Friends, collies, & dogs that used performance enhancing drugs,
We set off nice and early on the Friday, in my van, hoping for a big walk in the afternoon because the forecast was looking good. I really don’t like the very busy bit, when lorries with wheels as tall as B, come at me from all directions, at the very time when my movements are severely restricted. I’m not allowed to rest my head on the gear stick for a bit of comfort and I’m not supposed to stretch out and wrap my legs around it either; curling up and tucking down tight with my bottom pushing into the gear stick also seems to be off limits. Remembering all this means that my head hurts everytime I get disturbed and need to realign myself. Eventually though, I got into a position that suited us both. When we went over the River Clyde I sat up and had a good old look around but, if I’m honest, I wasn’t that keen on what I saw. I’m sure there’s many a happy dog living in a loving home in this vicinity, so I’ll not say any more on the subject. Anyway, it wasn’t long till me and B were in the sort of places we love best. Big hills rose up about us, like old friends in greeting, and the sky was a patchwork with enough of the blue stuff to fuel our optimism. As I was feeling better now I settled down and tried to avoid the no go area, which is hard because it’s nice and close to B and I wanted a cuddle. Still, a nice little stroke helped a lot but we could hear the echo of David’s voice saying, “both hands on the wheel please”.
Then, damn and blast, by the time we got to Kilin all the blue was suffocated and, when we pulled into our lay-by – on the small road to Glen Lyon – the wipers were giving it wellie and the prospect was obliterated by that familiar wet, wet, wet. B was buying time, having a spot of lunch and doing a bit of writing, but not much had changed an hour later. In the end we abandoned plan A and, as there was not a plan B, we had to scour the guide books. We drove for just a little way and, after the ages it takes for B to don the walking boots and pack the rucksack, the wet stuff had dispersed and there were just enough bits and bobs of blue, among the gloomy grey, for hope to become the byword of our vocabulary.
A very well constructed path meandered up hill, helping us to avoid going off piste, which is severely frowned upon in this nature reserve, on the National Trust Ben Lawers Estate, highly prized for it riches of varied flora and fauna. To me it just smelt much like any other old mountain, with heather, wild thyme and peaty soil, making competing claims on my young olfactory sensibilities. The early outlook was soon enveloped in a cloying cloak of mist that tumbled about in a strengthening wind, pushing us on. Ahead there were fence posts which guided our way for the next part of the walk, and then we had to do that thing I hate, where you go down, down, down, knowing full well you’ve got to go up, up, up again – even higher – but at least when we got to that bit we were sheltered from the wind, by the eastern flank of the mountain.
The shed loads of gear, that cosseted walkers coming down from the top, spoke volumes about the buffeting we were going to get when we got there and I began to believe it was about time B invested in a wind and waterproof coat for me, as well as a balaclava, and I wasn’t wrong either. When we got to the summit we were tossed about like damp bits of confetti and I couldn’t see a paw print in front of me. This Munro project was rapidly loosing it’s charm and I thought that perhaps I had been sold a pig in a poke though – being a dog – I’ve absolutely no idea what on earth that means.
Meantime, at the cairn, B got on very quickly with the ritual: photo of me, photo of us both with the long stick thing, and the touching of malt whisky to lips, that B always does in celebration. Then, blow me down with a bit of damp confetti, I turned around and the surrounding hills stood out in all their glory, pushing their contours into a forgiving sky; how the heck did that just happen so quickly, I wondered.
Sadly it didn’t last and our company on the way down was lowering cloud that produced drizzle, which became persistent, before all restraint was abandoned and we were entertained by rain – of the cats and dogs variety – though once again I’m repeating phrases I’ve heard and don’t have a clue what I’m writing about. It wasn’t very nice anyway, and I really think they should leave me and Tink out of it.
Still, a quick rub down and a bite to eat restored my spirits and I was even allowed a bit of touchy feely with the gear stick when I curled up for a cuddle. B’s dulcet tones registered some where in my semi-conscious when she started talking down the thing she attaches to the long stick. I really thought she had lost it and I ought to help out somehow. However, I was so enjoying my zzzs and soon I had a lovely mirage. I dreamt David was in the same van as us and talking to me, asking me all about my adventure. Then I got really upset when I woke up and this proved to be an illusion but, I went out to do my business, then tucked up in my cushion for more sweet dreams, with B tucked up right next to me, in the curious long blue thing she gets into..
Funny old life,
Love Ben xx