For all who know me, I have a slight tendency to do too many things at the same time, resulting in a jaded and bewildered Great Big Jar who is in need of a wee lie down. I’m not bemoaning my life in the slightest, I am a big girl and can say NO whenever I want to. But, it would be rude to do that wouldn’t it…

So, 2013 wasn’t going to be any different now was it!  To add to my ‘to do’ list this year, I persuaded/dragged/coerced my husband in continuing where we left off last September and we paid our dues. We joined the merry mob and went for the Silver medal at the second ever St Columbas Hospice Great Pentland Push event.  Just a mere 18 miles over the rugged Pentland Hills that rise up over the skyline of my fair city, Edinburgh.

The Pentland Hills, Edinburgh
The Pentland Hills, Edinburgh

Easy, they said. You did the bronze last year, this is only another 5 miles, they said. I can still hear them chuckling into their latte’s while they warm their slippers in front of the nearest fire.

So September 21st came along and we find ourselves silencing the alarm that drones at us, announcing to our brains that it’s get up time, it’s 5am. Rather than the usual rugrat alarm clock known as Wee C who normally appears at the back of 7, this was a bizarre change to our morning schedule. To anyone with small children, those two hours are very, very precious and should not be ignored lightly.

And then I think of Gran Gran and why we are doing the walk in the first place. I rouse my snoozy hubby and we make our way to the hills and the walk that lies ahead of us.

Van Gogh's Sunrise especially for us
Van Gogh’s Sunrise especially for us

The sunrise that greeted us on the way South was nothing short of astounding. A criss-cross of pinks and oranges that made the sky-line appear to have had a visit from Van Gogh himself, as if thanking us for our efforts before we had even started. A very welcome picture to the slightly bleary-eyed travellers on the venga bus to blister paradise.

If anyone has ever taken part in an event for St Columbas Hospice, then you will know how much effort all the staff and volunteers put in.  Making sure you have everything you need before, during and after the walk.  There are three medals to strive for: Bronze – 13 miles, Silver – 18 miles and Gold – 25 miles. All should be taken very seriously as these hills are not for the faint-hearted or jelly legged among us!

A hearty breakfast supplied by the wonderful on-site chefs and your ready to go. The rousing bagpipe song fills the air and with proud tears in my eyes, we stepped forward and began our journey.

Last year, we encountered many ‘interesting’ hills to climb and as a vow to each other, we swore an oath to get Turnhouse and Carnethy completed without stopping, which to my amazement we did this time around. A small cheer rose up from the two unprofessional climbers, startling other walkers in the process. A small achievement to some but a momentous occasion for us.

The top of 'Doom'
The top of ‘Doom’

As we did the bronze last year we knew that we would be heading over unseen territory, into pastures new and beyond. And yes. yes we did. The scowling Scald Law rose up in front of us and we uttered such pleasantries as ‘tally ho’ and ‘hurrah, another large hill beckons us’ – realistically though, we muttered obscenities and then reminded ourselves why we were there, picturing Gran Gran laughing at us in our minds as we ascended Scald Law, known thereafter as ‘The Face of Doom’. Neil had another word for it, but that’s a story for another time.

By this point, the clouds had lowered, blanketing us with an eerie white wall. Descending down towards our next challenge we were back in clear sky again as we trooped onwards. The East and West Kips loomed above us, not long now, we thought!

Follow the path...
Follow the path…

At this point we had two and a half miles to go…may I say the longest two and a half miles I have EVER walked. But we did it. We walked over the marshy last few miles towards the finishing line, greeting ramblers out for their daily jaunt with pleasantries although we must have looked like we had been dragged through a hedge backwards.

We couldn’t have finished on a better note: it hadn’t rained, we hadn’t got lost and we triumphed through adversity to completed a remarkable challenge.

Oh yes we did!
Oh yes we did!

It’s difficult enough walking the Pentlands but when your husband is a foot taller than you, I thought I did well with my four steps to his one. We decided to go all out at the finishing line and did Mo Farrah and Usain Bolt proud – well we thought so anyway.

Thanks again to everyone who supported, donated, laughed and cried with us – we have raised over £1,000 for St Columbas Hospice. A special thanks to all those who attended the Charity Screening of The Angel’s Share at The Dominion Cinema last Tuesday, you were treated to my dulcet tones over and over again as the Hospice DVD I was filmed doing the bronze last year, looped in the background. You all deserve a medal!

We have just found out that we crossed the finish line 11th and 12th out of 44. Not too shabby for a wee couple going for a walk on a Saturday.

It was a roller-coaster ride but we did it. Next year we are not doing the gold (Neil chokes on his coffee as I say that out loud) as our wee N celebrates his 10th birthday on the same day in 2014. Instead, we will be doing a nice wee 5 mile walk with said rugrat and his wee brother, aptly entitled The Nudge.

We may sneak a cheeky laugh at Carnethy as we walk past too!

Here’s a link to the fantastic photo’s of the breathtaking scenery Neil took on our way round:

If you wish to donate towards the re-build campaign at St Columbas Hospice then feel free to:

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Send a donation to Martin Lawlor, Senior Fund Raising Manager, St Columbas Hospice, 17 Boswall Road, Edinburgh, EH5 3RR (cheques made payable to St Columbas Hospice).

Mr & Mrs Great Big Jar x


  1. Great story and great pics. Well done both of you. Gran gran is probably still laughing xxxx

  2. Well done you two – hard slog! I hope you are both snoozing on the sofa now?

  3. Many Congratulations. Not just a huge undertaking but a resounding success too for a great cause. xxx Huge Hugs xxx.

    1. Thank you Mrs, it was a good laugh but hard work. Neil always just gets on with it no matter what I ask him to get involved in :-). Not doing gold next year, my wee legs wouldn’t take it!