My house sits at the foot of the Campsie Fells and I feel incredibly lucky that I wake up and see these fabulous hills almost at the bottom of my garden each day.
Of course, looking as though they are almost at the bottom of my garden, and being at the bottom of my garden is entirely different.
My road is named after one of the big hills in the area, and twice now I have set off, with a chef and two greyhounds in tow, to explore it. You can just see the top of it by my right ear in this photo.
On both occasions we have got within spitting distance but not quite made it to the top. The first time we took a wrong path (although we had a grand old time doing so and the dogs enjoyed their first drink from a stream) and the second it was just far too hot for two skinny racing machines to be out in such strong sunshine. We had to stop half way for them to recover!
Cort ma Law is a little nearer, and despite my road name, this is the biggest/nearest hill to where I live.
Having been feeling awfully stuck in the mud recently, for a variety of reasons, I decided today was a day of action. I wanted to make the most of the weather before it finally turned, after what feels like weeks and weeks of glorious sunshine. The rain was due on about 12, so just before 10 I set off on a run/stagger/whichever, with the sole mission of seeing how far I got.
Exams are out of the way now (I passed with a good mark so I’m thrilled) and my days are rather empty. I have the luxury of lots of time on my hands, but it’s taking a while to get used to it and my head has been struggling a little.
Usually on a run I start out with a distance to cover and the desire to go faster than last time, but with asthma to contend with, along with the recent heat and the start of the hayfever season, I often end up very frustrated.
So it was important that today’s run was a break from what has become the norm – worrying. If you’re stuck in a rut, a good thing is to do something that scares you a bit.
Setting off into the hills for the first time on my own was just scary enough – I knew where I was going, had a phone and a drink and if the weather got the worst of me, I was happy enough to retrace my steps and head down (NB I wouldn’t do this on a foggy day!).
I had a fabulous time. Since I moved to Scotland, I have discovered a new love of running off road. The best way to push my distances has been to go somewhere new, and pretty much everywhere has been stunning so far. Today was no different. It was wonderful – I was the highest up I’ve been under my own steam in many years.
I didn’t get to the top, but I wasn’t far off. On a clearer day I would have carried on, plus I had a tutorial to get to and while “Sorry I couldn’t come, I was up a hill” would have been an original excuse, it wouldn’t have gone down very well.
I was greeted part of the way up by a beautiful little animal I’d never seen before. I didn’t know what it was – at first I thought it was a stoat, or a weasel, but it then occurred to me it might have been a pine marten. This was very exciting, even more so than the deer I disturbed in the woods a couple of weeks ago.
As I got the top, I encountered the notoriously gnarly hill climbing sheep. In my murky past I have often dragged myself up some soggy crag after a boy I fancied, only to be met by a baa-ing creature that surely could not have got there without assistance or at least a pair of rock boots.
Today I ran where I could run, walked everywhere else and staggered up the really steep bits. I needed the space that was around me, and this brought some quiet to my whirling brain. When I run, I don’t think about much beyond my body and my surroundings. Everything else stops, in the same way it did when I was flinging myself around racetracks on my motorbike.
Last week, I heard a woman on the radio talking about the first time she went sailing. Having recently been through a horrendous divorce and on a mission to try something new, she recalled asking the captain if they could turn and head south. The captain replied that if they did that, they would be sailing further away from the land. She said that’s exactly why she asked. At his suggestion, she ended up taking part in a round-the-world yacht race in her 50s, and saw in the millennium at sea, while her friends were having dinner parties.
I remembered this feeling. Countless times I have set out on my motorbike with no immediate desire to return. A wonderful family and a heap of financial responsibilities have kept me coming home. But I still feel restless. I struggle to understand this, as I also love being at home.
Finances and circumstances are such that my adventures are quite limited at the moment. But really, for now, I have everything I need on my doorstep, and I am truly grateful for this. I have fantastically wild unspoilt countryside very nearby, and there is more than enough to explore with just my own two feet and my eyes.
The little face I saw beneath the rock as I swung myself over a gate was later identified as a stoat. A pine marten would have been an incredibly rare sight, but the stoat was just as wonderful to see.
I look forward to getting to the top of the hills some time soon. But by not doing so, I remind myself that often, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
I found this recently and couldn’t agree more.