Munro post – 01/09/2017 – Geal Charn (44)

Friends, collies, dogs in the service of science,

Despite the application of ice cold treatment yesterday evening, B knees had got worse by hour with the left one seizing up completely when rested. Stretching the muscles at all caused spasms of pain that put our plans for this weekend – at the very least – in jeopardy. When I woke up I wondered if I could be a brilliant buddy, running off to put a few more in our bag, keeping the numbers up. However, it was windy and I didn’t think I could manage an anarchic map, with all its flapping about. In the end, I was spared the dilemma because – when B stretched out her leg in the sleeping bag – there was no noise; the pain had gone. After the usual contortions, to get dressed, a walk about the van confirmed the sensation of taut muscles but… the absence of pain.

Me and B had a bit of a con-flab on the subject and decided to give a single, shortish, Munro a go. This would let us know how the land lay. If we made it brilliant and one more for the bag. If we didn’t… well, we wouldn’t have lost more than if we didn’t try at all. To tell you the truth this wasn’t a Munro I was particularly looking forward to. Walk Highlands gave it a bog rating of 4, with 5 being the maximum. Yesterday’s hike only had a rating of 2 and looked what happened to me then; I was going to be watching my paws every step of the way. On the other hand, our guides told us the views were going to be magnificent and I’m a sucker for a bit of the old panorama. Certainly, Gava bridge wasn’t a bad spot to be starting out from, on a lovely clear morning.

The ascent started by the river Feith Talagain and, all things considered, the boggy mess was bearable. However, it did cause us to loose our path, both on the way up and the way down. Going up, while trudging through heather, B took us too far west and it was when we were doing a big arc – to correct the mistake – that I heard the exact moment of B’s knee giving way. I really, really, really wouldn’t want a puppy, such as young Bobby, to hear that moment. At the time we were too far up to consider giving up the climb and the pain was bearable, once the initial twang was over. Thoughts of the extra pressure on the joint during descent were put on the back burner, until we seized victory from the mouth of defeat by bagging Geal Charn. From the summit, the vastness of the land stretching north was awesome and the views in every direction stunning. Sun clothed the hills in their finest colour, picking out the mountain features to their best advantage, in a clarity of light that would make any lover of these highlands weep for joy.

Somehow I don’t think it was joy that accounted for the sobs coming from the mountain lover by my side as we started going down. However, the painful bag – despite being heavier – was much more bearable with another Munro in it. We had done the right thing and we could rest on our laurels tomorrow and see what Sunday brought. It was clearly going to take us sometime to get back to sea level today.

The return route was the reverse of the way up so I was fairly confident of keeping my head above bog level. Obviously, my tummy was a mess but nothing I couldn’t sort with a healthy dollop of self-grooming back at my van. As I was looking forward to this a funny thing happened. Almost as soon as the slope eased so did the moaning and groaning and, unlike yesterday on a similar gradient, there was an increase in speed, with none of that lop-sided hobbling going on. Could B really have corrected the problem by walking a Munro? I thought she should mention it to her doctor, getting him to tell his patients about it. None of this gentle exercise, and not too much pressure on the joint, nonsense. Get out there and walk the odd 3,000 feet up and down a steep sided mountain. How about that? Me and B on the Munros, extending the boundaries of medical science.

Following our walk we drove – without any of the exclamations that punctuated yesterday’s drive – to the phone box at Laggan. Here, in a quick call, B was able to let David know that I was back on terra-ferma. Next, en route to our next overnight stop, we pulled in at Kingussie. The aura of affluence, in this exquisite small town, sent my imagination on a flight of fancy. I pictured the depth of the soft furnishings that lay behind the decorous exteriors of these elegant residences. Meantime, B found other, more prosaic, recommendations for the area. A wonderful hot wash could be had for the very reasonable price of 20p, in the ladies conveniences. In addition, a strong phone signal meant we could check the internet to confirm the forecast for tomorrow. Within 20 minutes B was freshly scrubbed and fully perpendicular – for the first time in over 30 hours. Optimism defined the outlook, a predisposition that was reinforced after the mountain weather information service had been consulted. That day of rest was definitely off the cards.

I was sorry to leave Kingussie because I couldn’t quite get the thought of snuggling up on a golden sofa – stuffed with several centimetres of goose down feathers – out of my head. Yet, when B parked up for the night, the sun – slipping into dreams of it’s own – bathed my van in a radiance that illuminated our achievements. Surely, the best way to end this day.

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And so to bed

Love Ben xx untitled 1

5 thoughts on “Munro post – 01/09/2017 – Geal Charn (44)

  1. Ben you are Bea’s four legs which are better than two according to George Orwell. You are her inspiration and at times need to be her comfort as you know.
    I too have found that walking through some pain can help. It depends which pain. You must make sure to stay by her side if she hurts her ankle and be sure to bark for help if needed. I dare say she has a whistle if need be.
    Bea takes a good photo. Have you heard from your new friend Bobby? He sounds a little stuck up to me. Not happy with wormwood scrubs, he starts taking Becky to the upper class areas of Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park. Perhaps he would like a bigger a boat.
    Take care love Mary xxx

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  2. Dear Mary,

    Thank you very much for replying to my blog. Yes, it’s a bit of a worry for a young dog like me but I just hope B’s joints will hold out. She’s very old you know. I’ve seen lots of photos of Bobby and I can’t wait to meet him. We are going to have such larks. Not like the old girl here who is way past it. If she was one of you two legged things she would be 87. As it is she keeps dropping whoopsies all over the place and she has got doggy dementia, which is costing my people lots of dosh for tablets but, I’ve been told, they work wonders. She just doesn’t stand there and stare into space anymore, no having a clue where she is.
    Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park sound very posh places indeed, are they Munros?

    Lots of love
    Ben xx

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  3. Hi Ben, no they are parks which are huge green spaces with lakes and Hampstead Heath has hills. They have enormous houses in and around them. You wouldn’t like the houses, though you probably would enjoy walking with Bobby in the parks. He lives on a canal as you know. The canal is very dirty as bad people throw horrid rubbish into it. Bobby has nearly fallen in twice and got his back legs wet. He gets upset as Becky won’t let him back in the boat until he has a good wash.
    He is coming to Devon next week and we are taking him to the seaside.
    Have you been in the sea? It will be very exciting for Bobby. Bea thinks he will be nervous of the sea. Our old dog Bob loved it very much. He was a collie. Love Mary

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  4. Dear Mary,

    I gave the old girl a big lick and she looked very surprised. I’ve never been to the sea but I think I would love it. I go a bit bonkers when I see a tarn in the lakes or lochan, as they call them in the Munros. I just get so impatient for B to throw my ball in. B thinks I would be a nightmare with all the sea to play around in and as for the waves … B says, I ‘d be chasing them out and the riding on them coming in. I’ve never seen a wave in my whole life Mary, can you believe that.
    I hope you have a lovely time with Bobby.
    Love Ben xx

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