Springtime in Scotland

We just got back from England and Trondheim was no longer a snowy place! The green grass is showing everywhere and small buds are appearing on all the trees. It is a wonderful thing seeing spring in Norway.

This photo shows the thaw beginning a few weeks back in Trondheim, look at the pretty blue lake!

We left for Scotland over a week ago via the horrible overnight bus down to Oslo. On Saturday morning we arrived in Oslo and wandered through the grey cold city. We visited Frogner park and all its interesting sculptures, then sat in a warm cafe for many hours. At 2 oclock we caught the Ryanair 3 hour bus trip to Oslo Torp Airport (nowhere near Olso!) then flew across the ocean to Glasgow.

Frogner Park with its funky statues

We arrived in Glasgow to clear skies, a very fresh breeze, and some lovely daffodils. We caught the train to Mark and Sylvia's and we were so excited (we were starving) to be welcomed with a wonderful meal (home made bread, pumpkin soup, veggie haggis and neeps, a chocolate orange cake!). This, after our rather boring diet in Norway were food to so limited and expensive was so wonderful.

Steve was there and supplied us some great beer, as well as Mhairi - the outnumber Scottish flatmate of Mark and Sylvia who fortunately likes Kiwis! Mark and Sylvia had planned a great wee outing for us on Sunday - we drove out to a forest nearby for some orienteering and mountain biking. The biking was fantastic on wonderful smooth winding single track. The sun was out but the wind was chilly!

Sylvia, Chris, myself and Anthony

We had another delicious meal at Mark and Sylvia's that evening. In the morning we left early to catch our bus to Fort William. It took 6 hours to get there, but it was a nice bus trip looking out at the rugged green hills. The tops were misty but otherwise fine when we arrived in Fort William, so after stocking up with food at the supermarket we headed up the slopes of Ben Nevis and set up our little tent in the valley beneath the steep gullies which lead up to the summit.

After one very wet night....

The wind was strong so we built a rock wall as the rain set in. It blew and rained all night, we decided in the morning to take the easy 'tourist route' up the mountain. Into the blizzard we proceeded, as the snow drove into our eyes we wondered if this was sensible. A couple of climbers who had just climbed one of the gullies were heading down and assured us it was fine. The Scottish are a bit crazy!

On top it was awful and we failed to locate the summit cairn, we only briefly viewed a very large cornice just in front of us. I was freezing and on a compass bearing we staggered back down out of the storm. Our Kiwi friend's claimed it was definitely not a 'successful climb' of Ben Nevis... so we will just have to go back! (and hopefully climb it by a more interesting route too).

Walking up valley to Glen Nevis

After our descent we walked up the valley to Glen Nevis and found a dry looking spot (in the rain) for our tent. It rained all night and by morning our 'waterproof' tent had let in about 5 cm of water. We were soaked and cold - and had had a good authentic Scottish trip I feel! We walked back down valley and over 'cow saddle' into Fort Williams.

Chris acclimatized to local weather conditions and grew some extra hair and ate a lot of haggis, neeps and tatties.

The sun came out as we boarded the bus (typical!) and we had a spectacular trip home, Chris pointing out lots of the hills he had climbed during the World Adventure Race Champs there two years ago. We arrived back into Edinburgh for another wonderful meal at Mark and Sylvia's (+ Steve). Ed and Abbie (about to head away on an exciting 9 months traveling) and Anitra were also there, so it was a very merry Kiwi gathering.

Mark and Syliva also leave Edinburgh soon, so we sneaked in our visit just in time. In the morning we said our farewells and caught the bus to Newcastle. We stayed in a wonky kind of youth hostel with friendly but unusual staff. We could walk from our hostel to the start of the JK sprint race the next day.

It was a bit grey, but there was a large turn out of orienteers at the sprint in the Newcastle Civic and University grounds. We met up with Ross and Maja, as well as Bryn, Piret, Keith and John Marshall. Kiwi's everywhere! The sprint was fun and Ross managed to scare all the locals by winning the sprint easily. Fortuitously we also met up with Fionne, a very nice Irish girl we first met at Oceania in New Zealand in about 2006.

She offered Chris and I a ride and a space in their camp spot. This worked out wonderfully for us, her fiance Shane and sister Aislinn and her partner Jonny were all really nice and great fun to hang out with. We stayed in a green paddock right by the ocean and 'Holey Island'. I had a nasty cold, so despite the great weather I was feeling a bit down for the orienteering events. Especially as (having entered W21 L) I had to run 2 long races, while the Elites had one middle and one long.

Our nice campsite

The first and second day were both near our camp spot in pine forest which varied from runnable to extremely dense and sticky in your eyes, legs, arms etc. Despite feeling sick I actually navigated OK and managed to finish a good way from last. Chris had 2 solid runs, and felt it was mostly his running speed keeping him from better placings. He and the Irish boys had entertaining 'split comparing' sessions in the evenings.

Monday was the relay event, and Chris and I had entered the Adhoc category along with John so we made a New Zealand Adhoc team (a well contested category with about 60 teams - but all of them being somewhat unofficial hodge podge teams). Nevertheless we were out to win! I ran first leg to get some real relay experience. Although still feeling a bit under the weather I ran the course well for me (hardly any mistakes!!!), then John stormed round his in 14 mins setting Chris off in first place to run his 4 km in lightening speed.

Mass start of the 'Adhoc' relay, can you spot me?

The victorious Adhoc New Zealand Team

We even had an announcement over the loud speaker. After a victory photo with John we had to flee to catch the bus back to the car park. Our wonderful Irish friends drove us into Newcastle. From there we caught the bus to Liverpool, stopped over at a youth hostel for a few hours, then caught the bus to the airport, flew to Torp airport, caught the bus from there to Oslo, mucked around in Oslo 8 hours, bussed overnight to Trondheim and arrived at 7am this morning so I could get to work. It felt like a mission to get home and I think we might splash out in future to fly back to Trondheim, it felt like traveling over from NZ.

A couple of days back at work, then on Friday we are off to Sweden for Tio Mila. Hope some of the Scottish photos bring some memories back for Mum and Dad!

Happy adventuring,



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