We were long overdue a visit to Mary's mum's in Monymusk, Aberdeenshire. Sister Karen and family are there too. We travelled up on Christmas Eve, and returned on the 26th. Christmas Day was a pleasant change from the steady drizzle and high winds and we reacquainted ourselves with a run over the local hills (Pitfichie and Cairn William) that we have run many times in the past. Whether it was the calm weather or just returning to an old haunt, it was an excellent run and we were both surprised at just how special it turned out.
Big thanks to Karen and Andy for looking after us so well: sorting us out with cosy accommodation and wining and dining us like kings. They have just finished a 2 year build project on their new house and moved in less than a week ago. This meant we didn't have to take the tent or wait while water heated for showers. It does mean however, we may have to run a bit further this week to burn off the excess cals. Mary drank more booze in 2 days than in the last 2 years.
There are a couple of miles of road at the start and finish. Used to do this run in hill shoes and it was definitely preferable doing it in Hokas this year, given the terrain, and the road miles.
Quite a few of the tracks have been re-surfaced. Although we nearly got lost on the drive to Aberdeenshire we hadn't forgotten our paths through the woods and across the hills.
After a bit on landrover trails we veer off on this mtb trail that climbs through the trees up to the summit of Pitfichie.
After hearing of Andy's hunting trips in S Africa we were surprised to see this hippo's gaping jaws.
A lot of the paths are on high friction granite bedrock and at a gradient that makes for good running.
Stepped off the trail for these runners doing similar but in opposite direction. If any cosmics recognise them do let them know. They were going at a good rate and enjoying speeding along.
The trails have been tweaked by bikers (or runners) who refined the routes to make them more switchback on the hill here. There is little in the way of heather stomping although a few sections of rock hopping add to the fun. I'm sure it used to be more challenging and has evolved into a more enjoyable run although it's difficult to remember. We hadn't been here in at least 4 years.
I took the big camera which gives better results in low light.
We could see the snowy Cairngorms in the distance. We reckoned Louise P (and Mike L, elsewhere) were out and about somewhere not a million miles away, probably up a hill within sight. Sadly we didn't have enough time and free space to arrange to meet up.
Some of the wet and sleety surfaces looked deadly but were not that bad and neither of us slipped or fell.
These were the best Christmas trees I saw all season.
ie not chopped down and dressed in crap. They smelled great too.