Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Run of Two Halves

2010-09-25 Lairig Ghru


When Craig suggested a club run over the Lairig Ghru, I was well up for it - here was a route I’d wanted to walk for many years without ever quite getting round to it, and a chance to spend a weekend away with some pals. The original plan had been to get a lift to Linn of Dee, run to Aviemore and get a train home the next day, but the train option got dumped in favour of just running back the next day. Yes, George got involved.

The rest of the group comprised Conor, Andrinne and Mags, so we all set off in the wee shanksi bus to Linn of Dee, faffed around a bit, and on the trail before 9. Not that we got very far before I realised I hadn’t locked the car and had to double back. We got some good running in as we made our way up the valley, despite the wind in our faces and the cloud that seemed to be just above our heads - we got a good view of the Devil’s Point (and a few laughs when we talked about the literal meaning of the Gaelic name) but the rest of the peaks were shrouded in mist. It got much colder as we approached the boulder field around the Pools of Dee - extra clothes were deployed (including the gimp suit which did the trick for me). This bit was slow going, picking our way across the damp rocks past the pools - Craig described it as like a scene from Lord of the Rings, and we joked about monsters in the pools waiting to grab unsuspecting hikers - and it was a great moment to reach the other side where we could see Aviemore in the distance up ahead and know it was downhill from there on, and there might even be a runnable path before long. My hands and feet got badly cold on the descent, but it wasn’t too long before the temperature rose a wee bit and we found ourselves coming down into the forest at Rothiemurchus with just a few miles of easy running to take us into the town.

The hotel was nice enough, once they’d figured out how to turn the fire alarm off, and we had a fine meal at Roo’s Leap (served by Wednesday Addams). There was a band on in the hotel so no point in going to bed early and we all sat up drinking and chatting for a while. I think I had 7 pints of Guinness but somehow felt better at breakfast than I had any right to after that amount of drink. In any case, breakfast was eaten, bags were packed, Tesco was visited, and we were off on our merry way, pretty much on schedule.

The weather on Sunday was much better than Saturday, and we were soon sweating out the alcohol as we headed back through the forest. My hip had been a bit sore by the end of Saturday’s run, and it started hurting again so I took some Ibuprofen which kept me going up into the pass. Someone had removed about half the boulders at the top - or so it seemed, we possibly followed a better route through, but definitely crossed more quickly thanks to dry rocks underfoot and generally feeling more positive because the sun was shining. Back on Deeside we made good progress down the path with great views of Cairn Toul, Devil’s Point, and Cairn a Mhaim beckoning us on until we turned the corner and could look across to Lochnagar. On the outward journey, we had taken the bridge across the Luibeg Burn; on Sunday we waded across which was much more fun. Before long, we were back at Derry Lodge, enjoying the last stop on our 44 mile picnic. There was a bit of a feeling that noone really wanted it to end, but it was time to get going on the last few miles back to the car. Sunday had felt like a much quicker run than Saturday, but it still took as long; probably because we took longer over each stop since we didn’t have to worry so much about the chill.

All in all, a really fantastic weekend - good running in wonderful scenery, just about perfect weather on the Sunday and the company of a great bunch of buddies. When’s the next one?
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