Scottish National Trail: Loch Freuchie two day trek – Let’s get wet baby (day 7 & 8)

Today: 53km | Total: 236km

Before we left Comrie on day 6, we did a little planning and figured the next 50km or so are a two-day hike without option to resupply (unless begging farmers). So we did some late night shopping and downloaded relevant offline maps (I use the ViewRanger app, stages for the trail are here) before hitting the sleeping bags somewhere outside the town.

Laura’s comments

Día 6: Un día para recordar. Sólo lee el blog Scottish National Trail: Novia Perdida (day 6). 😔😂

Día 7 y 8: El día 7 fue un gran día, mucho sol, muy caliente y paisaje increíble, perfecto, similar a mi ciudad, una noche increíble y con mucho tiempo para descansar.

Para el día 8 hubo mucha lluvia, mi chaqueta no es a prueba de agua, por lo cual caminé todo el tiempo con la ropa muy húmeda, afortunadamente Ronny tenía (hand warmers) y obtuve un poco de calor, el frío en Escocia es muy fuerte para mí. Afortunadamente unos kilómetros después encontramos una pareja qué muy amablemente se ofrecieron a darnos un chance hasta nuestro destino, el pueblo de Aberfeldy. 😁

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THROUGH THE 200KM MARK (1/3rd DONE) 😀 🏕

Day 7 started a bit slow. We either missed a path for it was overgrown and invisible or for lack of map reading skills on my side. Time went by, but the mileage didn’t budge much. It also involved fighting our way (literally) through spaces with loads of plants… Just like in the jungle. Hello Jane & Tarzan!

Well, we got ourselves sorted eventually and enjoyed a beautiful day out. A lot of uphill again (700m ascent) crossing over from one valley into another on our way to Loch Freuchie.

With so much delay we called it a day much earlier than usual after only 19km, took our time to wash in the cold but clean river water, had egg & cheese omelette as well as soup and just a little more time with sunlight than usual. A little luxury.

Scottish readers of the blog might have missed comments on midges. Well, they were not worth mentioning so far. They are now. Nasty little things. Thankfully the repellent (40% deet) works and the tent has a good insect cover.

Our second day was the exact opposite of the previous day. We woke up with rain banging on our tent. I just managed to rescue Laura’s shirt, which she washed the night before. We were tempted to stay in the tent all day. But then, we only had food for a day and don’t have much time to spare.

So we packed up in rain and got going by 10am. It was not too bad and to our surprise busier than usual. First up a group of scouts, then a group of mainly german tourists. So far, so good.

The rain was non-stop. It didn’t take long for the gloves to get wet, our pants, then Laura’s Decathlon jacket. Just not made for Scottish summer. By lunchtime we reached Loch Freuchie… In hope of a warm meal. Laura was soaked and now the gas canister empty. Shit!

So back to emergency supplies like HUEL (meal in powder form… Today with pineapple & coconut flavour), crackers and a bit of leftover red wine. We had a few spare clothes too and handwarmers to get going in good spirits again.

And so we trodded on. After some 24km we were on the final stretch into the town of Aberfeldy when we met two other hikers. They spent the weekend in a bothy with their dogs and offered a lift into town. How could we say no? ☺️🙄

Fun ride with these two – a Scot and his Slovakian partner. Turns out he has been extensively in South America including Colombia. What a coincidence!

Anyway, we enjoyed a great pub dinner at ‘The Fountain’, booked a room for the night and were happy ever after 😴😴😴

Tomorrow a bit of shopping to get done before hitting a three-day trek across the Cairngorms. Can’t wait!

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Scottish National Trail: Edinburgh all the way North to Cape Wrath (day 1)

So, the recovery time past the Elbe paddle is up and two big parties are digested. Now it’s time to get back outdoors to hike the Scottish National Trail from Edinburgh all the way North to Cape Wrath, the northernmost point on the british mainland. In total 750km of fascinating countryside, villages and people lie ahead (as well as rain, wind, sore feet…).

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Slateford – Ratho – Broxburn

Today: 20km | Total: 20km

The first day started only about 3pm. First we had to travel back to Edinburgh from Dunkeld, had a publunch before we finally got going in Edinburgh suburb of Slateford. We had no specific destination in mind for today – one of the positives of carrying camping gear.

 

The Scottish National Trail is an 864 kilometre-long long distance walking route running the length of Scotland from Kirk Yetholm to Cape Wrath. Devised by outdoors writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish in 2012, the Trail offers very varied walking, following long-established footpaths for much of the distance but becoming progressively more difficult as it heads north, finishing with a tough stretch of backpacking – with some pathless and demanding terrain – on the final stretch of the Cape Wrath Trail.

All in, we managed 20km along the Union canal who will be literally on our side for at least two days. Our first major stop was at the pretty village of Ratho with its iconic The Bridge pub and nice residential developments around a small marina. From there further to Broxburn.

 

Obviously, it had to rain on the first day. Welcome to Scotland! Laura’s jacket was not quite up to the job. The rest of the gear was ok though (well, the new boots still need a little more breaking in).

Laura’s comment (day 1)

Otra aventura con Rocket ha comenzado. Las espectativas del viaje son muchas, aún conociendo las condiciones de los diferentes lugares y el común clima de Escocia, tengo la certeza que será un GRAN tiempo en este maravilloso país. 👧🏻

 

One highlight for me came late in the day, as we fixed our empty stomachs with dinner at a Broxburn burger place (one of the traditional ones). I tried fried Haggis… And i loved it. Defo gonna get some more of that stuff while up here. Not sure why i waited that long to try it.

Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, minced onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour”.

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Edinburgh: Beauty. Tales. Art. Friends.

It was with great excitement that we traveled up to Scotland. Not only was a beauty of a city waiting to be explored at the time of its annual art festival (Fringe), but also Sean & Jen’s wedding and our start of the Scottish National Trail. All in – close to one month in one of my favorite countries lie ahead. I remember only too keenly the time during my Lhotse preparation up here. And I want more 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏕️🦕⛈️🌲

Previous blogs in Scotland

Cairngorms winter mountaineering ft. Di Gilbert
Mountain biking around Aviemore: Videolog

Final outdoor training before Nepal – Day 1: Climbing the hidden chimney (Cairngorms)

Final outdoor training before Nepal – Day 2 : Ben Nevis via Ridge Route

Final outdoor training before Nepal – Day 3 : Swing lead climbing the Central Gully (Cairngorms)

Socialising with the wedding crew

After sorting some last yet essential hiking kit (such as boots & sleeping bags), we joined Jen & Sean for a social evening at The Devil’s Advocate pub in Edinburghs old town. Many familiar faces from Ibiza and some faces I hadn’t seen in years. A good time also for Laura to meet some new people including several Spanish speakers. Great fun.

Edinburgh sightseeing – story telling time

I don’t know how many times i have been here before. Maybe more than ten times. But often for work and with little time to get to know Edinburgh better.

We headed straight for the High Street where the annual arts festival Fringe (the largest worldwide) was in full swing. Street performances en mass and a flurry of actors marketing their perforamances for the day. Everything goes really. Great athmosphere.

As usual, i got myself on a free tour. This time with city explorers. What a great way to explore town. Starting from its origins centuries ago, the city wall and its limitations, the subsequent construction of the Georgian new town, the famous children of Edinburgh and Scotland and a few entertaining tales. Some of what i learned I share below.

Adam Smith: Certainly the most famous one of the economists though also very active in philosophy and writing. His book ‘The wealth of Nations‘ remains a key pillar of classic economics and his masterpiece. His contributions to free trade thinking have most certainly improved so many livelyhoods.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this – no dog exchanges bones with another.

– Adam Smith

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Walter Scott: This Scottish novelist might be less well known to many though his works like Ivanhoe might already sound more familiar. The monument dedicated to him remains the tallest in the world dedicated to an author. His novels revolutionised and initiated Scottish tourism in particular his popular works ‘Waverly Novels’ (sold 2m times in France alone… In tbe 18th century!).

Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep.
– Walter Scott

Robert Burns: Scotlands national poet that is celebrated each year at Burns night. In 2009 he was voted the greatest Scot of all times by the Scottish people.

There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.
– Robert Burns

GAURDY-LOO and the origins of being “shit faced”

Back in the day when they threw their chamber pot contents into the street they didn’t just do it whenever. There was a special time when the bells from a certain church would ring and then everyone would open up their windows, chamber pots in hand. “Gaurdy-loo” would be yelled out and then SPLASH into the street it would all go. Excuse the terrible spelling of that phrase, but it’s kind of hard to hear the french origin with the Scottish accent, essentially in French, that meant “dirty water.” Over time when toilets began to come into play it shortened itself and this is where “loo” came from. (Another fun fact, here in the UK it’s a port-a-loo rather than a port-a-potty. Sounds much classier, don’t you think?)

Now the times that the bells tolled also happened to coincide with another time regulated event, when the bars closed and the drunks came home. Apparently at this time there were a lot of foreigners in Edinburgh, trying to be protected from the English, so they weren’t entirely accustomed to all of Edinburgh’s culture. When someone yelled “Guardy-loo,” instead of running and hoping to escape the splash zone, drunk and disoriented they would look up, and the phrase “shit-faced” was born.It is 3am in a cafe on the last road to nowhere. There is a waitress with no name, past or future, and only the radio to drown out the silence. She seems stuck in the same place at the same time; if she stops, the world may stop too. Merging physical theatre and dance with aerial circus, held together by performance poetry and an eclectic soundtrack, Rogue Play’s 65-minute, high-energy piece explores loneliness and detachment, the tenderness of unexpected connections and the ultimate peace that comes when we accept the world as it is.

I copied the write up from this blog. Nice read.

The story of Maggie Dickson

While exploring the Grassmarket area of town you will most certainly hear of Maggie Dickson. The place was formerly the lifestock market, but also a place of execution.

A popular story in Edinburgh is that of Margaret Dickson, a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in the Grassmarket in 1724 for murdering her illegitimate baby shortly after birth.

After the hanging, her body was taken back to Musselburgh on a cart. However, on the way there she awoke. Since, under Scots Law, her punishment had been carried out, she could not be executed for a second time for the same crime (only later were the words “until dead” added to the sentence of hanging). A subsequent inquiry found that many others were burried alive as scratch marks in their coffins indicated.

Her “resurrection” was also to some extent seen as divine intervention, and so she was allowed to go free (and avoided paying taxes owing to her death certificate). In later life (and legend) she was referred to as “half-hangit Maggie”. There is now a pub in the Grassmarket named after her.

Greyfriars Bobby – a story of a loving dog

The best-known version of the story is that Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a nightwatchman.

When John Gray died he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the kirkyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby then became known locally, spending the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave.

Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.

– scripture on Bobby’s grave stone

He is now burried on Greyfriars cementary close to his master and honoured every year. On this cementary you will also find several grave stones with names that inspired A. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter characters such as Thomas Riddel aka Lord Voldemort (she wrote the first two books in a cafe opposite the graveyard and came here to find inspiration).

Let’s got to the theatre… The 3am waitress

I actually never attended a play etc in Edinburgh even though i was at the Fringe before. Laura pick out a dance theatre. Little text from actors, but background voice and lots of expression anfld movement. Liked it as the performance went on. Very different to what I have seen before. Here the promo video.

Description: It is 3am in a cafe on the last road to nowhere. There is a waitress with no name, past or future, and only the radio to drown out the silence. She seems stuck in the same place at the same time; if she stops, the world may stop too. Merging physical theatre and dance with aerial circus, held together by performance poetry and an eclectic soundtrack, Rogue Play’s 65-minute, high-energy piece explores loneliness and detachment, the tenderness of unexpected connections and the ultimate peace that comes when we accept the world as it is.