Off The Trails

I’m writing this post from my bed, where I’ve put my feet up and am enjoying a glass of red wine; it’s a perfect ending to an amazing day. After a brutally early start and a few hours of driving into a very grey morning, I met up with three friends in Blairgowrie at the start of the Cateran Trail in the Scottish Highlands. Today, we embarked on a reconnaissance run of the first section of the trail, which we will attempt to run in its 54 mile entirety in June.

cateran gate

As soon as we stretched our legs out on the trail, the clouds were blown away by a formidable wind, which although it was responsible for a tougher start to our run than any of us would have liked, also cleared the way for the sun to brighten up the awesome and ever-changing views.

cateran run me

The trail winds its way through three distinct glens, and took us through the some wonderful and wonderfully Scottish scenery. We ran through open farmland and quaint little granite villages, jumped over several little streams and crossed others via bouncy wooden bridges, and enjoyed some shelter from the wind in old pine forests. We crossed wide open stretches of dark, reddish-brown heather, bordered by snow-capped mountains which grew larger and larger on the horizon as we made our way towards them. We eventually climbed over one mountain pass before descending into Spittal of Glenshee, our final destination for the day. We swiftly proceeded to reflect upon our 24 miles of trail running over a round of hot chocolates from the local hotel bar. I know, how hardcore are we, right?

cateran running

As a recce run for the ultramarathon, it has done nothing but inspired me completely. After running the first 10 km or so into the wind, I was feeling so good that I wanted to run the whole trail immediately. Thankfully (or unfortunately?), my comrades weren’t so keen on the idea.


Having said all of these lovely things, it wasn’t an easy run. The trail is rarely flat and was often wet and boggy under foot. I learned that while salted nuts, crackers and jelly beans work well for me nutrition wise, chocolate macaroons shall be adamantly avoided in future. After running the 24 miles, I was happy to give my legs a rest and to warm my hands on my mug of hot chocolate. However, in less than three months’ I’ll have to keep going for another 30 miles in order to complete the challenge. This is not just going to be a personal journey, I’m also doing this run for a good cause; namely to raise money for ABF The Soldier’s Charity, which gives support to soldiers and their families. If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so here and earn my eternal gratitude!

Cateran Waterfall

Right now, I’ll keep resting my feet, as I’m registered to run the St. Andrews Half Marathon in the morning. It would, of course, be completely idiotic to run it, but since idiocy is a particular speciality of mine, I’ll probably make an appearance. I’m not expecting a fast run at all, in fact, I fully anticipate to run on wooden legs. Let’s see how how far they are willing to carry me, shall we?

29 thoughts on “Off The Trails

  1. Angie says:

    What beautiful scenery you were running in. Holy miles! Wow. And a half marathon tomorrow. Pretty amazing.

    • Thank you Angie! It was so beautiful up there, I can’t wait to go back. And yes, in preparation for the whole run, I’m going to have to seriously clock up the miles, don’t I? 😉

  2. Trails and Ultras says:

    Sigh. It looks beautiful. I expect you’ll be training up there all the time now!

    • It was really beautiful, made even better by the gorgeous sunshine. I was really surprised by how changing the scenery was, so I’m looking forward to exploring the remaining 30 miles of the trail. It was certainly never dull! I won’t be able to go up there all the time, it isn’t on my doorstep. 😉 But you are right, I’ll certainly head up there on the weekends when I can ahead of the actual ultra.

      • Trails and Ultras says:

        It’s about time we invented a teleporter so we can get to these places instantly. Or anywhere in the world! We won’t tell anyone else about it though. We don’t want to crowd the views 🙂

      • You are a genius! Such a teleporter would basically fix everything that’s wrong with the world…

  3. Absolutely stunning scenery! Very jealous. Have a great run tomorrow, seriously impressive mileage!

  4. Lovely photos. Hope you have a nice (but less windy!) day for the challenge.

    • I hope so too! A little less wind would be very welcome, as it would seriously nip into the old energy levels. I have these overly romantic ideas of bouncing through the beautiful Scottish hills in the sunshine, without a care in the world. Hopefully, there will be at least glimpses of that in reality!

  5. Lily says:

    24 trail miles, I’m so impressed! I’m drinking some red wine too, cheers! Hope you have a fun race tomorrow 🙂

  6. Holy miles, you rock! 🙂

  7. Laura Alonso says:

    Stunning run and photos. Hope those wooden legs carried you the next day you mad woman!

  8. getgoing-getrunning says:

    Wow. Great run! Super challenge as well – 54miles is an EPIC distance!

  9. Great day, girl! And lots of fun ahead training for this ultra 🙂
    Wishing you best of luck for your half-marathon.

  10. leerunsdistances says:

    Nice photos!!!

  11. piratebobcat says:

    Wow, it looks amazing! Good luck!

  12. Scotland is a beautiful country and the trails are spectacular!

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