Wednesday 15 May 2013


It was a long journey up to Mallaig. Leaving London on the Wednesday night and arriving early Thursday afternoon. Mike arrived later in the afternoon and we wandered off to find something to eat. There was a tangible air of excitement and anticipation as folk gathered on the pier waiting to board the boat that was to take us over to Inverie. Boarding the boat I noticed a little difficulty in my coordination. Nothing much, just a slight hesitation in my movement. It happened again when leaving the boat. Something I mentioned to Mike. Leaving Inverie I felt good and the little incident was forgotten. It was a long, steady plod up to Mam Barrisdale. We stopped for a few breathers on the way up, a nibble and a drink. The showers of light rain forecast turned in to a steady downpour Nothing untoward though. Overall I was comfortable and enjoying the walk. Once over the bealach the rain was heavier and the wind was picking up. Descending down the path I was aware I had slowed slightly and Mike was pulling away from me. Moving to step up the pace a little, I suddenly lurched off to one side and my legs buckled under me There was no warning, I just went down. It was a struggle to get back on to my feet. All movement and coordination   where gone. Maybe I ought explain here a little about Parkinson's It is a neurological condition caused by by some of the  nerve cells in the brain dying and not producing a chemical called dopamine.. It can affect balance and coordination. It was a long hard struggle to get down the hill Movement was excruciatingly slow and there  where several more collapses Mike was obviously extremely worried and shepherded me down the hill Collin, another challenger who had passed us earlier, came back to assist. He had ensured there was a space in the bothy and that was where we ended up. It was initially thought it was a case of low blood sugar, in hindsight that was not the problem Low blood pressure, problems with medications and the Parkinson's itself where all contributing factors
Obviously my challenge was over Mike and Colin where so kind and helpful, getting me in to my sleeping bag,providing hot tea and ringing the police Ministering angels.Next morning I was air lifted out to hospital. That was the end of my trip. There is little else to say, there are many questions running through my mind and at the moment I am darned upset by the whole mess.


Saturday 4 May 2013

Langholm wander

Meeting up with Mike ( at Kirkby Stephen station, we headed north over the border to Langholm. A visit to an award winning pie shop and two pies duly purchased. Our route led directly uphill and it felt steep in places. Trying to ignore the semi naked, barefoot runner who was scuttling up the hillside at a faster rate than us, we arrived at the prominent monument and trig point. The boisterous wind ensured we did not linger long. It was a short walk to the Litttle Tarras water, our intended campsite for the night.
Finding an actual place to pitch was difficult. Everything was wet and boggy or covered in large tussocks. Finally we opted for a nearby sheep pen. There was still more tussocks and spongy moss. Not really wet though, damp. It took some juggling to pitch the tents. Both looked a little askew because of the lumps and bumps.Pies and peas for supper. Heavy rain during the night but by morning it was mere mizzle.The spongy moss was now saturated, making it wet under the tent. My own personal bit of bog?
With no big rush to get underway it was late start.. Pleasant walking over to Tarras Lodge and then a steady plod up to Lodgegill. Once past the farm the going underfoot became wet and muddy. We where keeping our eyes open for a possible camp spot. Finally we opted for another sheepfold. At least this one was grassy  and made pitching easier. A short days walking. Mike was being gentle with me!
After a somewhat disturbed night, just the usual problems, we packed up in dry conditions. Mike had changed the route a wee bit. Thus it was an uphill start to the day. We where heading up and over to Mosspeeble. It was steady pull up the hill with old drainage ditches, large tussocks and dense heather. Mike assured me this was good for one, character building?? A  group of goats grazed the hillside  below us, seemingly unfazed by our presence. Crossing a steep gully, saw me floundering around a wee bit. A steepish drop down and a grass clutching, thrutch up the opposite bank. Mike was beaming with pleasure (or amusement?) Yes, yes I know, it is good for one!
Once down by Mosspeeble it was a case of nipping down the main road to Bush Fortunately there was a cycle path alongside the road which made things much easier.A pleasant walk up by Wolfhope burn. Ash and gnarled old hawthorne dotted the hillside. Unfortunately I suspect the heavy sheep grazing limits the new growth of plants.. We found a pleasant place to camp and settled in for the evening.
Things got off to a disastrous start on the Friday morning. There is no need to go in to the gory details. It saw me at around five in the morning bailing out of the tent.There was a ground frost and it was perishing cold. Suffice to say I ended up in the beck having a bath and clean up. My body was shuddering with the coldness. Fortunately the sleeping bag was unscathed. Mike was a little bemused at my comments when he emerged from his tent later on. A hot drink had got some warmth back to me. My feet where still suffering though. Our way was up and over the coll and down toThe  Rigg. The ascent steep and we zigzagged slowly upwards. A wee bit more of bog and tussocks. Descending we came to a track.... Actually more a road. A hideous scar on the hillside. This was no farm access track but a stone road built for heavy traffic. Other roads where to be seen on neighboring hills. Possibly in relation to the forestry planting that was takng place in some areas......
Hail showers accompanied us as we walked back to Langholm. From there we headed back over the border to a campsite near Kirkby Stephen Snow showers during  the evening.. Thank you Mike for a pleasant trip, although I suspect our actual mileage was somewhat low?.