Sometimes the odds are stacked against you

by backpackingbongos

Somehow I managed to swap some days around at work and I ended up with 5 whole days off in a row, without taking any annual leave.  Opportunities like that do not come around very often so I started hatching plans of daring do.  Initially they involved hiring a boatman to deposit me on an uninhabited island off the West Coast of Scotland for a few days.  In the end I saw sense and realised that this may not be the most sensible thing to do in mid December on my own.  Finally I set my heart on a trip to the far western Highlands to ‘a bothy that shall not be named’, a place so magnificent that it looks like the Grand Designs teams did the decor.  A ferry would still be involved in getting there, so the adventurous mid winter spirit would still be kept alive.

Illness very nearly scuppered my plans though.  When I was Blown off course in the Yorkshire Dales I did not feel very well.  On the Sunday when climbing back over to Austwick I got very wheezy, struggling over the hill slowing the lads down a bit.  The wheezy / chestiness continued throughout last week but being allergic to doctors I avoided making an appointment.  Then on Sunday I was taking Reuben for a walk up my local hill which reaches a whopping altitude of 40 metres.  The wheezing came back with a vengeance and I really struggled to breathe, a really frightening experience as I made my way home to collapse on the sofa.  A kick up the arse to visit the doctor the next day.  Turns out I have developed Asthma which is a complete bugger considering I gave up smoking nearly two months ago.  On the positive side the drugs that I have been given made a huge difference and the far western bothy plan was back on.

Until this afternoon.  The weather has decided to throw a spanner in the works, have a read of this work of art.

It’s rather special isn’t it?  Even trying to get to the bothy via the coast (and you can’t get more low-level than that) involves crossing several waterfalls where ropes are in place for safety.  An eight mile hike over the hills is most definitely out of the question with winds like that.  It looks like my plans are have finally been relegated to the back-burner and filled under ‘another time’.

Plan B is needed.

35 Comments to “Sometimes the odds are stacked against you”

  1. Woo – that’s rotten luck – on both counts – the rotten weather and the asthma. I thought I recognised those symptoms on that Saturday but didn’t want to pry. It can come on very suddenly and be very alarming.

    That is a far more worrying thing than the weathered-off trip – so take your doctor’s advice and also check out the various asthma self-help websites that are really very good, to ensure you are getting up-to-date advice and inhalers. (You would be surprised at how many GP’s are still giving crap advice)

    Good luck with it James.
    (I am intrigued about the bothy as well….)

    • Something did not feel right when I was climbing over the hill on the Sunday Alan. Hopefully it is something that I can get under control and it won’t affect my hill going too much. As to the bothy, if I told you were it is I would have to kill you afterwards (gently of course!).

  2. That’s bad luck about the asthma; I hope you‘ll soon be feeling better.

    It’s really frustrating all that planning and the anticipation, only to be scuppered by the weather. It may not be much of a consolation, but a few years ago before the internet, and weather forecasts like MWIS, the first you would have known about the bad weather was when you arrived at your destination!

    At least now you have a chance to implement a plan B and hopefully still have a good trip.

    • I remember those pre internet day Geoff, watching the evening weather and trying to suss out what it would be like on the hills. In those days I would have to detour to a phone box to phone home rather than use a mobile. Plan B is shaping up.

  3. Sorry to hear about the asthma – hope you get sorted asap.

    That’s some weather, isn’t it? As geoff says, at least nowadays you can check the internet for such information. BTW, is it a forecast or just a general description of Scottish weather on any 2-day cycle? 😉

    Seriously, though, probably better not to risk it – and I hope plan B proves just as enjoyable if not as dangerous!

  4. Hmm. Backpacking in the Bongo, then? Or backpacking in the back garden even? Wise call as far as the weather’s concerned, it does look a bit ‘changeable’ and you don’t want to inflict an ordeal on yourself in wild and remote parts. In these conditions it’s best to avoid the worst of the effects of the fresh air – as my friend Gazza says: ‘Scotland Maims!’

    • The Bongo has been dusted off Pete, it was almost welded to my friends drive! Tomorrow in the central belt is looking wild – watch out for flying tiles when taking Dougal for his walkies in the city.

  5. Hi James, That’s a real shame about both your plans and the asthma, but I’m glad that you are feeling much better since your visit to the doctors. Sometimes the most sensible thing to do though, is not what you really wanted.

    Have you got a plan B in mind? Does ‘B’ stand for Bongo maybe? The weather looks like it might be bit wild even around here for the next few days!

    • B does stand for Bongo Chrissie, the battery was totally flat and I had to take it to the Garage to charge it up. Working fine now. I’m not going as far as originally planned now, possibly the Yorkshire Dales.

  6. You see, it’s not just me who’s a bad weather magnet! Best wishes for recovery on the asthma.

  7. Bit of a bugger on the asthma – at least it sounds like the mind altering drugs are doing their thing. I’m sure a dedicated mountain man like you will put plan A back into action some time. Like Alan I’m very intrigued by where you were heading to 🙂

    • I do wish that the drugs were mind altering, all they seem to do is keep me awake at night. As I said to Alan I would have to send the Backpackingbongos ninja in to kill you in your sleep if I told you where the bothy is.

  8. Hi James
    Asthma can be a tricky one, it varies so much from person to person. I was nearly twenty when I was diagnosed and scared myself silly on a few occasions before I really got to grips with it, it is so unpredictable. Take care, pay attention to how you are feeling and never be complacent would be my tips. Mine is well controlled and mostly barely noticeable, but I’m always aware because it is so scarey when you get caught out!
    The weather is a bit grim up here, I wouldn’t want to be further west, that’s for sure! Still, could be worse. Could be like the last two years. Now they were fun!
    Take care

    • Cheers for the advice Louise, I suppose that I will just have to be more careful from now on, especially when in the hills. I need to remember the inhaler as well. I love storms when I am safely indoors, not so much when walking – like the last Monday of the Challenge – won’t forget that eh?

  9. And here was me thinking that bad weather just followed me around… turns out it’s you too! mmm

  10. Sorry to hear about the asthma – a real pain to start with it now after you’ve given up smoking.

    Re the weather – yep, it’s a nasty forecast for up here. Even the Met office are putting out warnings to Joe Public now – it’s not just us hill types who are affected. The radio forecast at 5pm said they’ve issued a red warning – with the possibility of gusts of 90mph in exposed places. My eldest son drives a lorry across to the West Highlands each day, so I hope he’s ok,

    • Thanks Sheila – it does seem rather ironic that the asthma would start up now, a good reason to stay a non smoker I think. I hope that your eldest son is ok driving, hopefully he won’t be sent out tomorrow?

  11. You really must be one of the most unlucky people when it comes to backpacking and weather…

    Hopefully the drugs you’ve been given will have you back to near normal soon. As far as I know, which is only limited from a couple of friends, dealing with asthma is mainly about knowing your limits and not pushing too much beyond them.

    • I’m sure that I have had a good day on the hills weatherwise, been a while though! Cheers for the comment Charlie.

  12. Never mind yourself, think about your readers. It’s always good to read about other peoples epics. Man up!

    Having said this I have had asthma, which came back when I was about 30 and moved to West Wales (dampness?), but now 30 years on I rarely have to use any inhalers etc. sometimes when the weather changes dramatically.

    Take care – again think about your readers!

    • Don’t worry Bob, I’ll still be doing something slightly daft on the hills – just not as far away so I can bail again if necessary!

  13. that is special – ‘widely tortuous’ 😛 perhaps not a weekend for the islands. Good luck with the other too

  14. Like everyone else, sorry to hear about the asthma James…
    The weather is pretty ferocious up here just now and getting worse. Plan B would appear to be the sensible choice.
    re the secretive bothy, does it begin with ‘D’ by any chance, and is non MBA?

    • Thanks David. Glad that I stayed at home today, hopefully plan B will be put into operation tomorrow. The bothy is non MBA but does not begin with D!

  15. I hope you haven’t set off for Scotland, James. The borders, Central Scotland and the West seems to be particularly badly affected with numerous road closures. If you can, listen in to the updates on Radio Scotland.

  16. Take care with the asthma James. If it can cheer you up, my wife had it since she was a child, cheerfully smoked for a decade and went up a lot of hills the last few years alongside me without too many problems (cold weather does bugger up her chest though). She has given up the weed six months ago now, which is probably a good idea…

    • Thanks Yuri. Good to hear that your wife is able to get up into the hills without too many problems. Good on her quiting the weed, six months is a milestone.

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