Sir James Matheson bought the Isle of Lewis for £190,000 in 1844. Yes – the whole island.
This was a lot of money back then. I wish I could say he earnt it legitimately but he earned his money through the sale of opium. He was a drug baron like Pablo Escobar but without all the murder and cocaine. Maybe not all drug barons are bad but I’ve seen a lot of Narco’s episodes on Netflix. It doesn’t paint drug barons in a good light.
Matheson did not immediately endear himself to locals. According to Stornoway Historical Society, the creation of the castle grounds involved the clearance of tenants and the re-routing of public roads. But over the next three decades, he spent a further £200,000 on island improvements such as roads, schools and harbours in an attempt to kickstart the island economy. So, maybe he wasn’t all bad.
The castle took six years to complete but the surrounding land took even longer. He imported trees to turn the area into extensive woodland. The area is now a great place for walking and running. The grounds are accessible to anyone courtesy of Lord Leverhulme. He bought the Isle of Lewis from Matheson. He had many ambitious plans, some of which were followed through, but most collapsed. He only owned the island for a few years before he gifted the Castle and grounds to the people of Stornoway.
The castle was closed for many years due to disrepair but in recent years it has been renovated and is now a popular hotel https://www.lews-castle.co.uk/
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I have to rate it highly. Its my home running/biking/walking place and full of wonderful memories and experiences.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
There are a few entrances and car parks and I’ve never had any issues using them
I’ve previously written about the Seven Hills Race held annually in Edinburgh here. It is a great race and I recommend it however I didn’t realize just how hilly Edinburgh was until I ran all the hills in one go.
To celebrate the first day of the end of the travel ban in Scotland, I decided to avoid the countryside hills where I thought everyone would go. Instead, I treated myself to a trip to Edinburgh. My friend Fiona Outdoors (https://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk/) had never done the route. She decided to join me. She was relying on me for directions.
I thought the route was 14 miles and seven hills. We ended up doing 18 miles and 8 hills! Next time she won’t rely on me for directions.
You might ask, how is it possible to run eight hills in a seven hill race? Well, it was because one of the hills is actually two summits. The race only goes over one summit. We went over both. I’d argue that it is quite clearly two hills not one but I’m not a geologist. I presume there is a proper explanation for why it’s not two hills so I googled it and got:
“The two summits of Craiglockhart Hill form a prominent landmark which has resulted from the fact that the igneous rock is more resistant to erosion than the surrounding sedimentary rock. The recent ice sheet in particular has helped to mould the present landscape. The igneous rock consists of lava flows and ash layers giving the appearance of bedding which dips towards the west. A short walk to the summit rewards you with breathtaking views of Edinburgh while the southern slopes offer recreation in the form of golf. The local nature reserve is frequently used by the community and has also achieved status as a Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. The valley between East and West Craiglockhart is probably a glacial meltwater channel.”
A young man, carrying a very large box up the driveway of my house, screams, “this is too heavy. I can’t carry it any further.”
An older man is supervising the lift. He shouts back, “stop your whining!”
The young lad retorts, “its too heavy! My fingers hurt!”
I do not think he is suited to life as a delivery driver.
He is carrying a rowing machine. I ordered one a long time ago but due to a rowing machine shortage and delays caused by Brexit it had taken 6 months to arrive. Which means its unlikely I will now be able to qualify for this years UK Olympic rowing team. That’s definitely the reason that has stopped my selection….
I decided I needed a goal for my rowing so I tried to find out what is a good time and distance for a row. I came across the answer from an unlikely source, Australia’s favorite singing mutant – Wolverine or as as he prefers to be known Shug Jackman.
Shug is what people in Scotland call people called Hugh. I have no idea why.
So there’s my goal. I decided to try to get good enough to do 2000m in seven minutes. If so, i’ll be as good as Shug.
I decided to do a test row of 2000m so I’d have a benchmark time to improve on. I didn’t row too hard but I kept a good pace. I did 2000m in 6 min 45s.
Bugger! It turns out my target time was set by a man who is not very good at rowing.
Oh well – I’m now off to check if any of the other X-Men have set a better time that I can aim for.
Film Friday is a weekly (when I remember to do it) recommendation of one video to watch this weekend.
I have no interest in camper vans. My idea of holiday hell would be two weeks in a camper van BUT I really enjoyed this video explaining how to build one.
Thoma Heaton normally does landscape photography videos (which are also great) but in this series he explains how he converted a van into a camper. He is really good at explaining the issues involved and how he resolved them.
Should I run when injured? A doctor will say “definitely not” but I say “how injured am I?”
Like all runners I tend to ignore aches and pains by telling myself, “I’ll run it off.”
The day before this run I slipped and injured my back. I didn’t feel sore at the time. I was actually quite impressed by the quality of my fall to the ground. I managed to hold onto my phone all the way down. Even Tom Dailly the Olympic diver wouldn’t have fallen as gracefully.
I felt fine to start the run but during it I got sore twinges in my lower back so I did what any runner would do. I ignored them and hoped it would get better. It didn’t. By that evening I could barely walk as every movement sent a sharp paint through my back.
The next morning it took me 20 minutes to get up out of bed as I couldn’t twist without pain. I’d move a little bit of myself and then wait until the pain went away before trying again.
I had to get my wife to put my socks on me because I couldn’t bend over. Trouble getting up, scared to fall over and requiring a career – it was a good lesson in what old age will fell like to me.
Thankfully I feel better today but whilst watching the video below remember that I suffered for my art.
I previously wrote about Meikle Bin here. This is similar but it adds on some extra climbing by starting at the base of the Campsie Hills in Clachan of Campsie.
Check out the video to see the route.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
An interesting route but the road section might put people off doing it. If so you could start at the forest entrance instead
“Pinkston is home to Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, a flat water basin with bathing quality water, meeting rooms and storage facilities for clubs and groups, Pinkston Watersports is an official Glasgow 2014 Legacy project and is operated by Glasgow Watersports Ltd, a registered Scottish charity run by a volunteer board of trustees.”
Threre is much debate about where the name Pinkston originates from. Supposedly the Scottish version of the name originated in the old barony of Pinkerton near Dunbar. The barony had the motto “Post nubila sol” which translates to “After clouds sunshine,” which is a fittingly apt motto for an outdoor pool because anyone who uses an outdoor pool needs a positive attitude – it might be cloudy today but the next time I swim it will be sunny!
I’ve used the facility for the last few years. It’s a great place to get an outdoor swim in a safe environment.
Last year (2020) during lockdown, Pinkston offered a pay and swim session. Pinkston was the only swimming pool open as it could operate in a COVID safe manner due to it being outdoors.
I was back this week for my firs swim of the year there. It wasn’t very busy – there was 4/5 others swimming. The full length of the basin was open which meant I could get a nice 400m loop in. The water temperature was surprisingly in double figures (10C) I’d worn my full winter swimming kit but I could have word less and still been ok.
I appreciate everyone’s view of temperature is different but double figures is ok for me. I can swim until 5C but below that is too cold for me.
The only downside to the swim is that Pinkston can’t open the changing rooms to users. Everyone has to get changed outside. Which could be considered a positive thing – getting changed outdoors is a skill all outdoor swimmers have to learn. You might as well start at Pinkston.
Ease of Access:
Rating: 3 out of 5.
The area around Pinkston is getting regenerated. Local roads and access points are sometime closed so always check google maps first to find the best way there.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
The water is murky. Don’t expect to see the bottom of the basin. The pool is not that deep. I can stand up at any point in it (I’m 6ft tall)
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Their is a 400m-ish loop when the basin is fully open. The site is open to the east and west which means it can be tricky swimming at sunrise/sunset as the Sun shines directly into your face.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Due to Covid regulations only a small number of people can swim at a time. It never feels busy and there is plenty of room to swim in.
Would I go back:
Yes – it is convenient to have somewhere in the city. It is good for beginners and it is a great starting point for people who want to move from the pool to outdoor swimming.