Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Inspirational Walks: Through the Cairngorms

There are many benefits of walking. As I have posted about before. But there is one benefit I haven't talked about before: Charity.
On 3rd June, I completed 15 miles for Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team. (To see why I chose them, click here)
The day started early. 5am to be exact. My fiance and I drove up from Glasgow, to Ballater, to then be picked up by a bus at 8.45am. It was tough, and that was before the walk had even started. As we pulled into the car park, I noticed the public toilets and decided then would be a great time to go. (seeing as it was the last toilet for the day.) The only reason I'm adding this in here, is because the toilets where BEAUTIFUL. (For being public toilets) No spider webs. No horrible wooden doors, carved with years of graffiti. It was pristine.
Anyway back to the story. The bus took us directly to the Linn of Dee. Where we were to start the walk. We picked up our numbers (4 & 5) and headed off.

The first few miles where like a walk in a park. A very scenic park. The hills where beautiful against the blue sky. We followed the river Dee very closely. It got hot quickly, and we were in our T-shirts in no time. We arrived at check point one in about an hour (maybe less) where there were Haribos and "Bicardi Breezer" (i.e Diluting juice) This was where I realized my number had fallen off, and had been reported and handed in.

Shortly after the first checkpoint we came upon a beautiful waterfall, greeted with people swimming in the crystal clear pools. You could see all the large stones underneath and the water was so clean, it was blue. For the rest of the journey we were amazed at the clarity of the water. It was at this point I started to notice a blister appearing on my foot. The same place as I had had on the Three Lochs Way journey. I put it to the back of my mind.

We stopped for lunch shortly after. We had walked through bogs, and jumped over stepping stones over burns, it was time for a nice sandwich. We sat on a boulder in the middle of a bog. I had chosen a spot just off the path, but as soon as we sat down, people assumed the path was around the boulder and ended up getting more muddy. We didn't stop for long.

We picked up and kept heading onward. It was at this point the aches and pains slowly seeped in. It started with finding out I had my bag too tight in the wrong places, making my back sore. Then twisting my ankle (on several occasions.) But I wouldn't let that stop me. Even if it was broken, I'd rather carry on to the end than have the rescue team spend the sponsor money I had raised, on me.... although there would some weird humor to be had at that.
The views at this point where beyond comprehension. In the distance was The Devils Point, a beautiful pyramid shaped mountain over looking Lairig Ghru, an incredible mountain pass. This was the highlight of the whole walk, I will cherish those views for the rest of my life. 
This is where we had to go off path, to meet the second path. We had to walk through boggy heather. The heather kept springing back up under every footstep, as your trying to walk uphill. We were greeted on the other path by a white tarp but up as a shelter, and another one of the Mountain rescue team, making sure everyone was OK. 

Most of the walk from this point onward was downhill, and we were leaving the open mountain land behind us. I had twisted my ankle about four times, but was still desperate to keep going. We headed downhill towards a little bridge going over some more clear blue waterfalls, surrounded by a mix of baby and ancient pine trees. 
It was about 2pm when we started to wonder how much longer to go, and we approached a wee lodge with Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team land-rovers dotted around. We just assumed that this was the end. It had to be, we had been walking for so very long! We had hyped ourselves up for being able to rest, but didn't realize that this was only another checkpoint. With more Haribo's and "Bicardi Breezer." We had four miles to go. 

The last four miles where the worst four miles. My blister was screaming at me to stop, as where my ankles. The mental determination we needed was immense. My Fiance and I have two different ways of achieving this determination and started to clash, both getting annoyed with the others coping mechanism, which we then joked about later. My fiance also gave me half of an "I told you so." For weeks I had been assuring him that this walk wasn't going to be as easy as he had told himself. I had told him that walking for long distances is harder than walking around at work, or going for a walk in the park. He hadn't beleived me. He turned around and said to me "I'll admit that it is tougher than I had imagined, but you have to admit that you underestimated me." As a woman I only heard the "You are right my dear!" part, and agreed.

The end was in sight, our walking sped up. Smiles returned to our faces. We picked up a few cakes and sat down in the grass, where I took off my shoes and checked my blister. It was then time to head to the bus and go home for a long sleep.
I want to give the  Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team a massive shout out for organizing this walk. It was fantastically planned, and I loved how many of your team where reassuringly sitting next to the path every couple of miles. (and thanks for the constant top up of Haribo's.)
Also Thank you to everyone who participated. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. There is still time to sponsor me, if you wish to donate a couple of pounds to a very good cause, click here

Until Next Time
Jade- Your Introvert Adventurer x