Ben Dubh is one of the more accessible mountains we’ve visited. The climb up isn’t that steep – even in snow there’s nothing really scary about it – and once you hit the top you’ve got a broad, gently undulating ridge to traverse as you take in the views. We’ve often thought that it would make for a great hill run, so on Saturday we put it to the test.
Having arrived at the car park in Luss, I pumped almost the entire contents of my wallet into the parking meter while Susan readied the Beagles for our adventure. We went with the usual pairings: Beanie with Susan, and The Bigglet with me. Occasionally we’ve tried swapping doggies, but it always seems to go against the flow. Susan just finds Beanie more accommodating and responsive than Biggles, likes her gentler pulling action, and her less jarring sound effects. Equally Biggles is the natural match for me; when we’ve set ourselves a goal the blinkers go on and we single-mindedly pursue our objective. I don’t mind Biggles’ warbling and baying, Biggles doesn’t mind my grunting and groaning, and we both fart a lot as we run. It’s a match made in heaven.
We’d got barely a few hundred metres into the ascent when suddenly a rabbit darted across the path in front of us. Rabbits are of course the very animal a Beagle is supposed to hunt, but neither of our two even noticed this one, save for a few extra sounds of excitement when we reached its trail.
We used the same approach for Ben Dubh as we would for a formal hill race, running the bits we could and marching up the steeper bits. Both Susan and I were wearing lightweight but thermal running gear and I’d fully expected to be overheating a few minutes into the run, but as we got higher we encountered more wind chill and I was sweating yet cold at the same time. Not so great for us, but perfect conditions for our little Beagles, and they were loving it, except for those occasions when one of us fell behind the other. Biggles still cannot tolerate not being in front and anytime I stopped to grab a couple of shots with the compact camera he warbled and squealed until we caught up. Beanie wasn’t happy getting left behind either, her cries were almost blood curdling. (How come Beanie has this big macho hunting cry while my boy sounds like a little piglet with a megaphone?)
When we hit the summit we took a little break and donned an extra layer of clothing (the wind chill was pretty fierce!) before setting out along the ridge. I don’t know if the effort of going up at speed had burned off their excess energy, or maybe it just wasn’t a particularly sniffy day, but both Beanie and Biggles seemed remarkably calm at the top.
The ridge run was as visually spectacular as it was cold! This was the first time the weather had let us really appreciate the views from Ben Dubh – it’s definitely at its best on a clear day.
When we reached the end of the ridge we simply turned back rather than continuing on and down the other side, which is steeper and slippier than the route up. Once we were back at the summit, I reluctantly attached both Beagles to my belt. Susan felt fine about running the descent on her own, but not with a Beagle. I on the other hand now had two bundles of trouble tied to me, and traditionally it’s on the way back down that they’re at their worst. This time however they were much better behaved. There was a marked increase in pulling power whenever we went by sheep of course, and inevitably Beanie managed a couple of quality lead tangles, but for the most part the return to the car park was uneventful.
Initially the run hadn’t seemed that tiring, but by the time we got back home the four of us were shattered. Biggles took up residence on one sofa and exposed his manky tummy, while Beanie claimed the other.
I know it’s dirty, but tickle it all the same!
Just cover me. Now.
In due course she requested/demanded a blankie. For the next couple of hours all we saw of her was the occasional paw that slipped from under her cover, only to be retracted whenever she heard me using the camera.
When I finally managed to move Biggles enough to get my own bum on the sofa, he co-opted me as a chin rest.
Hope you’re comfortable dad, ‘cos you ain’t going nowhere for a couple of hours!
I became concerned that perhaps we’d over done it with them, but I think their tiredness was more due to stimulation than physical exhaustion because the next day they were full of beans. Biggles even chased a low flying crow round the garden and nearly boinged his way over the fence as it made its escape. I on the other hand wasn’t in such great shape; the effort of braking my descent against the pull of Beanie & Biggles had all but burned out my leg muscles. My back didn’t feel too great either. I guess running down a big hill with Beagles attached should be classed as an extreme sport!