Sunday, 17 May 2009

TGOc 09 - Braemar

I went out on Friday night to meet Darren at the designated rendezvous point near the Linn of Dee. If he wasn’t there, we would meet up on Saturday morning.


After a wet drive, with localised flooding and some tree debris to be avoided, I arrived at the Linn of Dee. I left his resupply box (and some extra goodies) in the car, and had a short walk to the clump of trees we had agreed on. There was no-one there. Considering the weather, and that for him the west-east walk would be into the wind, this was not a surprise.  The movement that I had noticed further along the track was a small group of stags.

Dropping off the road, I moved amongst the trees in case Darren’s tarp was concealed from view, and then chose a sheltered pitch and put up the tent.

In the morning, the weather had not changed much, still wet, but the wind had died down. I pulled on Paramo trousers,  showerproof Montane jacket and treated boonie hat.


Some slugs had to be cleared off the tent and boots, and other kit checked for the slimy wee things.


As I started to pack and think about breakfast, I noticed a couple of walkers heading east. One “helloooo’d” me across the glen, and I waved back. They carried on walking, and so it couldn’t have been Darren.


A few minutes later, I was greeted by the sight of a pair of man-tights (leggings) at the tent door.


We chatted and headed off to the Linn of Dee. He had crossed the Geldie that morning. The holler had come from Vince, first-time Challenger, but who had walked in other countries.


Seeing a red squirrel by the bridge, and an advert for free brew for Challengers and tempting accommodation price at Mar Lodge (good one, NTS). I headed back to the car, leaving Darren to walk into Braemar,where I would meet him en route for a snack break.


Outside Inverey, I gave a ‘helloooo’ to Vince and introduced myself. The scout group camped near the Linn had treated him to breakfast. It is great when visitors to our country are treated like this.



I made a quick trip into Braemar for a thermos, and then caught up with Darren after boiling up some water at the roadside. We were joined by Andy, who I’d met last year. As the cakes were shared out, I got a friendly ribbing from a passing Babyfather John Manning about my weight – guilty as charged.

Returning to Braemar, I met Shirley “Peewiglet” (and was rewarded with a hug) and Andy Howell (handshake). After Darren arrived, we waved at Bob and Rose, then lunched - and Vince came in as we finished; then joined by an other Challenger. The two of us then went to the Fife Arms for a healthy drink and I get another hug from Peewiglet, and a few words with John Manning and Bob “no bones broken” Cartwright.


After making sure Darren has his resupply box, and extras (including a required phone charger), I leave the Challengers to their trail-tales, renewed friendships and then to walk across the rest of Scotland’s width.


Martin Rye said...

When the weather is crap that tent pitches fast and does what it says on the tin. Moving on it is good to see they are getting there. That road walk is boring but the reward at the end is worth it.

stourvale walker said...

Perfect conditions for Paramo!
Its about time Paramo sponsored the challenge and made it The Paramo Challenge.
A very good report Duncan,it made me wish I was there.

Mac E said...

Great report Duncan, I spent Friday night in the Hutchinson hut with another guy, Louis. Absolutely wild, sounded like the roof was going to fly. Walked out with Louis (White Shorts with #3) on Saturday morning and bugged out for Cairnryan. Where were you pitched up? must have been a wild camp all right.

AktoMan said...

Hi Mac. Probably sounded worse inside the hut. I didn't know you were across, and look forward to the read (as ever).

The pitch is a (secret) one, as I've never seen anyone else there. But seeing as it's you ... do you see the photo of Darren walking along the trail towards the Linn of Dee? To the left of the shot, there's a stand of trees. That's it.

I've camped there a few times overnight (eg with Dawn at the end of the day)

baz carter said...

Nice report Duncan. Glad to see that everyone's making the most of it. Makes me want to sign up for next years Chally.

AktoMan said...

I noticed a big difference in Darren. One of the reasons I didn't stay over is that I felt so out of place. I've hardly been out since last year's bout of cellulitis hit, and the year before it was the abdomen pain at the end of the Summer. I'd love a Challenge to aim towards, but there's no chance of hitting my work with 15 days of unpaid leave, and the associate class cover.

Martin Rye said...

Reading the comments here reminded me of a recent phone conversation with a friend who is considering the Challenge next year. I pointed out the organisers expect UK based walkers to have had experience of backpacking in Scotland before applying, and be competent navigators in high moorland areas in poor visibility. They reject applications deemed too inexperienced. So anyone reading Duncan’s post who is thinking they want to go for it. Best to get the West Highland Way, or some other Scottish backpacking route under the belt first. Duncan must be a pain being a teacher getting holidays in term time. I can see is hard. Do a route in summer. You don't need to be on the Challenge to coast to coast:) As you know from other walks.

AktoMan said...

A wise comment indeed, Martin.

If people read the posts of experienced walkers (eg Mick & Gayle, Alan Sloman), then they'll get an idea that it isn't a simple weekend out. Others are experienced walkers from around the UK or the World, eg Peewiglet's or Andy Howell's many walks.

For the other point, the only reason I considered the Southern Upland was because I couldn't consider getting time off for the Challenge. That was after I found I could walk along the West Highland Way.

Both these Ways are Waymarked. The TGOc isn't, so navigation is very important. People are also having to find their way across a variety of terrain types.

And then there is the weather to consider.

All of which leads it to be a "challenge". The recognition that the Challengers and organisers deserve should reflect this, especially in the 30th year of this annual Scottish sporting event.

AktoMan said...

Darren's post is now up