 2019 that cost him his chance. And for that I will always be sorry! I was happy to see him and Katrina make the trip from Paisley to Kinlochleven for my 50th in 2013, happy to be the subject of one of his famous podcast interviews in 2016, and happy to meet from time to time for further social events and runs.

A year after former West Highland Way Race organiser Dario Melaragni left us so suddenly in 2009, I took my anniversary dram to the top of the Devil’s Staircase, and it’s poignant to be reminded now that John has the first comment on that 2010 blog (remember blog comments?) with ‘a fitting tribute’. Whether this 2021 blog is a fitting tribute to John is not for me to say, but he meant more things to more people than any of us can capture alone and there are many more tributes up already for the rounded picture. He had more lasting impact on the Scottish and northern English ultra scene than anyone I can think of as well as many friends from other walks of life. His loss to those who knew or followed him is immeasurable, and to Katrina, the girls and their young families, his mother, sister and others close to him more immeasurable yet. He was unique, and all I can do to wrap this up for now is post my photos from my #milesforjohn (requested of us all by his family to coincide with their private memorial) on 17 January. So here I am for John at Tigh-na-sleubhaich at the start of the Lairig Mòr on the West Highland Way just four miles from my door, and here’s the marker post on the way home because I thought he’d like that too. Tried to smile for him as well (at least in the second photo), but was just too cold and wet to compete with that beaming Kynaston smile even if I could! :-)

19 February 2019

Long weekend progress

Filed under: Running,Sailing — admin @ 9:07 pm

It’s half-term weekend, so I’ve had Monday and Tuesday off school and four days to work on Fly, with Twig joining me for three of these. Already struggling to remember exactly what we got done on Saturday, but think we played a little with my table saw set-up before mounting the heater exhaust outlet fitting and spending most time on the fiddly task of templating and cutting the Treadmaster for the heads and forecabin. Then I took the chance to join Glencoe Hill Runners’ ‘Two Lairigs’ run on Sunday before returning to finish preparing the Treadmaster bonding surfaces before we stuck the stuff down yesterday (note the advanced holding-down technology!):

After Twig left yesterday, I built my jig for the final speaker enclosures, which you see first taking shape last night then demonstrating usage this morning with the better of the two practice pieces I made without it and my original cardboard template. Yes, it’s only a jig, but get this right (which I have!) and the otherwise tricky glue-up I struggled with on my practice versions becomes child’s play:

We also put much effort into the heater installation yesterday and today, but I’ve just a solitary photo to show because we left one part bonding (the air intake where it goes through the aft bulkhead) I couldn’t risk disturbing through getting too close or diving into the cockpit locker:

At some stage we got the starboard compass refitted to match the port one done last weekend (both showing dark here because the outside covers are on):

And we finished up today by making the first four replacement deckhead panels and PVA-coating them ready for lining carpet (still another five to make, with the smallest – for the heads – being a new addition rather than replacing an older one):

26 June 2017

No going back

Filed under: Running — admin @ 10:09 pm

Some people will say they’ve heard it all before. But let’s look at the (sarcasm alert!) packed totality of my ultra racing career since the 2011 West Highland Way Race PB that saw me write ‘I’m done with competing in this race and comfortable with that where I wasn’t last time’…

I’ve come back for another go at this one race in 2014 and run my worst, ‘been ambushed by a surprising sense of peace’ after 2015’s pre-race injury put paid to my chances of going out on a higher note, and finally learned from 2017’s pre-acknowledged swansong that I’m never going to beat my worst again now when it turns out to be a whole lot better than I thought. 2014’s sickness-compromised first half was partially redeemed by a strong second, but my legs just didn’t want to play this Saturday despite good training telling me I was as fit and strong (if crucially nowhere near as fast) as ever. So I chose to drop sixty miles in at Bridge of Orchy rather than limp to a time hours slower than my previous worst, and have found the unravelling of my ‘don’t want to go out on my worst’ plan (the only real justification for my ‘guerrilla’ 2017 entry!) a strangely cathartic experience in telling me what I knew anyway and 100% ruling out another go. I don’t need a fifth finisher’s goblet with a time I didn’t want when I’ve already got four with Saturday finishes, so I’m happy (properly happy) with my decision to can it even though it wasn’t planned.

Have to say I’ve had some fun along the way, though! The seed of this one last go was sown towards the end of my run-a-day 2016 when I’d frequently find myself out thinking wistfully of this great shared adventure, questioning the reality of my participation through its now increasingly distant, almost dreamlike, quality and wondering whether I still had (or perhaps even had ever had) what it takes. So I thought I’d spring a surprise with that ‘guerrilla’ entry purposefully held back till (perhaps even only decided on) just seconds before the expiry of the 30 November deadline, and smiled knowing that 1. it did indeed take many by surprise and 2. it would be almost impossible to submit a later one. But, while simultaneously stressing that I was otherwise done with racing and WHW Race was literally the only event that could still tempt me back as a one-off exception, my intent was serious and I trained hard knowing that ‘the fire’ was back just this once. While I just couldn’t see a PB when even 2011’s marginal improvement on 2010’s nearly-as-fast time was to some extent a triumph of experience and guile over already-slowing late-40s form, I thought ‘the fire’ could carry me to something between my best and worst. But, having just consciously started slower than ever as an ‘investment’ expected to pay dividends later on then seen my pace becoming inexorably slower when I’d previously have been floating comfortably up the course a lot quicker, I now know I was hopelessly wrong there. What I had (in racing terms) has gone for ever and, while some are content to carry on racing slower and slower as they grow older, I’m not. And that, in a nutshell, is why I stopped and why there’s no going back this time. It’s gone, but there are still plenty of other (non-racing) things for ‘the fire’ to power.

To Angus, Jon and Noel, who answered the (‘Whoops, I seem to have entered a race…’) call to return as top-notch crew for a runner for whom ‘the fire’ ultimately proved insufficient, my heartfelt thanks where (as acknowledged since I first ran this race ten years ago) thanks are never enough. I’ve shared many adventures with all of you and hope for many more to come, but won’t be asking you to do this particular job again. It’s six years since I said I was done, three since I first backtracked, two since I said ‘you’ll never see me grace the starting line of that race again’, and now that I’m saying I was right six years ago. No regrets about the three subsequent entries, two starts and one finish when you sometimes have to bang your head off a brick wall to prove it hurts, but ‘no going back’ means what it says and I’m happy with that! :-)

[Photos by Angus… no, I don’t like my hat on squint in the last one, but think the image says something despite making me look worse than I felt! For sure I’d started to get a little cold from my first ‘static’ break since Milngavie, but the marshals and medic were encouraging me to continue and it was my decision alone to stop.]

4 June 2017

Hail, thunder and unfazed deer

Filed under: Running — admin @ 12:24 pm

I was looking for a long trail run yesterday and nearly went for a double Lairig Mòr thinking I could probably squeeze that out to 30 miles by running right into town rather than stopping at the Leisure Centre. But then I thought of something more interesting…

What we have here is a 25-miler on mostly rougher trail with a Graham Top and Graham to make me work (and slow me down!) in the middle. I needed both Creagan a’ Chaise and Creag Ghuanach (bar Cnap Cruinn and Beinn Chlianaig, my last listed summits of Graham height or above in the northern ‘enclosure’ of the A82 and West Highland Line), so just went and got them! And, while it was surprisingly bright and sunny (after waiting an hour or so for torrential rain to clear before setting out) in the middle of the day, I did eventually run into the predicted afternoon downpours and thunder. In the worst possible place, which is to say on my hills! So I was just on my way up Creagan a’ Chaise when the hills to the east started to get dark, grey and distantly rumbly, but (while wondering what had become of Ian Loombe on his Ramsay’s Round attempt) things still seemed OK on my relatively lowly peak the other side of Loch Treig. But then the hail (giant hailstones, which strangely pinged the arms of my specs while being too solid to soak me!) and a few visible flashes with louder/closer rumbles, and I was considering whether to retreat while there was still plenty of ‘attractive’ higher ground above me. But then things quietened down and more or less passed for a bit, so I felt justified in making a dash for the summit, though I didn’t hang about on the little rocky ridge/outcrop (giant spark plug?) that forms the highest point.

Then it stayed quiet for some time with brightness restored, so I crossed the Allt na Lairige to start up Creag Ghuanach only for the whole process (hail, thunder, the works…) to start again. And once again I considered it OK to go so far and see with plenty above me while the hail came down and the thunder briefly rumbled, and it was just at the loudest crack of the day that I saw a group of deer running on the ridge line above! So thought, ‘do they have absolutely no electrical storm sense?’ At least I knew the risks and was trying (while preferring neither to skip my peaks nor to die for them!) to manage them, but what do deer know or think? I really don’t know…

And that was it… the thunder had gone and the conditions properly cleared/brightened as I emerged onto the highest ground, so was able to enjoy a carefree topping out and good, dry run (no more thunder even when it eventually rained again along Loch Eilde Mòr) most of the way home.

Nearly forty years ago (I think I was about 14) I did my first Munro (Ben Lomond) with a group from the Scottish Schoolboys’ Club led by adults hindsight tells me should never have taken us up there that day. So, quite apart from taking three hours up and one hour down in deep snow with not an axe, pair of crampons or possibly hint of avalanche awareness in the party, the thing I remember vividly was watching the lightning forking over the Loch from our viewpoint(s) high above! Exciting but, well, you get my drift? So how many times have I been on hills of any description in a thunderstorm since? I’m not 100% sure, but think yesterday (on my wee hills surrounded by bigger ones) could be the first. Would I take a group up in those conditions? Absolutely not! For me, on my own… managed risk or headstrong desire? I’d like to think the former, but wouldn’t care to find myself caught out anywhere significantly more exposed or committing!

30 May 2017

Six years slower in remembered shoes

Filed under: Running — admin @ 9:59 pm

Last Monday (22 May) my after-school plans needed some rethinking when I drove over the hill from Strontian to Polloch, got changed for a run up the side of Loch Shiel, then discovered I’d forgotten my shoes! So that run had been doomed from the moment I’d left home at 7:25am and, even as I’d looked forward to it (despite the rain) through a school day some miles and a ferry crossing from home, my shoes were sitting smugly on the kitchen floor waiting to greet me where I’d taken them off the previous day. I’d particularly wanted that run too… miles and miles of good-going, smooth, wide track to counter some recent concentration on gnarly wee paths and open hill. So I was planning, say, 14 miles fast and free linking the previous week’s turning point at Loch Doilet to a 2011 foray from Glenfinnan to Scamodale, but had to settle for 8 more variable when I got home. So I was keen to get the same run yesterday, and made no mistake this time…

And it was good, if singularly lacking in 2011 pace with c.10:43 miling (perhaps just sub-10:00 ‘moving time’) for 14.1 miles replacing 8:28s for 15.9, but perhaps I was still affected by my stint on Alicia’s Ramsay support? For sure I’ve lost top speed since 2011, but know I’m still fit/strong enough to be hoping for something more like low 9:00s on a track like that, so why? Whatever, it was good to run somewhere I could get going a bit (even if not quite enough) without fear of hitting my head or breaking any more bones!

28 May 2017

Head, hand(s) and heart

Filed under: Running — admin @ 12:35 pm

Let’s get mushy for a moment… I bashed my head and fractured a metacarpal in my hand, but supported Alicia Hudelson’s Ramsay Round with my (undamaged) heart! I could have been doing a longer, flatter trail run than the 23 miles I contributed to the cause, but it’s what I wanted to do and I’m proud to have helped her achieve that cherished goal and become no.100 on Charlie’s list.

Alicia had set off from Glen Nevis on the classic anticlockwise round at 5:45am on Friday (surely the hottest day of the year so far!) and been supported by various people including Tim Ripper, who’d joined her from the Loch Treig Dam to the end. I’d walked seven miles up the Lairig Leacach on Friday evening to meet them as they descended Stob Coire Easain two peaks later, but (after hanging around for a bit and scanning the hillside carefully) heard them long before I saw them! And then we were off up the Grey Corries Stob Ban together as evening started to turn to night, still with satisfying distant views (e.g. to the obvious Ben Lawers and shapely An Stuc)…

From Stob Choire Claurigh at 11:09pm to the Carn Mor Dearg arête at c.3:40am we ran by torchlight and it was a superb night for hill running… clear, dry and not at all cold despite being intermittently quite breezy. I had Dave MacLeod’s GoPro to try and capture a few clips for a film he was making of the round, and hope the three (?) I got are usable and suitable! We’d debated whether to take the gully or scrambly route direct to Stob Coire Bhealaich for the ascent of Aonach Beag, but settled for the gully as the percentage option with it still being quite dark when we got there. Visible torchlight on Aonach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis turned out to be a lone camper, Jim Stalker + friend (sorry I didn’t see who it was) and Dave (who we knew to be waiting on the Ben) respectively. Jim had been with Alicia on the Mamores and brought her one of his special gels (which she’d liked then) to offer her a late boost when she clearly wasn’t so enthused by all her food that we had. Dave had the drone flying by the time we’d crossed the arête and were ascending the Ben, and followed us up with it before chasing us across the plateau on foot. And then, shortly after reassuring Alicia she couldn’t miss with 75 minutes left on the clock at the summit, a minor spanner got thrown in the works by my rare fall with even rarer consequences (marked by the flag on the map above)…

We’d come to a small snow patch, which Alicia took her poles to cross, Tim followed behind and I quite unnecessarily decided to outflank to the right. And it was just coming back round the bottom of that that something (stones?) moved under my feet, sending me into a nasty wee downhill tumble which finished with me striking my head off a rock after apparently trying to break the fall with my hands. So Alicia stopped running but Tim called for her to carry on and, after checking that I wasn’t dead (we both agreed that, not being dizzy or queasy, the quickest way to get me off the hill was just to keep running), set off after her. I picked myself up and followed, but from that moment was always lagging slightly to finish probably a couple of minutes behind them. Which was fine because we had visual contact till the very last stretch and I knew the first thing Tim would do if I didn’t appear pretty close behind them would be to come back for me. So they finished at (I guess) 5:31am to give Alicia a 23:46, and Claire MacLeod was there filming along with Beth (Tim’s wife) and Jim as I followed them in. And it’s Beth I have to thank for mopping up most of the blood and the (pre-mop!) photo before taking me to the Belford and then to Corriechoille to retrieve my van.

Now the Belford A&E seemed unnaturally quiet with me having to ring the bell, no-one waiting and me getting taken straight in, and it was only once I was asked to return at 10:00am to get my left hand (also hurt in the fall) X-rayed and told that was still three and a half hours away that the reason dawned because (having been out all night) it felt like about lunchtime to me! So the head cut got cleaned up further and glued together, I was fed some painkillers and given some instructions about the next 24 hours, then managed a couple of hours kip in the van before returning to the Fort for X-ray. And here comes the inconvenient but simultaneously funny part, because I had indeed fractured a metacarpal in my hand. But those who know my four-fingered left hand might see where this is leading because I have two metacarpals for one ‘ring’ finger and the third metacarpal (fractured) is naturally splinted by the fourth (belonging to the same finger) so they didn’t have to do anything else to secure it! I’m just kicking myself for not asking if I could get a copy of the flat-view X-ray (showing both the unusual structure of my hand and a nice diagonal line for a proper, but not displaced or rotated, fracture) and still hope to find out if this is possible. It’s still an injury of considerable nuisance value even without the strapping, cast or whatever I’d have needed without my funny hand and I’m going to have to be careful of it for weeks, but the bottom line is that it shouldn’t stop me doing several things that remain very important to me and others.

And that’s just about it for now. Tim, Beth, Alicia and I met in the Fort for lunch, and were joined afterwards by Helen Rennard, who’d also been part of the team. There were others involved who I never even saw, but all vital to Alicia’s successful achievement of her goal. But no denying it was both fun and hugely satisfying for Tim and me (as the two previous Ramsay’s Round finishers in the team) to guide her home! Also good to hear that Jonny Muir became finisher no.101 in fine style later the same day. :-)

21 May 2017

Betwixt and between

Filed under: Running — admin @ 5:03 pm

Now here’s a tale of clag-enveloped peaks, complex terrain, contact lenses and the absence of reading glasses or lens-on-a-string combining to lead me astray and seek consolation/justification in a statement of the blindingly obvious. Which is quite simply that you’ll go wrong if you can’t see what you need to see (in this case not just the hills but the map and GPS as well)!

So I was looking for something to run on the way back from Oban because I had a contact lens check there yesterday morning, and settled on the interesting-looking round of three Grahams between Barcaldine and Bonawe. But I was surprised to get away from Specsavers still wearing my contacts when I’d expected to be changing into my glasses there, so hit the hills with contacts but no reading glasses or lens-on-a-string (my typically more practical, optician-suggested alternative). Which basically meant that I couldn’t read map or GPS detail at all, even zooming right in on the GPS. Which proved somewhat problematic because the terrain was complex and the weather flattered to deceive by closing right in after an encouraging (if brief) initial view of all my peaks. So all I could do was cross-reference what I could see of the map to what I could see of the GPS, and you’ll note that my track lurches about in an almost ‘drunk’ manner as I struggled to hold the high ground on long, vague ridges with innumerable bumps and knolls to confuse the issue and the clag limiting my views of same to the very ‘local’. That said, everything I did (including that final descent with great dogleg of a finishing flourish and my unknowing failure to visit the true summit of Beinn Mòlurgainn at all) was logical from what I could see at the time, and I left content to have picked up my three Grahams and Graham Top in such miserable conditions. Until I downloaded my track and looked at it, that is…

So what happened on Beinn Mòlurgainn? I’d remembered (from the SMC Grahams & Donalds guide) there were two summits, but assumed from what I could see of both hill and map that point 622 was one of them. So came to what I took to be the summit (in truth the lower top), which the map shows to have c.20m prominence (convincing enough if you can’t see the saddle or true summit beyond), looked like a summit, felt like a summit and (confirmed by revisiting today) came complete with cairn. So of course I then started descending towards Meall Dearg, and you can see how it happened if you remember I could see neither true summit nor detail on the map…

Anyway, to cut to the happy ending, I was back today in my (varifocal) glasses to put things right and ran in via a good deer track through the woods above the River Esragan to do just that. While still not getting quite the superb views promised by the SMC book (could see Starav, Trilleachan and Creach Bheinn but still no Cruachan, for which I’ll need to return yet again sometime), I could see enough (including more local hills, map and GPS!) to both collect my missed summit and confirm my previous day’s mistake as understandable. To which I might just add that this is a great wee group of hills that had virtually escaped my radar before. The clockwise round is pretty runnable over Beinn Bhreac and Màm Hael before becoming less free-flowing from the crossing of Beinn Mòlurgainn to summit of Beinn Mheadhonach, where the fine north-east ridge I ascended yesterday proved to be surprisingly steep, well-defined and sportingly scrambly. But how this cracking little peak got its name puzzles me when I’m struggling to see it as the ‘middle’ of anything!

As for contacts vs. glasses, the jury’s still out but tempted to say both suck when glasses can become virtually useless through rain or steaming up and contacts leave me with potentially insoluble reading problems where the reading glasses or lens-on-a-string don’t provide the whole answer and even varifocal contacts probably wouldn’t work for me…

15 May 2017

Circles on the coffin road

Filed under: Running — admin @ 10:24 pm

While I could tell you I enjoyed the good trail through the flat-floored, almost ‘secret’, hanging valley of Coire an t-Suidhe so much I had to run it three times (once northwards and twice southwards), I’d be lying when the ugly truth behind that third visit to such a delightful place is that I simply made one of the most inexplicably bad navigational mistakes of my life…

Tonight’s run over the historic coffin road/miners’ path from near Strontian to Polloch started well enough bar a much smaller mistake when I missed the turn at Scotstown. But it was coming back that I really surpassed myself, taking a short-lived ‘path’ the wrong way after rejecting the inauspicious-looking alternative I’d descended barely three-quarters of an hour earlier as ‘wrong’, compounding the error by refusing to reverse 100m or so and trying to outflank the forest instead, digging myself an even deeper hole by diving into said forest (fine if you like wading through mud with twigs poking out your eyes!) when the flanking manoeuvre led to a steep burn in a non-existent gap rather than the clear space suggested by the map, and all the time failing to notice I’d become disorientated and was heading completely in the wrong direction! So three thoughts on popping out into the coire… 1. thank goodness I’m out of that forest, 2. this looks familiar and 3. damn, what an eejit!

Apart from that it was a good run and I enjoyed most of it. But good thing I’m strong enough to take what I get myself into!

13 May 2017

Tempting tracks

Filed under: Running — admin @ 9:46 pm

Today’s run was not 100% what I had in mind, but close enough…

The original plan was to take the ridge of A’ Chruach the whole way to Rannoch Station and return by the track/path, but I followed this tempting, runnable ATV track off the summit that took me away from the ridge but saved traversing some more peat hags!

At 24.2 miles, it interestingly turned out slightly shorter on the ground than taking the track/path both ways and didn’t take much longer, perhaps because the hill wasn’t really much harder than the ‘telegraph pole’ section of the regular route and I was properly fuelled this time. A’ Chruach is a strange, sprawling mass of a Graham with its highest point Stob na Cruaiche about as un-stob-like a ‘peak’ as you could imagine. Having skipped the eastern extension of its ridge, I did briefly consider just doubling straight back along the Loch Laidon track to Kings House, but dismissed not continuing to Rannoch Station as ‘cheating’ when I’d set out with a certain mileage in mind. Strange how I somehow contrived to have the wind in my face in both directions, and (with the long, dry start to May finally coming to an end) I did also encounter something I believe to be called ‘rain’ on the way back, but I was happy enough with my time of just outside 5 hours when the good track at either end stops for the hill and the ‘path’ in the middle of respective outward and homeward legs. Also happy with c.62 trail/hill miles from four days (well, mostly evenings) actual running since Monday giving me a third day of the week ‘off’ tomorrow. One good thing about fewer, longer runs is getting more breaks, which I can really appreciate (even when tempted to forgo them) knowing what a year of basically running daily three-milers did to me.

8 May 2017

Strontian running

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:37 pm

Two Mondays a fortnight apart, and two evening runs after a day’s work in Strontian. Hard now to believe the first was snatched from an iffy late April day with periodic snow showers, but tonight (perhaps registering the continuously sunny start to May?) I finally rolled up my sleeves and carried the unworn hat and gloves I could probably also have left off on Saturday!

While the first run was good after the false start (I nearly innocently said ‘dead end’!) of the graveyard in taking me through fine woods in a fine glen up to the old lead mines, the real ‘wow factor’ of the view (when not obscured by sometimes-white precipitation) inevitably came from the proximity of my much admired but only once previously visited peak of Sgurr Dhomhnuill. So of course I went back for it this fine evening, taking more or less the same route but starting from the higher Forestry Commission car park I ran past last time and ascending the alternative path below the mines I meant to come back down before but didn’t after missing its less obvious top end. And that’s about it really… a fabulous run in hot, but clear, conditions with great views from a rugged peak I’ve truly come to love for both its shapely presence in views from everywhere and fitting quality on increasingly closer acquaintance. To which I might just add (almost as an afterthought) that I’m starting to feel pretty fit as well! :-)

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