Reflections on Friday as supplied to FC for the Evening Express - as arranged by the event publicity officer :-)
We go at 09:00. It’s chilly but bright. A quick watch check and away.
Braving the road we head over the Ballogie bumps and try to settle into a lasting rhythm. From Aboyne through patches of golden bracken, and the stands of trees just about to lose their leaves, we run along the old 'Deeside Way' railway line. Past the victorian white bridge at Cambus O'May and on through sun-drenched Ballater we go. Back over the Dee, and then across the River Muick where the road was washed away in the floods of winter 15/16. We climb gradually but steadily on the deserted gravel track through the glorious pinewoods on the west side of the glen making our way to the bothy at the foot of Lochnagar.
Just ourselves and our bike mounted pacers. No cacophony of crowd noise for us. No unending strip of London tarmac. No fighting for place at water points. This is the reality of our own ‘London Marathon’.
A change of support crew and out onto the open hill where the gradient becomes steeper and the track rougher. Roaring stags, the chattering of ptarmigan and grouse, and the need to carefully cross tumbling streams by stepping stones. Up the bouldery ladder with its extra strain on tired legs and along the edge of the atmospheric cliffs surrounding the corrie of Lochnagar, before we gain some temporary respite as we run across the stoney hillside. Then a short climb again to the south top, the gentle descent to the heads of the steep gullies that fall precipitously down to the loch itself and then the final push to the summit.
Socially distancing with family and friends, we have some hot tea, bubbly, fruitcake, and muffins as we finally have time to appreciate the fabulous views down to Balmoral, and to the high Cairngorms. A moment or two to remember absent friends. 45 kms plus and 1200m of climb successfully accomplished in a very pleasing 4 hrs 40 mins or so. Lochnagar from home.
A wonderful day with great company and fantastic support. How lucky we are. What an opportunity to do something a little different but most importantly to raise some much needed funds for two fantastic charities.