I’ve been to Lewis Hill and Middlethird Wood on quite a few occasions now but each time was on my mountain bike in the rain and wind. This was the first time I had been able to go on foot and with blue skies above me, it was definitely the best.
A cancelled trip to the gym meant a last minute decision to go a local walk in Stirling instead, which turned out to be a great idea. It meant Jack and I both had the opportunity to try out our new walking boots in time for our trip to Isle of Skye later on in the month to complete the Skye Trail. Normally I get terrible blisters while walking but my new Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX’s seem to have done the job on their first outing. Once I’ve completed a few more miles in them, I will write a review to see how they compare to the previous model which I’ve thrashed up and down mountains for the last five years.
I hadn’t planned this walk and wanted to visit a certain forest I remembered hurtling through on my bike previously. Luckily, I remembered the way and we managed to take a walk through the forest while the setting sun lit up the ground with amazing colours. Not without stopping every now and again though, to empty our boots of the hundreds of pine needles that kept finding their way underneath our feet. We discussed the strange feelings of excitement and wonder you can get at times when you are lost in the hills or the wild and how I would love to just leave the path and walk through the forest to see where it would take me.
We had a small summit to reach first though, so off we headed for the top of Lewis Hill to overlook the cliffs and North Third Reservoir below them. There was a brutally strong wind that made it hard to stand up straight at the top but this didn’t take away any of the enjoyment as the weather was otherwise perfect! It’s a great feeling when you come out of the forest on top of the cliffs and the view opens up around you of the summit ahead and the rolling green hills bathed in the evening sun all around. Walking a path I had previously biked on several times also shows just how easy it is to miss these small details when you’re on two wheels, meaning I could stop plenty of times to look at or take photographs of any interesting views or scenes.
On the way down from the summit, we decided to leave the path and try finding our way back without checking the maps or GPS for guidance. This immediately made the walk more exciting as we had no idea where we were going and were just letting our feet aimlessly lead the way. We splashed through countless bogs, clambered over more barbed wire fences than I care to remember, wandered through several golden corn fields tall enough to hide in and passed one huge forest area fenced off with dozens of black pigs inside which took us by great surprise. After all that, we appeared next to a road and checked the map to realise we were not even a mile away from where we started which was pretty good going, considering we had absolutely no idea where we were heading to begin with.
The sun was shining all evening, our new boots were brilliant – even staying dry while standing in the river for a few minutes at the end – and we made it back safely without getting completely lost. A successful wander in the woods!