Mary and I have signed up for the Pentland Skyline race. It was only some time afterwards that I recalled the hardship and pain this race involves. Oh dear. Anyway, in a fit of enthusiasm we were out hill training on the course itself. Whether this lasts until the actual race and whether we actually do that, only time will tell. It was quite pretty out on the hills, although for some reason the Pentlands have always lacked the wildlife you find down the coast or anywhere there is more trees and bushes. I have seen lizards, (about 1 every 3~5 years), a dotterel, an Emperor Moth, hairy caterpillars and no doubt buzzards circling. But they are few and far between, and mostly it's just you and the hills. Which are covered in purple heather currently and looking pretty good. But today, only 1 Red Admiral that looked lost and refused to land within a hundred yards. Oh and a husky wearing his scout badges...
and flies, plenty of flies
Turnhouse is the longest drag. Then Carnethy and Scald Law both of which I tried to do in a continual run rather than break to a walk. If you jog slowly enough and pace yourself, this is possible. And pacing is what the Skyline is all about. And having the hilldurance in your legs. Most folk struggle from Bells Hill to the end. It's very similar to road marathons. If you don't put in the right amount of distance training, and your longest run (for marathon training) has only been in the low 20s then you are going to struggle in the last 6 miles. The Skyline is something like 16 miles but if you have not been doing regular trips up and down the Pentlands or similar, by Bells Hill you will be hating it. And those around you. And everything. And be thirsty as f*ck. You have been warned. I am really just saying this to myself. I have done the Skyline a handful of times, and it is like a road marathon. Just a silly idea. Training for it however, is an excellent idea.
I scrolled through the many functions on the Suunto to see what the altitude was at the trig point of Scald Law. I measured 581m and when I got home I pleased to note that Scald Law is 579m and that is to the Bench Mark (above) which is shin height. So the Suunto is within a metre. (My wrist being about a metre higher than my shin.) Unfortunately I then couldn't find the correct way out of the Suunto settings and notched up 7 laps and quite a lot of swearing before leaving the big numbers reading time instead of pace. Honestly.
After Scald Law we took in South Black Hill then descended towards the bottom of East Kip before turning and going back up Scald Law. M had decided to make it a relatively short outing and not to sicken ourselves of hills too soon. It was good thinking; by the time we were tramping back up Turnhouse I had forgotten to keep the running going and was walking like a pensioner.
Kips: not today.
there were loads of swallows zooming around the summits presumably eating flies
this was as close as I got to a photo of one
The 4 guys bottom left we overtook on Turnhouse on the way up. They expressed surprise anyone was foolish enough to run. I gave them some cheek on the way down asking them was that as far as they had got when I had been to the other end and back already. Oh the banter!
Now here is something worth paying attention to: there is a NEW CAFE! at Flotterstone. Round the front of the toilet block there used to be a Rangers Station where you could get a map and a leaflet on moths (Mary's joke on loan,) and now they have turned it into a Cafe. It has seating for about 18 and a miniature cafe with coffee machine and array of homebakes (actually homebaked not in packaging) and you MUST give it support and buy lots there after you have run in the hills.
For years there has only been the rather drab Flotterstone Inn where you can get reluctant service and half-hearted meals. Now you can get an excellent cup of tea and cake after you come off the hills, from a friendly and enthusistic dude who says he's engaging a local woman very soon to produce vegan and gluten free delicacies. I forgot to ask his name; he was just closing up for the day. In fact he shouldn't have been open on a Wednesday and was just trying it out. Note opening times below. He gave me a free cake since he was just closing. It was FAB! And FREE! Normally £1. Tea was pricey; £2.20 but a good big cup and looked like there was a good choice. So remember to take a fiver when you go to Flotterstone and support this new business.
Time your run to suit!
out and back the South ridge
Just under 8 miles and 2hrs
Turnhouse, Carnethy, Scald Law with S Black Hill, Scald Law, Carnethy Turnhouse.