Day 91 has seen 10.5 miles walked, a bond strengthened, an amusing moment and more wonderful people met.

Angela and Stephen at the Riverside, Abbey Craig
Angela and Stephen at the Riverside, Abbey Craig

Last night was a horrible nights sleep as I lay there listening to the birds, who were also clearly having trouble sleeping chirping away outside. I tried so hard to focus on the wonderful chirping of the birds in order to stop the mind spinning and allow myself to drift off to sleep. I had been hit with so much to think about and decisions to be made in the last few hours before bed that I just couldn’t stop the mind from spinning. It was nobody’s fault. Just everyday life stuff and perhaps my sluggish brain was struggling with the multi-layered complexity of the multitude of different issues to consider. Or perhaps I just wanted to catch up after a week away and was struggling to compute it all. Whatever, it was clear that a good walk was needed. Some fresh air and clear thinking time. Heather was again involved in the panto but James was free. We were going for a walk.

First thing I took Georgie out for an early morning leg stretch. Just 1 mile but enough for the old girl. Back home woke up James, informed him of the good news – we were going for a walk. 2 hours before we had to catch the bus so up and breakfast and get the kit ready. He sparked quickly and with only one or two minor exceptions all was found, put on, packed and ready to go. At no notice it was a marvellous feet from James. Brilliant. Meanwhile I was folding maps in to my map case with written instructions as a memory jogger should I need it but was fairly confident where we were going today.

This time we caught the A1 bus. A delightful little rural bus that wiggles about the villages around Stirling and connects communities twice a day. It is small, compact, slow but incredibly reliable with the same cheerful and very helpful driver every single day it runs. As a result we were dropped off at the perfect spot to start the walk up the Abbey Craig to the Wallace Monument. It was dry and mild with only the slightest breeze so stripped off our fleeces ready for the warming tramp up the hill. It was lovely with both of us walking in partnership but deep in thought as the sun danced on the Ochils across the Carse until we met Ron and his lovely wife, both from Exmoor and at 71 flying up the hill. He was a true inspiration and a joy to walk with as he told us about his house high up on the moors with no mains power and then giggled about how his wife had to cycle very fast in order to generate enough electrical current to start the generator. James was fascinated by this new way of life and asked many intelligent questions. I had to tell him about the challenge and hoped that they would enjoy a glass of wine as refreshment once they had managed to fire up the generator to watch the video!! We eventually parted company and headed around the Crags of the Craig to enjoy the views of Stirling and the Forth before descending to the Visitor centre for a celebratory Mocha and hot chocolate having completed the 2.5 mile walk before starting the second walk.

A beautiful view of the winding River Forth from Abbey Craig
A beautiful view of the winding River Forth from Abbey Craig

It started raining so donned the waterproofs and set off on the 4 mile route into Cambuskenneth to see the Abbey, over the footbridge in to Riverside to see the old harbour and then on up to Stirling Old Town. As we walked down the road to cross the railway line a delightful couple gave me such a smile such that I had to tell them about the challenge. Hands shaken and cheery farewells later I returned to James who had been waiting very patiently for a train to cross the crossing as I talked. So we waited some more and soon enough the lights were flashing, the barriers down and James and I stood, hugging in excited anticipation to see what beast was going to be thundering right past us. It took a while to get to us because it was a very small and very quiet two carriage local train pottering along gently. A little bit of an anti-climax to the building excitement but we did at least get a wave from the driver. Train passed and we were off. We marvelled at the history of Cambuskenneth Abbey, reduced to a bell tower but the burial place of a Scottish King and once the location of Robert the Bruce’s parliament as well as being a busy and bustling Abbey. As we moved up on to the footbridge leaving Cambuskenneth we bumped in to the delightful Angela and Stephen whose infectious smile encouraged me to ask if they wouldn’t mind taking a photo of James and I while also inviting them to enjoy a glass of wine while watching a video and as I did so I learnt of their friend who has recently lost friends to cancer and so was cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise funds for the big cancer charities. I was thrilled to hear of his journey and pray that he sees the very best of weather for his long ride. Hands shaken we parted and as they crossed the bridge James and I stared down in to the water running deep below us to see what we could find. A bicycle tyre. It was time to go so then crossed the River Forth in to Riverside in order to visit the site of the old Stirling Harbour where trading with Europe was enabled via the tidal River Forth from the 1400s onwards until early in the last century. We imagined the sites and sounds of a busy trading port then after stripping out of our waterproofs we set off for Stirling Old Town. James needed a new reed for his chanter on his bagpipes so a visit to the Stirling Bagpipes shop owned and manned by the hugely enthusiastic and knowledgeable Alan. We learned a little today about the Small Pipe and various playing techniques so it was a good visit with the reed secured. We meandered back down through the old town enjoying the wonderful variety of ancient architecture. With 4 miles completed on the second walk and with plenty of time before the next bus home we went for a late lunch. We chatted a little about the different types of bagpipes, James demonstrating his knowledge by listing them: ‘highland bagpipe, smallpipes, border pipes, welsh pipes, horn pipe’ he said ‘James, Horn Pipe?’ I queried. James nodded. ‘James that’s a sailors’ dance!’ He looked at me quizzically and as he did so I could see the dawning realisation spread across his face as his nervous smile broadened in to a wonderful giggle.

Bus caught and back home to be met by Georgie wagging furiously. No time for resting. She still hadn’t adjusted to the concept of retirement and was excited about the idea of a walk before tea. She was bouncing about forgetting her 13 years so needed a good walk. I took her on a good 3 mile route making the most of the slightly longer daylight in the afternoon.

A good day had today with 10.5 miles walked and more great people met and most importantly not even a hint of a seizure. Tomorrow is an admin day with the children as I get them ready for their school ski trip taking maximum advantage of the sales so not planning to write a post tomorrow but you know me!!

I took a picture as we approached the Wallace Monument
I took a picture as we approached the Wallace Monument

So until the next post the challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 91
Total Miles Cycled: 477
Total Miles Walked: 455.0
Total Miles Run: 25.6
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 8.4 
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.966.0
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,645 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 17
Days of Voluntary Activity: 5.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 4
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 8
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 4
Press Ups: 188
Pull Ups: 48
Sit Ups: 188
People Met and Hands Shaken: 320
Pots of tea shared: 20
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 3
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Pills popped: 386
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 77 – £5,395.

Considering I started this challenge 12 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. So far that is £70.06 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

What the Beat The Beast Challenge is

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received. I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye