|Frightened rabbits aka JJ and J on the refurbished Queen Street station. More challengers in the background|
This was The Plan:
Actually the plan was planned in 2019 for 2020. 2020 was cancelled, obviously, and so, we were to use 2020's plan for 2021, except that in 2020 there would have been three of us - Me, JJ and Margaret aka Beryl. This was to be a shortish route so that Beryl aka Margaret could get back to a wedding which meant we needed to finish on the Tuesday. However, both the wedding and Beryl aka Margaret were cancelled, or at least, postponed so we had a short route for just me and JJ. This was just as well since JJ had some surgery five weeks before the Challenge and a short route would have been needed anyway. It's an ill-wind wot blows your recycling bin away, as we say in Crook.
|We began by heading West by mistake|
|McCain's tower. A bit chipped in places|
And so, it came to pass, that after almost six hours in Wetherspoons in Oban and a night in Oban Old Fowks Hostel (aka YHA), me and JJ set off at a blistering pace back to Oban Wetherspoons for a well-earned breakfast. And then, and only then did we seek out McCains Folly which was badly placed up a steep hill. The we got lost a bit and eventually found ourselves in Glen Lonan for the long road walk to Taynuilt. Our plan, as amended by Section 3, Para 2 (b) of the Big Plan For 2021, saw us walking only eight of the Queen's miles to a lovely spot just off the road, quite a bit short of Taynuilt. This was NOT A MISTAKE, given that most people would head for Taynuilt at least on Day 1, but our plan was to get there at lunchtime on Day 2. For lunch, see? Smart eh?
|Midgies can't find us under this bridge|
|The Wobbly Bridge of Taynuilt|
We progressed, exactly as planned unto the fleshpots of Taynuilt where we had lunch in the tearoom there and shopped, diffidently and inefficiently with a lurking and almost seething disappointment around the lack of midgies.
We managed to put this right late that evening in the wilds of Glen Kinglass, where we found a bit of a shortage in the area of camping spots and , due to industrialisation of the place, a completely inaccurate set of maps. This wasn't much bother since, to save weight we had shrunk our maps to such an extent that we couldn't read them anyway. Lots of lovely midgies in Glen Kinglass anyway, which cheered us up no end and resulted in kilt-abandonment and the donning of leggings for the next day which was rainy. The midgie followed us up the glen but gave up as we crossed over to Loch Dochart. It seems that midgies are a bit lazy when it comes to crossing contours.
Time for more pics IN THE WRONG ORDER... (Doesn't bother me at all........)
|Loch Rannoch brew|
|JJ following the tracks|
|Camping near Gorton bothy|
|JJ on the drove road to Crieff|
|Wobbly bridge number 2|
|Camp at Loch Dochart|
Midgieless once again, we battered on to Lochart which, in a warm summer breeze and on a little isthmus, we had a fablious camp. Worra lovely spot.... At some point around here we might have discovered that it was now verboten to travel to or from Manchester. This prompted JJ to mention to anybody he met that he was from Manchester. One person fainted. Another called the police. Most just smiled weakly and took a step or two away....
We were soon in the bar at Victoria Bridge, talking to West Highland Wayfarers, playing a guitar and drinking cold and fizzy stuff - and then, not too long after, and finding a spot by the River Shira (named after a Geordie footy player, I expect), we camped with a view of some Big Hills, just a bit short of our target of Gorton Bothy.
And in the morning we bashed on through a gap in the forest to Loch Rannoch for a shoreside camp - a bit off-route, but it was hot and we'd marched for a long time through brain stultifying forest.
The plan was to hit Kinloch Rannoch at lunchtime the next day. (Can you spot the pattern here?)
|Loch an Oiseanneach|
|JJ looking unjustifiably happy|
|Heading around the back of Schiehallion|
|Rob Roy Way|
|Fishing hut rain shelter|
|Good grief, what on earth is that?|
|Camp around the back of Schiehallion|
|Ian Cotterill turns up in Kinloch Rannoch|
Our plan was to do some shopping at Kinloch Rannoch - which we did - and, as a change to the dehydrated we bought some almost proper food in the form of corned beef, sweetcorn and rice (we couldn't get spuds). So our camp under the slopes of Schiehallion was a bit better fed than normal. In the morning we had a bit of a scrap with a lot of contours but managed to cross the hill to the banks of the River Tay, where it chucked it down but, luckily there was a fisherman's shelter, so..... we dripped along to Aberfeldy for dinner and decided to stay in Aberfeldy for the night at the campsite. This allowed even more drinking , eating and shopping, so the next night's menu was to be stewed beef, baked beans and more rice...
Breakfast at the cinema and a sort of lunch at Ballinluig, which wasn't at all pretentious, being soup served in a bowl on a damaged Welsh roofing slate and a bit of bread balanced on a pebble.
After a chat with Dan at the Halfway House, who remembered us from 2018 (lovely chap, noisy dog) we trundled over to Loch an Oiseanneach Mor (Loch an Oyshenach, according to Dan). This is another quite lovely spot as it happens.
Oddly enough, from here on, in this pieblog, the pictures out of Blogger are now appearing in the correct order. The text is in the wrong place, though.
|Getting warm in the tussocks|
|Steve at Kirkmichael|
|JJ on a bridge|
|Camp above Glen Dajackson|
|Dogs aren't allowed on a TGO challenge, but the rules are silent on the subject of rabbits|
|Loch of Linthrathen|
|Its bloody shut. We'll just wait.....|
|Up The Jungle|
And so, shotly after leaving Loch an Oisenneach, it all went a bit wrong. The path, which appears on some maps, disappeared and some off-piste Pennine-like countryside appeared. Happily, it was mainly downhill/ But for a while we bashed through Tussock, Heather and Bog (capital letters used to make it sound like a firm of accountants) - until, proper knackered, we reached forest paths which lead us all the way into Kirkmichael where there is a lovely village shop which does hot pies and tea. Here, we met challenger Steve, last seen being followed by a clutch of midgies in Glen Kinglas.
We progressed - passing 2018's camping spot and entering yet more rough stuff to Glen Shee, then up Glen Dajackson or whatever it was called (look, see - we were getting tired and fractious, so we didn't care at this point and on to apparently waterless moors.
Eventually a spring appeared near an ancient settlement site and we could settle anciently into our tabernacles for minced beef, carrots and spuds followed by fruit cocktail and Bell's whisky. A noisy night of snoring and calling after Kylie in the night followed....
And in the morning it was all sweetness and light for half a mile then the struggle with the landscape returned until we hit the roads in Glen Isla.
We had a brief incident in Glen Isla when we noticed that we were being stalked by a small domestic rabbit. At first, there was a frission of fear at being followed by an animal, who's motivation could only be guessed. Did we appear to be a tasty alternative to the usual dandelion diet? Or did our packs look ideal for a stowaway and what damage would this do to our finely balanced and healthy diet of fresh vegetables wot we were carrying? Apparently, it was on a romantic mission to a nearby cottage which also had a rabbit. The farmer and two of his sons appeared on an ATV and, after some chasing about, recaptured the waskally things and returned it to it's pen with an instruction not to let it out again.....
We headed for the Wee Bear Cafe just by Loch of Lintrathen. Miles past. Shoulders ached. Grumpiness and sweat was the order of the day. And when we arrived.......... it was closed till July 1. We could have waited. We waited for a bit, in fact, consuming water and cheese as the pitiless sun beat down on the bit between the bottom of our kits and the top of our socks. Eventually, it was time to go. I had identified a bijoux camping spot not too far away by a river. More eventually we arrived and found...... a jungle. Lots of nettles and deep grass and fallen trees and blackfly and the rumble of herds wilderbeast thundering magnificently over the Plains of Angus. Actually, the last bit isn't true. We had a lovely, quiet night. Nobody in their right mind would camp in there....
|Kirrimuir (mainly closed on Mondays)|
|Heading for Kenny's cafe in Forfar|
|Lovely path near Dunnichen|
|Yet more roads|
|Must get the wife's mother a birthday card.......|
|The end. That's me in the middle|