Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

The saga of a gorgeous run, a missing car key and disaster on the home front

Written by Fiona December 06 2010

Honestly, I did plan to clean and tidy my house on Saturday. But, it seems, the God of Housework had other ideas. Indeed, it appears obvious when I look back that the God of Housework wanted me to run, chat, drink mulled wine and leave all thoughts of housework until the next day!

The whole non-cleaning saga began sometime during a stunningly beautiful snowy run on Saturday afternoon. My triathlon pal TOP Ele (short for Triathlete On Podium Ele, because she is so fab at triathlon that she almost always achieves podium finishes) and I decided to head off from Glengoyne Distillery, north of Strathblane, along the Pipe Track to Killearn, through Killearn and then back to the distillery along the West Highland Way.

Wearing off-road trainers (trusty Inov-8s for me and very aged cross country shoes for TOP Ele) we set off a for a truly fab run. Although some sections were a wee bit icy, the majority of the run was on soft or crunchy snow and was happily runnable. Running on snow is hard work so we kept it slow enough to be able to chat and to avoid falling over.

This was a new route for me. While I have frequently run on the Pipe Track from Strathblane to the base of Dumgoyne Hill and to the summit of Dumgoyne I had never discovered the extent of the track towards Killearn. It’s a lovely undulating trail and offers gorgeous views towards Ben Lomond (Scotland’s most southerly Munro) and further out to the Arrochar Alps. With the whole scene covered in a blanket of snow and against a sky with a gently setting sun the views were fantastic.

The Pipe Track reaches the pretty village of Killearn, where TOP Ele and I then followed roads and very snowy pavements for a mile or so until we found the West Highland Way. The WHW cuts a scenic 96-mile route from Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Highlands. Heading along the WHW towards Milngavie we were again treated to beautiful views, this time of the Campsie Hills.

By this time we were running on fairly tired legs (the unpredictable and slippery nature of snow forces you to continually battle to balance your body and legs and so running on snow causes  your leg muscles to tire more easily than normal). However, our chat and high spirits kept us going the last few miles, heading past the Beech Tree Inn and then towards the cask storage buildings of Glengoyne Distillery.

A final and exhausting tramp through deep snow in a field brought us back to the car park and the car.

Only then I made the heart-sinking discovery that I’d lost my car key.

At first I couldn’t believe it had happened and I felt sure it would turn up somewhere in my running clothes. Sadly, when searching the tiny zipped key pocket of my shorts I found a small hole. And, it seems, this small hole had been the escape route for my car key. Total nightmare.

Not only were TOP Ele and I stranded some 10 miles from our homes but locked inside the car were our house keys, our warm jackets, my mobile phone and all our money. Yes, yes, I know we should have been carrying at least a spare layer and a mobile phone while running but we weren’t.

It was now too dark to retrace our steps and in any case we’d been running for well over an hour so a re-run would need to wait. Instead we made the decision to head into the shop at Glengoyne Distillery where the kind sales assistants allowed us to make a phone call. Now, I don’t know if everyone is the same these days, but I know very few telephone numbers off by heart. They are all stored in my mobile phone. The only telephone number I could recall was for the landline of the dad of Little Miss Outdoors! Thankfully he was in and of good enough nature to help us out.

First he headed to my house with his spare key (thankfully I’d had the foresight to give him a key so that when Little Miss is staying with him she can come home to collect forgotten homework, swimming costume, feed the cat etc). I’d suggested to him a few places where my spare car key might be but since I am one of life’s Disorganised People it was a long shot.

Little Miss looked in all the places that hide bits and pieces in our house but still couldn’t find the spare key. And so Little Miss and her dad phoned us at the shop to tell us they would come out to pick us up.

While the search party was scouring my house, TOP Ele and I were sitting tight, leaning on a nice warm radiator and sipping Mulled Wine provided by the nice distillery man. He even gave us a warmed mince pie each. Both the mulled wine and mince pie were delicious but they would have been so much nicer if I’d had the confidence of knowing where my spare car key was. As it was, I had a horrible sick feeling worrying that my spare key might actually be lost, too.

By 4.30pm the lovely distillery folk needed to close up shop. So TOP Ele and I found ourselves back outside in only our running kit and no idea of when Little Miss and her dad would arrive. We made the decision to stay warm by running. With no pavements on the road from Glengoyne to Strathblane we had to play a fairly dangerous game of running, then jumping into knee-deep snow at the side of the road every time we saw a car coming towards us. We didn’t feel big or clever about this but it was a case of running to stay warm or becoming hypothermic by standing still in rapidly falling temperatures and waiting for our lift.

More than 30 minutes went by and still we were running and still there was no sign of our lift. Little did we know but Little Miss and her dad had become stuck on the road near my house and were valiantly trying to dig themselves out. Then, just as TOP Ele and I were about to go into the police station at Strathblane to ask for assistance our lift arrived.

TOP Ele and I found ourselves laughing as we recounted our tale of woe but still I was feeling very nervous about finding my spare car key. We’d actually already decided we would leave the car rescue until the following day and that TOP Ele would stay with me.

But then TOP Ele remembered that she needed her contacts lens kit (which was at her house) and she couldn’t receive an important text message about her plans for the next day because her mobile phone was also at her house. And she didn’t have any clothes, and actually she’d just like to be at home…

And so I went in search of the spare car key. I hunted through every place I could think of. I checked the filing cabinet under “car”, I looked through all the baskets of bits and pieces, I searched drawers and then I scoured my dressing table. And, there, under a pile of colourful hair bands was the stunningly gorgeous spare car key. Huge whoops of joy!

To cut a very long story short we eventually made it back to my car via a taxi, where upon I discovered my battery was flat, whereupon the lovely taxi driver Earl (from Cannieburn Taxis) went the extra mile to produce jump leads to restart my car, after which I was able to return TOP Ele to her home and her normal life.

There is no doubting that TOP Ele will be telling this story for years to come! I can only thank her for being very good humoured throughout the very sorry saga and for being as resourceful and happily chatty as was possible. It gave us lots of hours in which to catch up on the gossip in each other’s lives!

And so how did all of this affect my ability to do the housework? Well, my original plan had been to go for a run, come home, do the much-needed housework, then chill out and enjoy and evening without Little Miss (as you know, who was at her dad’s) and minus the G-Force who was climbing some scary ridge on the North Face of Ben Nevis with his boy pals. Obviously this didn’t happen.

But added to this, when I did try to make an attempt to tidy the kitchen while TOP Ele and I waited for the taxi I inadvertently knocked a tub of mustard seeds all over my cooker top. Goodness knows how I managed this but the seeds went everywhere. TOP Ele then suggested that perhaps today was not going to be the day for me to do the housework. The God of Housework had clearly made his decisions.

And did my weekend improve? Well, yes, in a way. On Sunday I successfully managed to clean and tidy the whole house without mishap. I even had the time to retrace my steps on the same running route in search of the  missing car key. The scenery was just as gorgeous, the route was just as runnable but the key was not to be found. It hadn’t been handed in at the police stations, nor at the distillery shop. I still have a vague hope that someone might have found the key and might one day hand it in. In the meantime I’ll be having another key cut and I’ll never ever set off for a run without checking to see if there are any holes in my pockets.

More Like This


Six exciting outdoor activities to experience while teaching abroad


5 fantastic reasons to vIsit Guatemala – and 4 things to do there 


How cold water swimming can help with managing depression


Corbett bagging: Morven, near Ballater


Free beginner’s guide to navigation by Ramblers Scotland


Corbett bagging: Meall Dubh, Glen Moriston