Gareth had noticed via this blog my hillslacking. He noised me up towards the end of the week suggesting a Saturday hilly session. A partial skyline. Good idea with the 2 Breweries and Skyline on the horizon. (Isn't the skyline always on the horizon?) I ran this past Mary to make sure she was okay with my absence from her planned coastal run. It would have been kinder if she had at least pretended she'd miss me.
On the way we passed Nicola out running – we saw her from quite a long distance but her running style and the fact she was dressed for winter gave her away. Gareth tooted the horn but she didn't see us. Hopefully it was a sign her injury is (more than literally) behind her.
When we parked at Flotterstone it was quite busy. Three hours later when we left it was hoaching – we reckoned folk had seen the stormy weather for tomorrow and thought to make the most of the good weather today. It was perfect – hardly any breeze up the hills. I had hat and gloves packed just in case but they stayed in the back pack.
I wore a Garmin to record the distance but I forgot to put it on for the first 2/3rds of a mile. Going up Turnhouse we saw a runner up ahead but it took until the next hill to catch Andrew Gilmore. A recent star of the Doonhill races mini series, we fell into step and without stating we would all run together we got chatting and it turned out that way. I met Andrew's dad Neil/Harry a while ago, also while out running in the Pentlands. (His (Andrew's) mum recently did her first hill race, so now the whole family are hill runners.)
Gareth and I hadn't really planned on all of the Skyline but we were along past the Kips so quickly it seemed possible. We had a brief break at Hare Hill stopping to chat to Iain W and pals. The Green Cleugh was admirably dry although the feet always get a slight dampening on the descent off Hare Hill. I very much more enjoyed the descents than the climbs. During the climbs the other 2 would slowly but surely get ahead. I tried to put a positive spin on this: I am the slowest therefore I am getting the toughest, therefore best, workout. Hurray. In my defence I am just about as old as the other 2 added together.
I was reflecting on the long climb up Black Hill; that there is now a well marked trail pretty much all the way. I'm sure it wasn't always like that, and a few years ago you would have Skyliners all over the hill, ascending different routes trudging through ankle deep heather, relieved to get back onto the path at the top.
Next the long descent off Black Hill and up the groove of Bells Hill. Much hated during the Skyline because of it's near vertical gradient after a long hike up from the valley. I watched Gareth and Andrew disappear over the hill.
Note that top left between Fife in the background and the Pentlands in the foreground you can just see the summit of Arthur's Seat popping its head up.
They were waiting at the stones where often a marshal offers jelly babies and words of consolation during the race. Harbour Hill next and although it looks steep and long, it isn't. Well not as much as Capelaw feels. From here onwards the view of the South ridge is splendid. We climbed Allermuir then wished Andrew bon voyage, before descending towards Castlelaw and the newly gravelled trails that may improve things for vehicles but hurt the feet of tired runners.
Due to setting the Garmin to auto pause and missing most of the first mile I have no accurate measurements for today but I reckon we ran nearly 14 miles missing the mile and a half of Hillend to Allermuir and back from the race route. Although we stopped a couple of times, when we were running it wouldn't have been far off the pace of a 3hr Skyline. Legs were more tired than usual when I got out Gareth's car which suggests I need to do this a couple more times before the end of the month. Great day out with great company.
dotted line is where some idiot forgot to put on the Garmin