and breathe….

Lockdown.

Necessary and unquestionably the right strategy to save peoples lives during the (ongoing) horrendous global pandemic that is Covid-19.

It really puts hill walking… and everything else into perspective doesn’t it?

That said, like many, while I managed to keep myself busy with work and the garden , I was really starting to find the (necessary) restrictions on movement ,and in particular the mountains, were really weighing me down.

There is no question that my overall mental health was being eroded as I stared at 4 walls, tended the limited bounds the of garden (very lucky I know as many many were stuck inside small flats, and for it I will be eternally grateful) and walked round my small town for the umpteenth time – I was increasingly missing the Mountains – and more than I had for some time – which in a funny way is a blessing in disguise. I found myself craving being out on long hill walks more than I had done for probably close to a year.

So when the Scottish government started to outline the plan to ease restrictions I started to crave getting out more and more.

But here’s the rub .. I had done almost zero gym time, little if any running , only a little local mountain biking (although I did do a 25 press ups for 25 days challenge) so… lets face it.. im out of shape! …

But on one my unpaid leave days it got so bad that at around 11 am I just decided to drive to Loch Lomond, see if the Inveruglas car park had space and if so i was gonna make a stab at a previously climbed steep but “quick” Ben Vane . So basics packed (light waterproof, couple of snacks, water etc) i jumped inn the car and arrived at Inveruglas to find indeed there was space . Jumped out the car and set off up towards the Sloy Dam.

Wow… I’m outta shape – its a hot day, a tarmac walk in and by the time I get passed the herd of happily grazing cattle and turn left to start the ascent I’m sweating and puffing..

I stop to check my map for the ascent path and have a bite to eat and as I do so I look back down towards Loch Lomond and … breathe..

For the first in a very long time it just hit me – the calm, the air, the green, the rising mountains – breathing it all in.

Off I set, forgoing the well structured (new?) path (which I ended up descending) and instead forging from the small bridge across the boggy rising trail and up. I was breathing hard and feeling every metre of height gained but – yep – I was back! And my god it felt right.

I’d decided to give myself until only 2pm (ish) then turn back to get home for around 4.30 or so for dinner/some food shopping my wife and I had planned so I only got so far (the flat section at around 450m) and just sat and drank in the views. Magnificent !

Chatting to the few folks I saw it felt we were all sharing the same experience and all feeling the impact of too much pizza and Netflix (and wine.. and whisky) but were all SO happy to be back out.

A quick descent and hopped back in the car to get back to Glasgow , smiling, sun reddened and feeling very very much better.

Tomorrow we had planned Dumyat to get us both to a Summit for a psychological “win” on the road back to hill fitness. But tomorrow was another day.

For now, I could just … breathe.

And it was mountain air – there is no better air.

For photo’s of all my adventures check out @coachmacca on Instagram

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