Well – this trip ended up to be more of a squiggle than a figure of 8 in the end!
After the success of the Fort William to Keith adventure, I set off on another with the aim to complete around 125miles. A meandering route to take in some trails, hills and routes I’d always wondered about.
I would describe the first day in particular as incredible! We explored miniature gullies through the hills using tiny trails that weren’t always on the map. It was challenging but in a nice way and the three of us worked well as a team to find our way through boulder fields, boggy areas and heathered ground. There was a definite sense of achievement – to have finally explored this route – one that I had wondered about for many years.
The second day explored a route I’ve always wanted to ride too – having seen the valley from either end, but never ventured into it. They day started well, but the section through farmland was a nightmare – difficult to find the route through in places, gates that were extremely hard to open (didn’t look at all well used), young horses either side of us going a bit loopy with the excitement of our arrival, then knee deep mud / cow poo to wade through. It was a hot and humid day and this section seemed to zap all my energy! The day did finish well though in one of my most favourite places to horse-camp.
However, when I took Swift’s saddle off that night, I knew the trip was over. She had had a bad cleg (horse-fly) bite during our last trek and it was up on her whither underneath the saddle. It had settled down (initially was very swollen) and it hadn’t seemed to worry her in the final days on the Moray Coast but it had been slow to heal at home. I set off on this trip with it covered in a scab, but the scab had come off and she had very pink, soft and tender skin underneath.
To continue onwards risked the soft healing skin getting rubbed and then broken, so the right thing to do was to head for home. It appeared to be the seam on the fly rug rubbing it over night that was the problem – the one thing I was using to prevent more bites! No wonder it had been slow to heal during the fortnight rest at home between adventures.
So our 125miles became around 50 as we took our nearest exit down Glen Tanar the following morning. It’s good to have contacts in mind when undertaking these excursions and I’d already primed a friend Holly that we’d be in her area and might call if things weren’t going to plan. Holly kindly picked us up (Deeside Horse and Hound -highly recommended) and returned us all back to where we’d started to load up into our lorry and head for home.
A short adventure, but a very sweet one. So happy to have found such interesting routes through the hills – where it seems hardly anyone else goes – and lovely to satisfy some curiosity that has been lingering for such a long time. Yes, it was sad to leave the rest of the route undone – but it will wait for our next outing which actually isn’t that far away. ;o)