Betty: Shona Marshall

Am Basteir, 15th April 2022

I rehomed Betty, a Kerry Blue Terrier, at the age of 16 months.  She had been a show dog (so was very good on a lead) and she wouldn’t even step in a puddle when I first got her!  Like most terriers she is hard-wired to chase anything that moves, so with a particular penchant for grouse and ptarmigan I decided to use a waist belt and lead with her on the hills as I didn’t want her disappearing over a cliff.  I did, however, learn early on to unclip her lead when crossing streams and rivers as she is far more sure-footed on stepping stones than I am and I invariably ended up either being pulled in to the water or pulling her in.

Betty

We started our round on the 14th April 2021 after emerging from lock-down, and with four days guided climbing booked on Skye in May we needed to find our hill legs. We headed in from Tomintoul by bike with Betty in her buggy to bag Ben Avon and Beinn a’ Bhuird.  Although Betty has a relentless gait that she can keep up for miles, she is not designed to run at speed alongside a bike, so for the few hills that we did access by bicycle I pushed the bike and buggy in and then Betty enjoyed a thrilling bouncy ride back out! 

Betty 2

Bla Bheinn was the first scrambly hill that we climbed and I was amazed at Betty’s prowess and fearlessness, it was humbling to witness the trust she put in me as I encouraged her both up and down.  We were in at the deep end the next day when we climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle.  At first, we didn’t think that Betty would be able to do it but since we were raising funds for the Kerry Blue Terrier Rescue our guide, Andy, agreed to carry her up in his rucksack.  She was a star, never wriggling in the bag and just gazing coolly around.

Betty always looks forward to lunch on the hill, she started off having oatcakes and carrot sticks but this changed to hard-boiled eggs and cheese. We had an egg-rolling mishap on Sgurr Alasdair when she nosed the egg I put in front of her and off it went bouncing down the hill, fortunately she didn’t attempt to chase after it.

Betty 3

Our first wild camp was in Fisherfield and Betty is a great tent companion, she doesn’t snore or fart and the onesie she wears keeps her coat clean and dry.  Her beard can, however, retain the smell of sardines; her extra dinner rations.

Betty is a very fit dog, so we like to link hills together and have had many long days including the eight Ben Lawers Munros, seven at Crianlarich, the Ben Alder six, five in Glen Lochay and the seven eastern Mamores.  The four Lochaber 4000ft Munro were climbed on one of the hottest days of the year and it was a challenge carrying enough water for us both.  On over half of our Munros we were accompanied by my neighbour, Roger, who also completed with us on Am Basteir, and he often had his dog Taz with him.  Both dogs get on very well, Taz allows Betty to occupy her bed in Roger’s campervan as compensation for pinching Betty’s dinner on more than one occasion.

Betty 4

In March, we heard of a last-minute guided opportunity on Skye, when the weather at last looked like it would be kind to us.  This time we climbed five Munros in two days, including Sgurr Alasdair via the ‘dreaded’ great stone chute which Betty handled with ease, although her feet were a bit tender on our return home.

We had the opportunity to have Adrian Trendall, a Skye guide, to help us complete on Am Basteir during the Easter weekend but this meant that we would have to climb our final 16 Munros beforehand (including the three Knoydart Munros). This meant we could complete our round in 367 days and on the 15th April 2022 we did it.

Betty 5

In total we had 106 days on the hill, 66 nights under canvas and two nights in bothies, we walked 2340km and climbed over 175,000m.  Betty to date has also raised over £2200 for the Kerry Blue Rescue Trust.

Aged seven in June, Betty has hopefully many years of hillwalking ahead of her. She provides me with great company on the hill and some of my favourite days have been when it has just been the two of us together in grim weather.  The Munro Tops and the Corbetts are next in her sights, although this time there will not be any timescales to finish by.

Betty 6

Betty 7