Alpaca My Bags
For those living on smallholdings or farms know that getting away for a few days can be tricky. Who looks after the crew i.e. the alpacas, goats, horses, hens, cats and the other 2 dogs not coming with us? Well, with precision planning and a great team, I managed a wee mid week get away with my eldest daughter! As a nurse, she’s had a busy time too recently, so time together is more precious than ever and we both needed a rest to recharge our batteries. So, in true Beirhope style we chose to go bagging Munros and spent 2 days hill walking in the Cairngorms. Let's face it, what else is an alpaca trekker gonna do on their holidays?!? Spa’s, fluffy slippers and white bedlinen is a bit lost on me!
Departure Day Well, as it happened, a very lovely customer asked us to take her B&B guests on a trek with the alpacas. So with the perfect staycation activity this year being alpaca trekking, I began my holiday on the most spectacular alpaca walk at the very lovely Beirhope Alpacas, nestled in the Cheviot Hills!! The lovely Old Smithy Holiday Cottages had contacted us to book their guests in a few weeks earlier and it was our pleasure to fit them in. Our visitors were great fun, kick starting departure day with a spring in our step. This did mean, however, that I was up early; so by the time I had transformed from alpaca trekker to holiday goer, I was starving! 9 miles into our journey North we stopped for lunch. To be fair, going over the top of Whitton Edge there isn’t anywhere closer to stop anyway! Baguettes bought from the baguette shop in Jedburgh – try them if you haven’t already – delicious! Back on the road I felt pudding was in order. So with a quick stop at the Co-op in Earlston (40 mins into our journey!!) a box of 4 ice cream cones was purchased. We managed two each because we are real troopers! Onto the Edinburgh City by-pass we decided to ignore the sat nav, desperately trying to turn us onto an alternative route. ‘Stupid thing’ quickly replaced by ‘oops’ as the queues resembled a mass bank holiday getaway! A further stop at TISO in Perth, and coffee from Costa (have you seen how many different coffee type things exist?!) along with a 5 mile detour for fuel, we headed off on our final leg of the journey. Coco the farm Labrador was now a fully fledged holiday dog, having shimmied round the shops like a city dog. Her usual 'bull in a china shop' replaced with 'perfect lab' was most unusual but most welcome. Apparently, you can take the farm out of the dog… Adventure Time Cairn Gorm was our first destination. An ‘easy’ Munro according to the daughter/navigator. Off we went, until the expletives slipped out as the path on the map stopped. Nothing for it but a wee off roading. Up the side of what I swear was Everest, we found the correct path and discovered we weren’t even half way up! Powered by Haribos and Border Biscuits double chocolate cookies, the last leg of the climb was a doddle, or was I experiencing a sugar high?! We made it reaching the top in under 2 hours. So, feeling pretty good, we decided Ben MacDuie was in our sights and off we went to get our second Munro of the day. It was just beautiful. A bit of a slog but worth every step for the views. After all, the views are what makes each climb special. Spectacular Views Sgòr Gaoith sprung to daughters attention and it was decided this would be our route for day two. As we stopped for a new compass. the man in the shop asked where we were walking. ‘Cairn Gorm’ was the answer because we couldn't possibly pronounce where we were actually going! After a leisurely start ambling though the woods, a muckle hill came into view but the top was nowhere in sight! Having undertaken the most difficult climb, the wind picked up, the rain got heavier and the cloud came in. Known for the most spectacular views of the lesser known/populated parts of the Cairngorms, Sgòr Gaoith was set to impress us. However, in the photos I could have been anywhere! The visibility wasn't good so I've decided to superimpose myself onto the summit on a sunny day. Probably the toughest climb I’ve ever done. The weather was so quick to change and so cold, despite it being the end of June. We take all necessary kit so we were well prepared. My new tomato red coat did me proud, and to all trekkers who have seen the coat here at Beirhope we were not spotted nor airlifted off the mountain, nor was I cast as an extra in Joseph (and his amazing technicoloured dream coat!). So what's next for the mother and daughter Munro bagging duo? Daughter is trying to persuade me to wild camp on a two day expedition to bag multiple Munros. I’ve so far declined this kind offer for two reasons. Wild camping on the side of a mountain is very different to our wild camping here at Beirhope with fire pits, marshmallows and WiFi in the barn, a toilet and of course a bucket shower using warm water! I would also need a mule to carry my luggage because my day sack is bigger than those travelling to the north pole! But here lies an opportunity...the perfect excuse to get a Llama! As pack animals they can carry bags and I’ve always wanted to add a llama to the herd...watch this space!