And so, we dragged ourselves out of our stink-pits at some point in the morning, to be handed cups of tea and bacon rolls. This was good. This was very good, actually. Alan Sloman’s Wine and Cheese party had been cancelled due to a weather forecast which involved lightening and driving rain; not the kind of weather to be sitting about watching your best Lancashire blow away and your Rioja filling up whilst being electrocuted for some minor blasphemy concerning the rain diluting your plonk. So we (when I say “we”, I really mean “I”, that is to say, me.) decided to go directly to Glen Clova without passing go and without collecting £200.
So we headed off up the exceptionally beautiful Glen Callater. Glen Callater has more very fine camping spots than you can shake a walking pole at. It would be a fine place to spend a lazy weekend with a small collection of Just William books and a small but adequate supply of teabags and booze. I might do that sometime.
But I digress a bit. We headed up over Jock’s Road. Jock’s Road rambles up Glen Callater and then hits a wall of steep grass up which a thin and intermittent path makes it’s way. It’s not as hard as it appears from the bottom. Or are we finally getting fit? Then there’s a bit of fence-post following over a couple of tops and then it starts raining. It always starts raining on Crow Craigies. It’s a rule. It chucks it down, in fact and at lunchtime we grovel into the hovel that is Davy’s Bourough – a semi-underground howff which is weatherproof but filthy. When we emerge, it’s just about stopped raining, so we descend into Glen Doll and wander down the road to the Clova Hotel which we enter, intent on having beer and, maybe, food before climbing up to Loch Brandy to camp for the night.
Andy Walker appears at the bar. He has a bed in the bunkhouse. After a couple of pints, this seems like a really good idea, so I book us in. This also means showers, dry tents and dinner and more beer. The decision is declared a Good One after it starts chucking it down again and blowing a hoolie at the same time. We miss all of this and have a nice, big, calorie-heavy breakfast in the morning.
The climb up to Loch Brandy and then further up to the plateau is slow but seems fairly easy. More TGO Challengers appear on the tops, heading for Tarfside. As for us, at Muckle Cairn, we turn into Glen Lethnot and down to the Shieling of Saughs, which has an anti-raptor gas gun, making the place a bit noisy for a lunchtime stop, the sudden bangs being a contra-indication to the stability of one’s brew, so we don’t stop but carry on a bit to find a quieter place next to the burn. Sheiling of Saughs was supposed to be our camping place on our TGO Challenge route sheet, but we’re half a day ahead, so we bash on down the glen till it starts raining again and we find a squishy, spidery, slightly tilted spot next to the river and out of sight of the road and any farms. If we’d carried on a couple of miles further, there would have been some nice places off the road and next to the river. Dhuhh. I may have mentioned this sort of thing previously.
The next day is hot and we plod on over the Caterthuns and into Brechin where we raid the co-op for lollies and drinks and end up , after a desultory tour of the city centre, in the Dalhousie Bar where the barmaid is a nice lass called Shona and the afternoon clientele consist of fairly-well hydrated elderly gentlemen. One or two are really really well hydrated, but jolly and friendly and the pub does a pie and a pint for £3.75. I meantersay, even a Yorkshireman couldn’t complain. We stay almost all afternoon till Mrs K phones to say that she’s in the Co-op car park. I have an emotional re-union with Lucky The Dog who spots us from a distance. Probably the smell, I shouldn’t wonder. (ahhh, sniff….) LTD’s nose is a very fine piece of detection equipment, though the challenge on this occasion could well have been quite easy.
Then, we cheated. Mrs K transports us to Johnshaven where we have showers, tea, clean undies and beer and scoff in the Anchor. I take LTD for a walk. Mrs K then returns us to Brechin in the morning after a substantial breakfast at The Anchor (I’ve always liked this pub) and lighter packs due to us not having to carry camping gear.
Its a hot day and, not stopping for a break at all till we get to the garden centre at Charleton where we stop for tea. They put strawberries on everything y’know. I can’t eat stawberries cos they do unpleasant things to my digestive system, which I point out to the waitress when they’ve put a strawberry on my scone. She points out that Charleton Fruit Farm is a stawberry farm. We make short work of the walk to Kinnaber Links – our finishing point. Then we wander along the cliffs and the golf course to the Park Hotel. Mrs K collects us again and we return to Johnshaven for more food and beer.
As a finale, the next evening, it being too hot for anything other than snoozing during the day, I take LTD the 3 miles to the summit of Paul Matthew Hill, a 172 metreTump with a wind-farm on the top - and the 3 miles back again. I’ve gained fitness and LTD has lost a bit.
So, that was that. My 13th TGO challenge. 194 miles and just about 30,00 feet of ascent. The Lad has raised over £500 for Forever Stars, the perinatal bereavement charity in Nottingham and we suffered no damage to life or limb. So, we call that a success. I may do another TGO, and, maybe I’ll go for 20 crossings…… I may well finish my next one at Johnshaven.
Edna Turner was me mum by the way. Locals in Earby had the unnerving habit of calling you by your mother’s maiden name if they caught you doing something naughty. “Tha’rt Edna Turner’s lad in’t tha?” They’d say, holding you by an ear. If Edna Turner was in bother , they’d say “Tha’rt Bertha Payne’s lass ent tha?” Knowing your family history for the previous hundred and twenty years was a great help in controlling wayward yoof, I think. This last paragraph probably has no relevance at all to the TGO chally.