It’s like the dawn of a new era…this get out the door and actually do something!
I never anticipated it would be over three years after the arrival of the “pups” before I would feel I wanted to walk any distance…never mind write up a blog about the day’s events. I’d tried from time to time to make a return to both hill and blog but there was something missing which prevented it from working as I would have liked…hence the long absences and this month’s fresh start. There are a number of reasons for this which will no doubt become apparent as the blog posts roll out. Having said that, I still don’t feel like walking any great distance but that is probably just me being cautious as it will take some time to establish what I can actually achieve with leg muscles than are, on a permanent basis, way tighter than before.
Given the above it seemed logical to start on the bottom rung of the hillwalking ladder. I rummaged through my old hill logs and came up with Lendrick Hill, a wee bump of 456m at the east end of the Ochil Hills where they begin to fizzle out into a series of minor bumps on the west Fife landscape. I remembered the route well – easy forestry road – short fire break ascent – open grassy stroll to summit and only about 45 minutes from the car. But, there was a possible blot on my easy amble landscape…a stock proof fence!
Photograph taken 29/01/2009
I was last on Lendrick Hill some 7 years ago. I remembered the fence not being particularly high and therefore not a great obstacle – but it did involve some “dog tossing”. Now that was with a Labrador weighing roughly 37kg…the combined weight of the gruesome twosome is in excess of 60kg. But I am older and wiser and thought…
“Sod it…if we get to the top great, if we don’t…well no harm done.”
In other words my serious “dog tossing” days are done.
Today I welcomed back my shadow. He has been missing for a good few months now. I was beginning to think I had left him somewhere by mistake. As I was caught up in the novelty of the black shape at my feet my two thugs amused themselves by checking out every scent on the forestry road. “Not Fit for Purpose” followed her usual random pattern of ascent, eschewing the mostly unused road for adjacent terrain.
We were soon at the entrance to the firebreak where we would begin the ascent in earnest. I quailed somewhat when I realised that the grassy gap was rather steeper than I remembered. Steep was not on my current “to do” list. It was also a lot narrower. It would seem that trees grow a wee bit in seven years.
“Little Bear” felt the need for a ceremonial immersion before tackling our upward route.
In truth the ascent of the firebreak went reasonably well. I reigned in anything vaguely resembling enthusiasm and adopted a steady, s-l-o-w, plod. Anytime I felt in twinge in a knee or a calf I eased back but kept the upward movement going. It was not all plain sailing though. I hadn’t been on a hill in winter for some time and forgot that the ground is generally somewhat colder, harder and thus more slippery than you might find at other times of year. This is not something you want to rediscover when you are starting to suffer from a lack of traction…and see 35kg of enthusiastic Labrador hurtling down the slope towards you!
Rampaging canines not withstanding, I made it to the top of the firebreak in one piece and began the easy stroll to what was anticipated as being the bête noir of today’s walk – the dreaded fence. I was surprised that it looked the same as it did seven years ago…low enough for me to step over comfortably and low enough for a reasonably athletic dog to jump. It would appear that, as far as dogs go, mine do not fall into the “reasonably athletic” category. I began the search for the gap between the bottom wire and the ground. Luckily it was to be found less than 10m away – a gap of between 150mm and 225mm (6″ – 9″).
It is truly amazing to watch a 35 kg Labrador crawl through such a gap. As long as the head fits under the rest will follow. It has to really I suppose. They did need a bit of convincing but both managed – although I had to remove “Little Bear’s” collar as she kept getting stuck half way through.
Both were hitched up for the final amble to the summit and about 45 minutes after leaving “The Tank” we arrived at the summit cairn…in glorious sunshine. 🙂