We leave tomorrow. Six hours to Carlisle and the luxury of Travelodge. Another 4 hours to Aviemore where it all starts, or should that be continues?
Back in 2007, as a very green and inexperienced hiker grovelling away for a living in the kitchens of a PGL centre, I set out to climb Ben Macdui. A 9.30AM start in November probably wasn't the smartest of moves, but then again, who gets everything right first time around? I made it as far as the March Burn that time, before the thickening cloud and fine drizzle soaking through my Regatta 'waterproof' sent me scuttling back to the car park before dusk fell. I've been exiled from Scotland ever since.
Tomorrow I travel back to the Cairngorms, courtesy of a long running card game competition with Laura: if she won, we agreed to go to Alton Towers. My prize was the Cairngorms, or maybe Skye, or some other place in Scotland. Secretly it was always about the Cairngorms; I felt I had failed first time around, even if turning back was the right decision. With a slightly older and greyer head on my shoulders now though, Ben Macdui would be great, but it's not the only game in town.
Despite the poor forecast for the week we're going to give the West Highlands a shot too. A friend who knows about these things recommends Aonach Eagach, which coincidentally is the sound I made last time I had a gut infection. Cowardice being the best part of valour, we'll have to see how it all pans out. Plenty more to do if that all goes belly up.
Watch this space...