Friday, 25 January 2013
This week I finally got round to drafting a route for the backpack that takes place between 10 and 23 May. Whilst it’s my seventh Challenge, I’ve managed to restrict any duplication with previous routes to just 3 km along the north shore of Loch Monar, where the route intersects my 2007 route.
Moreover, of the 360 km (225 miles) that I’ll be walking, only about 20 km will have seen the soles of my boots before, so it’s pretty much all new ground.
I could surmise… ‘if I haven’t been there before, are these places really worth visiting?’ but time will only tell. There’s a bit too much tarmac towards the end, but at least it’s ‘fresh’ tarmac.
My route is basically …. Plockton > Struy > Inverness > Grantown-on-Spey > Huntly > Turriff > Kinnaird Head (Frazerburgh), including around 11,500 metres ascent (6 Munros, 1 Corbett, 2 Grahams, 3 Marilyns, and 11 other hills). It should be fun, but encounters with other Challengers may be something of a rarity!
Update: By 1 February my route had been returned, duly vetted. I got a map reference wrong, and have apparently chosen an aircraft wreck on which to pitch my tent at one point! I hope the cockpit is intact! See you in Montrose…
Monday, 21 January 2013
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Despite feeling distinctly ‘under the weather’ (norovirus for the second time this winter!), it was too nice a morning for staying at home, so my camera and I visited Dunham Massey, on the first of what I hope will be regular visits over the next two to three months.
The weak sunshine failed to melt the frost or make much impact on the icy lake.
The Winter Garden is just waking up. The witch hazels have burst forth, brightening up bare branches – there are red ones as well as yellow.
Whilst there is so little colour, the frosted leaves stood out, forming their own sculptures:
At the far end of the garden is a patch of grass where, in a couple of weeks time, snowdrops will be flowering. But for now, these tiny aconites are the only ones braving life above the soil.
Some of the garden’s trees and shrubs might be bare, but the red bark of the Prunus and Cornus complements the greens and browns. Staff also keep the white bark of the silver birch grove washed – soon the white will be reflected by the snowdrops beneath the birches.
Nearby, these scented blossoms had burst forth, looking particularly fragile:
The snowdrops were budding, so will imminently be in flower, along with the Christmas roses. Then the beautiful miniature irises will carpet the beds – I hope the ones I have planted will be as successful…!