Slow Marathon 2014
Rinmore, off the bus, Gill, blessings, from the holy waters, up along the coffin route, other folks, Steve pipes, off we go, up, in front, try to be, first gate, with Nan Shepherd’s poem, great woman, brave woman, all on her own, not today, up, up, past the cottage, with the cheese press, left, up, ignore track, stay at burn, up, bit down, wee bridge, up, up, the coffin route, yellow flag, good, up, long overtaken, by the young ones, and the not so young ones, up, talk to a man, from Buckie, member of many hill clubs, up, brown heather, mist, up, a grouse, up, photo to the back, already fallen behind, up, deep clouds, turn, the path, it turns, Kildrummy wind farm, big wings, Peat Hill, along, aluminium pyramid, small, what for?, all in the name of shooting, Gill says, woods to the right, Deborah, Ben, other folks, trail stringing out, Gayle, Donald, heather, yellow flag, good, turn, see if they turn, they turn, good, up, heather, brown, then down, to Glen Laff, the scars, of the farm, the windy farm, the wind farm, down, down, fence, cut down trees, not on map, trees on map, looks like war, is this what war looks like? afterwards?, probably not, don’t want to imagine it, not now, down, a man in the distance?, the photographer?, or another man, boys in front, down, bridge, up, right, road, big one, how old is it?, straight on, on, on, Pete and his friend, from Glass, 3 men, from Inverurie, and from Westhill, work in Dyce, in the oil, along, along, hard core, see wee bridge, tumbledown, Cuban fixings, still there, good, cross it, grass, gate, cattle grid, up, walk with the two men, they are from Gartly, met them before, they came last night, thank them, nice men, when you walk with them, one was in the textile industry, in the Borders, then here,
along, see Deborah, call Deborah, she waves, big gate, up, they all gone further up, up, ha, my chance, go right, to the abandonded house, I am in front, for a minute, there they come, like a pack, the young ones, Fergus, Oliver, Harris, Gayle, Deborah, Ben, more of them, I stride, I laugh, for a few seconds, then overtaken again, not slow, this slow marathon, not for me, onwards, and upwards, to the other wee hoosie, past the coos, they look scared, don’t be scared, forest, along the forest, another gate, cross it, will others close it?, down, left, on, to Clova, on, on, Clova, the wall, with its tennis court, zig, zag, zig, zag, past the house, with the tower, to the avenue, see entrance, to big house, soon left, yellow ribbon, good, along, on, over the burn, the stones, placed them last week, wheater now, along, grassy, Crampstone, a box, nobody there, why not? a hanging phone, from the former owners?, from the artists?, never mind, onwards, and upwards, KEEP DOGS ON LEAD, we have no dogs, thanks god, no dogs, otherwise, the fermer, right, weat path, green, very green, then left, up, ring, photographer, Paul, he is there, stop worrying, Claudia, don’t worry, Yunior says, ok, we are fast, here he is, we are too fast? call Kate, they are at the bridge, the wee one, the Cuban one, we passed Auchinleith, too fast, need to call the stations, but how? stop worrying, Claudia, along, past the moraine hills, bizarre landscape, along, lady with pink anorak, from Glenbarry, with head phones, we agree to get in touch, about next year’s SM, along Portsoy Rail path, good, Deborah, Ben, Donald, Gayle, two women, come on, lets have a break, at Tamdruff, next to the wee hoosie, they agree, reluctantly?, sit down, another one joins, Liz comes, had not seen her for ages, great to catch up, Donald has tea, its delicious, did not drink yet, sandwich, with egg, and pesto, Alison, marches past, did not look at your map, Alison?, come on, sit with us, up again, down, past wee wood, to the road, right, nice house, round the corner, the castle, Craig, then Wheedlemont, watch Deborah racing past the sign, not read your map?, ok, down the tarmac road, off we go, few of us, walk with loads of folks, one is Gillian, Gill’s friend, a doctor, car, recognize the person, why?, down, Tap O’ Noth, before us, so beautiful, always beautiful, next time, need to see the other tap, here, when I have time, Upper Wheedlemont, Lower Wheedlemont, lots of Wheedlemonts, here it comes, the wee forest, another sign, not just mine, from the fermer, better go round it, round the woods, because of the bullock, they are fierce, maybe, maybe not, standing stones, there she is, Gill, lovely, with her recorder, what is it?, must ask, Gillian loves it too, she is a doctor, lots of doctors here, Aileen, Rolf, Gillian, Eileen, Barry, Dr Silcock, any more?, I have my little first aid kit, its tiny, Kate got the big one, she is the sweeper, at the back, is it better?, to be at the back? or try on the front, like me? not sure, want to be in the middle, a bit slow, a bit fast, see the place, but I have seen it, many times, by now, Gill in a tent, lovely, she is fun, a fun walker, a woman walker, where is Simone?, at the back?, got a cold, our Nan, Templand sign, left now, more standing stones, coos among them, along, along, the road, to the ferm, with the green porch, iconic green porch, like a landmark, a tourist attraction, over the mud, gate, mud, more gate, up, don’t cross, next gate, another gate, next gate, left here, buns calling, I smell the cinnamon?, yes, a man in yellow, its Sanaa, who fought off the rain, the buns, the cinnamon, Mary with her car, yum, yum, no time to stop, Sanaa looks lovely, wonderful, what a man, I love artists, love Uganda too, why did the Kampala artists not vote for the Slow Marathon, the one I wanted to do with them?, maybe one day, Donald off, I run after, wait Donald, wait, shoe laces loose, wait, down, motocrossing road, down, gate, right, left, Lesmuir, up, up, up, lost Simone here the other day, up, no coos, where are they?, up, Milton of L, forest, down, to the bridge, near Finglenny, no Jake, no tea, desperate for tea, my water, does not taste nice, don’t like the pipe, should not have known about the tea, over the bridge, up, left, gate, invigilations signs, along, along, along, big right bend, turn left, up, up, up, T junction, right, along, war zone, again, trees, dark, along, along, junction, left, don’t get lost here, or you are lost, left, along, along, along, think of Calum from the FCS, thanks for the permission, good tip, he gave us, of this route, along, along, bend, and now, left, last minute change from the original plan, gate, green grass, mawed, by the forestry commission, does BP pay, for this? offset their sins?, nice lush trees, Steve will like it, here, bench, is this art, or bench?, green grass, excuse me, Donald, lovely wee trees, mawed path, down again, round the corner, up again, on the green path, to the hard road, left, along, gate again, bye bye cameras, road, right, along, see Coynnachie, see the tent, see Fiona, great, tea,
finally, drink 1, 2,3, cups, cake too, lovely, Liz, she lives in Inverness now, Bruce, lots of strong men here, can I get up again?, must, must, come on Donald, lets go, plans, for the year, finally our meetings, 4 hours on the trot, funding, policies, Greenmyers, jobs, job descriptions, interns, Sustrans, all sorted, all discussed, along the burn, round the corner, Burncruinach, sweeties, take 2, nice and soft, and sweet, yum,
along, the road, neighbor chats, come on Donald, no time to talk, little girl, likes walkers, along, the tarmack road, along, now left, up, nobody in sight, for hours, where are they? The fronters?, the backers?, nobody, up, past the hoosie, that Ron likes, shame he is not here, miss Ron, up, past the slate, past the bear, with the raven, surrounded by round bushes, up, past the coos, in the big shed, up, mud, James Innes, the fermer, up, abandoned hoose, red gates, and now, Donald, you go on, I am slow, take big breath, and up, steep, up, steep, steep, steep, up, see the flag, up in the corner, placed with Camilla, on Thursday, its like an endless goal, but we get there, turn round, see it all, to the windfarm, the Buck the forest, all there, right now, along the fence, to the gate, and up again, up, up, a big white mount, lime, Steve says, and there it is, Huntly, our toon, Donald excited, me too, camera out, yes, we made it, almost, left now, the kite, a kite!, Gill, yes, Gill there, with the whisky, and the shortbread, another man, drank quarter of the whisky, not nice, anyway, prost, scol, Gill, in fire red, dungarees, bye bye, into the gorse, over another poem, about smells, coco nut, like in Copa Cabana, down, gorse, down, right now, down, down, through the prickly yellow, down, down, down, Cat, here she is, our Cat, and Rachel, Rachel injured, hello, coffee, a bit, not much, further down, tarmack, meet the mothers, hello, and the babies, and a dad too, left on the A96, cars, grr, Slow Marathon signs, round about, all there, ASDA,cross road, thanks god we are over 18, cross again, off we go, along Gordon Street, along, along, there is Roelf, where were you?, lost?, thanks god, you are here, walked on the road, from Gartly, woman with baby got his map, Anna, why?, here we come, there is the Brander, round it, garden, sign, Kelly, sign off, cake, yes, cake, thanks Daisy, we love you Daisy, and now a stretcher, foot bath, more cake, photos there, Miep comes, Nick comes, Steve comes, Kate comes, Clare comes, Roy comes, our prominence, guest of honour, boys in garden, 41k Fergus says, 1000m up…. 43k Claire says … 10 hours me, is that slow?, to get back home?
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Notes from the Path Maker
The identification of the Slow Marathon 2014 Glenkindie – Huntly route started in November 2013. The parameters like in previous Slow Marathons were set, to identify a route that:
1. leads to Huntly as an end point
2. is safe to use and has as little access issues as possible
3. is varied in landscape and culture
4. lends itself for artistic interpretation
5. is 26 miles long
• A route that leads to Huntly as an end point
Huntly has been the base of Deveron Arts since its inception in 1995. We believe that Huntly is also a great base for walking for people from all walks of life. We want to make walking opportunities visible and accessible for people that want to experience this countryside so varied in nature and culture. The first SM lead like a circle interpreting a poem laround the town. The second led from the Cabrach via the river Deveron over the Clashmach Hill back to the town. This third marathon was guided by our year long project the Hielan’ Way.
• A route that is safe to use and has as little access issues as possible
Under access we understand both physical as well as perceived ease of access. We try to avoid busy roads, although once a B road and at the end the busy A96 had to be crossed. We try to avoid barbed wired fences and we must avoid electric fences. We try to avoid farms with cattle; during the testing period from November till early May, there were no cattle on the route. But suddenly the day we marked the route, they were all out. This led to the fact that we had to reroute people at one point to avoid bullocks in an otherwise lovely paddock. The planning also requires to contact farmers on the way; we do this by writing them a letter or visiting them at their houses. But sometimes it is very difficult to identify who the farmer of a large field is. Many farmers don’t live nearby. Some farms are managed from distant places. If we started earlier, we would have had less problems with the cattle, but we may have had more problems with the snow, like last year. If we started later, we would have had more problems with the foliage, in particular the stinging nettles, which are not nice either. Some weekends are no good either, due to competing events in the area. In terms of perceived access problems, we mean things like fences, or signs that say Keep Out. No such sign was on the way, but in ideal terms we would have liked to lead the path past the castle. There are now also plenty of signs in the forest that warn us of invigilation cameras. So we must be careful not to do naughty things there, or we get reported…
• A route that is varied in landscape and culture
Unlike other marathons, our parameters are less set by ease of route, but by what interest a route can provide. The Glenkindie – Huntly route led through grouse land, past a wind farm and its cut down forests, farm land, an estate with out buildings, many abandonded cottages, flanking villages, views of the snow covered Lochnagar in the distance, past a castle and two sets of remnants of stone circles, moraine hills, unfolding views of Tap o’ Noth, passing of five burns, industrial forestation, new forestation, 2 sculptures, till one sees Huntly from the top by great surprise and gets down into town.
• A route that lends itself for artistic interpretation
the starting point of the route this year was to respond to the Hielan’ Way. For this we involved Simone Kenyon who was asked already a year in advance to help identify the path and its interpretation. She based her work on the legacy of the Aberdeenshire writer Nan Shepherd. We also involved other artists that we are currently working with: Gill Russell was a kind of local wizard with holy water and a kite appearing in various places; Sanaa Gateja reenacted the missionary Alexander MacKay’s playground in his childhood; Jake Williams entertained on the banjo with songs from the river Deveron.
• A route that is 26 miles long
this fact is cast in stone, otherwise it would not be a marathon. In fact it should be 26.2 miles long. About 6 weeks before the event I had a panic. The route is longer that we thought. I went out with Nick one weekend, and tried another starting point, from a farmer further below. We did the whole marathon on that day. In ten hours. But the route was a bit shorter than the 26 miles. In long discussions with the team we asked ourselves whether people would complain more if it was longer or shorter; in the end we decided to go for the bit longer version. But there will always be some people whose GPS tells the a different exact mileage. I was always a bit afraid of them.
Diary of Route defining and marking
While I was probably the driving force in identifying and ‘making’ the route, this was really a whole team effort. Thanks first of all to my husband Nick who walked with me many miles of the various sections. First with artist Jacques Coetzer in November around Lumsden (3 people x 4 hours = 12 hours).
Then just after Christmas we did the stretch in snow from Lesmore to Huntly; we got into Huntly just in time before darkness (2 x 4.5 hours = 9 hours).
Over Christmas I also spent a few hours walking with Deborah around the woods from Coynnachie, so see the best route along those confusing forest roads (2 x 2.5 hours = 5 hours).
Then the day before Hogmanay from Glenkindie to Auchmullen. (2 x 3 hours = 6 hours). Rachel brought us to the start and picked us up.
Nick and I did another long day some time in February from Kildrummy to Burncruinach; thanks to our friend Rick to drive Nick back to get the car back (2 x 7 hours = 14 hour). By now the idea of the route was set.
One afternoon there was a rugby match; Nick watched it with Rick; Claire and I went out for the round of Raebit Hill (2 x 1.5 hours = 3 hours).
From now on we had to polish the questionable bits and pieces. After Auchmullen Nick and I had got a bit lost; Simone tried again (2 hours), then Twig (Alexander Champion) too (2 hours); it was still not clear enough what to do.
I went out with Kate, Gill and Camilla and a few women who had signed up and wanted to train with us; we tested again one Saturday the ca 14 mls from Rigmore to Rhynie; we split at the Auchmullen point into upper and lower route. The upper one was the better one, along the forest (but then the cows set in the day before the marking, 3 days before the event, see below) ( 4 x 6 hours = 24 hours, team only).
There were also lots of questions just after Templand; I navigated it first with Nick, then went again with Simone one morning to check all the gates; we identified the best route, but had forgotten the camera (2 x 1 hour).
I went again, this time with Anna and her little baby Maila to take the pictures one evening. Kate went with Yunior and her mum, to check my description made sense; from Lumsden past Templand to Lesmore. (2 x 2 hours – not counting Maila).
In March I had a panic, it emerged that the route was a bit too long, I wanted to find an alternative route, so I went out with Nick on Sunday to find one starting at a far a bit lower than Rigmore, we took the taxi all the way, and started walking; in the end we did the whole route, on a sunny day, getting into Huntly after 10 hours (2 people plus driving = 22 hours).
I had the idea that the bit around Lumsden could be a bit better, and I went out with Nuno Sacramento one lunch time to walk the Clova circuit; I saw a little path turning left soon after Clova house, and I had to test it. I went back again and did the path; it was not only prettier, but saved about 300m of the route (2 x 1 hour, + 1 x 1 hour = 3 hours).
It was also important that there are sufficient people knowing the route; by then Kate and Camilla had gone as far as Lesmuir from Rigmore; Yunior from Lumsden; we arranged another Saturday to walk from Lesmore to Huntly with Mary Bourne and her husband Iain, who were to be the sweepers for the second part on the actual day. On that day, just a week to go we realized the farmer at Browlandsknow has taken away the gate, and they are putting electric fencing in; oh no. I panicked. (7 x 6 hours = 42 hours)
Nick and I went back up on the Saturday to check for other gates, all fenced, all going to be electric we got back frustrated (2 x 3.5 hours = 7 hours).
I phoned my friend Steve Brown, a forester, he knows about these things, he may know the farmer, Monday he and Yunior and I went back up to Brawlandknowes and met the farmer; he suggested a different, steeper, but nicer route; so this was sorted (3 people x 4 hours = 12 hours). Almost there.
I also suddenly remembered the little fresh wood Raebit Hill before Coynnachie, persuaded my friend Clare to walk it with me from Burncruinach on Tuesday morning before the Slow Marathon; it was really nice, and 2 minutes shorter; I think. (2 x 2 hours = 4 hours).
Now we had to do the marking. On the Wednesday before the Slow Marathon Kate drove me and Yunior out to Rigmore, we marked it to Auchmullen where my car was parked, had to fix the bridge on the route (2 x 3 = 6 hours). Kate took in the meantime Gill and Camilla to Auchmullen to walk from there to Lesmore (2 x 5 = 10 hours); Kate and Simone spent the day at Jake’s to sort out the Slow Day event; I drove there with Yunior, then Simone was to do the bit from Finglenny bridge to Lesmore; it took her more time than anticipated, I drove Gill back to Glenkindie. We worried about Simone. (1 x 3 hours; 3 x 2 hours driving, looking = 9 hours).
On Thursday Kate, Yunior, Camilla and I did the rest of the marking. We left my car at Coynnanchie, dropped Kate and Yunior at Jakes, who marked till Coynnachie (2 x 3 hours) and I went with Camilla from Coynnachie to Huntly (2 x 3.5 hours). Total 13 hours plus driving back to get the car = 14 hours.
I was still a bit nervous about the Templand route, so Jason Williamson kindly offered the Thursday morning to run the route and check whether the marking was good ( 1 x 1 hour = 1 hour).
On the day with Gill we saw the wee wood near the standing stones at Wheedlemont, it was lovely, one had to pass two gates and a sculptural farm intervention; we photographed it all; but on the day of the marking with Yunior four days before the actual event, we met the farmer, who told us about the bullocks at the other end in the paddock. By then the map and the description was printed, we went home, and made a sign to redirect people around the woods to Templand. Then we had to drive out again the 10 miles in the Thursday evening before the Slow Marathon to place the sign (1 hour driving and back).
After that it was done.
Total 214 hours route defining and marking.
NB: the times include getting to the place and back to Huntly
Thank you to:
Camilla Crosta, Kate Sargent, Yunior Aguiras, Claire Newman, Rick Newman, Simone Kenyon, Anna Vermehren, Jason Williamson, Jacques Coetzer, Nuno Sacramento, Gill Russell, Nick May, Rachel May.
Claudia Zeiske, May 2014