Week 124

Friday 17th July 2020 to Thursday 23rd July 2020

Being on the west coast of Scotland the weather around Fort William is very changeable; it’s usually either wet, very wet or extremely wet. When the wind gets up it drives the rain down the glen and it is extra extra miserable. And this is all at about 20m above seal level, I imagine up on Ben Nevis at 1345m it’ll be like being in a fucking washing machine.

Ben Nevis is somewhere in that cloud

Very occasionally the sun does come out but never for too long then it’s back to the wet

Meanwhile Reigate basks in beautiful sunshine…

On Friday afternoon, amazingly, the weather did brighten upย  so we jumped on Zippy and headed down the glen to see the Steall waterfall. The short ride down the glen was absolutely beautiful and we stopped off at the Lower Falls.

The Lower Falls

At the end of the single track we had to park up and yomp the rest of the way.ย The path started out friendly enough…

Common Spotted Orchid

but it soon became a little challenging in places.

wet too

We came across numerous waterfalls

and eventually made it to Steall waterfall.

Scotland’s second-highest waterfall, with a single drop of 120 metre

On Saturday the weather was very poor but the car park of the start of the Mountain Trail up Ben Nevis was full to overflowing. From where Nelly is parked we can see a little of the start of the mountain trail, we can see the people trudging along; sitting in Nelly listening to the rain hammer down I wondered how many people on the trail were actually enjoying their walk up the Ben Nevis today; poor bastards.

More of the same on Sunday, we managed a short walk but it did rain. We are eating up box sets.

Spear Thistle

the end of the rainbow

Monday was forecast to be a dry day but it still rained a lot and I still got wet riding Zippy into town.

Monday; still no sign of the top

I knew from past experience that the west coast of Scotland can be very wet so I booked in here for 9 nights here hoping that we’d get at least one decent day but I was quite prepared to leave without going up Ben Nevis if we didn’t get a dry day; going up a mountain in the wet is not my idea of fun.

Since we’ve been here the weather forecast for Tuesday has varied between wet and sunny, it turns out to be dry so after waiting around for 6 days I can finally get to go up Ben Nevis ๐Ÿ˜€

The start of the mountain trail by the Ben Nevis visitor centre

The Mountain Trail used to be called the Tourist Trail but so many people got in trouble by thinking it was easy or by looking for something a bit more challenging that they changed the name to emphasise this is not path to be messed with.

The trail has 4 distinct parts: the lower zig-zags to the tarn, the path from the tarn to the upper zig-zags, the upper zig-zags themselves and then the plateau.

The first zig-zags are largely paved to stop the soil being worn away, they aren’t great for walking on.

The first zig-zags are quite steep. I’d necked aย  couple of energy gels at the start of the trail and after about 15 minutes walking I had buzzing in both my ears; I wondered if this was the precursor to a stroke but pressed on anyway, like you do.

Plenty of Eyebrights on the lower slopes

It took the 80 minutes walking up to the tarn for my legs to properly get going

Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, the tarn, is known as the halfway point but at just 570m it’s more 3/8ths up

From the tarn the path changes to a more gravelly surface, much much better for walking on

As the morning wore on the cloud began to lift to give a good view of the tarn

 

On the upper zig-zags the path turned to lumpy scree which was painful to walk on.

a Snow Bunting hopped around

The higher it got the worse it got…

the scree path became farcical. This was fucking awful to climb over.

Eventually I made it to the plateau which was much easier on the feet, ankles & knees

It’s been a while since I saw any snow

I made it to the top in about 3ยฝ hours. No stops apart from taking some pix and taking off layers.

the moonscape of rock at the foggy top

I was going to have a pie barm at the top to celebrate but a cracked another couple of energy gels at the start of the really rocky scree and I just couldn’t face any food.

This is the edge people fall over, naturally some people wanted a good look; not me.

The last of the Three Peaks done I set off back down the mountain. I found walking down the upper zig-zag scree a real twat but some people found it annoyingly easy and bounced past me at twice my speed.

On the way down the cloud lifted further and there were some great view but the camera on a smart phone can’t quite do them justice

out across the highlands

When I was about to go on the pavement of the lower zig-zag something, a muscle or a ligament, on the outside of my left knee began to complain and I couldn’t bend it without being in pain. A little later my right hip joined in the chorus of complaints and it took me nearly 3 hours to come down from the tarn; more than twice the time it took me to walk up it!

So it took me 3ยฝ hours to walk up Ben Nevis and 4ยฝ hours to walk down. For an old git that’s not too shabby. Apart from the knee and my hip my legs felt okay too. Would I go up it again? Absolutely no way ๐Ÿ˜€

FYI, there is an annual race up to the top of Ben Nevis and back down called The Ben; the winner usually does it in a time of under 2 hours, the record is 1 hour 25 minutes 34 seconds! I have absolutely no idea how they do that.

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Week 123

Friday 10th July 2020 to Thursday 16th July 2020

A sombre start to the week with my neighbour Ian’s funeral but then if was off to Walsall for Julie’s mum’s 90th birthday celebrations.

M25 at Heathrow 6:30pm om a Friday! No wonder Boris is worried about the economy.

Parked up at Walsall Cfor soon made himself at home

With all the social distancing rules Barbra’s 90th birthday party was a picnic in the garden.

Julie did the catering

and it was very nice too but a bit of a disaster for the environment

Everyone brought a cake!

Picnic over we headed to St Annes.

St Annes has some beautiful Marram covered dunes

Julie on the beach at St Annes with the Blackpool skyline in the far distance

After a Sunday at my Auntie Tricia’s in Stalmine we hit the road to Morecambe.

Fancy having a town named after you

You cant get more Northern than ferrets on the beach!

It was miserable weather Monday morning as we headed to the Lakes.

Hillcroft Park In Pooley Bridge is a fabulous campsite, well looked after with good size level pitches

and with a toilet & shower block second to none

Pooley bridge is a great place to stop-off on the way to Scotland but truth be told there’s not a lot to do there so we had a trip on the Ullswater steamer to Glenridding for lunch.

With the social distancing rules we were assigned seats on the bow and the wind made it a bloody freezing trip

There’s not a lot to do in Glenridding either

Cfor liked Hillcroft Park, he loved all the feral stuff going on in this hedge

Wednesday it was all aboard for Scotland!

Julie has never been before

It was an uneventful journey apart from the stretch of the A82 along the shore of Loch Lomond where the road is only just wide enough for Nelly and lorries to cross paths. Nelly being a left hand drive Julie had the best view of the close encounters of a HGV kind ๐Ÿ˜€ her nerves were jangling by the time we arrived in Glen Nevis.

On a sunny day Loch Lomond must be fabulous

Ben Nevis from our pitch at Glen Nevis campsite

I’m not walking up Ben Nevis in the rain, that’d be an utterly miserable experience. The weather forecast for this part of Scotland changes from hour to hour. Supposedly next Tuesday will be dry with sunny intervals and a light breeze. I’ll have to twiddle my thumbs till then.

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Week 122

Friday 3rd July 2020 to Thursday 9th July 2020

Spent the week slowly getting the van ready for the trip to Scotland.

There was a bit of excitement in town as they put a temporary cycle lane down the High St. Of course within hours the 4×4 lobby had blown their fruit and our tosspot of an MP Crispin Blunt had arrived on the scene to demand its immediate removal!

Cycling is a bit too vegan for the locals

Of course it didn’t take much for Surrey county council to fold and the whole thing was ripped out on the Monday. Such is British politics where those who shout loudest always get their way as our spineless politicians invariably seek short term popularity over long term benefits.

As you were.

My left ankle has been stiff for over a week and now my right knee is complaining; the weather forecast for Fort William is wet wet wet so it’s not looking good for going up Ben Nevis next week ๐Ÿ™

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Week 121

Friday 26th June 2020 to Thursday 2nd July 2020

A very lazy week; the weather has been lousy and I’ve done sweet FA. I did manage to getย  reservations for all the campsites on our jaunt up to Scotland and back; no mean feat when quite a few campsites in Scotland are not bothering to open until April 2021;ย  they must be absolutely rolling in it.

Cfor; he’s going to love Scotland, To A Mouse is his favourite poem

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Week 120

Friday 19th June 2020 to Thursday 25th June 2020

Week 13 of the lockdown and Boris has eased the 2m social distance rule (which most of the country already ignores) and it’s now down to 1m plus; whatever that means. The pubs are going to be allowed to open up and today there are so many visitors in Bournemouth they’ve had to declare a State of Emergency; bring on the 2nd wave.

It was time for my eyesight to be tested, the ophthalmologist told me I have some spots inside my left eye which might be mild exudate (blood leaking into tissue) but then again he said they may be caused by cholesterol. As a teenage I was warned that I might go blind but I never thought it’d be because of my chip consumption!

the inside of my left eye

Monday morning Julie had a very bad hacking cough so I booked her in for a Coronavirus test. I went along and took a test too.

We had to self-swab so I’m not too sure if we did it right but the next day we were both told we had tested negative

I’m told false negatives are pretty common but Julie’s cough is a lot better so it was probably just down to the number of balloons she does at the weekend ๐Ÿ˜‰

While I was out and about I came across Reigate’s very own contribution to the BLM protests.

2/10 for effort

BLM specialise in pulling down statues, Reigate only has the one, the locally born prima ballerina Dame Margot Fontayn.

how long before BLM find out she regularly danced as a blackface swan in Swan Lake

Speaking of protests I had an email inviting me along to the latest Reigate & Redhill XR *action*.

At 0830 on Thursday morning they were going to sellotape a letter demanding action on climate change to the office door of local MP Crispin Blunt. Demanding!

These people don’t get even the basics of protesting; you need at least 3 drummers to let the whole town know you are there and you need some drama, an element of danger and an arrest or two just to stir up interest. A half-brick through a window gets a lot more attention than any well written letter sellotaped to a door.

It was over by 0900 so I guess Crispin just had an extra half hour in bed.

The last half of the week has been banging hot…

early morning Priory Park

It’s been far too hot to do anything after 11am so I’ve been binge watching The Shield from 2002. When I first watched it years ago I thought it and the main character Vic Mackey were ridiculous & gross exaggerations – kicking down doors and beating the shit out of everyone, mainly black people & Hispanics – but after reading recent news from America I realise The Shield may actually be a Minneapolis police training video!

Although we are booked into the Glen Nevis campsite for 9 nights next month it’s become obvious from what I’ve read on the Facebook motorhome pages that nearly everyone is intending to head to Scotland next month which doesn’t bode too well for travelling around ๐Ÿ™

 

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Week 119

Friday 12th June 2020 to Thursday 18th June 2020

Week 12 of the lockdown. I thought the country had completely lost its mind during last year’s Brexit shenanigans but these BLM protests are on another completely new level of bonkers; having to board up Winston Churchill’s statue! We need to bring back the birch imho and quickly.

Now all the shops are open we went sofa shopping…

it was exhausting

On Saturday I packed all the recommended survival gear and me butties together in a ruck sack and did a full dress rehearsal for Ben Nevis.

It gets quite busy at the weekend

I did 10 walks up from the stepping stones to the viewing point which I reckon is about the same as Ben Nevis, 1350m of climbing. I was pretty jiggered at the end but that’s probably because while Ben Nevis has a gradient of between 15 & 20% much of the Box Hill walk is around 30 to 40% so it’s much tougher and the legs.

crowded at the top

While I’m pleased I’ve proved to myself that I can do the Ben Nevis walk I am well aware that should it rain it’ll be a much tougher challenge.

Learned my next door neighbour Ian, who was a lovely bloke, died last week. He wasn’t that old, early 60s I think, and he’d been shielding for the last 3 months. He took the car out for a quick Italian tune-up and had a heart attack at the side of the A24. Very sad and it just goes to show any one of us could be in a box this time next week, so no one should be wasting too much of their life.

 

 

 

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Week 118

Friday 5th June 2020 to Thursday 11th June 2020

Week God knows what of the lockdown and the heatwave is over and now it is raining. I am bored.

Started my exciting week with a trip to the tip!

got there half an hour before it opened so I missed the 2 hour queues

Then it was playing at IKEA flatpack with Julie

Julie does like a challenge

and Cfor loves a box

We had a trip up to Walsall to see Julie’s Mum. The roads were quiet…

Never seen the M3/M25 junction without at least a half an hour’s congestion before!

but that doesn’t mean there weren’t the usual accidents.

Driving on motorways in Europe we very rarely see accidents, even in Italy everyone manages to travel about without any real incidents. But the same can’t be said for England. We saw 2 bad accidents on Saturday and both involved BMWs crunched up & facing the wrong way. Is that a coincidence or does the W in BMW stand for Wanker?

I did my weekly yomp up & down Box Hill; still ain’t feeling any easier

With the number of Coronavirus deaths in Scotland bottoming out the wee Krankie woman won’t be able to keep the country in lockdown for much longer, she’ll have to let the English back in!!!

Apparently there is going to be an announcement on the 18th June so I’ve planned out our tour of Scotland taking in the main sights and I’ve booked us into Glen Nevis campsite just below Ben Nevis from the 14th July ๐Ÿ˜€

One way or another we are going to get Scotland done this year!

 

 

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Week 117

Friday 29th May 2020 to Thursday 4th June 2020

If it’s Friday it must be Box Hill.

There’s been a stone missing from the Stepping Stones for months.

Although the 5 climbs didn’t seem any easier this week my stopwatch says I’m not slowing down as much as I did when I first started so some progress.

the route up Box Hill can be a steep old climb but Ben Nevis is supposed to be steep too

Dorking from the viewing point

The countryside has become so popular during this pandemic…

I had to do a litter pick before I went home.

Nowadays I always watch TV with subtitles on and the other night during the Zoom quiz I had to ask for so many questions to be repeated I thought I’d get a hearing test. It was free after allย  at Specsavers!

Turns out I have mild to moderate hearing loss in the 6khz – 8khz range. I kid you not the Audiologist told me that this means I will have difficulty understanding what women say!

Boris has eased the lockdown ever so slightly, we can now meet with up to 6 people outside as long as we socially distance.

The youth of the nation showing exactly what they think about social distancing .

The irony is most of these twats will happily blame Boris and his government for all the excess deaths and even demand an inquiry into why so many BAME people die of Coronavirus!

Ended the week with a trip to IKEA; no queue to get in but a fairly big one at the tills. All beautifully socially distanced though,

 

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Week 116

Friday 22nd May 2020 to Thursday 28th May 2020

An overcast start to the week and windy too; an ideal day for a yomp or 5 up Box Hill. It wasn’t any easier than last week.

A Dog Rose on the slopes of Box Hill

This spring has been beautiful…

a wild strawberry on Box Hill

Took part in a Zoom quiz with the beginnings of a tooth abscess which rapidly became worse. Just my luck all the dentists are shut because of the pandemic.

Some of the questions were ridiculous, I’ll stick to Pointless in future

A&E wouldn’t give me any antibiotics or lance the abscess. I could have as much codeine for the pain as I wanted but no penicillin to fight the infection; I’d have to ring 111 and see an emergency dentist…. on a bank holiday weekend. Fucking Great. I won’t be clapping for those twats this Thursday that’s for sure.

waiting for the 8am shift changeover ๐Ÿ™

Eventually got my dentist to give me an NHS prescription for some penicillin but she wasn’t allowed to treat me so I lanced the abscess myself; the stuff that came out looked absolutely disgusting but the tooth instantly felt a whole lot betterย  ๐Ÿ˜€

Sunday was Cfor’s 14th birthday

I did a few hours of weeding down the allotment so it’s looking a lot tidier…

and I feel I’m a little more in control now…

but it’s clear the slugs don’t respect my authority!

 

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Week 115

Friday 15th May 2020 to Thursday 21st May 2020

Into week 9 of the lockdown and the weather was cracking again so there wasn’t much of a lockdown at all and with the death rate falling people packed the beaches and beauty spots completely ignoring any social distancing advice.

the pond in Priory Park

I’ve never stayed home during this pandemic. I’ve either been down the allotment or out and about in the countryside. I couldn’t sit in a house for a day let alone 60 days but I’ve always maintained a 2m gap between me and everyone else. Around a town like Reigate that’s not too hard to do at all. But from what I’ve seen while I’ve been out and about a lot of young people have never complied with social distancing advice probably because they’ve been told they are highly unlikely to become ill with the virus let alone die of it ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

All this beach cramming can’t be blamed on Boris easing the rules in England ever so slightly last week as exactly the same thing has been happening north of the border.

The Blame Game when all this is over will be interesting; a lot of people and the media want to blame the government for absolutely everything but if they want to know why people are still getting infected by this virus and the R ain’t falling that much they should look at the public’s behaviour.

these women are following their own 2m rule, all 4 of them within a 2m circle ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Had to do some weeding on me allotment; tedious work. How come nothing eats bloody weeds while everything eats veg?

This was a healthy turnip plant a few days ago now it’s been completely ravaged by something

Everything in nature is hungry; the slugs, the snails, the grubs, the caterpillars, larva, the birds, the rabbits, the deer, the fucking everything. They are all starving and they will eat everything except weeds!

Although it’s hard to know when the wee Krankie woman will officially open up Scotland I have decided I best be ready to get there and to get up Ben Nevis fairly fast. Absolutely no chance of getting there before the midge season starts in June though ๐Ÿ™

Ben Nevis is 1345m high

from the Stepping Stones on the Mole…

to the viewing point at the top Box Hill is a climb of 135m

So 10 repetitions should replicate walking up Ben Nevis.

On Sunday I did two repetitions without breaking sweat. Tuesday I did 5 and it was pretty tough but for someone living on a diet of too much wine & too many chips topped up with plenty of crisps, ice cream & biscuits I think I did pretty well ๐Ÿ˜€ Doing that once or twice a week should be great preparation for walking up Ben Nevis; if it doesn’t kill me.

spot the bunny

 

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