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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!)

loch beanie

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. 

glen isla

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…..


Louise said...


Well, most of it.

I look like my sister in that photograph, little bit scary.

Alan Sloman said...

Well then
Another notch in the bed post, eh? That Kylie's an elusive little tyke.

Thoroughly enjoyed your trip from the comfort of my chair - in fact, reading about these walks is one hell of a lot more comfortable than walking the things.

We should club together and get someone to do them on our behalf - I believe Mr Grumpy is offering that service, just a thought...

Good luck with the Marylins.

John said...

Ah yes. Well then. Quite understood.

Anyroadup, what's with all the sunshine on your last day? It looks almost warm.

We need another trip.

Hope all is well.


John said...

....oh, and can I say: what a fine looking tent you have there!


Dawn said...

Well done Mike, you certainly showed the younger whipper snappers how it is done. Proud of you.

Laura said...

Hurrah! Curry at last - a great way to celebrate my fourth crossing! Good write-up Mike - might try and do some of that route sometime - maybe not the bit with the cattle......

chrissiedixie said...

Excellent stuff Mike, and I loved your tweet about your speed being '2 jelly babies every 20 minutes, and then a break every hour for another one....'

dittzzy said...

Loved it all. Class!

Ethan Marcotte said...

Where is this place actually. Lonely place.

Mike Knipe said...

Ethan - The lonely bit, I suppose is the very top end of Glen Prosen in Angus. Its not all that lonely really... but if you go a bit further North....