‘Determination in the face of adverse conditions (by Lorraine at any rate)’
I’m now sitting at home enjoying a cup of coffee after a hot shower. I am writing my contribution two days late, knowing that Lorraine will be back out in the hills already, battling with the unpromising weather forecast to get to the next set of hills. When I think about Lorraine’s undertaking this summer, that determination to continue regardless is what I am struck by and that is why it was a privilege to be able to join her for a part of her journey. As we sailed around to Skye from Mallaig it seemed that we might get lucky with the two Skye Corbett’s as our goal. But, by the time that Paul had rowed Lorraine, John and I to shore the weather had already started to crap out. It wasn’t long before we were soaked through to the skin. However, we figured that a bit of rain was to be expected and that the two hills were achievable. We were in fact quite wrong. The further up the ridge we got, the stronger the wind became, until Lorraine and I were struggling to make progress in the gusts. With the three of us linked together though, we made progress onwards (not to mention the classic crouched crawl along the narrowest bits). It was sheer determination on the part of Lorraine that we did not back off of the hill and it was a happy feeling knowing that we had reached the top of the first Skye hill without being blown off of it (although that did happen on the way down). By that point we’d realised that the wind had slowed us down enough that the second hill was unlikely, but we were still hopeful that we’d get down in time to catch up with the boat before it set sail for Portree. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, so after negotiating some kayak-worthy burns we were back on the road where we started, walking into winds that were still slowing us down and soaking us to the skin. At this point I knew that I would have a choice the next day about whether to head out into the hills or to seek refuge in a warm dry boat (or pub). Lorraine on the other hand would not only be back out on the hill regardless, but she would also have to bike from the Slig back to Portree at the end of the day. Whereas those of us who did walk with her the next day on Skye and the following day on Harris had the luxury of car travel to and from the hills, making it much, much easier for us. However, it’s not just Lorraine’s relentless determination, even when she was feeling the pace, which sticks in my mind when I think about the three days on the hill with her (not to mention her being THE competent crew for the seven days at sea). No, what really sticks with me is the look of pleasure and contentment that she had on her face as the six of us walked up the hill on Harris, a woman still totally in her element. I hope that while I’m drinking coffee in the city, Lorraine taking pleasure in the solitude and simplicity now that the logistics of the islands phase is finished, with the knowledge that her achievement will also benefit others through the money raised and the inspiration that she is giving to people around her.