What a brilliant few weeks of filming for the BBC. I've been busy working as Producer/Director on The Adventure Show which has been a roller coaster of adventure sports events. First, we were off to film the Islands Peaks Race which involves competitors sailing/running from Oban, to Mull, Jura, Arran then back to Troon for the finish. The weather was foul and I was amazed by the guts and determination of the sailors and runners. They had no respite from the weather and sailed/ran through the night taking in the three highest peaks on the three islands - totally amazing. I think it should make great TV - once we've wiped all the sea spray from the film!
Next it was off to the Mountain Bike World Cup event at Fort William which was held last weekend. 300 competitors from 30 different counties comping in the Downhill and 4x events. It was my first time at the event and the atmosphere was electric, a real buzz going down. I cant recommend it enough, even if you are not that into mountain biking, because of the incredible skill and guts of the riders - it's well worth seeing.
In between times I have been Directing the man often referred to as Britians best known hill-walker, Cameron McNeish. There are times when I am struggling up a mountain laden down by the camera tripod with my knees buckling that I wish I was somewhere else, but it doesnt last long. These 'shoots' are a joy to work on - how can I possibly complain about a day on the mountain, fresh air, views to die for and good company. Cameron is no stranger to controversy in the outdoor community and is a man who is quite happy to speak his mind. For me that makes his company all the more enjoyable - there's plenty of 'crack' and good conversation. When not filming we have time to compare notes on our various mountain experiences and adventures, and plan the next ones!
Anyway, just back last night from filming with Cameron and camera man Paul Diffley from Hot Aches Productions on Ben Lawers. A stunning day, but absolutely 'baltic' on the summit - isn't this supposed to be June?
Join us for this latest Wild Walk on The Adventure Show on BBC2 Scotland or Sky Channel 990 towards the end of June. I will try and let you know the exact date once we know for sure.
Team 'Tracks and Trails' have just returned to the Peak District following the 2 day Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM). My team mate, who's also my husband, was mountain guide Olly Allen. A recipe for success or disaster?
Following a sunny climbing road trip and final run preperations in Wales and Northumberland, Olly and I started to make our way north for the LAMM. The LAMM, known as the 'connoisseurs' mountain marathon, is a 2 day mountain competition, in pairs, navigating along the way with an overnight camp. This means you carry all your own sleeping equipment, food and stove etc for 2 days on the hill.
This was my 3rd LAMM and the reason i'll travel so far for a race is due to the stunning, remote locations, idyllic half-way camp and the friendly atmosphere from start to finish. To add intrigue to the event the organisers keep the final meeting location under wraps right up until the day before. All we knew until then was it was 3.5 hrs drive north of Glasgow and 2 hrs from Inverness.....The final event details email was sent out last Thursday along with a severe weather warning! 'Heavy rain due, 0 degrees, gales, rain and snow above 600m, be prepared for wintery conditions!' The final location was Morvich, Kintail. Home to famous Five Sisters of Kintail, above Glen Shiel. So on Friday we made our way, in heavy rain, to the event centre point!
Morvich is on the edge of Kintail Forrest and the Duich Loch and not far from the Isle of Skye bridge - perfect location. To add further interest to the event we were bused to our starting point where you mark your map up with the control points and where we set off into the wilds for the next two days. The course we ran took us 26 miles over 2400m of ascent...and much to our amazement we benefitted from breezy, mild temperatures to run in and barely felt a drop of rain all weekend. It was also enough to keep the adorable midge at bay! The chat at the overnight was great and morale high. The camp was in a remote setting, munros all around, with a river and Loch on tap to bathe sore feet and legs in - the sunshine kept us warm whilst cooking and bite free! Amazing!
Following a cool night the bagpipes woke us at 5am! Our result on day 1, 29th pair (56mins off the leader) put us into the 'chasing start'. This means we had to start day 2 exactly 56 mins behind the lead pair! Those in the chasing start wear a bib so that others also 'out there' know that you to be hunted down! So as the seconds ticked we waited inline for our next set of controls and were away - straight up hill - yet again! Just as we approached control 2 we saw our first team to be hunted....this proved to be a bit of a fight but finally took them on another long climb. Later on we came across a couple of other tired looking male teams who we soon left behind!
Day 2 seemed to be continuously uphill, great for us as that's where we seemed to benefit with overtakes. The climbs also reward you with 360 degree views, if you can take a second to look, including over to Skye. The killer for me is the contouring for long distances, travelling at one height without a path on awkward ankle/knee twisting ground. After a long spell of this we came over the last peak and could finally see the event centre below! Breathing a sigh of relief we started picking up speed for the final descent, passing teams from all different categories. It was a great finale all the way back into the sunny finish grounds.
Our score for day 2 was 17th team - putting us into 25th over the 2 days out of 164 teams, 6th mixed team which we were really pleased with. Recipe for success - following very few 'discussions' on navigation, speed or who carried what - Olly's already getting details of the newest, lightweight kit on the market for 'next years' LAMM. So watch this space as I may well have converted this climber into a runner!
What a truly glorious welcome back to the Highlands, bue skies, sunshine, dry rock and stunning views. It's always a treat when I arrive back from an Alpine winter to find Scotland bathed in sunshine. After my stint in Orkney, I headed straight for Creag Meagaidh in the Highlands for a days navigation tuition with two clients/friends. Laminated maps and pacing guides in hand we strode off into the beautiful Coire Ardair and up the snow slope to the 'Window' and on round the tops to the summit. With snow still lying on the plateau and thick mist high up the day went from navigation practice to navigation for real and full on at that. However, it proved to Scott and Carole that the techniques of pacing and timing on a bearing do work - thankfully! Next day it was off to Glencoe and the delights of a blue sky and stunning ridge walk. When Scotland serves up a day like that it really is the best place in the world to be. No one around, and views of empty mountains as far as the eye can see. It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many places in Scotland where you have views of a wilderness area. Anyway, for Scott and Carole it finished off a week of great walking in good weather, with only one claggy day on Creag Meagaidh and even that was perfect for a navigation day. I will soon be heading off for a 6 day Highlands Hiking trip with two American clients and look forward to showing them Scotland - let's hope the weather behaves.
The Adventure Show BBC2 Scotland - dont miss it! BBC 2 Scotland Sunday 22 February 06.05pm and Sky Channel 990
What a day it's been - blue skies, snowy mountains and a biting cold wind on the summit, a day when you are glad to be alive and in Scotland! I left the Alps a week ago to nip back to Scotland to do some media work for the BBC. It included today's expedition into the Monadliath mountains behind Newtontmore for The Adventure Show which is broadcast on BBC2 Scotland each month.
Over the last year I have, on several occassions, worked as a television Director with Cameron McNeish who is often referred to as the UK's best known hill walker! I have to say the man is a treat to work with and I know no one else who has so much genuine enthusiasm for Scotlands' mountains and is prepared to share that enthusiasm so eloquently. Our intention had been to travel to Schiehallion in Highland Perthshire but heavy snow and blizzard conditions put paid to that. After several cups of tea in my kitchen, calls to the Police asking about roads, and calls to the camerman Paul Diffley to find out how far up the A9 he had got, we decided to film in our own backyard in the stunning Glen Banachor.
The Monadliaths are a great rolling mass of heather and bog and perhaps lack the sharpness of the west coast mountains, but give them a covering of snow and they are transformed into a glittering arctic landscape which is home to mountain hares, grouse, snow buntings, golden eagle, otters and red deer. As Director I am responsible for making sure the shoot happens and that we get the necessary material for the TV feature. I had serious doubts about shooting anything and of getting any views, but the more cups of tea we had the clearer the sky became until the clouds parted to promise a good day. In fact, it was stunning and despite the exhaustion of plodding through thigh deep snow drifts to climb A'Chailleach, 930m, we were exhilerated - 1. because of the beauty of the mountains, and 2. because we had pulled it out of the bag despite a rocky start to the day.
Best of all Cameron had opted to wear snowshoes for the filming. It will, I am sure, be the first time that someone has been filmed making a journey on snowshoes in Scotland for national TV. Unfortunately, and dont laugh, but I didnt have any as all mine were in the Alps. On more than one occassion Mr McNeish bounded past saying "aye, you should get yourself a pair of snowshoes!" I nearly tossed my teddy out of the pram! The great joy for me was that he was another snowshoe convert and had heartily embraced this ancient form of winter travel. The fact he was telling his many thousands of fans through the medium of TV that they were to be highly recommended was great.
The picture shows cameraman Paul Diffley, myself, and Cameron on the summit of A'Chailleach. A great place to be on a blue sky day in Scotland.
PS The Adventure Show feature on snowshoeing in Scotland will be broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland at the end of February. I will try and let you know exactly when once I have the details.