Trail Hounds

Fortunately for us, everyone in our family enjoys running fast rather than far. Unfortunately for us, only the four legged family members can do it! So, in anticipation of some fabulous running and hiking holidays in the mountains Paul and I have been working very hard on our running speed. We’re both making good progress, and Paul in particular is now able to maintain a speed that the puplets approve of….almost.

On a week-in-week-out basis I don’t think any of us would enjoy running more than about 10k in a single run. That said, it is nice to know that you can pull 20 k or more out of the bag for a great trail on holiday. We were therefore pleased when several weeks ago we all comfortably completed a 21.5k run along the Smugglers Trail to Troon. It was quite by accident – we got lost (well, a combination of tempted by ice-cream and lost). But the really encouraging thing was that:

  • I (the weakest link) ran at between my 5k and 10k race pace for most of the way
  • We’d completed a fairly strenuous hill walk the day before
  • We had a club 5k time trial the day after at which Paul and I set new personal bests.
  • The pups stayed calm and didn’t pull too much (something that we’ve been working hard on for months now).

In theory, training for speed should give you distance as a spin off. But until you’ve tried it you’re never quite sure if it really works. Encouraged by this knowledge that we could safely dip into the occasional longer distance run without the drudgery of weekly long, slow plods (we train primarily for 5k distance, cross country and hill running), we decided to find some fabulous new local trails that would accommodate the occasional longer adventure.

We’d planned a reconnaissance run at one such trail this morning – or to be more accurate, a series of interlinking trails along the river Ayr:

It was perfect! You can run for miles and there are a variety of different routes to keep it interesting. The terrain is just perfect for our little Beagles – winding, narrow paths through the woods, along the river bank, through open farmland. It’s going to be wonderful watching the scenery change with the seasons.

It has to be said, it was a little muddy:


A muddy Biggle tum

And a grubby Beanie tum

But thanks to Beanie and Biggles’ sophisticated self-cleaning system they were both sparkly clean by the time we got home.


Beagles in Print

A while ago Beanie and Biggles’ exploits caught the attention of a journalist writing for the RBS and Nat West magazine, Sense. She was particularly interested in their canicross adventures. She wrote a short article about Paul, Beanie and Biggles and the publishers sent along photographer Murdo Macleod to take photographs.

I was over the moon when this photo appeared with the article as a double paged spread in the current edition of Sense. As Paul is the photographer in our family it’s very rare to get a nice picture of him with Beanie and Biggles.

photo copyright Murdo Mcleod

Murdo also took some other lovely photos which he kindly sent to us.

photo copyright Murdo Mcleod

photo copyright Murdo Mcleod

Narnia and Back in 725 metres

Today Beanie and Biggles went for a walk in the mountains and discovered a secret portal that took them into a far away, magical winter wonderland. Just like going through the wardrobe in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was all rather exciting, and needless to say prompted a fair bit of baying and aaaarrrfffing!


The forecasts were looking very good for hill walking – some sunshine, very little wind and frozen solid underfoot even at sea level so no mud! We decided upon Beinn Dubh – Glen Striddle Horseshoe. We did this walk just two or three weeks ago but despite promising forecasts we were shrouded in a thick, grey fog for the whole walk. Today our timing was perfect. As we drove into the car park at Luss the early morning clouds started to break and large patches of blue sky appeared. We were rewarded with some great views of Loch Lomond very early on in the walk:

You can just make out the little pier at Luss on the far right

The sun was quite warm and we soon started to strip off layers of clothing:


There was a slight dusting of snow on the (false) summit ahead :


As we reached the snow line the temperature began to plummet and the layers started to go back on:

Ben Lomond in the background

Biggles’ big gob in the foreground

We think the magic portal was around here somewhere. Biggles did sense something mystical and got rather woofy – although it might have just been a sheep!:


IMG_5040 Merged

IMG_5051Looking back down towards Luss

Very quickly it started to turn into an arctic expedition…although I’m not sure who the sherpas were – me of the Beags!



Eventually we reached the summit where the views were out of this world. It really did feel as if we’d been transported into a magical winter kingdom. And not a soul in sight. There were tracks in the snow but fresh snow had fallen on top of them so it looked as if we had the mountain to ourselves.


Ben Dubh summit (IMG_5062)

The natives looked and smelt a bit strange but were friendly enough:


From the summit, a broad ridge continues around in a horseshoe shape for 5 kilometers or so. We set off on our journey along the ridge with spectacular new views opening up at almost every step:


The Arochar Alps in the distance


The Arochar Alps again. That’s the Cobbler second from left (top). Weather permitting we’ll be up there next week

Boy was it cold up there! The Beags didn’t seem to feel it. We had their winter coats with us but didn’t need to put them on


Looking forward along the ridge…

Ben Dubh - looking back toward summit (IMG_5203)
..and looking back towards the summit of Ben Dubh

Ben Dubh - along the horseshoe (IMG_5187)

All too soon we reached the end of the ridge and stumbled across a second portal to take us back out of the magical Kingdom. We lingered here a while, not really wanting to leave this special place.


But then again, it had been quite a while since Beanie and Biggles had breakfast and there was a lovely scent of sheep wafting up the hillside. Before we knew it we were hurtling through the portal at breakneck speed with a familiar ‘aaarrrfff, aaaarrrrfff, aaaarrrooohhh’ echoing in our frost bitten ears!