Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Classic dog runs. Part 1

If I remember then this post will be the start of an irregular series.... Anyway a few years back my beloved missus and daughter decided we were going to have a dog. I didn't want a dog. It's not that I don't like dogs, in fact I do like dogs, but they need lots of exercise, attention, feeding, holiday care....... Cutting to the chase I lost the argument and shortly after christmas 2009 a dog home near Bridgend had one less dog to worry about.

Cindy (the name the kennel gave her!) is a hybrid hound of barrel body, short legs and collie colours. she has an affinity for stinking boggy holes and hence I've decided this is a breed of 'swamp dog'. She soon learned that me clad in running kit meant a decent 'walk' which now means if I want to leave the house for a run without the dog I have to sneak out without her noticing!

Saying that, and despite the short legs she has become a regular running companion. Not an ideal one I may add. Her ability to come when called depends on;
a) Number of squirrles around
b) Number of rabbits around
c) Anyother small furry things around
d) any foxcrap available to roll in
e) any quality smelly swampy places to squallar around....

Livestock is also a problem. Sheep run so the dog has to run after them (the collie part comes out). Thankfully shes not a danger to them just a pain and I have to thank at least two farmers for being understanding when she has caught me out. So anywhere with sheep about she has to be on the old bit of climbing rope used as a lead.

Despite all this she can be used as an excuse to go hill running. In the summer I introduced her to Munros whilst up in the Oban area. The dogs first Munro was a classic run taking the standard route up Ben Cruachan whilst the family did the hydro electricity station tour. The first bit of fun was on reaching the top storage reservoir for the hydro station. My route took me to the left of the dam and I suddenly realised the path involved a 20 - 30ft ladder up onto the left edge of the dam! So I grab the dog, sling her under my arm and romp up the laddder one handed much to the amusement of several walkers I had just passed! Fortunately the dog is quite used to such silliness and doesn't wriggle too much.

Views from the top.
The route then follows the track along the dam for a while before turning left to ascend a path following a stream line up to a col on the flanks of the mountain. I have to admit I cut off before his on the way up. Not having a decent map (only an old 1:50 of the first series converted from the old 1 inch) I was following my nose and thought I'd missed the route up so had direct lined up to the ridge on my left before reaching this path. This plonked me on a hill top overlooking the col the path comes up on so I quickly dropped down to the col before attempting to follow the path through the boulder fields up to the summit of Ben Cruachen. A final grind through the rocks and boulders saw our arrival on the summit. I have a quick scoff of a few cereal bars and some water, whilst the dog successfully scavenged some sandwich titbits from two walkers feasting on the summit, and then it was back down.

The run back down through the boulders was pretty tough for the hound and her short legs, but we had a good descent once we hit the proper path off the col, skidding the loose sections whilst avoiding pushing rocks onto walkers coming up. Not relishing down climbing the ladder on the dam with the dog I crossed to the other side and used the path off from here, before enjoying the final fly down the narrow path back to the road. A great run and a knackered dog!

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