Cairngorm Circular -thoughts

So… on a day I learn the sad news of the passing of a horse called Kareem, that inspired (and continues to inspire) the savour of so many (see my charity link on here) I thought I should write a few reflections on my recent solo trip.  Raising money for Prince Fluffy Kareem was my motivation for starting out on and completing my X-Scotland Adventure 3 years ago.  It was an adventure that was challenging enough without the extra difficulties I faced when I had to abandon completing this with my own horses and ended up continuing my journey with a pals 2 ponies.  It is never easy working with the unknown, but the motivation to continue was there -I had to finish it as I had been so heavily supported (raising over £1500 for PFK)  -the pressure to succeed was considerable!

I never like passing up the opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause, but this trip I needed to be much less pressured & much less public for two big reasons:

  1. On that X-Scotland trip, Yogi became unwell and was on my return, diagnosed with Cushings Disease.  This is something that is now well managed but it still makes him more vulnerable to injury, illness & infection etc.  I really wasn’t sure how he was going to cope with another big journey.  Yes we have been out long distance riding since his diagnosis but not as remote and commiting as this one.
  2. Shortly after that X-Scotland trip -I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  This was a diagnosis that was initially missed (I had been having various tests for a couple of years but not for LD!) and so by the time I recieved treatment, I was pretty ill (I say that lightly!).  This disease can be easy to treat if you catch it quickly but is more complex if you don’t!  So 5.5years after contracting it, 2.5years after diagnosis and following a year of treatment I am feeling much better but still not 100% and I can still have bad days & “crash” if I push myself too hard.  Just before this trip I had spent 10 days in hospital being monitored by HDU with worrying symptoms that were possibly Lyme related (i.e. they couldn’t find the root cause).  It’s a disease that is a little unpredictable!

Therefore… although I contacted PFK before commencing on this adventure, in the end I decided that I needed to try both Yogi & myself out before putting ourselves under any achievement pressure from the outside world!

In the end, the trip went well, I only felt unwell on the first day but picked up and Yogi seems to be as fit as ever and looks more fantastic than I’ve seen him look for a few years.  Swift on the other hand was struggling with an abscess at the start and we nearly had to pull out for her benefit.  Luckily it burst and she was immediately a lot more comfy!

I found myself a whole lot more relaxed on this trip -able to enjoy the moment more, rather than worrying about where we had to get to next and by when.  A big part of that was having shorter days planned, more time in the whole trip for error or bug out for weather.  I ended up using some of this “flexi-time” when I had to take an extra rest day due to extreme weather -all I had to do was combine 2 shorter days into one in order to catch up in time and place.  Lesson learnt -I will always plan 2 shorter days back to back in future to give this flexibility.

There were many delights on this trip -unexpected social company in the evenings at the start. A change in route after talking to a gamekeeper that had me practically climb a Munroe (2metres short), but it was a good route!  Two stunning Glens that I hadn’t explored before -Gleann Fearnach & Glen Derry.  Found a few bothies I didn’t know existed and their locations are noted for future trips.  Using a route recommended by another trail rider I discovered amazing views over all of the Cairngorms.  Finding that a bothy I was to stay in had been completely refurbished and now had a log burning stove -which actually I needed to light in mid summer as it was SO bloomin cold!

Travelling like this is a delight -the pace, the companionship and the different places it gets you to (if I was walking -I would be drawn to bag peaks rather than explore the Glens).  However, it is hard work when alone with two horses and wild camping.  Putting up the corral, watering the horses, feeding the horses, cleaning hoof boots, pitching your tent, unpacking the bags and then cooking your evening meal all takes a long time, similarly packing all this up again in the morning takes a big bite out of your day too.  Generally on the go from 7am until 10pm each day and covering a good amount of rough hill miles is enough to tire any healthy individual out and I have to admit I was pretty exhausted by the end of these 2 weeks.

Exhausted but very satisfied -not only did this trip prove that both Yogi & I are back to tough trail fitness but it was lovely to find I had a more relaxed attitude to it all, making the whole trip a very enjoyable one indeed.  Can’t wait for the next one… oh… wait… I don’t have to… it starts tomorrow lol!

Since I didn’t raise any funds for PFK up front this time as explained above -if anyone would like to donate retrospectively, then please click HERE!


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