Conic Hill – A Beginners Hill Run

Its Saturday night and after a short drive over to Balmaha I hunker down in the van for the night. a chilly -4C so I do a spot of improvisation to insulate the windows and once the stoves on, the van quickly heats up. Vegan Haggis is for dinner and a little tipple of whiskey. You can’t come to the shores of Loch Lomond and not feel the Scottish pride coursing through you as you look over the still waters!

Still Waters of Loch Lomond

I’m spending the night at the base of “Conic hill”.  I have organised a hill run tomorrow morning. This isn’t your usual crowd turning up, tomorrow I am taking 130 runners, all new to hitting the trails and with little experience of being out on the hills up the route. Needless to say, I am super excited and crossing my fingers that the changeable Scottish weather holds for the morning.

Waiting for the haggis to boil

Its 10pm, I’m well fed and its time to do a recce of the route. Instead of running up the icy hill in the dark, I take it easy and have a little hike up. The route is lit by the moon and frost with beautiful views over the loch coming into view once I clear the tree line. A successful recce and a quick jog back down. Only one thing for it. A beer in the famous Oak Tree Inn and a cosy down for the night in the van.

Morning World!

Waking up to frozen interior walls in the van was a new experience and it did take a bit of force to break the ice and open the van door. What a morning! Crystal clear sky’s and not even a hint of wind. This is rare in Scotland, especially in January!

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Not Nearly as messy as it could be…

The masses soon appeared and it wasn’t long until we were off and heading skyward.

We are off!

Push, push, push!

We had a huge range of abilities which is exactly what I had hoped for, from first timers to hill walkers and we even had a few well-seasoned mountain goats.

Woohoo! Go wee man!

Pretty Doggle!

Leaving the steep, testing steps of the forest we went rogue.Ttaking the less traveled path to the right heading straight up the hill I wanted to add a bit of everything that makes hill running, including a wee bit of easy “scrambling”.

Pushing up the hill! (Photo not by me!)

Someone caught me!

Following the ridge, we crept upwards as a unit. You could hear the dismay as we crested a “summit” only to find it was false. Not to worry though, everyone soldiered on and was well rewarded for their efforts.

Its getting Steep!

Watching people’s faces light up with happiness and accomplishment as they reached the summit and soak up the beautiful view was more than I could ask for. I had accomplished my mission to introduce people to the beauty of the Scottish trails and hills.

Made it!
Beginning to mass!
Thanks, Ladies!

We spent about half an hour on the summit, enjoying a bite to eat, a chat and soaking up one of the most beautiful views in Scotland. Looking over Loch Lomond, You could see the snow-capped bonnie Ben Lomond and the distant Luss hills over the water. As clear a day as a clear day can be!

Good Job troops! Snow-capped Ben Lomond behind!
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After making it down to the bottom ( a few casualties on the way, it was slippy!) we reached base camp and cake appeared, coffee started flowing and most people headed back to their homes around the country. A year kicked off with style!

Time for a cuppa!

The day didn’t end for me though as I joined forces with 2 friendly Edinburgh heroes who accompanied me on a jaunt out over the West Highland way and back to add in a few extra miles before sunset.

A Lochside lunch break along the West Highland Way

Squeeze in a wee coffee!

Scotland never fails to deliver! Today I am writing up this post on what marks the 15th anniversary of the Land Reform Scotland  Act. Securing the Right to Roam across Scotland and access to public lands, provided we are reasonable, respectful and responsible. Love, Live, Run and go explore that wilderness! 

Want to see the hill route? Click HERE for full details. 

Love – Live – Run and get out and hit the trails!

Thank you for reading!

Follow my progress on Instagram – @loveliverunuk

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