A Working Holiday

Just back from Llyn I had only four days at work before heading way up North to Scotland for two weeks.

I had made that journey once before all the way to Skye which is over 500miles away from Bristol. Back then I had stopped over in Carlisle, this time I chose Lancaster, which was pretty much the halfway point between Bristol and my destination for week one: Arrochar in the West of Loch Lomond.

The Easter break on Llyn had been fantastic weatherwise! However, it was back to normal for my two weeks in Scotland. Rain, wind, snow, sleet, clouds, sun and anything between 0 and 12C.

Looking at a long spell of very unstable and changeable weather I pretty much packed everything I had in my outdoor clothing and equipment collection. Plus my push bike, trail running kit and a few kettlebells, ab-mat and fitness ladder to do some strength and conditioning in the mornings. Needless to say, the car was full.

So what’s the plan then? Week one will see some more recce around Loch Tay to potentially guide a proper mountain tour in the area next year. So not quite a holiday, but actually work. Unlike when on holiday, I have no excuse to not go out unless conditions make the walk dangerous. Plus, assessing obstacles, ground conditions etc. for group compatibility. Just like on Llyn I’m timing the walks and take notes of anything worth remembering. Where to park a mini-bus, where to turn off or how to find the right path.

So lots of new munros for me and if time permits a few ones I’ve done before, just to remind myself of the routes. Paired with a couple of lower walks for bad-weather days, which I intend to run if deemed feasible. I’ll need my push bike to get back to the car for point to point walks.

Week two I’ll head to the Cairngorms for my Mountain Leader training course which will be mostly out in the hills all day, with lectures in the evenings. Included in the course is river crossing practice, roped up steep ground practice and an overnight “expedition”. So tent, sleeping bag, etc had to be packed as well.

Plenty of outdoor adventures ahead for me!

All packed I left Bristol on Friday 2:30pm heading ever North braving the usual Friday traffic. The journey took only five hours (3:45 with no traffic). Delays mainly due to basically continuous roadworks all the way from South Birmingham to past Manchester.

Twice I got a bit desperate. Whilst 20miles to the next services doesn’t sound like much, it becomes an eternity when crawling at 30mph 😂.

Arrived in Lancaster 7:30pm, checked in to my perfectly decent Premier Inn right off the motorway junction and chilled for the rest of the evening.

Funny those impersonal affordable chain hotels. Spotlessly clean etc., but for a double room there were exactly two tea bags, two sugars, two instant coffee bags etc. That’s some substantial cost savings!!! I wonder if they ever fired someone for putting three teabags in the room.

Anyways. Woke up at my usual 6am and spent the morning having my two teas whilst catching up on some reading.

Then drove into Lancaster for a great coffee and Eggs Benedict at a small coffee shop.

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Wandered around town, dodging showers where I could. Really nice small town this Lancaster. Walked up to the cathedral then along the nice and quiet canal for a bit.

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Generic shopping area in the centre with the usual suspects, but the Saturday market was on, so I got myself some pies for lunch/dinner for the next couple of days.

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Over to the priory where I caught the last bit of a piano concert. Nice. Passed by the castle and back into centre for a hog roast bap at the market and warm apple cake with whipped cream and some lose leaf tea at a lovely little cafe tucked away in a little alley.

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Stocked up on some more food and off I went onto the three hour journey to Arrochar. The motorway was quiet for once and I quite enjoyed the journey through bright sunshine and heavy showers all the way to Glasgow. More heavy traffic followed and I finally arrived in Arrochar half past five.

The persistent rain for the last hour or so just stopped as I arrived at the Lochside Guest House which is situated right by Loch Long. And I mean right next to the shore. Wow.

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The view from my accommodation for the next 8 nights was totally worth the long journey. Checked in and took a while to find a place for all the stuff I had brought. Been upgraded from a single room to a double room, but unfortunately the WiFi is weak at best. So I’m currently sitting in the hallway on the stairs to get my photos uploaded, haha.

Checked the weather forecast for the hills of the week again and luckily a very unstable few days had now turned into pretty decent. No rain other than scattered showers, some sun on Monday, generally good visibility and dry. Whoop, whoop!!!

Monday looks like a fantastic day, so probably heading into Glencoe then for a shorter walk and adding another longer walk on the way back. Not yet sure what I’m doing tomorrow, but there is some hill fog in the morning so I have plenty of time to make up my mind.

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