Paul’s Blog – Posted 28/10/16 – Doug, Tut & Dorina

Time flies still, can it be nearly 3 weeks ago that my nerves were fraying over preparations to receive Doug & Tut’s presentation?

What a great night it was, Doug & Tut’s tale took us back in time to one of the great moments in British mountaineering history, dry wit, relaxed delivery, full house, many friends in the cafe made it a really special evening for all of us at the Siabod. If you were here I can only hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. With ticket sales & sales of print & memorabilia on night in excess of £3,500 was raised for Doug’s charity, Community Action Nepal so the best thing was that enjoyment & helping a very poor nation can go hand-in-hand.

If you were/are unable to attend one of Doug’s lectures then remember you can still support Doug & his team by giving direct via C.A.N.’s web site.

Thank you Doug, Tut & all of your backroom staff (Denise, Ruth, Anne…) who helped bring this event to fruition.

But time waits for no walker & less than 48 hours later Dorina was setting off for Scotland chauffeured by Porter Paul for her attempt to walk the West Highland Way, it was of course payback for her support of my running it back in May.

The plan was to walk it over 5 days, the first four averaging 20 miles a day with a ‘short’ 15 miler to round it off.

She set-off from Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow on Tuesday 11th October & was frequently seen skipping & smiling at PP (Porter Paul) as he forced a smiled retort despite knowing just how long the 95 mile journey ahead was as he quickly realised how heavy a burden he had on his back was. The reason was that we were doing it un-supported so everything we needed (& more) was on our backs albeit I had succumbed to Dorina’s pressure to let her carry one of my light running bags, clearly PP had a kind client.

Reaching Balmaha after some 7 hours or so the skipping had disappeared but the smile was still there as we checked into the excellent value Oak Tree Inn.

Day 2, in my book, would always be the crux, the joint longest day at 21 miles over the most difficult ground (second half of Loch Lomond). More to the point it is after an initial baptism of a long Day 1 whilst you also have the knowledge of the long days yet to come, a mental battle as much as a physical one. All that said & despite the first signs of a duck like gate Dorina tackled it smiling enthusiastically. Lake views, goat sightings & walking into real mountain scenery all helped the day pass as did my pick & mix bag of dried fruit, chocolate raisins, M & M’s etc. but the key was Dorina was doing what she wanted & was enjoying her challenge. 9 hours after setting off we arrived at Beinglas Farm to a warm welcome & an excellent room.

Day 3 proved to be the toughest for both of us, Dorina’s was a bit self-inflicted as tired legs & weakening mind led her to over focus on the pleasing thought of a chance for famous Fish & Chips at Tyndrum for a late lunch. For me I knew how far Tyndrum was, early a stop was needed to put on Waterproof jackets for the first time & that bag was killing my shoulders & feet in equal measure. ‘Dorina, we could avoid the diversion to the Chippy & eat at the Green Welly which is en-route’ I finally suggested. There was a LOOK & we were soon eating the F & C! I had the runners knowledge & opted for the starters portion (still big), Dorina’s main course was massive, it went down well but settled badly. The combination of this & the 7 further miles to our stop at the Bridge of Orchy were memorable to Dorina only by the amount of discomfort to stomach, legs et-al. That night we sat down to eat together but only one set of cutlery twirled! The Bridge of Orchy has recently had a major extension added, less relaxed than our two previous stops but warm & welcoming nonetheless.

Day 4, weather closing in but I was still in shorts & in truth only light rain early on despite a poor forecast, we were being lucky. It could have been a very bleak day crossing Ranoch Moor but the rain drops & wind never really materialised & the Autumn burnt orange of the moor shone vibrantly despite the lack of sun. To Dorina’s disappointment the Devil’s Staircase lacked stairs as we both found this long day on paper arguably the easiest to date. That said as we walked the final tarmac into Kinglochleven with the promised rain finally catching us up PP’s feet were screaming ‘take that bag off’. In truth we both new that success tomorrow was now a given & we were feeling good.

The ‘short’ Day 5 saw us pushed along by a surprisingly dry tail wind & through a never ending remote high valley after the initial steep climb out of Kinglochleven. Dorina was still smiling as we made the long descent into Glen Nevis but the final tarmac section into Fort William almost wiped it of her face. Having failed to do so her Beaming face at the WHW’s end was soon being seen & tweeted (or whatever it is young people do) across social media (whatever that is), she had done it & done it well.

& then a surprise Day 6!

We had been discussing it but only decided on it when waking to good weather, The Ben was close, we had a spare day, we were off to do Ben Nevis. No car meant an extra 8K added to the tourist route, I had the luxury of a lightened bag but the real star was Dorina. Despite her previous exertions she made it from Sea Level to Britain’s highest summit without being passed by a sole & passing scores of other walkers, a wonderful way for her to round of a great few days in autumnal Scotland. The icing on the cake for me, to spend some relatively relaxed time with my smiling Angel, what a star! Well done Dorina!

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