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That angry head (and the cure of a mountain)

Written by Fiona

June 04 2019

Yesterday, I wrote about how I have been suffering with an angry mood, caused, I believe (I hope), by the menace of the menopause. I was still feeling angry – and majorly irritated with myself – when I left the house to meet friends for a pre-arranged walk of Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro.

I had debated on-off all day if I could be bothered. I was mostly thinking that I couldn’t be bothered, especially as the rain was on-off monsoon (there are similarities between my mood and the rain!).

But then Hubby G decided he really did fancy an evening walk of a mountain. We have both been trying to maintain hill-walking fitness despite various joint injuries.

One of our friends Jamie is training for another mad-as-a-box-of-frogs mountain running event and she needs the ascent and descent in her legs so she had suggested Ben Lomond. She brought along her partner, Andy, and their two dogs.

Wispa the Wonder Whippet for invited, too.

The drive to Ben Lomond

Although I had finally made the decision that a mountain walk would be good for my head, all the way to Rowardennan, at the foot of Ben Lomond, I was feeling disgruntled.

I was tired, grumpy, moany and feeling a bit strange. I worried I would be slow and that I hadn’t eaten enough. I wasn’t sure I was wearing the right clothes, or had the right clothes with me.

At one point I was going to drive right around the roundabout and go back home.

But I kept driving.

The views from Ben Lomond are fantastic even when the weather (and the walker) is moody.

The hike up Ben Lomond

As soon as I got out of the van and met Jamie and Andy and their two dogs I knew I’d made a good decision. Meeting other people always helps to lighten my mood and the weather seemed warm and balmy.

We set off and chatted amiably. While G and Andy walked on and talked about their kind of stuff (I heard strands of climbing and mountaineering chat coming down the trail on the breeze), Jamie and I walked and talked together a little further back.

Jamie is usually just back from a mad mountain event or about to do another one (she is between mad events just now) so that is always interesting to hear about. She takes on extraordinary races that I can only ever imagine and would never do.

Chatting about these allows me to forget what’s going on in my own brain and instead I can focus on what she has to say.

Jamie is very focused on her racing so she usually has a lot to talk about. We also share mutual friends and we chatted about this and that, the dogs, more racing, the weather etc.

The walking and views also helped me to switch off from my angry brain. It’s impossible to feel bad when the views are as grand as those from the lower reaches of Ben Lomond.

Over our shoulder we looked back on beautiful Loch Lomond with its many islands and all around were green hills and mountain peaks. I could sense myself de-stressing and my mood relaxing.

As we climbed the weather deteriorated. I didn’t mind at all. Again, the weather gave me a different focus from my recent angry and irritated thoughts. It got wilder and wetter but it felt wonderful somehow.

I was happy hiking uphill, chatting to Jamie every so often and simply being outdoors.

As we climbed higher and higher and into deeper and damper cloud I wondered why none of us suggested simply turning back. But we all had the trig in our minds as the goal.

Finally we could see the top and now the wind was stronger and the rain was heavier. I had to stop to put on extra layers and I needed to eat. But, again, all of this meant I wasn’t inside my head being annoyed with myself.

Jamie and her two lovely dogs.
G and Andy on the path downhill.

A quick descent

After a quick stop we were off at a faster pace, jogging the sections that we could and carefully traversing the wet rocks where necessary. I felt very good to be outdoors despite the rather wintry weather.

It didn’t seem to be long before we were below the clouds again and now the views of Loch Lomond were before us as we continued to descend the winding path.

I can’t remember how many times I have been up and down Ben Lomond but it never fails to amaze me how lucky I am to have such grandeur and beauty almost on my doorstep.

I didn’t feel like it was a tough hike – perhaps I am a bit fitter than I was allowing myself to believe –  and although my hip continues to be sore when I run, the outing was mostly pretty good and upbeat.

We walked-jogged all the way back to the car park and with the midges keen to take advantage of us (they love hot, breathy humans on a warm and damp evening) we quickly got into our vehicles for the drive home.

The sun setting late behind clouds but still providing impressive views.

I was tired, hungry and a bit chilly but I realised that my head was a lot less angry inside.

I already knew that exercise was a great mood enhancer but sometimes it takes all my effort to get out of the door to do any of it. I am delighted that last night I did. Thanks, too, to the perseverance of G in making me go out even when I said I really couldn’t face it.

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