Friends, Collies, Red Admirals,
(If are new to my blog let me, Ben – a young Border Collie – say a huge welcome. I’m absolutely elated that you have chosen to read my post and not been put off by that old chestnut about people attributing human characteristics to animals!! My blog is all about the trials and tribulations of a young dog on a v. v. v big challenge, climbing lots of mountains in Scotland, called The Munros. You can find out much more about it here Ben’s challenge … the story continues)
Me and B had been looking for the chance to ‘bag’ some more Munros since our last weekend away in July. So often, when looking a number of days ahead the weather had looked promising. Then – big, big, disappointment – as the weekends got nearer, nice sunny symbols were overruled by despots of black, proffering tear drops of rain. At last, after nearly two months of this fraught weather watching – with its tension of will we, or won’t we, get away – the forecast for the weekend ahead took on a more consistently optimistic outlook; it appeared that we were off. I had recognised the frantic activity at home as indicative of a move, and this was made absolute when B & David sat huddled over maps. Those butterflies in my tummy started flapping about with that familiar, and heady, mixture of excitement and trepidation; I had to nip outside urgently.
The next day I had my morning constitutional in Maibie Forest with David, involving the usual meet, greet and chase routine. Then, arriving home, I walked into to a whole lot of angst. It turns out that the good job B thought she had done (getting our tyres up to scratch, by dealing with our puncture and swapping an offending wore item with a spanking new spare) wasn’t such a great effort at all. In fact, we had a flat tyre and, this was just as we were meant to be off for a long drive, to go Munroing.
Suddenly, the morning departure – aimed at beating the worst of the bank holiday and Friday afternoon traffic, across the central belt of Scotland – was abandoned. Instead, a mercy mission to tyre specialists in Dumfries was the order of the day. Despondency loomed large as we wondered if we would get away at all, in this brief respite from the westerly fronts that had kept assaulting the UK – Scotland in particular – for the past couple of months.
It concerned me somewhat that we were never, EVER, going to have a straight forward Munro trip. One where preparation, and an uneventful drive, was followed by a few days of solid walking without any complications. The question mark hanging over this particular weekend was, however, resolved by the swift, efficient and friendly service at Denton’s Tyre Centre in Dumfries (five stars all round). Within an hour and a half B was back at base with the affronting tyre all puffed up and looking very pleased with itself. Even though I’ve never met them, the v. v. v clever humans at Denton’s instantly became some of my bestest friends. I vowed that they are exempt from any interest in their ankles – from a potential nipping perspective – should I be lucky enough to meet them – whatever the temptation.
At this stage of the game, our 1 pm departure would now, undoubtedly, result in a more congested journey. Right enough the M74, heading north from Moffat, boasted a carriageway three lanes deep in heavy traffic and then, following a straight forward trip into Edinburgh, we were queued up waiting to get onto the city bypass. After that the A9, going west, supported only slow moving travel while, long before we could even see the Queensferry Crossing (over the River Forth), we were nose to bumper in stationary traffic.
On the north side of the bridge we got going again only to arrive on the outskirts of Perth at what amounted to rush hour. Here we took our part in, what seemed to be, a race where we had put all our money on the snails winning. Finally, just south of Birnham, where no forests came to meet us (despite the Bard’s prophecy), traffic cones and contraflows dominated the scene of a slow moving procession. The roads beyond were clear though, oh my golly gosh, what a bendy road that A86 between Laggen and Spean Bridge turned out to be. By the time we turned into the Craig Meagaidh car park, at 6.00pm, my butterflies had been on one hell of a roller coaster and I was exhausted.
Still, on the plus side (me and B are keen to focus on positives), my sleeping accommodation had taken a turn for the better. No longer was I perched on a high rise cushion that slipped down the gaps between the boxes that supported it. Instead, I was staying on my comfy front seat except that, with the back of it laid nearly flat, B and I could just about touch noses; happy days. With that arrangement I felt a whole lot more secure so that – after a bite to eat and a bit of route planning for tomorrow – me, B and the butterflies in my tummy, settled down for a good night’s sleep.
Lots of love,