Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Land that Time Forgot

It was a bit of a fierce day weather-wise but we decided it would be fine for a shortish saunter in the Pentlands. I had to pick up a parcel at Telferton so we just got on the bypass after that and roared round to the other side of town, overtaking hay-loaded  trailers swaying precariously in the buffeting winds.

We set off along the side of Threipmuir with the wind behind us so it seemed deceptively calm and hospitable at first. Only when we turned into the wind on the path up the side of Black Hill did we get a taste of how harsh it was going to be further up. The wild winds and occasional spits of rain in our faces were strangely pleasing and we were soon singing and shouting nonsense at each other. I was having what seemed to me to be quite big thoughts. I was remembering how at work yesterday there was a strange coincidence in which 2 of the people I went to see independently told me stories of being told that they could never have children and then finding themselves pregnant  - and their medical teams needing some convincing of what they already knew. I mentioned this when I got back to the office and Callum who I was working with pointed out  "That's quite a Christmas Story".  This hadn't occurred to me but of course it was...someone who shouldn't be getting pregnant suddenly being pregnant and the normal rules of play not operating for some reason. This led me on to think about THE Christmas story and (assuming its not literally true) that it would make sense that we'd tell ourselves this kind of story at Christmas when everything seems at its most bleak. The essence of the story is that something that we thought couldn't happen did happen and therefore there is reason to hope. Which led me on to think about what the charm of these mad challenges we set ourselves is - we set out to do what seems impossible and make it possible. For instance - as soon as I'd managed to do a half marathon at 1.45 I started to think about the possibility of doing a whole marathon in 3hrs 30mins - and it took me years to crack it...but what a great challenge. It kept me going through several winters trying to get my training right....

By this time we were cresting the hill this path is on and I had finished thinking, which was probably just as well because I wasn't far from thinking "Just live the dream man".

There is a good little downhill run after this and we were protected from the wind again so we had a nice stretch of running. As there were walkers watching we put on a good show of finding it all easy peasy. Why would you need a big jacket with a big hood just because of a bit of horizontal storm-water? I then had a thought that if we took a short cut up through some bracken - on what appeared to be a reasonable little path, we might cut the next corner and hook up with the Carnethy route. Unfortunately my best thinking had already been done for the day and I had got this  wrong so pretty soon we found ourselves wading through thigh deep "virgin" heather into a little valley which was like the land that time forgot. I didn't see any dinosaurs but they may have been there. Or they may have been hibernating. There was little sign that anyone had been here - perhaps since the beginning of time.  Apart from the farmer who'd put the fence up. The next half a mile consisted of quite a bit of wading, stepping in deep bogs, bank climbing and fence jumping. Eventually we strayed on to the path that the Carnethy 5 race runs down and we set off right on the path that was now straight into the wind and driving sleet. More singing ensued. I wasn't keen on going up West Kip (Peter called me a "pussy".) so we skirted round the side of it and set off down the Drove road.

I'd been looking forwards to this because its reasonable path and all downhill for 3 miles or so but I hadn't bargained for the biting wind and the stinging rain. My face was already numb enough for dental work and now my upper arms, hands and toes all numbed out too. It was an ungraceful, stiff-legged, bent over stumble back to the car. A half-hour shower and then soup and toast in my pyjamas has helped warm me up. Tomorrow is the Peebles leg of the Borders XC series.

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