Posted by: Bruce Duncan | May 5, 2010

10 Days in Scotland

I have just returned from a great 10 days in Scotland.  It was pretty much all outdoor based, so I was as happy as I can be!  Plenty of mountain biking, hill walking and some kayaking.

First up was a 30th birthday weekend for my mate Rohan who I did my masters with.  A bunch of us met up in Edinburgh on the Friday night and had maybe a few too many drinks!  Then after an early start we headed to Glentress to ride the black route, a great long ride, in stunning sun and high temperatures.

The mountain biking was brilliant, a great group of friends, all going pretty fast, so it was fun the whole time.  There was a slight issue though, the top wall section after the tower was totally unrideable! Huge snow drifts left over from the winter storms filled the forest where no sun could melt them.Ben showing horror at all the snow!

The rest was great fun, flying down the mountain with Ben and knowing we had a tasty bbq waiting for us at the bottom.  Some other friends from Aberdeen were also down, so we jumped in and used their bbq, and probably made everyone else super jealous.Phil cooking on the bbq

Post stuffing our faces Ben and myself headed to the top of the red route, just climbing hard on the fire roads, then enjoying the single track swoopy, jumpy decent.

Back into Edinburgh for a good feed and then party with lots of good friends.

Sunday was a chilled out day, before heading over to Kinlochleven for a few days with the Army.   I had been asked by my team mate, and army doctor, Nicola, to help out with some navigation training.  I hadn’t been over that way since 3rd yr at uni when we spent a week mapping some of the hill side above Kinlochleven.

I really enjoyed the nav teaching, there were some really varied skill levels, which made teaching a big group a bit tricky, but i think between myself and the sargent i was working with we got most of them up a lot on their nav abilities.  The weather wasn’t great, I was hoping for some lovely sunshine, but at least it wasn’t pishing it down all the time!

After 2 days of doing the same wee route with the different groups I think I had seen all the different abilities, and methods of trying to nav, most of them not too great!  On day 3 we headed up to Blackwater reservoir, and did some micronav.  I took a group of unsure navigators, having a smaller group, and going to tricky features really gave me a chance to get round and see how they all worked on their nav.

Half way through most of them had their ‘Eureka’ moment.  This was great to see, and gave me a lot of satisfaction, they were really happy about where they had come from, and were keen to get out into the hills to practice more.  I don’t think there is anything as satisfying as that really.

I left the army on Wednesday evening, and headed down to Ballachulish to meet up with Jim Mee from Detail Events, and some folk from Nokia, to do some promotion work for the Nokia Coast to Coast event in September that Nokia have asked me to be the ambassador for.  I was really tired after some long days out on the hill with the army, but we had to stay up late discussing the plans for the next day.  We had a lot to get through, and Chris from Nokia, and Chris and Steve from Dream Team TV were on a flight at 7pm from Glasgow, so we had to get stuff done fast.

Waking early, it was dissapointing to see the weather wasn’t great, but at least we could see the other side of the Loch.  First up, we set all my kit, a few bikes and a sit on top kayak out on the grass by the hotel, so I could do some initial pieces to camera.

This is the first time I have done any filming like this, and it is very unnerving having a camera right in your face.  You practice what you are going to say, have all these great ideas, then as soon as you start it all goes to pieces.  I can totally understand now how you get so many tv blooper shows, its so hard to get stuff right, and you just get on a roll of it going wrong!

After doing some static stuff we headed to the Isles of Glencoe Hotel, which will be the finish of the Nokia Coast to Coast race, and i did some more pieces to camera about kit and bike issues.  Then it was into a kayak on the water in pretty good conditions actually.  I paddled around getting some cut away shots and some training hints and tips for first time kayakers.  This was hard work, having to turn around all the time and doing it again, doing what I thought was a perfect take, only to find the microphone hadn’t totally picked up what I had said!

It was then time to head up to the Glencoe Ski centre, where i did some mountain bike and running tips and hints.  It was freezing up there, windy and wet, not ideal for running backward and forwards for not very much over and over again.  We finally got some great shots, and I finished up with a few more static pieces to camera, I was finally starting to get used to it just as it was time to go home!

Hopefully the shots will look good, and not too cheesy!  They should be up on www.nokiaoutdoorseries.co.uk in a few weeks time.

After a full day I headed to Perth, then down to Peebles the next day for a mates stag weekend.  It was to be more mountain biking at Glentress, followed by a night out in Edinburgh.  The biking was great, and despite an early set back of one of the lads stacking it and breaking his collar bone, everyone loved it and wanted to do more.

The evening in Edinburgh was great too, a pre dinner walk up Arthurs Seat for some beers, then Mamma Mia for pizza, then somehow via a few bars we ended up in Why Not till the wee small hours!  It was great fun, I’d not been there for years, and I don’t think I’ll be there for a good few years to come!

Sunday was spent chilling in the sunshine and watching all the runners in the Great Edinburgh Run, before we all went our separate ways, to reconvene in 2 weeks time near London for the wedding.

All in all, a great few days.  Back in the Lakes now for a wee while working away on the adidas TERREX race I am planning, along with a few other things.

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