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.