I was looking for a hill run at the weekend to prolong some fitness, as I usually prefer
racing to training. The best looking one was just past Aviemore, but I knew that I would
probably get cheap B & B at my parents’s house on the Black Isle (well I hadn’t seen
them for a while). The course actually looked really good on the map.
It was only 2 1/2 hours drive up the dodgy A9 and I arrived in plenty of time to drink
in the superb scenery – spectacular autumn colours when the sun came out. Race
Registration and the start was at the Badaguish Outdoor Centre just short of Loch
Morlich on the left hand side of the road. A really nice setting with canoeing, archery,
hill walking and mountain biking on offer. I was quite surprised to see a large contingent
of HBT and found out that they were up for somebody’s party and were staying in the cool-
looking log cabins.
At the race briefing there was no mention of any mountain rescue – they probably had more
pressing duties in the proper Cairngorm mountains and these were just titchy easy hills
anyway. The course lived up to every expectation and started off in the sunshine along a
flat forest road for a couple of kms and then turned left and started to climb through
forest towards the main hill. I was actually struggling a bit on the flat, partly
because I don’t really like flat and partly because we stupidly had mince and tatties
for tea the previous evening. Much better when we were at last climbing. The path was good
almost all the way to the top of Meall a Bhuchaille, which is a modest Corbett of 2657
feet. Stupendous views at the top but then we were flying back down again and on to a
heathery traverse around to the next hill Creagan Gorm. Up again to a mere 2398 feet
and then a cracking undulating ridge run 2 1/2 km to Craiggowrie. After being far too
hot at the start, we were now freezing and running into a strong wind whilst
negotiating a mixture of bog and rocky paths.
A left turn and then a slightly mad descent down a rocky hillside followed by a very
peaty muddy slidy path and then suddenly back into wonderful forest. The track turned
into forest road and became flatter and more painful, but I managed a good pace all the
way to the finish. Gee whizz I enjoyed that!
The £8 entry fee included soup or a burger and cup of tea so I changed out of muddy
atire and eagerly partook of the hot grub. As I had come such a long way, I decided
to hang around for the prize giving and started chatting up – I mean chatting to some
of the HBT ladies. The prize giving was a complete HBT whitewash – until it came to the
M50 prize and surpisingly it was Penicuik Harriers! What! And a bonus bottle of wine.
The organiser must have been wondering where all these Lowland Scots had come from
and why all the bottles of wine were disappearing south down the A9 (they were actually
probably emptied before they got on to the A9).
Anyway, a great hill run complete with cracking Highland scenery and well-organised by
Highland Hill Runners.