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12.08.2016

TGOC 2016 Days 7 to 9 Schiehallion to Braemar (inc a day off)

TGOC 2016 Days 7 to 9 Schiehallion to Braemar (inc a day off)

Day 7 - Schiehallion to Blair Athol


Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite - I'm In I'm Out And I'm Gone

We woke to bugger all visibility.
Schiehallion had gone.
In fact, I couldn't even see Martin's tent, and he was pitched next to me.
There was still a thought of Schiehallion, the top track is easy to follow, but we didn't know what the wind would do.
The bottom route out East, had NO tacks at all, but you can follow the river (kind of)
It's a democracy, and safety call.
We stuck low in wind and rain.
On the map, you can see the original planned route, and an approximation of the re-route in green.
Not many photos. This was a head down rain day.
Very wet underfoot, picking through long grass, bog and heather to try and pick up the big track at the far end.
Then it would be easy walking we hoped into Tummel Bridge, where with luck, the campsite would be open and we could get dry and have lunch.




And thus is came to pass that we walked East.
It is not obvious, there is NO path at the bottom.
Plenty of animal tracks, bog, heather and hard graft.
We walked a long way like this.
The rain lashed us.
Our feet trudged through wet heather.
In shoes it ain't a dry foot day.
TBH, it wasn't a dry anything sort of day.

Somewhere to the East end of Schiehallion, Martin and I briefly parted company.
I stayed high, and he went south.
No idea why, it looked ok where I was.
Martin was convince I think that an oasis of dancing girls and balmy weather were about 200 m south.
I let him go.
You can't tell the younger generation anything.
I watched him crash down through heather and across streams.

Meantime I bumbled along, looking for the nicest ground.
Not that there was any.
But nay and lo and behold. 250m further on.
"What this be?"
"Nay but tis a big green landrover track tha nas"

And so I skipped along in a jolly way watch glimpses of Martin bouncing through stuff.
Looked a bit like our Labrador when he runs through the wheat.
Every now and then you saw a head pop up.

Somewhere towards the end of the track, just before it nipped round the corner and then down to the main track at the end I stopped.
There was a brief (and ever so brief) stopping of the lashing rain.
I fiddled around with stuff.
Tightened laces and rinsed out wet gloves while waving Martin back up.
I did not gloat

All I said was ....

"Nice big track up here"
"Next time listen to your dad son!" :-)

And with that we bumbled on down the track.

Near the bottom we met a large party of youngish people walking up.
We stopped for a chat with the party leaders.
Can't remember what they were doing now.
Do remember that some of the youngsters looked really really pleased to be there NOT

We carried on up the track to the road.
At this point there is NO track across to where we wanted to be.
Martin remembered that there was a way down through the field.
We climbed over the fence and walked down through the field.
At the bottom it is just about possible to get across the river.
Any other place it is quite deeply gorged.

We came out onto a muddy farm track.


We went down to the rightt of the Farm at Braes of Foss, crossing the river and then taking the path along the tree line. There is not really anything on the map, but on the ground a farm track goes all the way to the Pylon Line.
From here there is another easily followable track that does not appear on my maps anyway that follows the Pylons all the way down to Tummel Bridge.

OK, at the bottom you have to climb a gate that says you probably shouldn't be there, BUT there is nothing at the top to tell you NO, and this is much much nicer than having to get over to the road.

We arrived at the road and turned left.
This is the best way since it is the correct direction.
Walked up past the power station and then turned right over the bridge, taking the road up to the Camp site.

As GOD was on our side it was open.
Martin bought something apparently essential in the shop and then we went in to the main bar area.
They had coffee, but no food for 45 min.

WE STAYED...

WE WERE WET.
and I mean WET!

Hanging most of the clothing (within reason) we had to dry, we bought hot drinks.
Spent intermittent periods in the toilet trying to get the hot air dryer to dry out socks and coats and shirts and gloves and........

Later we had lunch.
Outside it was still veritably PISSING DOWN like rods

We knew how far we had left to go.
We could afford an easy 2 hours here.

We did.
We ate
We had more coffee.. and tea

We dried out more

And then, eventually it was time to head out into the wet and damp again...

It was intermittent rain...

Back down the road we then took the long windy track up into the woods to get to the path up and across through Bohally Woods and eventually to pick up the large track that seems to go on forever to Loach Bhac.

Here we stopped for a short break in the small fisherman's hut.
Put some precautionary tape on feet (since feet and socks and shoes were all pretty wet)

Then headed off through slippery mud and into open ground that goes up and over to drop down to Blair Atholl.

Near the bottom we were met by two horses going a bit bonkers.

We then took the top track that parallels the road via the farm to Blair.
A couple of years back I had gone via the road when Mr Sloman said that this path was a nightmare.
It may have been then, but it was pretty damned fine.

All the way to a bit past the bridge.
We dropped down through a gate and slightly overshot the small path to the bridge.
DOH, needing to back track about 600m.

Over the bridge, and into Blair.

Not much open, we headed to the camp site, still mighty damp to book in and get into our POD.
We were again a day early, but hoped it would be available for both days.

IT WAS!

Brilliant.

Heat, cooker, and much of the stuff you would need.

A change of clothing was needed.
A visit to the laundry room was needed.
AND....
A visit to the pub was definitely going to be needed.

I can say now that it was success all round.
I cannot remember how many beers.
At least 3 ...

Martin was struggling with dodgy feet.
We were in no rush.
We had decided to have a day off and go for a bimble to Pitlochry.
Get some supplies etc etc.
Have coffee and cake in the shop and generally chill

GOOD IDEA!

We did.

Next day, we got the bus in and the train back
Supplies.
Coffee and cake in th3e wonderful mill shop
And generally had a rest.

Oh...we went to the pub again too.

Here are the very very few pictures of the last 3 days

Loch Bhac back in 2011.

That's Sloman there
Dropping down to the farm from Bohally Wood
 
Me heading across the bridge.
Yep it was ****ing wet


In the Pod

The Mill wheel by the Café.
Nice Café too.
 
And lo we passed the day.
On the return from the pub we grabbed essential supplies from the little one stop shop.
They don't have a lot, but they do have the essential bits you might need.
We bought sweets and some lunch stuff for the next day.

Then headed back with MARTIN AT A FAST LIMP to crash for the night.
And maybe eat Pringles.

Well, once you open the packet...................................

Day 9 - Blair Atholl to Braemar (alone)

We awoke to an overcast day with a forecast of more wet.
That was a bit grim.
I went to the toilet block to freshen up and carry out essential weight reduction measures.

On my return Martin said he could hardly walk.
He had taken an age to get to the toilet block.

We debated the options, but as I said, it had to be his call, it was his foot.

There were various options.
All with risk.
There was ONLY ONE sensible option in reality.
Martin stayed put.
He could see if another days rest would get him ok, or go home.
He chose the latter, and with hindsight, the correct option.

As he discovered later, there was big damage to ligaments and tendons and he ended up with a 3 month recovery.

Martin was to say the least gutted..

I felt for him.
I have the T shirt

I promised to continue in our mission to get in as many big lumpy hills as I could, and a minimum of 20.

And so at 7.30 ish I headed off.
Through the woods to head for the start of the tilt.
Before long is was hosing down again.
Our original plan of big hills (being Beinn a Ghlo) I vetoed.
This was NOT a goer today.
It was wet, and it was windy, and visibility was bugger all high up.

I came up with a cunning plan...

Head up the tilt and see how far I could get.

I headed up the tilt.
It isn't exactly difficult navigation.

It rained, it stopped it rained it stopped it rained it rained it rained...

NICE! :-(

I went with cunning plan part 1.
Get to the bridge by the Allt Fheannaich.

When I got there

it was wet
the river was wet
the world was wet
I was wet.

It was but an earlyish hour.
Plenty of time.

Plan part 2

Get to the Falls of Tarf and have a snack.

I headed off...




Quite a lot of water in the falls
It briefly stopped and I had a rest and grabbed some chocolate and a roll.

I headed on to see what the crossing over to Fealer Lodge was like.
All the way along, there was a heck of a lot of water coming down off the hills.
More than I can remember up here.

At the ford across to Fealer Lodge , it was possible.
I had to make a decision.
Head across and camp, or head on up the tilt and risk the Geldie Burn ford if I got that far.

I headed up the Tilt.
The rain got heavier.
It poured off the hills.
The path was a stream.
Little was dry.

I shouted loudly at the skies (no really shouted) and the clouds and moaned at GOD!

At which point a chap ran past.
Well he stopped.
He must have wondered what I was shouting at.

He was running from Blair to the Linn of Dee.

I wished him well, and he splashed off up the track/stream

I carried on.

Plan B was to see what it was like at Bynack Lodge

Time was good.
I was making a serious head of steam.
And steam it was.

Eventually I arrived to see Bynack Lodge and a group of people who had been standing near the burn for an age.

Oh well, bugger it..
Push on

I checked the stream at the lodge.
Normally crossable it was a foaming mass of death

I went down stream to where it meanders.


I took the track to about 86.
There was a LRT ford there.
And a pair of shoes and nothing else.
Hmmmmm NOT a good sign that.


I stripped down to shreddies and river shoes.
Stuck everything else inside the pack as best I could.
Put pack on back but no straps done up.

Looked to where I wanted to hopefully come out, and then walked another 20' down stream so that I could attack it at an angle walking into the water.
It got deeper as you went across.
About 2.5' at the deepest point.
Not deep normally, but this was a flowing river.
I gauged that if I did take a spill, there were no rocks here, and the river would push me back onto shallower ground, so that hopefully I may end up wet, but not drowned.

I used my poles leaning into them for balance.
Taking great care with each step.
It took about 10 min to work across, and then I was out.
And this wasn't even the bloody Geldie.

No point in putting anything back on, I headed on to the Geldie Burn crossing.
Meeting a couple coming the other way.
They had taken an absolute age to get across.
They had mighty packs and even mightier boots.
I told them that this bit was potentially worse than the burn.
They asked me once they got across which side of the river they needed to be on.
FFS,  the track only goes on one side of the river, look at the fucking map.

I was more polite than that and helped them out.
I was still standing there in a T shirt and underpants..

Strangely, the Geldie was a much easier (not easy) crossing.
As I got to the other side the rain fully stopped.
A glimpse of sun came out.

I dried my numb feet off and put on my socks.
They had disintegrated.
I dug out a new pair.

New warm socks in wet shoes.

I put clothing back on and headed to White Bridge.
Potential stop point 3.

The sun was out.
The sky was blue.

My mind wandered to beer, but NOT yet.

I made my way past white bridge and round past the woods and up to the Linn of Dee.

Plan 4 or was it 5? Get to Mar Lodge

So I did.

As I dropped into mar Lodge it pissed down.
Just as I had taken all my waterproofs off.

Bastard Weather!

Now, had I not been knackered and delirious at this point I would have checked to see if they had tea and biscuits there. Which they did, but not in the normal location.

So NO tea, I headed down the track.

NEW Cunning plan part x

Get to Braemar.

Here there be humans and beer and food.

Could I blag a bed somewhere at this late stage.
Yes, yes, I could put a tent up.
There are those weird misguided lunatics that think a tent is the only way to go.
Jesus guys, go live on a kibbutz.

I rang Kates...
No answer... bugger


I left a message...

Then I thought SYHA, Worth a punt

I rang and they answered.

"Did they have a bunk for the night?"

"Yes, there is just one left"


"Would you like to book it?"

"Just write it sown to my name"

"I'll just take you card details to confirm"

I explained politely to the girl where I was, how far I had walked, how damp it was, and how there was no way on God's unholy earth I was going to be able to find a card and keep the sporadic signal.

"Just keep it, I promise to be there, or my name is not Mad 'n Bad Walker" I said.

be some time in the next 2½ hrs depending on route and IF I get hi-jacked by the old bakery.

We agreed.
It was a done deal.

I rang Kate and left message 2 to say I was sorted but thanks.

No fear, I am staying at Kate's this year.
It is all booked.

I stuck some music in my ears, and headed up the road and then up into the woods to drop down into Braemar.






I dropped down into Braemar, bumping into Jim and a few others for a chat.
Made my way to the Old Bakery.

It hi-jacked me.
Too many folk I knew to walk past.

Many an old friend to shake hands or have a hug.
Stories to tell..

I ordered a bloody great mug of tea and a cake...

It had been approx. a 46km day in mainly shite weather.

But now I was here.
I was with fiends.
The sun was still a flicker in the sky
I had tea and cake.
Round the corner I had a bed for the night.
And all was good in my world.

Nay... It was fucking ace!

I headed off to the SYHA, booked in.
After some confusion regarding which bed all was resolved.
Several fine folk were there.
John was walking round like a cripple having walked all the way here and fallen on his arse and hurt his back in the shower. You couldn't make it up.

I resolved to not bother washing.
But....then I raised my arm and the smell knocked me sideways..

OK maybe I should...

I scrubbed up and headed to the Invercauld Arms to meet up with folk.
Many were there.
Beer flowed to a late point in the day.
Much later than it ought to.
I wandered back to the SYHA.
Tip toed in.
It was very quiet apart from the intermittent snuffle, and the underlying seismic rumble of 7 snoring blokes.

I stuck my headphones in cranked up the volume and dozed off.

That had not been a high day.
But it had been a mighty day...
Oh yes..

Tomorrow was just round the corner...
But tomorrow was short...
And then there would be party and whisky and headache.

I love the TGOC!