First Cuckoo’s Calling

When I was growing up, the first sound of the cuckoo was considered to be the heralding of summer. Today is Easter Monday, but I heard the cuckoo calling whilst I was out on my walk today, so I am officially calling it summer, after all the temperature was in the 20’s, rare even in summer, in Scotland.

My walk today was a walk with God. God is always present with me on my walks, but I seldom talk to God on them, but today was different. Today I decided that I was going to walk up Goatfell, which is a 874 metres ascent, and that I was going to do with God, as i was doing it alone. As you can see from this picture, it is a phenomenal place, but scary, at times very scary. But that is not how I knew that God was walking with me today.DSC_0504

My alarm was set for 5.15 am, and I woke to a near full moon size moon shining in the bedroom window, a glorious start to the day. I love the peace and quiet of early mornings, it is a special time of the day for me. After a cup of coffee made by my lovely husband, I packed my bag and set off. The air was cool, but full of promise for the day ahead. Within an hour, I had driven to the ferry terminal, swopped my driving boots for hiking ones, and was on the ferry over to the Isle of Arran. Within 3 hours of my alarm going off, I was getting off the bus and heading up Goatfell.

The track starts off climbing gently, through a tree covered path, but the trees soon come to an end, and you are out in clear country, with the sun streaming down. At 8.30 am it was very pleasant to walk, but as the day wore on, it got hotter. It was not long before I heard the sound of the cuckoo, and was happy to call it summer, as the sun poured down all day.

 

I was happy at this stage, to be out there on my own. Several people had passed me on the way up so far, but I was more than happy to walk at my own pace, with my own thoughts. When the path started to get tougher, I was reminded that a walk with God, is like a walk through life. There are some very pleasant parts to life, but then there are the not so pleasant parts in life, when the going gets a bit tougher. It is generally at times like this that we remember God, and call on God for help, but even before I got into trouble I asked God to be with me, beside me, walking alongside me.

About two thirds of the way up, my troublesome toe started to let me know, that it meant business today. Once it had kicked in, then it truly kicked in, and I was beginning to doubt if I would make it to the top at all. One issue with going to an island to walk, is that you are very much ruled by the ferry times, and I had thought that I could get up and back down again in 4 1/2 hours, and be in with a chance of catching a ferry back, just after lunchtime. My toe told me very firmly that that goal was not one that was going to be achieved today. I had taken the wise decision to pack some painkillers in my bag, and so I sat down, took my boot off, twiddled the offending toe, and replaced the boot, before taking a couple of tablets. After 5 or 10 minutes, all seemed well, and it was much more comfortable, but my happiness was to be shortlived. Before too long, my toe was extremely painful again, and I was beginning to worry. Worry about whether or not I was going to make it to the top, but worrying even more that the pain would be even worse on the way down. You can see from this photo that we are not talking a normal walk in the country. The terrain is now climbing in places over granite rocks and boulders, some of them needing a real “kick-off” from the back foot, which is what I was finding most painful.

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Granite Rocks to Scramble Over to reach Goatfell’s Summit

Another dose of painkillers wasn’t really an option, so soon after the first dose, if I valued my liver. A mild panic began to set in, this was not only this trek that I might not manage to the goal, but it may also jeopardise the whole Kilimanjaro one. If my toe stopped me keeping up a good pace, then I was risking holding up the whole team. My leg muscles started to feel a tad weak, and I wondered what I was doing on the side of this mountain on my own, only I wasn’t on my own, I was with God. (I still swore that this was my last time climbing Goatfell though. Well at least until the next time.)

And so I prayed and asked for healing of my toe, in Jesus name, and repeated my simple mantra that I tell everyone to do when they feel overwhelmed. It goes like this:

I am happy, healthy and wealthy

only in this instance I said

My toe is happy and healthy

I repeated it about 5 times, and with each step my toe hurt less and less. It was almost instant, but just to be on the safe side, I repeated the affirmation a few more times. Now for those of you who are reading this, and don’t believe in God because you can’t prove he/she exists (I want to thank you for reading this far) I would say that this was proof enough for me. I was so grateful that I could reach my end goal knowing that God had my back, or in this instance, toe?

I continued to almost hop skip and jump up to the summit of Goatfell. I had hoped to climb up in three hours, but was a little over that, but was quite happy given the circumstances.DSC_0500

It was so beautiful up there, that I took my time relishing the view, and the sensation of achievement. After reaching the summit, I wanted to spend some time enjoying the moment. I took my boots off and gave my feet some space to wriggle without the confines of my walking boots. I sent a text to my husband and ate my delicious sandwich made by him. I really value the support he is giving me in this endeavor, to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.

The route down was hot and dusty. Many people were out on Goatfell coming up as I was heading down. The early morning uppers were dressed appropriately, in hiking boots with back packs, hats and water bottles. As I came down. I was met by a constant stream of tourists, kitted out in trainers, bared shoulders and not a kit bag, however small in sight. My thoughts were with them, and how they would feel that evening. Would there elation turn to pain, as the effects of the sun took it’s toll on their bodies?

My last meeting with God on Goatfell was in the last couple of hundred yards or so. Several people had overtaken me, I was in no hurry, I had a couple of hours or so until the next ferry, to take me back to the mainland. This elderly gentleman fell into step with me. He had also come over for the day, to walk Goatfell. He informed me that because it was Easter weekend, the ferries were running a summer service, which included a mid-afternoon ferry, which if I kept on walking back to Brodick without stopping for a drink, or an ice-cream, I should be able to make. I thanked him for his piece of knowledge and gave the long- awaited ice cold drink a miss, and carried straight on to the ferry terminal. I could see the CalMac ferry approaching Arran, so I knew that, true to his word, a summer scheduled ferry was running.

Within 7 hours of taking my first step off the bus and up Goatfell, I was sat on the return ferry heading for home. After a long bath to wash the dust off me, I lay on my bed, which is where I stayed for the rest of the evening, savouring my achievement, knowing that on my Kilimanjaro trek, although I may do a similar ascent one day, I won’t have to do the descent on the same day.

Thank you for reading to the end. tell me, how do you know that God is with you?

Blessings Joy

 

Easter Sunday Toe Trial

Yesterday I experienced pain in one of my toes that was a totally new (read painful) experience. I had to stop walking and twiddle my toe for a bit, and then carry on, with it forever in my mind for the rest of the walk. So today I had some trepidation going for  walk, to see if the pain was going to be an ongoing thing, or just a one-off.

I did my favourite walk, right out of my back door. I took the opportunity to apply some photographic creativity, to take 3 pictures of the same thing. This is a tree not 100 yards from my door.

 

This totem pole is in Belleisle Park. So many people look at the front, how many go round the back and observe the patterns of the original tree bark?

It was  a beautiful day, warm in the sunshine, but cooler in the shade. The path takes me through 2 parks, before heading down the side of the River Doon, and then out onto the beach, via sandy boggy ground, where the bullrushes were in full “fluff”

My toe was not completely happy, especially when it came to walking over the rocks. It seems to be that when I need to use my toes for balancing. It was when I was walking on a camber that my toe started to flare up, and today was similar.

Tomorrow will be a real challenge when I take on a much longer hillier walk. I have not made up my mind completely where it is going to be. It could be Goatfell, over on the Isle of Arran, or a Munro if I can get my friend to take me.

1 more day of the 4 day Easter break. We have been blessed with super weather for walking.

Easter Blessings Joy

2 Down, 2 to Go

The weather this morning was hazy, which was such a shame as the walk planned today with Ayr & District Rambling Club would have had fantastic views of the Clyde Firth. 20 or so people, met on Easter Saturday to do this walk.DSCF7558

We started at Haylie Brae, which after a short meander up to a vantage point, we could look out across the Clyde Firth. We could hardly pick out the closest island of Great Cumrae, if you look closely to the left of the island, you can see Little Cumrae in the haze. Arran or the Isle of Bute were nowhere to be seen.

The start of this walk was steep, and seemed to go on for ages. With just over 4 months to go until the Big Climb, I am very aware of how much more stamina I am going to need to do it. The route was sent before we set out, and I was promised a loch on this walk, called Cockle Loch. Well I don’t know about you, but this looks more like a large puddle to me, than a loch.

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We continued up the hills and down the dales. I hate to admit, but I found it tough going. The weather was warm, well warm for Scotland, and I struggled with the heat on such a physically challenging walk.

 

We found a cool spot down by Gogo Burn, (which is a Scottish name for a stream) for lunch. It was so tempting to take the boots off and cool down in the water. One person did, I should have asked her how cold it was.

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After lunch was a slow descent down, before a few more challenging ups. My legs were struggling by this point, almost going jellylike with no more “up” in them. I took a few finger licks of Green Magic, and within 2 minutes I had a spring in my step for the last 1/2 a mile.

Tomorrow is another day, number 3 of this Easter holiday weekend. It will be a local walk, right out of my back door.

Easter Blessings, here’s hoping you are having a good one.

Joy

 

 

 

Good Friday Kildoon Hill

Today, being Good Friday, is the start of a 4 day holiday weekend, and I am commited to walk each day, to try and get my stamina up, ahead of the Kilimanjaro trek, which is edging closer and closer.

Last weekend I went out with Ayr & District Rambling Club on a 9.5 miles walk, on part of the Carrick Way. Today I wanted to take my husband on the same walk, but I should have paid more attention on my last jaunt. I recognised the first few of miles, but when it came to deciding whether to take a left or right turn, at one point, I was flummoxed. After going a couple of hundred yards in each direction, we decided to continue following the signposts back to Maybole, and complete a seven mile walk.

The sun was shining, making it a summer’s day here in Scotland. On returning to the car, it said 22.5 degrees Celsius on the dashboard. That truly is a summer’s day in Ayr.

The plus side of it is, we did get out to the monument on Kildoon Hill, and also found clumps of bluebells in the hedgerows, which I didn’t see last week.

The warmth brought the smell of the gorse out, gentle wafts of a mild coconut scent on the wind, greet the nostrils.

Tomorrow is another walk with Ayr & District. I hope to ask the leader, where I went wrong, so that I can do the full walk again on Sunday afternoon.

I hope that you are enjoying your Easter weekend, whatever your beliefs.

Blessings

Joy

On My Doorstep

Ascent 225 metres        9.5 miles

If you have been following my blog for more than a year, you will know that I have a lovely walk literally out my back door. Today I travelled just 20 minutes down the road, and discovered yet another wonderful vista, part of the Carrick Way.

51 of us gathered at the car park of the swimming pool in Maybole, and headed off in the direction of the golf course. I had rather under-estimated the temperature today, and felt the cold winds blow right through me. I caught up with the lovely Tracy, who was out on the ill-fated (well for me at least) Wedder Hill walk last week. She said it was the hardest walk she had ever done, and hobbled for 3 days afterwards. That made me feel better about my abandoned walk, and being sent home.

Todays’ walk was 9.5 miles, with an elevation of around 250 metres, so not a great one where height was concerned, but a fair distance. Hope you enjoy the view. Blessings Joy

First Steps

5 months today, and the group will be taking the 1st step on the climb up Kilimanjaro. I know the months are going to fly by, and soon the countdown will be weeks, rather than months. I would like to think that I am on track to get my fitness levels up. Having the hills and mountains of Scotland right on my doorstep is a bonus. Yesterday’s climb of 800 metres is likely to be no more than is expected of us, in 1 day. There will be 2 main differences though.

  1. It will be at much higher altitude
  2. We will be sleeping in tiny tents on the side of a mountain, rather than our own beds.

Today my local newspaper ran a story on my jaunt.

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Success on Lowther Hill

Height 725 metres                                      Total Ascent 800 metres

After my disappointment at the weekend when I was left feeling a little down about my lack of improvement over the past month, I am pleased to say that today I managed a hill walk in the beautiful Spring sunshine. Lowther Hill has a height of 725 metres, but is quite challenging in the ups and downs that it entails, to reach the top of it.

The whole walk didn’t quite go to plan, as today it was the turn of someone else not to complete the whole walk (I must admit that did make me feel better for not completing Saturday’s walk) The plan was to do a circular walk, to take in Green Lowther, but once we had summited Lowther Hill, the decision was to go back the way we had come.

Knee Report: I am pleased to say that my knee held up remarkably well. There was lots of steep descent, which is when it is at it’s least comfortable. To be honest it is very painful, life a knife being drawn through the joint every step that weight goes through it whilst bent. Today it was hardly noticeable until I got to the last 100 metres os so, where it wasn’t the gradient that got it, but more the rough uneven terrain. It was the ground that I dread, as the most likely one to twist an ankle and hinder training for a long time.

As you can see from the photos, it was a stunning day, and the views were for miles.

An email arrived today from 360 Expeditions, with the kit list. It suddenly is beginning to feel very real indeed.

 

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Tomorrow being the 10th, is the 5 month countdown from the day we start our ascent up Kilimanjaro for Whiteleys Retreat. Bring it ON!

Blessings and Namaste

Joy

From Durisdeer, to Durisdeer

This weekend saw a bit of a setback where training is concerned. I set myself a goal, and didn’t come even near to achieving it.

This was my very first walk with Ayr & District Rambling Club, and it felt like being back at square 1, with OiR, 15 months ago. I was only about half an hour into the walk, and had fallen behind. I struggled on, with rapid breathing and heart pumping hard, but very quickly realised that I wasn’t going to make it to the top of 1 hill, let alone 2.

Sheila from OiR had said that she would back mark the group, and it was very soon apparent that we would  need to turn back, so as not to hinder the main group from reaching the set goals. The pair of us still managed to get a 4 hour walk in, with a lunch stop, and I got to visit my very first bothy.

The plus side from this walk was that my knee was much better today, than it had been on previous descents. I was beginning to have concerns about it, as a few steep descents have been majorly uncomfortable in the left knee. I have seen my friendly Chiropractor Francesca a few days before this walk, and I am pleased to say that between her healing hands and upping my collagen intake, my left knee was much more comfortable on this walk.

The start of the walk was from the beautiful village of Durisdeer. My day started to go wrong when I took my camera out of my bag to take the first photo of the day, of the village.

Internal Memory Drive Full!

I had taken out the memory card to write the post before this one, and had not replaced it in the camera, and had left home with a fully charged battery, and no memory card.

Luckily 1 of the men on the walk is a keen photographer, and takes pictures and then shares them on youtube. So thank you very much Denis, for this lovely video of the trip I didn’t make.

Spring Forward

Spring has arrived and training should have been taken to another level, with a higher level of walk being added at the weekend, to complement my OiR hillwalking group on Tuesdays. Unfortunately the weather has not been to kind to us so far this year, and I succumbed to a viral chest infection which gave me a hacking cough and sapped my energy levels. So I am a little behind on schedule.

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Last weekend saw me climbing a hill called Shalloch on Minnoch which was an ascent of 425 metres and a 6 mile walk. On Tuesday I did just under a 12 mile walk, with a similar ascent.

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Today I had a visit from the local rag, The Ayrshire Post, who are going to be doing a feature on me and my climb, probably entitled Couch to Kilimanjaro.