Friday 31 May 2013

Pieman’s Great Outdoors Challenge – The Last Bit


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And so, we come to the finishing end. In my case, the finishing end started with quite a nice breakfast at Glen Shee and progressed, slowly and hesitantly at first along the Cateran Trail, past fractious cows with horns and interested bulls to a lurch over a bit of moorland to Loch Beanie, the only Scottish loch to be named after a hat. Throughout the day (a warm and sunny day for a change) , I’d followed and been followed by a nice Scottish lady, also on the TGO. I won’t name her – I’ve learned by bitter experience not to name people, specially lone females, and, apart from anything else, in have no idea who she was. We’d passed and repassed each other for several days, though, whoever she was.. She had the rather irritating habit of walking very very slowly yet, as I was having yet another orange chocolate drop rest, she’d amble past, obseving , in a relaxed manner, on what a nice day it was….  (It’s all in the mind, folks!)

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Just past Loch beanie, I disturbed an otter hunting in a very small syke – probably looking for a froggy snack, I suspect. he tried to hide. My pic of him doesn’t show an otter, though, it only shows a muddy little syke, so I didn’t publish it. 

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I crossed the low bealach into Glen Isla. Glen Isla is specially beautiful. This is just a tip for anybody searching for somewhere specially beautiful.

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And so, I progressed – energetically at first, feeling good, marching on, slowing down , imperceptibly, resting now and then, heaving the pack on, sweating, struggling, frankly, plodding ever uphill towards the 800 metre tops far away. Ultimately, I admitted to myself that I was, in fact, knackered and it was time for another cunning plan. A brief glance at the map produced such a plan and I contoured along through short heather and the odd peat hag as the mist lowered and chased me down the hill to Kilbo where it was time to jack it in and put up the akto.

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I’ve camped here twice before. (not with any scousers, though) I noticed that this time, somebody was building something on the site of the old Kilbo ruin. This could ruin the place as a wild camp. Maybe. The night was quiet. The lass who’d followed the same route for the last few days mentioned the horrid snoring coming from the akto as she passed the next morning. (I met her a little way down the dale) She’d camped “ten minutes away up the glen”

antartctic memorial at dykehead

As with Glen Isla, Glen Prosen is also specially beautiful. I met the farmer and some contractors from a farm a way down the glen and had a chat. I mentioned the manic and aggressive dog at the farm and was assured that it was now dead, although I was warned to watch out for the farmer…. I was interviewed and, much to the delight of the farmer, told him I’d come from Mallaig. “See, I told you..” he announced to his contractors….

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I wandered up the hill and along a grassy ridge for a bit to Dykehead with it’s antarctic memorial and so, by roads and quiet lanes into Kirriemuir. I was all too aware of leaving the hill country and for the long road walks ahead. That was it for hills. No more fun.

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Peter Pan – Kirriemuir

Kirriemuir didn’t want me. The tourist info place gave me some phone numbers. I checked out the nearby hotel and they, unconvincingly, told me they were fully booked. One number I rang sounded a bit mad. Another said they were full. Another didn’t answer the phone. I headed east and , six miles later, got a pitch at the campsite by the loch in Forfar. Quite a plush site, and all for a fiver. I like Forfar. Forfar provided a huuuuuge breakfast the very next morning for about six quid. Kilbo to Forfar had been my longest day at 23 miles.

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Nechansmere battle memorial Dunnichen

I headed even further East, to Dunnichen where the Picts embarrassed the Northumbrians by ambushing and killing them all in 685 AD. I entered Lethem where the tearoom was friendly (Never pass a tea room ooom ooom ooommm…    Clean Undies By The Way…?) and thus to Friokheim (Freekham) where I gained a couple of pints, chatted in the pub for an hour or so  and shopped in the shop. The lass in the shop said something incomprehensible. I agreed and we all smiled. I came out with butties, beer, fruit and scotch eggs. And chocolate. Who can forget the chocolate?

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And I then headed yet even further East to a nice pitch, out of the rising wind on Rossie Moor where I consumed the beer and butties from the shop in Friokheim. I had intended to camp near the Angus Crematorium, a place I’d been a few times before, but the desire to chop bits off tomorrow’s walk was too strong. On Rossie Moor the wind thundered through the trees, but my camp was in a fabulously warm and sheltered spot and lay undisturbed by the storm which lashed down all night and into the next day. A frog hopped intot he tent porch, did a double take and hopped out again. I made friends with lots of spiders and a black beatle beetle, “Ringo”.

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The morning had hot sunshine (in the tent) and snow and hail storms and, eventually, about half ten, I moved on Scurdie Ness. I scoffed the scotch egg and all my chocolate and hurtled off eastwards, with a following gale, eventually turning up, ruffled and battered at the lighthouse at Scurdie Ness. This should be a highlight. The last time I was here it wa a disappointment because the family reception committee for my tenth crossing , that I’d planned and paid for – had gone shopping. Today it felt alike an anti-climax too. I resolved to drink beer and headed for the Park Hotel. The walk was over. 211 miles and my twelfth TGO Challenge. The event wasn’t over, though. I had Things To Do.

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I like Montrose. My TGO routine – after checking in at the Park, is to camp the next day. Camping means hot smoked salmon, crusty bread and a bottle of wine in the tent, whilst reading the paper and snoozing. Highlights this time included a  nice curry with Laura, Loiise and Pieter (see Laura, I get there eventually) and a boozy night with Stephan and his German party and, ultimately, the Montrose Music festival aka Mofest.

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I spent several hours at Mofest in the High Street, listening to the music and watching the Very Pale citizens of Montrose burning slowly in the spring sunshine – so much so that I missed my train. Dhuhh…. 

Will I do it again? More of this later… but I will say that I’m not going to apply in 2014. This may come as a relief to certain Scouse Ramblers who may feel free to enjoy themselves without any chance of meeting The Pieman and having to decide whether or not to be friendly. I=the reason for this is simple – I have bagged 516 marilyns and I am within a whisker of completing both the Hewitts and Wainwright’s Outlying Fells and, providing I can knock these off this year, my aim for 2014 will be to join the Marily hall of Fame – which involves bagging 600 marilyns. So 2014 should be a Marilyn bagging fest. It has to be done.

There are other tensions, though. I will write about this in more detail later…….

What of Kylie?– well, I should be so lucky…. lucky lucky lucky…..

Thursday 30 May 2013

Pieman’s Great Outdoors Challenge – I Have A Cunning Plan

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The night in Glen Feshie was probably fairly blustery. I have no idea. I seem to have been sufficiently unconscious not to notice anything at all. It had been a late night – probably half eight or nine and I was almost the last to leave (there are individuals even more relaxed than me about setting off in the morning)

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I soon caught up with the couple from Dundee and there were lots of other challengers around the Chally corridor that is the Feshie-Geldie way to Braemar. But the fleshpots of Braemar were not for me. I had a Cunning Plan. A plan involving dressing up as a woman of the night, six pounds of turnips in a bag, a dead badger and heading up the Bynack to the Tilt. Actually just heading up to the Tilt. Not really all that cunning, I suppose, now I think about it.

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First, I had to cross The Bridge of Death.  The words “Bridge of Death, by the way, should be announced in a slightly lunatic squeaky voice – like a mad villain, perhaps with a little laugh afterwards. The Bridge of Death is where Son #1 (my only son) almost fell off into the viciously churning water far below after tripping over a tree root. This is when I discovered that he knew far more and worse swear words than me. Ever since then , in the Knipe household, this location has been known as “The Bridge of death”. We crossed without incident and plodded Eastwards. Bit of an anti-climax, really…

Once at the confluence with the Allt a-nt Seilich, I took the numbingly refreshing paddle across the Geldie and headed to Bynack lodge where I lunched (again) I was joined by a lad with the most manic spaniel pup you’ve ever seen. It was all over the place. The dog’s food bag was bigger than mine, and I’m not notorious for skimping on the scoff. The chap carries extra diabetic stuff for the dog for when it eventually runs out of steam. They don’t pace themselves don’t yer dogs.

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I headed for Glen Tilt in worsening weather. Cyclists came the other way. Lots of cyclists. Everybody was very friendly. Eventually I got to the Falls of Tarf where I stayed but briefly to have a look and take a pic. I was now back on the original route and without all that much fuss. The cunning plan had worked quite well and no badgers were harmed in the implementation.

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I retraced a bit up Glen Tilt and found a lumpy spot in the middle of some shielings where the path to Fealar Lodge crosses the Tilt. Camping on top of a lump maybe wasn’t such a good idea, but the slashing rain that had developed had the potential, I thought, to fill the flat bits here with puddles. A puddle in your tent can ruin your night. (Just a tip, there, for tyro backpackers) On the other had, fighting your way back uphill several times in a night can be disturbing to the nocturnal relaxations.

Several cyclists hurtled Southwards. One, a girl, in front, giggling and laughing, and pursued by several handsome, muscly types in wrap-around shades and expensive suntans, looked suspiciously like K. I got the impression that she wasn’t riding quite as fast as she could……

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In the morning the Tilt was running too deep and fast to cross, but it had stopped raining. I had another brew and had a long discussion with a large black slug during which we became firm friends and I was persuaded to join his campaign against the use of beer traps in allotments. I was amazed to hear that Mr Slug had never heard of lettuce. I suggested that he wasn’t missing much.

After a while The Tilt relented enough to let me across with a shin-deep and a bit teetery  and very cold shuffle. I headed for Fealar Lodge where I met The Dog Who Lives There. I’d met this canine once before and he’d accompanied me for several miles on a previous TGO challenge. On that occasion he’d been determined to bring me small groups of sheep. As we crossed another horizon, he suddenly decided to go home and ran off without so much as a “tara”.  Today, he seemed to have lost the ability to get over the gate and amused himself by taunting the dogs in the kennels by jumping up and down and running about barking in front of their pens. I last saw him shaking a stick. If I’d stayed, I could have had a playmate for hours and hours….   Manic beast. Bless ‘im.

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Heading Eastwards, I had to navigate briefly due to the thick clag. This was my first and last bit of actual navigation on the challenge. I had six jelly babies and twelve orange chocolate-drops in celebration. Navigation in this case involved taking a bearing into the clag. The mist slowly cleared, though a few minutes later to reveal an audience of red deer. They watched me cross the first bealach. They didn’t seem too bothered about running away.

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The mist was clearing and slowly lifting and I thought that for the first time on the trip that the breeze felt a bit warm. A path developed towards the bealach below Carn an Righ and I started to meet day walkers. I said “hello” a lot, and, occasionally, “hiya”. Many of the walkers were in the hotel later waiting for their bus. They must have had a long walk starting and returning to  Glen Shee.  The path here is appalling by the way – sloppy and slippery and unpleasant. I must report it to the County Council….

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Soon, or at least, eventually, I arrived at Loch nan Eun – an ideal spot for a brew and a snooze in the warm sun…  Eh, wha…? Warm sun…?

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All the clouds suddenly cleared and the prospect down Gleann Taitneach with a public bar waiting at it’s end was both beautiful and inviting. I paused only once to drink from a burn and be bitten on my eyebrow by an ant (I suspect an ant anyway)…..

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Looking back up Gleann Taitneach just before two pints of cold cider.

In Glen Shee, I checked out the hostel. It had no vacancies. So I went to the hotel. This was already occupied by a couple of Challengers. I was warned that the hotel wasn’t operating at full efficiency (to say the least). It was pretty much empty but hadn’t been cleaned etc. since a big running event the day before. I asked for a bed and got it, but had to wait for it to be cleaned. they forgot to put soap in the shower, though. But the food was good. A few more challengers and challenge “followers” arrived and we had a convivial night, even though the barman got bored at ten o’clock and sloped off, to be replaced by somebody, I think, from the kitchen. The hotel seems to be slowly falling to bits. The food was really good, though.

I believe we’re now up to 146 statute miles.

Wherefore Charlene…?


Wednesday 29 May 2013

Pieman’s Great Outdoors Challenge – The Gentle Perfume of Socks

glen feshie

Another brief sojourn in the sleeping bag. I had a mere eleven and a half hours of snooze time. I suspect that this is Not Enough and have resolved to be less active during sleepy time. Maybe, tomorrow night, I could experiment with staying up till half seven. I porridged and left the Falls of Roy in the general direction of Luib-Chonnel bothy, the site of last night’s party wot I missed. (this is the story of my life, starting at the age of 14, when the Wormwell’s parents, several doors up the street, went to Morecambe and left the teenage Wormwells to fend for themselves. As the party up the street got into gear (They started playing Troggs records) I played “California dreamin’” loudly with the arm of the dansette up so it repeated over and again. This is a mistake for anybody feeling a bit depressed by the way. The tensions in the harmonies make you feel worse and the only resort I could find was  to find a sharp knife and circumcise a banana. This puzzled my Mum somewhat but she never mentioned it even though, from time to time, in a quiet moment, when the adverts were on, she may have started to hesitantly broach the subject once or twice. It’s still taboo in the Knipe household.

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This is the road to Luib-Chonnel. As you can see, the weather has perked up a bit.

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And this is Luib-Chonnel bothy. From this distance you could just start to detect the perfume of socks, fire and stale port. I wasn’t bothered about missing the bloody party. Oh no….. Hah! As you can see, a party at Luib-Chonnel is unlikely to disturb the neighbours. I plodded on to Shesgnan – a private an locked – and plush bothy with a…

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leprechaun strapped to a tree. I believe he was probably waiting to be interrogated. He doesn’t know what’s coming to him, poor wee chappie.

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And then – after more plodding, I got to Melgarve. This was occupied by a pair of Challengers. We had The Challenge Conversation. This consists of observations on the weather, exaggerations about the depth of snow,  starting places, finishing places, details of the stay at whatever hostel it was..and so on. Challengers always have a ready-made list of subjects for a chat, specially having not met any others since last Saturday afternoon.

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For those intent on Laggan, after Melgarve comes the longest stretch of road plodding In The World. I noted several nice camping spots and a fairly mucky one at Laggan bridge (pic above taken from the bridge – as you can see, the weather has got a bit grumpy again) I passed and re-passed a group of lads who looked like TGO Challengers, but who were distant and unfriendly and I suspected that they might have been trying very hard to get to wherever it was before the shambling white-bearded sock-scented tramp that eventually turned up at the Monadhliath Hotel  Monarch Hotel at Laggan. I was ushered in. There was a fairly steep entry fee, which I paid..when suddenly

i'm the slim, handsome one

I heard the unmistakeable tones of Andy Walker emanating from one of the rooms. It was the Lambert/Sloman/Walker party. We had dinners and a minor booze-up and left in the morning, full of full breakfast, they went one way and I went another.  The four lads from the Laggan road kept themselves to themselves, apart from the very Scottish one who made remarks about TGO challenge being for gay white bearded old men. I’m not sure if anybody else noticed this. Several other challengers were in the hotel as well that night. Look, I have a really bad memory for names, see…? I can’t be expected to remember everybody’s name wot I met. I can barely remember my own name most of the time…

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I headed for Glen Banchor. This walk starts with a stupidly dangerous bit of road-walking and then, just before you  get mown down by a coach full of grannies, a track heads off up the glen. Its a beautiful glen and has a bothy in it. Inside the bothy today, were a Spaniard and an Austrian lass. They were on a walk to Iona from Findhorn and had lit a fire which they were hugging whilst cooking a fine selection of fresh vegetables including onions and garlic. I mean, who takes proper food like this on a backpacking trip , eh? [koff] I had hot chocolate. We had a very long chat. Their journey was obviously spiritually inspired and I hope they weren’t disappointed by the touristy Iona when they finally arrived (I’m assuming they’ve got there by now) They seem to have had plans to walk to Spain after this. I did warn them that the Bay of Biscay could be tricky when in spate.

I arrived, eventually, at Newtonmore and got into Ali and Sue’s bunkhouse which Dawn had already booked and paid for. I distributed her parcel, as per instructions, stole her porridge, despatched maps back to pie towers, washed socks and shreddies, dried boots, showered, and went off to the boozer for steak pie, guinness and watching professional darts on the telly with the locals and some navvies from the Beauly-Denny line which is being built up the road.

Sue and Ali’s bunkhouse is a very fine establishment, I have to say. Just a tip for anybody looking for a comfy bed in Newtonmore – and specially for  future TGO challengers.  Website here

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In the morning the  specially early-opened cafe provided a good value and quite large full Scottish and orf I went for the Feshie, meeting an Irish lad at Ruthven barracks on the way.

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Glen Feshie was not on my route. I’d decided to go there due to the weather forecast which was for high winds and driving drizzle. My high-level route from the top of the Minigaig would be no fun in this and, my original foul weather alternative was unappealing due to it’s roughness. So – it had to be Feshie – Braemar – Callater – Kilbo, a route I’ve never done before with anybody from Liverpool (honestly) and which would put me back on route in a few days.

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I stopped for tea at Ruigh-aiteachain bothy which was occupied by a bunch of challengers including the dog Reuben’s bloggerdad James (backpackingbongos) Boulter but pressed on after an hour or so with my Irish pal and a couple from Dundee, as far as the mid-upper glen where we came across a tented village of Challengers, including many old friends. So that was it for the day. There was whisky and chat and the night eventually turned a bit wet and windy.  I was persuaded that my original route including Glen Shee was quite an easy option from there. I changed the route again, but couldn’t tell Control as there was no signal. Several people knew where I was going, though. Hopefully, somebody would get to me before the blowflies should anything go wrong.

This was now the end of Day 8. 119 miles covered so far. No physical damage (apart from multiple spots from insect bites) (and a slightly sore bum) (and a hint of trench foot)

The Glen Feshie camping spot was no place for an innocent Australian girl, though.


Tuesday 28 May 2013

Pieman’s Great Outdoors Challenge 2013. Another Bit

springtime near glen garry

After a fitful night during which I only managed 14 hours sleep, I set off really early at about ten o’clock. The weather forecast had driven me away from the idea of a crossing of the River Loyne, so I battered down the road towards Tomdoun, meeting and seeing nobody till almost at Tomdoun when a venerable collie dog came galloping up from several hundred metres down the road. The wriggled a greeting just like wot collies do and the lass with it told me where to get a phone signal.

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She needn’t have bothered as there was a sign put up by the Authorities, although the English is a bit ropey here.  It was a lie anyway, there was no signal. I plodded onwards and Eastwards.

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The spelling here lacks the final “N” and the writer of sign three was obviously in the same mood as me. Dammit.  Onwards. More jelly babies….

I sat under the verandah of the deserted Tomdoun hotel and sheltered from the monsoon (Did I not mention the rain?) I rang John Manning. He couldn’t hear me. I could hear him, though. Eventually, a bit further East, I reported in.

Me so horny....

I passed through Greenfield and into the forest and met these girls just before setting about searching for a camping spot by the Allt Ladaidh. I eventually found a bumpy bit with a small beck, stuck up the akto and settled in for a mp3 fest and some cheering scotch.

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Despite thinking that I could hear Kylie calling for me in the lonely night, I quickly fell into a deep and dreamy sleep at a  time when most six year-olds are still having their tea. Despite this, though, tonight, I only managed thirteen hours sleep and awoke to a dusting of wet snow.  Target for today was Gairlochy, a horribly long distance to the South-East. I found some really good camping spots a mile or so  South, but I was soon in squidgy forest and then on a snow-clad trackless and peat-hagged moor being blasted by some rather violent and unpleasant snowy squalls.

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Onwards and Southwards progress was blocked by a new hydro-power station project and so, I had to turn a bit Westwards, and not on the route that had been suggested by our vetters, but on “Dawn’s Alternative” – a much better route to Loch Arkaig and one which had been used recently by the Highland motor-biker peeps who, it seems, had thoughtfully taken a route parallel to the tight of way, thus not churning it up. Maybe they were lost, I dunno. Things got better.

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I descended to Loch Arkaig by the Allt Dubh and turned left, just after meeting a Lejogger going the other way and enquiring about camping spots. (I’d just passed quite a nice one as it happens)

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I was soon on the Great Glen Way and running out of steam and the temptation of a nice, flat spot beside Loch Lochy, just before the “No Camping” sign was too much. I threw up the akto (never eat an akto) , had me tea and settled in for another sleepathon. Does it ever go dark in Scotland? Was that Kylie floating past scoffing a cornetto? Will I ever get to a pub?

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Another showery morning followed. I was up in time to meet today’s clutch of Great Glen way-ers heading North. My pack was bigger than theirs. The Grey Corries and the Ben were pristine white with fresh snow. I took the general wade road to Spean bridge. This joins a new path from Spean Bridge to the Commando memorial and is easy to walk on and to follow. Part of the path follows the old railway line from Fort William to Fort Augustus.  Sometimes it was sunny…..

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The path passes this derelict bridge (don;t try to cross this one, folks) This was built by General Wade and was the site of an embarrassing debacle at the start of the ‘45, whereby a few highlanders, by leaping about and blowing bagpipes, managed to obtain the route and surrender of 80 troops of the Royal Scots on their way to reinforce Fort William. Those devils in skirts. Lady Rough-Diamond is not mentioned…

I got to Spean bridge where the sign for the restaurant at the station said “open”. At the station approach another sign said “open at 5:00 pm”, whereas on the station itself it said 2open at 6:00 pm” This is a mastery of communications and should be commended. I met Di Gerrard on the station . She was waiting for a train. Its quite a good place to wait for trains. She’d withdrawn due to a leg injury.

I withdrew to the Spean bridge hotel which had fish and chips. I had fish and chips. They were very nice.

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I plodded on to Roy Bridge where the pub was closed but the tea room was open. An image of my mum in a little fuzzy circle at the top left hand side of my brain-screen and, in a voice with a lot of added echo said “Never Pass a Tea Room, Son. Never Pass a Tea Room…room…room…ooomm” “Have you got clean pants on by the way…..?  you might get knocked down if you haven’t…” I went in for tea and toasted teacakes.

Later, further up Glen Roy, a car trundled to a halt behind me and an image of Alastair Pooker appeared at the driver’s window and in a voice with little or no added echo said “Hello Mike”

Alastair was on his way to Mr Sloman’s Cheese and wine party which, due to snow and ice at the oruiginal venue , had been reconvened at the Luib-chonnel bothy. Alastair drove off but I met him again later at Brae Roy Lodge, packing his stuff (mainly booze, apparently) and we walked a few yards till he decided he’d forgotten something and went back.

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Having covered 19 miles today, I’d had enough at Falls of Roy, despite feeling that maybe another three or four miles to the bothy would be worth it for the fun. But the legs and feet said “No”. So I put up the akto, watched Alastair cruise past and followed my usual routine of brew-sleep-scotch-dinner-brew-scotch-snooze-chocolate-scotch-sleep-sleep-sleep- wossat?- sleep zzzzzzz

I think we’re up to day 5 now. 71 miles. No sign of K.

Monday 27 May 2013

Pieman’s Great Outdoors Challenge 2013 The First Bit

bruce watts ferry to inverie

Before moving on to pontificate on whether or not the 2013 TGO will be my final challenge, or certainly not my Final Challenge (for those who expressed worry for my health) (but we all have to go sometime) I will report briefly and in a style specially designed for peeps with short attention spans (those that are still reading) (I really like doing asides with lots of brackets) (but I expect it can get irritating after a bit). I’ve a couple of things to say about the experts that you meet on TGO challenges and similar events and also something to say about how the freedom of the hills doesn’t always transfer to the freedom to talk about what happens on walks in the hills and I’ll do these things later at my discretion. You’ll have to wait. I’m waiting, in fact, for thoughts to crystalise…

On with the TGO.

This is the first two days in which we set off hopefully and about which Dawn has blogged on her blog post which she titles “failed”, but about which Dawn supporters don’t really consider a failure – and what happened after that. Dawn’s post is here

I’ll do the TGO in a few bits of two or three days. The whole walk was 211 miles and 28000 of yer Queen’s feet of ascent and the first two days is just 21 of those and 6500 feet of horribly congested contours (so – comparitively tougher than the rest of the walk.

We start in the Lammermuirs and Dunbar for reasons which will never become clear.

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Monyut Edge in the Lammermuirs may be an unusual starting point for a TGO challenge. Nice windmills by the way. Soon, all Scotland will look like this.

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Mallaig Harbour. Our boat is the one they’re not bailing out. Stayed in Sheena’s Bunkhouse.(booked by Dawn) Came not very close to winning the quiz in the boozer.

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A Good Start. In The Forge Inverie. Other people appearing in this pic were also heading for helicopter flights quite shortly.

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Into the hills – weather looking TGO-ish

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Then it rained – but going well. This is the slog up to Mam Barisdale bealach. Dawn is hunkered down under her hood I think.

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Soggy campsite at Barisdale. In all the excitement I failed to take a picture of the bothy. Me and Dawn were in the bothy. Dawn not very well at this point and me, using the keeper’s skype phone, having long and detailed discussions with Police Scotland  and a dry cleaning company in Inverness (wrong number) (but they’d do a deal on a suit….). Keeper not happy either – he’s dressed in  just a towel and had three people idiots) a week knocking on his door with urgent problems such as sore toes and wet matches which is probably not his main motivation for moving somewhere as remote as this. His dog is very friendly, though.

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Following yet more discussions with Police Scotland, a vetenarian practise in Inverurie and the duty sergeant in Fort William, a helicopter suddenly arrives  and Dawn leaves for Broadford. Thanks to Colin Tock for the support, off-side suggestions the advice about taking yer hat off when approaching a helicopter.

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Me and several people called Colin do the shoreline path to Kinlochourn. This is very hard going and it rains and sunshines alternately. I have a kind of sinking feeling most of the day. This is Skiary. (not the sinking feeling, the little croft thingy) All the Colins walk faster than me and whenever I’m thinking of not trying to keep up they stop and wait. I’m not specially happy at this point, to be fair.

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Further along the coast. This Colin is called Tock. His Trekkin Tips are Triffic. Huge pack!

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The best bit of the shoreline path near the end. At the end is Kinlochourn Hereby lies a tearoom. Never pass a tearoom, that’s what my Mum always told me. (actually, she had an unnerving interest in the state of my underwear, but I’ll pass over that for the benefit of all….)

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This is probably Loch Quoich or something. I was plodding by this time and had lost the will to renew my backpackers club membership. The word was “Aaaargh”

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There comes a time to pack it in, and this was it. I found a dry bit on a breezy little ridge with a fine view that I couldn’t be arsed looking at. This is not Glen Tilt by the way, for anybody thinking of doing the joke…  Look, I was tired, see? I was probably falling over at this point. I was attacked by ticks in the night and Kylie failed to turn up with the tins of cider and the crisps. Dreamt that I’d forgotten how to play Cm7 and that I’d left my car in Dunbar.  Actually, I Had left my car in Dunbar…..