As you read this, if you read this, you will see that it not really a report of a crossing.
It is a STORY of the crossing.
Wed 9th and a bit of Thu 10th May 2012
And thus is came to pass, that it was time to go North (again).
I picked up my trusty HEAVY rucksack,
So much for 26lb.
By the time I packed the extra stuff (based on weather forecast )
and the extra bit of silNylon floor,
it was coming in at 31lbs (again)
said goodbye to Olly and Harriet,
and the lovely Lucy gave me a lift to the station.
Due to the ridiculous and insane 7 minutes they keep the crossing at Cherry Hinton closed, to allow a safety margin? for the 2 carriage train that passes, we arrived a bit later than hoped.
I now had 4 minutes to get my ticket, and get on the train.
(OK, I could get a later train, but that is NOT the point ).
So of course there is an eeeennnoooorrrrmmmmoooouuuusss queue waiting to buy tickets, get advice and I have NOT got the time.
I decide I will go through the machine, and get my ticket.
2 minutes to go now, as I rush onto the platform, and run down to the train waiting on Platform 1.
Gasp, wheeze, "Is this the Kings Cross Train?"
"No, that goes from platform 7 now, over the foot bridge."
Cambridge has recently had a new platform built.
It is at the OTHER end of this platform, over the New footbridge.
I have about 30secs to get to it.
Expected time to get there 2 minutes
I ran as fast as I could down and over the bridge.
If I can do this, then the pack is NOT too heavy, even if it is heavy.
At the top of the bridge a railway chappy with walkie talkie was speaking to the guard on the train.
"Hang on, one more coming".
What a lovely man.
I burst onto the train, sweating and breathing rather heavily.
And collapsed into a chair.
I was hoping that there would be no more incidents on the crossing.
I was hoping, but .......
I texted AL on route.
It was about 7.50, and Al had been in the Bree Louise Pub since about 5.00.
I was not sure what state he would be in when I arrived.
I was not sure when I would arrive.
The remainder of the journey was uneventful. and about 8.35, we pulled into KX.
I rushed down to the underground, a train had just arrived and I leaped on it to Euston.
To be honest you walk most of it on the way to the bloody train.
It is about a 3 minute journey.
However, IF you get on the train going in wrong bloody direction, you go to
Highbury and Islington
Remember, I am walking across Scotland.
If I go the wrong way from Morar, it is going to get damned wet.
At Highbury I got on the train back to Euston.
And so 12 minutes later I finally got out at Euston.
Walked completely round 3 sides of Euston Square (having come out the wrong side of the station ) This is not looking good for future navigation
And, finally, I arrived at the Bree Louise, where Al was sitting with a couple of folk, one of whom was William Burton from Barbados.
|William and Al at the Bree Louise|
Well, we managed to Eeek out the time here until it was time to walk round to the Sleeper.
We were on the 23.50 to Glasgow.
After getting to the train, and getting stuff into our berths, it was a bit late to go to the bar.
BUT we did!
There we met Freddy, and a few others.
You may at this point have to cross reference with Al's Blog, to pick up on all the names that I have missed.
I should really have taken a photo or 3.
I have no idea, what time we eventually went to sleep.
I do remember trying Freddy's Pemmican.
It was interesting, but tasted like shit. (just my opinion ).
My Father in Law used to eat it in the Antarctic when he was there.
Best place for it if you ask me.
|All in his bunk with his pill collection.|
Eventually, it was time for sleep.
Well, as much as you can when trying to sleep in a rocking carriage travelling North at 80+ mph.
However, there was sleep. Well, a bit of sleep I think, apart from the incident with the toilet trip.
Al was on the bottom bunk, and I took the top.
I had moved the ladder to the door end, because it was easier to get up and down via the sink.
However, I had not allowed for the fact that the ladder now prevented the door from opening, so after abseiling down as quietly as possible some time close to 4.00am, I then crashed the door open into the ladder, and of course woke Al up.
He said nothing, but I am sure that is NOT what he was thinking.
Probably more like "Oh God, I've got another 2 whole weeks of this"
Then all too soon, we were woken at 6.30 for delivery of our luke warm tea.
Then it was time for part 2 of the journey, to breakfast, and the Queen Street station to get the train to Morar.
Crikey, all that, and we haven't even started yet.
Oooohhh, it's going to run and run is this!
Thu 10th May 2012
This is a short post, since the memories are vague, and the number of people far too many to remember.
Might be some photo's though, but not many.
So eventually, we got off the train, after multiple visited to toilet and kit packing, we had to walk the huge distance to Glasgow Queen street station.
On arrival at Queen street, there were not many people there.
In fact, it may have just been Alan and myself.
I needed more sleep, but we decided after a shuffle about, that we would go into the bar (because it was under cover), and have a breakfast served by the very nice and may I add pretty waitress.
Al had some sort of full English thingy, and I had scrambled Egg on toast and a huge cup of hot coffee. Cappuccino I believe. Much nicer than the flaccid lukewarm nonentity we got on the sleeper.
As time moved on, and we sat in the rather comfortable sofa chairs, people began to drift in.
Lovely chairs they were, most comfortable, and far too low to be able to eat off.
From time to time Al and I drifted out to see who was about.
The morning passed like this, and eventually Dave arrived from the airport with all his stuff.
Dave and stuff will feature on several occasions during this trip.
We had more coffee, and I contemplated the use of the toilet to no avail.
Must be the altitude, I was feeling quite tired.
Time to acclimatise was needed.
I think the air may have been too thin for a Fen boy.
It was getting later.
Our train was 11.30 something.
The big clue will be when everyone rushes to get on...
Must be time for some pictures
Much conversation ensued.
Indeed conversations continued from last year as if they had been yesterday.
Hands were shaken, and hugs and kisses.
The Challenge is as much about people and friendship, as it is about the hardship and fun of the walk itself.
It is a physical Challenge
But also a Social Challenge.
At some point before this, we had been for a wander around Glasgow, to buy some bread and cheese and stuff for lunches.
Al had got some money out, and Dave possibly ought to have bought some Whiskey, although on the other hand, maybe not.
Soon, it was time to board the train to the West Coast.
Many more conversations with people whose name I ought to bloody well remember later, we arrived at Morar.
This may NOT have been the case altogether, because Al, had wandered off on the train to chat and stuff.
By Crainlarich he was in one of the front four coaches.
The ones that were NOT going to Morar and Mallaig.
I went to make sure he knew, but I could not get on the train because they were separating the two parts.
That job done, still no sign of Al.
Al appears with moments to spare
And then we were in Morar.
It is a wonderful scenic journey this train ride, but it does drag on a bit.
Just off the train, we met John Hesp.
He was going down to camp on the beach.
We turned left, and walked down the road a bit to the B&B.
We went a bit further
And a bit further still.
"We'll just look down here and see if that is it" (See map in a moment)
I rang the B&B just to check.
"Just to the right of the railway station behind the Hotel, You cannot miss it!"
Want a bloody bet.
10 minutes (ish) later back at the railway station, you could just see the sign.
Oh to have eyes in the back of my head (like wot me Mum does init! )
At last we arrived at the B&B, and very very nice it was too.
BUT.... White Carpets?
I had to share a bed with Al.
Dave had the spare single.
It was a huge bed, and Al was gentle :)
So, after that we went up to the Hotel for a beer and a meal.
Here we met a few other Challengers, whose names I ought to have written down.
I will get the names from Al at some point, and fill in the blanks.
At the hotel we also met Andy, the Maitre D'.
First impressions, was a helpful chap, and friendly.
Later his overbearing smarminess (is that a word), began to really grate on the nerves.
Al wanted to hit him.
Mind you, Al does have anger management issues,
he should apply for grumpy old men on BBC.
I cannot fully describe Hotel Andy, a cross between Basil Fawlty and Hanibal Lecter, (although Lecter was quite intelligent).
We had a rather nice meal, and some bevvies, and Dave and Bob, rattled on and on about Volvo's, and Engines, and reliability, and fuel economy,
and modifications, and models and mileage
and sixteen year running costs per second and some such.
What can I say.
I could see Al's eyes glazing over, as he slowly lost the will to live.
I supped my ale.
Eventually it was time to sneak out past Andy Press play for effect => And we wandered back round to our room, for last minute pack checking faff and also to get some sleep. I made some late night tea It would soon be time to start for real ...................................................................
Kevin Ayres (Stop this train) Play it for the journey up Train effectSat 12th May 2012 - Dubh Loch to A Chuil We were up reasonably early on day 2. The forecast was good until late in the day, and we planned to make sure we were off the ridge before then, because no matter which way you go down it was going to be S T e e p
Fri 11th May 2012 - Day 1 (Morar to Dubh Loch -North Morar Ridge)
On route back we met John Hesp by the small bridge.
He had finally got his tent up a long long way along the beach.
He was going to sign out, so we headed off.
Soon we would be on our way. Honest.
There was a vague rumour of a coffee shop at Bracara, but when we got there it was now a holiday let cottage, so a small disappointment but there you go.
We continued along the North side of the lock
The weather was reasonable until we reached a small stop point near Brinacory island, where the rain came upon us, and water proofs were needed. We took shelter and had a snack in the ruin there.
The rain soon passed over and we were on our way to Tarbet.
Just before Tarbet there is a rather splendid cottage with magnificent views across the loch and to the East.
We stopped for a proper lunch at Tarbet.
It was sunny, but cold and windy.
The wind whistles along Loch Nevis and through the gap to Loch Morar, like a funnel.
Warm clothing was needed.
We watched a small sheep looking for it's mother. I was thinking lamb cutlets.
Dave disappeared and then re-appeared saying he was just popping off for a cup of tea with a couple of chaps.
We did not believe him, but when he did not appear for 5 minutes I went to look in the other end of the Chapel, which doubles as a hostel for £2 a night (yep, really).
Dave was indeed there with two chaps, one being Frank who was 87 and lived there, and also looked after the hostel.
Shortly after this, Al joined as well.
Frank made us all a cup of tea and regaled us with tale after tale.
Frank is an amazing chap, and spins a veritable and wondrous yarn or three,
and swears like a trooper.
All very believable, and all in the main complete lies.
We stopped in for tea, and stayed the best part of 1½ hours.
A bit of a long lunch stop to be honest, and a damned steep climb to come.
There were stories of his life, and also ghosts and other things.
You really ought to go there before the memories are no longer available.
It was a pleasure and an honour to spend time with the man.
Al has a nice picture of Frank in his Blog.
Here is Frank in the Chapel playing the Organ.
I have changed it to sepia, I think he would appreciate that little touch.
I might send him a copy.
As with all things, they must end, and we had a bloody great hill to get up, so off we set.
The start was ok, but the climb up the fence line was pretty tough.
Near the top of the not that steep bit was a metal ladder over a deer fence.
I really wish I had taken a picture of it now, because it was not vertical.
How it stayed up I am not sure, since it was at an angle of about 80 deg, jammed into the ground.
There was a single piece of wire attached to the fence, attempting to stopp it toppling over.
It was interesting, especially with a full pack.
As I clambered over the top and down the other side, I was thinking.
"How the Fuck I am going to persuade Al to climb over this".
He did it, but I am still not sure how.
I am sure he had his eyes closed on the descent.
After this bit, we went over another hill and it just went UP.
Dave was off on one of his charges, and Al's 50cc moped engine was working at the back.
It is a very tough and rapid ascent (height, not time), but when you get to the top.
Once we had arrived at the ridge, we met up with John Hesp, who had ascended from further round the bay. Not via the fence line.
With hindsight, that may well have been an easier way up.
As we walked along the ridge, I was beginning to get pain in the outside of my left foot.
This is the one that I had hurt on the multiple injury day about 5 days before the challenge.
My paranoid mind was saying stress fracture, but my positive self just said ligaments, put the superfeet in the shoes.
I hobbled along to the night one camp, favouring my right foot.
It was ok.
It had to be, the descent was going to be far far more strain than the ascent.
Eventually we arrived at what was to be an ideal camp spot high on the ridge in a small wind sheltered basin neat Loch Dubh.
It looked like there might be a bit of rain overnight, so shelters were quickly put up, after I finished being a bit of a tart finding a suitable spot.
This was to be Treeza's (the Trailstar's) first Scottish pitch.
I was about to find out if I had made the correct decision on shelters.
At one point while we were up on the top looking, a huge cloud appeared and began to move towards us.
You could see the rain coming, and looked like Sourlies was getting an almighty soaking.
There were a few spots, but as fate would have it, it completely passed us by.
We went back down to our tents, and a dram or 2 was passed around.
It was getting colder, and time for some hot food, and some sleep.
It had been a pretty tough finish to the day, and tomorrow was going to be tougher than this for sure.
Could it get much better than this?
Maybe, but in a days time, it was going to get a darn sight worse first.
You'll have to wait for that one .................................................................
|Al and Dave on the Beach (almost)|
|Intended route is in purple.|
Actual route from beach is in green
|Shelter near Brinacory|
|Wonderful views back along the loch looking West|
|Al and Dave on the way to Tarbet|
|Slightly enhanced view back along the loch looking West|
|View from the Cottage near Swordland Lodge looking East|
|Al and Dave at Tarbet.|
Lovely weather, but bloody cold and blowing a gale
|Frank playing the organ at Tarbet|
|The Chapel Hostel at Tarbet.|
Frank lives at the left end looking from here.
|View from the Hostel|
|View from the start of the climb out of Tarbet, across Loch Nevis|
|Al on the way up.|
It was hard going, and relentless
|Night one camp.|
She's the little golden girl in the middle
I HADCamp ready, we popped up onto the higher ground above the basin to look at the views, and just stare at the wonder of it all. Bloody Marvellous With views of Egg, Rum and the Black Cullins all in the distance, as well as Loch's Morar and the other side Loch Nevis. In fact ALL the surrounding hills were clear. I could take a hundred pictures, but it would not do it justice. You just had to be up there
And we were!
|Al at Camp 1 with back to Loch Nevis|
|View from the hill above the camp, looking to Dubh Loch|
|Looking down on the camp as the sun began to go down|
|View of Dubh Loch from my tent.|
|View towards Loch Nevis and beyond.|
Night 1 campsite
|Clouds forming in the distance.|
Night 1 campsite
North Morar Ridge
Blackfield - Pain
|John as we approach the small lochens near Sgurr Mor|
|Another view down by the lochens|
|View along the ridge looking West.|
Oban bothy and Meoble are somewhere down there on the right
|Same view with more of Loch Morar.|
You can see the clouds beginning to form.
The weather was good, but there was definitely a chill in the air
|Al on route.|
You can see how the ridge rises and drops as you go along.
But just look at those views
|John at a brief rest stop|
|A small stone wall on route and another rise in the ridge heading towards the Sgurr Nam Meirleach|
|The Corbett's at the end of the ridge.|
Still a long way to go.
|The start of the descent. (picture courtesy Al)|
It was even steeper than it looks
|Wee yellow flowers on the way down.|
Where is John Keohane when you need him?
OK, primroses (thanks Louise)
|Two Geezers on an 'ill mate.|
OK, Dave and I near the bottom (courtesy Al's Blog)
|The falls along the river Abhainn Ceann Loch Morair|
|Candlelight in A Chuil|
|Bloody fantastic sir, Bloody fantastic|
|Not my picture, but it was a lot like this.|
Only, Colder and wetter and just plain NASTY!
|This is not mine either, but it was that dark|
A bit like looking out of my window as I write this
|Not mine either, the amount of water swirling around|
this bridge when we went across was quite a lot.
A turgid brown and grey mass, where the two flows of water clashed.
|Luckily there was a bridge over this one.|
|And a bridge over this one.|
We waited here to make sure everyone had caught up.
We could NOT get Al anywhere near the edge of this bridge.
Even for money.
|Me on the bridge (courtesy Al's Blog)|
|That is NOT a river, it is the track.|
The river is over by the trees.
It almost looks like it was part of the loch.
Well it was.
|View from the back window|
|View from the side door|
|View from the door about 10 minutes earlier|
|View down the stairs as the water started to rise.|
It wasn't coming through the door.
It was coming through the walls.
|In the bothy at last (picture courtesy Al's blog as well)|
A shortened video after the main flood had gone
|View to the river as the level starts to drop|
Mon 14th May 2012 (Invermallie to Spean Bridge)
|View on the way back from a Pee.|
More info than you needed really.
Hardly any water at all now.
|Kit outside the bothy ready for the off|
You can see the river in the distance.
Now look at the picture below taken yesterday before the bothy was completely surrounded
|Alan and Gordon just before we left.|
Note that the floor is almost dry, even though last night it
had been under water.
|Al and Gordon at the LRT, the tussock filled field we cam up, and the loch in the background.|
The bothy would be just off to the left in the distance.
|I told you I was ther!|
|The Falls from the metal bridge.|
Yesterday it was just a foaming mass.
Now you could see the rocks and the trees.
Still wouldn't want to fall in though.
|By the Cameron Museum|
|View of tomorrow from the road to Gairlochy.|
Hopefully with better weather
|Al looking through photo's|
|Dave was Mother|
There is NO image of this, and there never should be. But Al and I WINCED. Oh yes Dave's knee was a bit swollen, BUT his thighs were NOT A HAPPY PLACE, NO SIR As it also transpires, Dave's trousers where a bit too canvas like and held the water too much, and when you have big muscled legs like Dave, it cannot help, when they get wet and rub. But, Dave also had cotton brief shreddies (it is in the name), and they had worked a treat. Dave was shredded. Big Time Nuff said about that! No wonder he was walking a bit gingerly. Apart from rest and ointment, there was not much else we could do, and we went back to the Commando Bar, at the same table, to have a meal, and continuing the all important re hydration. I may try and steal some pictures of this from Al if he has any. I completely forgot to take any at all. We spent the rest of the evening there, and as far as I can remember, at some point returned to the B&B. I collected stuff from the drying room, and got as much of my stuff as possible together. We made some tea (I think Dave did the tea), we turned the TV on briefly. I think there was a TV. No idea why we wanted to see the TV, even if there was one. Dave was still non committal about the next day, and I felt that he probably would not go. He had been texting home, so the writing looked like it was on the wall. We would see in the morning And then it was sleep Because tomorrow was going to be PARTY DAY , regardless of Dave's decision. Tue 15th May 2012 - Spean Bridge to Corrour Railway Bridge (Party Night)
|Al and Sandy in the distance.|
Walking up the start of the track proper after Corriechoile
Snow capped mountains beckon
|I should have taken a picture of the plate as well.|
The statue is a copy of an original stone statue of the 'Wee Minister', said to bring good luck to travellers
|View of the Grey Corries on route|
|Al and Sandy at the Bothy|
|Inside the bothy (courtesy Sandy Millar)|
|(courtesy Sandy Millar)|
|All at the bottom as sandy and I came down.|
This picture does not really do this justice.
It quite an enchanting little fairy grotto.
Ok no fairies (or are there?)
|Al survives another rail free bridge.|
If I had had a descent zoom lens I could have shown you the fear on the other side
|The view just before the storm hit us.|
You can see the other set of storm clouds just in the distance.
|Treeza had her best party frock on and was ready to boogie|
|Treeza surrounded by ice balls.|
Most had melted away by the time I took this.
She has a great arse doesn't she!
|Val prepares the party spread|
|Loverly Jubbly (As Del boy would say)|
|Party Folk getting in the groove|
|Picture Courtesy Sandy Millar|
|Moody distant clouds|
|Just a wonderous view as dusk descended on us|
|Me at some point, with Balloons attached.|
They did make it back, but not in that condition.
In fact they were quite deflated at the end
A bit like me.
(Picture courtesy Al)
|View as we approached the Loch|
|Another Loch view|
|Ken and Norma just before they left to go along the loch|
|Rocky pools on the way up|
|Al at the other end of a particular fine re-engineered bit,|
which extends way oputside of frame as well.
|Views from the Track|
A rather scary finish to that one eh?After lunch, we carried on. The track was still quite tough going until we got over the top, where suddenly, it became a rather fine path all the way down. Maybe it was a different estate. Certainly, a lot of money had been spent on repairing the track, and adding a lot of drainage. Further down, the LRT had been completely resurfaced. It actually looked better to walk on from a distance than it was when you got to it. It was still a lot better than the diabolical quagmire we had suffered from Loch Ossian. I was hoping to find bits of ruined bike and the odd set of mangled leathers, but no such luck. As we dropped down, there were splendid views of Rannoch Moor, and Blackwater Reservoir. For some reason, I did not take anywhere near enough pictures of this, and the one that I had came out rather poorly. If anyone came this way, and has a nice photo, I would love to have a copy.
|The river Gaur on the way to Loch Rannoch|
It was a lot bigger than the picture implies.
And warm, and soft and fluffy.
Bridge of Gaur Guest House Eddie and Heather have made a fantastic job of it, and are superb hosts. We learnt also that Mrs Robertson still lives in the cottage just down the lane.
|Eddie, Heather and Tom|
picture courtesy Martin Banfield
|The rather splendid Hydro building at the bottom of the hill.|
There is another equally splendid one at the top.
|Eilean nam Faoilleag|
|Destination one now 8 ¼ miles.|
What a lovely sign
|View up the loch.|
Still a long way to go
|View down to the power station.|
Lot's of clearance
|View to the Loch|
from Bohally Wood a few km before we stopped.
My blood. All in all, my fingers were not happy. Had they been my feet, I would have been air lifted out. As it was I just stumbled with bandaged stumps whenever I needed to tie anything. This morning, the thumb bandage was wet and as such was now bleeding again. I thought about gloves, but they would have just ended up full of discarded plasters and blood, so I went off with cold hands. Rucksack packed, and tent poured into it's bag like a stodgy soup mixture. We headed on up the track. Alan and Roger ahead, and me having a bit of an everything faff. Not a lot to report here, it was track, it was cold and it was drizzling on and off, and we had a bloody long way to go today. We made our way along the track until we got to Loch Bhac. It had stopped raining, but was still cold and so we made our way into the fisherman's hut for a rest stop, and I rebuilt the plasters on my hands, and also stuck some extra, extra micropore onto my feet, because the old preventative layer had disintegrated in the dampness of my shoes.
|Al at Loch Bhac|
|Roger at Loch Bhac|
|View as we descended the track|
|You cannot see that bloody road from here|
|Alan and Roger at the gate at the end of the track.|
Al having a hat hair moment
|The bridge into Blair Atholl|
|View from the bridge|
|Roger on the bridge|
|Al Nik and Roger in the hotel|
|Crossing the Tilt|
|Nik and I on the first bridge (picture courtesy Al)|
|The rather fine bridge that crosses back to the left side of the Tilt|
|Al, Roger and Nik heading off after crossing the bridge|
|Looking across the bridge to the camp spot|
|Nik and Roger survey a suitable spot|
|Excellent view from inside Treeza|
|The rather fine view from the camp spot.|
This was the view from my tent
|Roger talking to Nik just before we left|
|A last view back|
|Heading off over the bridge|
|Roger heading down to the Bridge by the Falls of Tarf|
|Falls of Tarf from the bridge|
It is a good bouncy bridge.
Just the sort of thing that makes Al's dayJust after the bridge we had a little sit down. It was still cold, but the day was good, and I had a bit of a micropore fiddle. No blisters as such, but a couple of likely hot spots that needed monitoring. We carried on, along the Tilt. A long way to go, and we needed to get to Braemar today. Because ...... OK !
|Looking back South, down Glen Tilt|
|Track and view on the way to Geldie Burn|
|Heading towards Bynack Lodge.|
Quite a way from the lodge at this point
I had woken at about 4.00am in desperate need of a pee. This was not alcohol abuse, I had been drinking shandy. I know, I know, but that is what it was. So carefully grabbing my head torch, and attempting to get out of the bunk without knocking myself unconscious (they are quite low), I carefully crept down the bunkhouse to the toilet. Taking extra precautions, I went very slowly, and stepped round all the various kit explosions. Stepped up the step to the toilet area, (I had remembered that step), and then promptly tripped up the second step that I had not remembered and crashed headlong into the wall, waking most of the lads in the end 4 bunks. My intentions had been good though. Back to bed, and more lovely sleep. We did not for a change have to get up too early the next morning, there was not much to do. Diane was up a lot earlier than Al or I and had been out and about dressed before I even opened an eye to the daylight. Unfortunately, kit was not completely dry, so I hung it over the radiator near the window. Today would be a day for the spare Katmandu shreddies. The longer merino ones would dry out and start afresh tomorrow. Al made some breakfast, and I made a cup of something or other. Had a good bash in the bathroom (eventually), and then a longer sit down just for good measure. By the time we were almost ready to go, Al was bemoaning his gigantic blister. I had on many occasions volunteered to burst it with my trusty knife, but for some reason, maybe the state of my fingers, Al had declined this offer. I gave him a blister plaster though, and Diane, who apparently had some expertise in matters medical, cleaned and then put a smart tailored blister dressing on Al's foot. Adding a bit of micropore for food measure to try and stop the Compeed from fusing with the sock. That is a nasty habit that Compedes have. I had a go at the blister that had developed on my little toe since yesterday, with some second skin and some tape (No knife). It would get me to Callater anyway. By now, it was getting close to 10, and we packed up our gear, went and said farewell to Ronnie, and headed down to the bakery for a proper breakfast. On the way, I popped over to the gear shop, to get a replacement for my spork, which had self destructed the day before. It now consisted of a spoon and a fork, neither of which had handles, and thus it made stirring boiling soup, a difficult and dangerous job. Especially bearing in mind how many fingers I had left without plasters on. We then also went across to the Coop, to buy some bread rolls for the next few days, and some cheese, cos you need cheese, and something to take to Callater. I actually ummed and ahed about Ginger Wine, just to be different, and this would have been a good idea, but instead I bought a half bottle of the Coop's best 1 star Brandy. Later we would discover that this is pretty close to being undrinkable. It can be disguised with coke, but it is basically a cross between Surgical spirit and Diesel. Eventually however, we did get to the Old Bakery where breakfast was ordered off the special menu. They are really lovely here, and very supportive of the Challenge. Now I cannot for the life of me remember all the people who were there. Certainly over a considerable period of time, there was Di and Charles, and Keith, and Freddie, and John, and Al, and Nik, and Louise and JJ, and Ian, and Ian and a host of others, whose names elude me. It was an extended breakfast, with the extended Challenge family. I had many coffees, and then even after Al had gone of to somewhere else, that may well have resembled the Fife, I had stayed on, chatting, and enjoying the cheer luxury of NOT WALKING ANYWHERE. After breakfast, I took my kit up to the Fife, and then went for a nose round town, to see who was about, but not in the pub. But of course, at some point I knew I would end up back there, which I did.
|Me and Ian, and Ian, pilfered from Al's blog|
|The church just at the start of the road to the golf club.|
I had not noticed this before.
How many times have I been to Braemar?
|View to the hills beyond Callater,|
|On the way up|
|Carl, Jeanette, JJ and Lynsey|
|Jim mid recitation|
of Dangerous Dan McGrew
|Lynsey's cake arrives|
|Loch Callater from the edge of the loch|
|Another Loch view, with tomorrow's hills (Maybe)|
|Sometimes Black and White is better|
|Sun sets behind Callater lodge on another excellent day|
|You can add your own caption to this little lot|
|See JJ, you do always look like that :)|
Friends ! Mon 21st May 2012 - Callater to Shielin of Mark
|David, Tanya, Al and Bill|
|David Lintern & Tanya Morgan.|
They had a rather fine 2 Oookstar.
More of that tomorrow
|Lynsey about to Leave, and the Loch, just before we departed|
|Looking down to the few remaining tents.|
We believe one of them was Freddie's, because Pete had somehow
managed to get him back to his tent last night,
but no one had seen him since.
|Al and Pete on the early bit of the way up|
|Last view of distant snow capped hills|
|Or in Black and White (I prefer the B&W image)|
|Looking up before dropping down to Dubh Loch|
|The view down to the Loch|
|Carl on the rock.|
He still had his pack on, using it like a built in backrest
|View down to Dubh Loch.|
|Water cascading down the flat rocks.|
|Water Falls on the way down to the loch|
|View from the start of Dubh Loch|
|Looking back to Dubh loch before stating the descent to Loch Muick|
|Looking down to Loch Muick|
|There will be more tomorrow on the way to Tarfside|
|Pete and I by the edge of the loch|
|Al and Pete as the tea brews|
|View back up the loch|
|View down the loch looking towards the Spittal of Glen Muick.|
Magnificent blue reflected off the sky
|Looking to the loch from the North shore path|
|View back up the loch, from the far end|
|Al and Pete heading across the end of the loch towards the Spittal.|
Al was now on fire, and way into the distance.
He may have needed the toilet.
|Looking down to the camp.|
Picture courtesy Al, since none of mine came out.
You can just see Treeza standing out like a yellow beacon.
And attracting every insect known to man.
ZZZZzzz when this happened, (possibly with nasal accompaniement, I do not know), then it mattered not. So, by the time I stuck my head out of the tent at something like 8.15, Al was almost packed, and so was Pete. "So, we never agreed a leaving time did we?" says I. "8.30 says Al" I was of course not surprised at 8.30, since it was invariably 8.30. Well, it was invariably 8.30 when Al left. As we know, and will see again before the end of this little saga, it will be 8.30 again that Al leaves. So Al and Pete headed off into the distance, and I faffed around in my tent packing and stuff, and generally being. LATE And I believe that I left something like 8.50 (ish)
|And those are big rocks, not little pebbles|
|And that is what he looks like hidden the heather.|
The heather that I had been bashing down through.
|Alan, Jim, Ian and Val|
|Val and Jim|
|There were 2, but I only just managed to snap this one.|
They were pretty damned impressive though
Ok, so NOT that impressive, but I tried OK.We carried on a bit further, Al striding out in front. And came upon this bad boy as well
|OK, not quite as big as Al's but big|
|Not 100% sure what Al had been up to here, but too polite to enquire!|
|The old chapel building at Kirkton|
|The Keep at Kirkton.|
It is a bit unsafe now, but still impressive
|St Drostan's Church (not the hostel building)|
|Also in the picture are the back bit of Dave in his tent, |
Lynsey (Not Pooler) and Sandy as well as Treeza
who was keeping the insects from everyone else's tent
|Let's look at that Akto in more close up detail|
|Best to see it with the bandage on I think!|
|I should know all the names, but I don't.|
The ones I do know are
Val, Russ, Herman, Lynsey, Carl, Al, and the back of Pete's head.
|Carl, Lynsey and Peter|
|Louise and John|
As you can see, Louise is taking medication for her feet.
And I am not sure what is going on with John
I do feel a caption competition coming on though :)
|Not the most flattering photo of me, but thanks anyway JJ.|
Especially after the photo I did of you :)
|Nik and Alva|
|You can never have too many gadgets on your sack.|
We know a song about that don't we everyone.
Shall we sing it.
Ten smart gadgets hanging on your sack .... etc etc
|Unsafe bridge with nice new gates|
|The river on the way to Keanie|
|The river again on the way to Keanie|
OUCH! Anyway, I carried on to try and find Al, leaving Andy. There were a lot of others following on by now, so I knew he would get a lot of support. I found Al a bit further on, and he had stopped for lunch and a rest. I had been going quite fast, and was also in need of a rest, because I can tell you. It was £ucking Hot So we had a goodly rest. David and Margaret Brocklehurst came by just as we were setting off. They were walking effortlessly, in the most amazing synchronised style. Arms legs, feet and poles all in perfect harmony and synchronisation with each other. I wish I had had a proper video. It was quite amazing. They would have won Gold. We stopped for some other reason, and Roger Hoyle caught us up. We walked along together, and then by a large pile of earth and rock by the left of the track, I spotted what I though was a bridge. I went to have a look, and low and behold there was a New Bridge across the river. This was brilliant, because it meant we would be able to go across to the Rocks Of Solitude walk. So I persuaded Al and Roger to go across, and we did. However, there was a sign on the new gate across the bridge as you can see below.
|View from the new bridge|
|Another view from the new bridge|
|Al with Tea|
|Roger with Roll up.|
He normally looks a lot happier, honest
|View from the bridge|
|A rather splendid view along the other side.|
Looking down at the reflections in the water of the river.
It has a rather fine Impressionist feel to it.
|A rather fine house|
|Crossing the North Esk|
|So, about the window tax|
|Perfect furrows on route|
|Wood and flowerpot man model on the wall near Morphie|
|View from the hill|
|View from the hill a couple of years ago, when the rape was in full bloom|
|Starting the circle|
If you have a picture at the end please forward it.
|Just before the tide washed it away.|
Picture courtesy Andy Williams
|Dave, Rob, Ian, Sandy and Freddie taking the photo|
|Carl and Lynsey|
|Me again (pinched off Al's blog)|
|Al and I (courtesy Ian Cotterill)|
|I love this picture.|
Lynsey and Isabel
|Looking up the beach|
|Sea view at St Cyrus|
|Courtesy Ian Cotterill|
Fri 25th May 2012 - Going Home
Leaving after the Challenge, is never a good day. And today was not a good day in several aspects. I had woken in the night with a bit of an upset stomach, and I had only been on Shandy last night, so it was not alcohol poisoning.
But something was not right with my stomach, in a big way. It was feeling a bit volatile in a way that did not bode well.
Not like in Turkey or Tunisia (that will be in a blog one day called romance is dead) but in a potential dangerous way none the less.
It could have been something eaten, or it could have been the bug thingy that had hit one or two Challengers, or it could have been Heatstroke, or it could have been a combination of any of these.
Whatever the case I woke feeling like SHIT.
And feeling like a shit.
And indeed shit did feature quite highly in the early morning program.
I jammed a couple of Imodium in fast, and later jammed another one in before we set off.
Now when I say jammed, I swallowed them. I did not attempt to use them like some bizarre suppository.
Nuff said, but I had a headache. Really upset stomach And, felt pretty damned nauseous.
All the wrong things for going home on a train a long way. I packed my stuff away very early considering the train was not until 10.32. In fact, under instruction from Lynsey, I had to make sure I had all my stuff packed before Al.
Which I did.
Rucksack all done, and ready to go, before he got his tent down. I should have taken a picture All was feeling ok (ish), but soon after we left the campsite, he was looking a bit white faced and not feeling great either. We said goodbye to those that had not already left to get the earlier trains. Then took our keys back And trundled over towards the general direction of the station. Then Al decided that we had loads of time, which we did, and we went to the Park to say goodbye to Mr Manning, and anyone else who was there. We did not even feel like a drink, so we just chatted with Louise and JJ, and then John, and Chris, and I also chatted to Dennis.
There were a few folk there, who were a bit concerned over Al's general condition. He had toughed it out this year, but he was not his normal self, and I am sure he will admit it. I promised to keep them informed as much as I knew.
Eventually, it was time to leave and we set off on our way to the station. On route, I popped into the Coop, to buy a load of fluid. We said many a goodbye from the station, and then eventually our train came in, and we got on to head to London. We had at a ridiculously low price (I say we, AL), procured 1st Class tickets all the way to Kings Cross.
So putting our sacks into a nice empty luggage rack, we settled into our fine adjustable seats, and awaited the continuous service as befitted our status.
We were not feeling great though, because we turned down everything more or less other than fluids.
In fact, for the best part of the first 4 hours I think intermittently, we both slept. I had drunk loads and loads of water, to try and re-hydrate. And not just from the heat of the last few days.
Nuff said again.
Later on after a good sleep, and a heck of a lot of fluid, I was feeling a bit better. We decided, that maybe a biot of food would not go amiss. Sadly, the service trollies had run out of hot food. In fact they ran out of most stuff. We did eventually get teas, but it was company policy to always start at a certain point, so on most occassions, since we were almost at the front of the train, The next carriage, was the bloke driving it, they had run out of food by the time they got to us. Add to that the forever coughing fraulein opposite, and the fact that the air conditioning was buggered, and I will mention the lack of food again.
So AL was not a happy bunny, what with feeling grotty and tired, he was now pissed off as well. And thus that is how we spent our day. Lounging, and sleeping, and making visits to the toilet. I had a wander up and down the train after Newcastle, but there were very few folk left on it. I did stop for a chat with Richard and his wife for a while. And after a long long hot journey, we arrived at Kings Cross.
I got my stuff off, and waited for Al.
He eventually appeared after grumping about some idiot standing in the way chatting. We bumped into Mick on the platform, and I talked to him as we headed off.
AND THEN, I LOST AL
I looked round, and he was nowhere to be seen. I walked round to the ticket office to get my ticket for Cambridge. I assumed he may turn up there. I got the ticket, and then went back round to see if I could find him.
NOTHING, NO SIGN.
After a few minutes they were doing last boarding for the Cambridge train. I hoped Al had enough cash for the ticket. But I still could not find him, and needed to get the train.
So I did.
I tried to call him.
Left 2 messages.
Left 2 text messages
Sent an email.
But, that was the last I heard from Al for about 3 days, when he eventually resurfaced in the blogsphere.
For a short while there, I was a bit worried. I had not said goodbye.
Ok, he wasn't going to get a kiss, but maybe a MAN HUG!
Never mind, next time mate.
And I was home..................................................
OR WAS I?
I texted Lucy on route, and told her that my train would be in at 6.05 (ish).
No sign of her when I left the station.
I rang, assuming she was ion the Car Park.
"You said 6.45" she said "I haven't left home yet"
(It was 6.05, I have the text message to prove it!)
Now I was well chilled out, and still on a Challenge Cloud.
"I think you will find that was 6.05" says I
"But no worries, I will walk round to your parents house and meet you there". "That will be a lot easier than coming to the station"
And I stuck my pack back on my back and did the 20 min walk to there house.
Had a nice chat, and a cup of coffee.
Lucy arrived about 15 min after I got there.
We stayed for more chat. And then we went home.
IT WAS OVER!
BUT, Lucy, Olly and Harriet were there, and that was a good thing.
And the dog was pretty pleased to see me as well.
SO, UNTIL NEXT TIME!
Just the kit report to come, sometime in the next week. I
need to remember what I took and how it did. Seemples :) ........................................................................................................................................................
In memory of all those Challengers we lost this year.
Gone but not forgotten. J
ust walking somewhere else!
This was Windwood and Clapton Live at madison Square Garden (Voodoo Chile)
NOW since this Video was pulled from You Tube it is
Windwood and Clapton Live at Crossroads Guitar Festival (Voodoo Chile)
The music is the tune that got me through the tedious road bits.
And for My Hoyle :)
NOW since this Video was pulled from You Tube it is
Windwood and Clapton Live at Crossroads Guitar Festival (Voodoo Chile)
The music is the tune that got me through the tedious road bits.
And for My Hoyle :)