Monday, 13 June 2011

A relaxing weeked and some wallabies

I had a bit of a cold last week so I pretty much won't have run for the two weeks before the WHW race. It seems fairly well accepted that you can't do too little training in the final fortnight so I'm not too worried. That said, I went out for an easy jog this evening, and whereas the week before the Highland Fling I felt like a Land Rover with a full tank of diesel, this evening I felt like a beige Ford Cortina with a third of a tank of two star. The doubts are starting to creep in, but I know I'll be fine since I'm good at eating lots and running very slowly (and sometime doing both at the same time), which as far as I can tell are the key things to finishing the WHW race.

Last week was our 10th wedding anniversary so we had persuaded my folks to take the kids for the weekend and we took ourselves of for a relaxing time in Argyll. We walked up the Cobbler on Saturday - very pleasant on the way up, heavy icey rain as we had lunch on the summit, and then pleasant enough on the way back down again. So we got rained on and bitten by midges, just like on our wedding day. We stayed over on Loch Fyne at a brilliant guest house ( then spent Sunday canoeing and eating. We had a wee trip in the canoe out on Loch Fyne before breakfast, then headed over to Loch Lomond later in the morning.

As you round Conic Hill on the West Highland Way just before it descends to Balmaha, you have a great view of islands in Loch Lomond that stretch most of the way across the loch between Balmaha and Luss. This was the first time we'd canoed round these islands, and we headed to Inchconnachan, one of the islands near Luss. We had heard the rumours about this island's antipodean residents, and had seen some photos of them, but I wasn't going to believe it until I saw them with my own eyes. We landed on the island and went for a wander through the knee deep blaeberry on the forest floor, hoping for a fleeting glimpse of one of the inhabitants. Then we met two very chilled out individuals who just sat and watched us for a while before hopping off into the woods.

Brilliant! Apparently the red-necked wallabies were released in the early 20th century by some posh person who had a holiday home on the island. Now there is a breeding population (there was a joey with the pair we saw - it is just out of shot in the thicker woodland), but there has been talk of a cull as there are also capercaillies on the island and supposedly the wallabies being there is endangering the capercaillie population. It would be a real shame if they were culled but I kind of get the point about protecting native animals.

After Loch Lomond we went for another short canoe on Loch Achray in the Trossachs then lunch at the Byre Inn at Brig O'Turk (really good - I had battered haggis balls). It was nice not to feel like I should be doing some running, but my arms were pretty tired at the end of the weekend - more from lifting the boat on and off the roof of the car than the canoeing itself.


  1. Ali, I was a cop in Luss from 1986 - 1990 and had the pleasure of a few on-duty excursions on the loch. One of them onvolved taking a new policewoman and the CID to Inconnachan to a housebreaking. As we went over I told the newbie about the wallabies and, heavens above, she thought i was at the wind up! Moi???
    When we went into the house (owned by Lady Arran of whom more later in the post) there was a framed newspaper clipping telling the story of the wallabies complete with photos. One up to me!
    Lady Arran's brother Sir Ivar Colquhoun of Luss (baronet)owned the entire west bank of the lochside as well as many of the islands and the Loch itself. His ancestral home is now the clubhouse of Loch Lomond Golf Club.
    She herself was known as the fastest woman on earth as she set the land speed record for a woman and used to boast that she could speed at whatever she wanted on any road in Britain as, when she was pulled over she would say "100mph? dear boy my world record is far faster than that!" I only met her once but she was one of those of whom you'd say "once seen, never forgotten.!
    Another memory is of working at the desk at Dumbarton Police Office, when a tanker driver tried to report hitting a kangaroo on the A82 Loch Lomond-side Road. He thought I was taking the piss when I told him it wasn't a kangaroo but a wallaby. He even offered to take a breath test!

    All the best at the weekend, say helo as I'm marshalling at Balmaha with Ian and Carrie. I remember your father when he ran!

  2. ace time ali and happy anniversary (we've our 15th today!)
    dont worry about the taper though it does very strange things to your mind i know..keep looking back over your training log to give you confidence

  3. Davie - thanks for taking the time to comment - it's made me much more appreciative of the place now knowing a bit about the person who's responsible for the wallabies being there. She sounds like quite a character.

    UC - thanks, and congratulations to you too. I spent the night of my sixth wedding anniversary wrapped up in silver foil in a one man tent with my best man somewhere in the Highlands - probably not to be recommended, but the LAMM does have a habit of clashing with my wedding anniversary.