Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The first outing with the Pacerpoles

I finally managed to get out for a proper walk at the weekend - 2 walks in fact. On Saturday I took myself off up the Speyside Way a bit and then took a wee detour up to the top of Ben Aigan. I haven't been well for a few weeks with a nasty cough and just generally feeling under the weather and so I was getting cabin fever a bit because I hadn't been able to get out. Add to that the fact that I have been really busy with funerals and I was really quite stressed and in need of some fresh air and the great outdoors.

I wanted to get the pacerpoles out as well and see what they were like. I had some work to do first so after I'd got that out of the way I jumped in the car and parked at Boat O Brig. The weather had promised rain but it all seemed to have fallen earlier on Saturday morning so I never got a chance to try out my new waterproof trousers.

The River Spey at Boat O Brig from Bridgetown Farm
I set off and followed the Speyside Way signposts - really easy up past Bridgetown Farm. One of the things that fascinates me on my walks is all of the abandoned houses that I see. I always wonder to myself who was born and died there?...who was the last person to live there? Whose lives unfolded within their walls?  It is sad to see so many houses boarded up. There was a beautiful old farmhouse in the trees and just next door was a new house. I'm told by someone who knows that the new house was built because the old house would have cost too much to renovate - what a crying shame and how unenvironmentally friendly is that?

Old Bridgetown Farmhouse in the trees - sadly boarded up
The Speyside Way twists and turns a bit to skirt around the farm and for the first mile or so I was stopping every 10 minutes to adjust something: hat (on and off), gloves (thick and thin), pack (hitched up then loosened off) Jacket (zipped up, zipped open). I did not enjoy it at all, just couldn't get into any rhythm. I had been playing with the Pacerpoles in the house and had adjusted the length as specified. When I started using them they just didn't feel right and it was only after a wee while that I realised that  with my boots on I needed to lengthen them another couple of centimeters. Bingo - that made all the difference. They felt completely natural and the shaped handgrip fit perfectly. I felt like I was learning to walk all over again. My posture has never been great since I had an operation on my spine 11 years ago to remove a slipped disc that was compressing my spinal cord (ouch!) I have done lots of walking since of course but I can tell that my posture isn't great because of the way that my boots wear. Pacepoles demand that you stand straighter with your shoulders back and your hips forward - exactly what my physio whinges at me to do all the time. This new way of walking soon made it's presence felt because I could feel muscles in my neck and shoulders and muscles in both hips start to complain. I am well used to aches and pains after I walk but this was different and I'm positive it was the Pacerpoles that did it. This isn't a complaint - it's an acknowledgement that they do what they say. They encourage correct posture which must in turn be more efficient. By the end of 8 miles I was seriously aching but I'll persevere with them. They feel great and although I didn't do a huge amount of ascent and descent I can see that they are going to be worth every penny.

You may hear me talk about Ben Aigan a lot and the reason for that is that it's on my doorstep and it's easy to nip out for a couple of hours. There's a great view from the top and now that most of the ice has melted, it is easily accessible. The only thing that mars it is the same thing that mars so many of our lovely views, and that is the fact that the skyline is interrupted with wind turbines....don't get me started on the subject of wind turbines....

That's Ben Aigan peeking out of the cloud Nov 25th 2010 0650
I started out late and so time was marching on when I got to the top. It was also howling a gale so I about turned and headed for home. I stopped in the trees and found a handy log to sit on and have a brew.
Love my jetboil.....
The jetboil always goes with me and I have discovered Starbucks Via coffee. Now for the record I avoid Starbucks multi national, generic awfulness like the plague but I do love my coffee when I'm out and about. Via comes in tiny sachets and is a mixture of instant coffee and microground real coffee. It is absolutely delish and I wouldn't be without it. It's not cheap but so worth it!

Rothes from the trail to Ben Aigan summit

The darkness came down as I descended and so the headtorch came out and saw me home. I ached all over and there were times during the day that I really wanted to just turn around and go home. I felt so weak and I think I'm still feeling the after effects of being ill over the New Year. I kicked myself up the backside though and just got on with it - one foot in front of the other. If I'd turned around I'd have felt crap and beat myself up about it. Can't turn around when I'm on the Pennine way so best I just get on with it. A lesson learned for me! According to the Satmap the walk was about 7.5 miles so a good stretch of the legs.

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