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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

TGOC 2016, Days 11 & 12: Loch Callater to Waterhead


DAY 11: LOCHCALLATER LODGE TO CLOVA HOTEL

Bellies full of bacon, we stroll alongside Loch Callater and piece together the events of last night. We are in surprisingly good shape, but we had left the party at just gone one and it had gone on for quite a few more hours after that.

TOLMOUNT REFLECTED IN LOCH CALLATER

We both agree that once again (ex) Doha Jim had excelled himself with an incredible rendition, entirely from memory, of "The Shooting of Dan McGrew." 




Waggy was also in fine form. with a perfect rendition of the Universe Song:



All in all, a great night. One for the archives.

***


But you don't want to know about these chaps having a good time do you? No. I thought not.. So, let's march on to more misery! Harrumph! That's more like it, eh?

So, we're done with strolling alongside Loch Callater, and jolly fine it was too. Now then - here's a map of today's walk. This is a classic stroll in Scotland, made slightly more difficult when you lug a rucsack up Jock's Road full of proper food ~ pork pies, pasties, egg custard tarts and replenished whisky ~ bought in the Co-op in Braemar. All that proper food doesn't seem to be such a great idea now as it weighs a ton.

CLICK TO ENLARGE / RIGHT CLICK TO VIEW IN NEW TAB OR WINDOW

Once again I've annotated our map. To start with, I'll let the pictures do the talking until we stop for lunch. 


LOOKING UP TOWARDS LOCH KANDER

LOOKING BACK DOWN GLEN CALLATER

LOOKING BACK TO LOCH CALLATER

LOOKING BACK TO LOCH CALLATER

We decide to have lunch at the high point of this year's walk, Crow Craigies, over three thousand feet up in the rarified Scottish Atmosphere. But with a very stiff cold westerly, that Scottish atmosphere is very shortly to be a Norwegian one. Only a day or so ago it was probably somewhere over Labrador. Flighty buggers, atmospheres.



Well, no sooner have we sat down in the lee of the cairn, than this bloody atmosphere decides it's now going to drizzle and blow much harder and much, much colder. (NB. That's a three 'much' sentence. There should be a blogger award for that) But, we're stoical Brits and we brazen it out, donning our thermal vests, the skin of a few found caribou and setting fire to our boots for warmth. Pies, pasties, cold cuts and puddings are consumed with stiff upper lips and even stiffer fingers as frostnip creeps upwards.

Bloody Scotland, ruining our luncheon like this! 

Lord Elpus and I are perfectly happy strolling along in our little half-worlds and often find that we are separated by quite some distance. Then, generally speaking, the chap in front mooches about for a little while until the laggard catches up. A querying eyebrow met with a nod and all's generally well. That's how it works. Today, feeling bloody cold, needing a pee, and faffing about finding gloves and hats buried beneath snacks in hip pockets and then an adjustment to the shreddies, saw me quite some way into the laggard territory, so much so that the gazelle that is the Modern Lambert was quite concerned and had given up mooching about and had indeed retraced his hard-won steps. Lord knows what he was expecting to find; A bag of bones crumpled beneath a gargantuan rucsack, crows flapping over the corpse? Happily he was disappointed, this time around.

Upon expressing gratitude for his exemplary actions, he replies that he had been looking forward to salvaging some of my kit that he has had his eye on.

CRAIGS OF LOCH ESK

We saunter onwards, now in close convoy and I make a mental note to take a greater interest in the bounder's own kit, just in case.

As you approach Davy's Bourach ~ the Emergency Shelter ~ the views down into Glen Doll are magnificent, which means that you will now be treated a few gratuitous pictures of the same, with varying bits of foreground clutter for photographic interest. 

CRAIG MAUD ABOVE GLEN DOLL

APPROACHING GLEN DOLL


PHIL'S PICTURE


DAVY'S BOURACH

MAGNIFICENT GLEN DOLL

I won't bore you with our tedious descent down the path through the woods to the valley bottom, but it is not how Phil or I remember it. It used to be a gloriously pine needle-cushioned velvety loveliness of a creature. Now it's a washed out, rocky stumbly shit of a path. Pity, really, as the woods and the sound of rushing cascades to our right is fabulous.

The walk along the road to the hotel is, well, a road and it seems far longer than is decent. And it's drizzly to boot. However, the Clova Hotel is wonderful and there is time for baths, the washing of socks and pants and dinner in the restaurant. We take pity on Mr Walker who has been denied dinner in the bar and invite him to join us for a course or two and another bottle of very reasonable plonk. 

A good day. Done.



DAY 12: CLOVA HOTEL TO JUST PAST WATERHEAD

We are congratulating ourselves on being the just about the last Challengers to leave the hotel and are beginning the delightful climb directly up the side of the valley when a sprightly elderly gent lopes by effortlessly. We catch him again as he's tapping away a blog post to his numerous sponsors as he's walking for Alzheimer's research. He's a thoroughly nice bloke who started the walk days behind us and looks set to finish way before us with consummate ease. It's his first Challenge, but we both think he's been around the Scottish Hills for quite a while.

So, to the map: 


CLICK TO ENLARGE / RIGHT CLICK TO VIEW IN NEW TAB OR WINDOW

Phil designed this section of the walk, and I have to say, he did a very fine job of it. Rather than make the usual dash over to Tarfside, by whatever route, he decided to take the hills to the coastal plain. However, he had omitted to realise that one of the hills on the route is in fact a Corbett, known as Ben Tirran. This could be because the map says it is "The Goet." Awkward buggers, Corbetts.

CLIMBING OUT OF GLEN DOLL, ABOVE LOCH BRANDY

MOUNT KEEN 

MT KEEN

CRAIGS OF LOCH WHARRAL







THE GOET / BEN TIRRAN - A CORBETT, DONCHA KNOW! 896m C/O PHIL

So. it appears we have done a Corbett, by mistake. It's a fine hill, and well worth it, Corbett or not.





MT KEEN (AGAIN) SHE *IS* VERY PHOTOGENIC

GUESS THAT HILL! CRACKERJACK PENCILS FOR THE CORRECT ANSWER

The stroll, mostly downhill to Black Shank is achieved in blissful ignorance of our astonishing Corbett Conquest. It is also done in a bloody freezing wind that has us in hats and hoods and looking for the vaguest of shelter for lunch, as we have understandably built up an appetite, being as we are, Corbetteers of the Utmost Quality. And shelter is found in the lee of a few friendly peat hags. Pies with the last of the English Mustard, and a Danish for pudding.

A QUIET LUNCH SPOT ON BLACK SHANK

It really is a wonderful walk down Black Shank - soft earth beneath our feet and views in every direction, until we make the Shieling of Saughs. We chat to a young keeper in his very smart Land Rover as we watch a Heron fly over. He says that he has met an older chap, not twenty minutes before who had told him that two blokes had wandered off in completely the wrong direction and that he may well bump into them looking lost and forlorn!

Well I never! I repeat: Well I never! Our elderly gent obviously has not encountered Lord Elpus' magnificent Corbett-Bagging Route Designing Skills before! We shall gloss over this slight. It means nothing! Pah! Water off a duck's back, indeed. Harrumph. We leave the keeper to continue his grouse-counting, along with quite a few other keepers engaged in the same activity.

SHIELING OF SAUGHS


THE PIGS HAVE ESCAPED!!!

It's then an airy stroll along a well made track down the Water of Saughs. Quite effortless and delightful. 


WATER OF SAUGHS

'S NICE HERE, INNIT?

We arrive at a point on the Rover Road where a path branches off, taking a zigzag line down the nose of a slight ridge heading down to the lower Glen Lethnot. We decide to take a look and have a second lunch at the same time. Perhaps it is afternoon tea? Whatever, it's pies, (minus mustard)  fruit cake and whisky. It's not our route, but I persuade the reluctant Lord Elpus to take the plunge. The whisky helped here.

LOOKING DOWN THE STALKERS PATH INTO GLEN LETHNOT

By Golly, it's a cracker of a path! Beautifully maintained and a gentle gradient all the way to the bottom. Wonderbra! as I'm sure Markus would say.

AS ABOVE, WITH MODEL FOR SCALE [C/O PHIL]



LOOKING BACK UP TO THE STALKERS PATH FROM THE BRIDGE OVER WEST BURN

ZOOMY ZOOMY TO THE STALKERS PATH

As we rejoin the Rover Road we bump into our Young Keeper again, on his way back to his tea. He explains that the old path is kept in such excellent condition because the landowner's wife likes to walk back down from the shoot this particular way. Good on her! Not for the nasty shooty shit; No. That's all rather horrid, but for keeping this excellent path in good order.

We arrive at Waterhead where we bump into our sprightly elderly Challenger again, camped up and with a brew on, right next to the gravelly car park. We explain what a wonderful walk we've had today clambering over the Goet, and make no mention of us hearing of his remarks to the Young Keeper. And nor shall we make any fuss about it. Quite unnecessary. Beneath us, entirely.

At this point, we find ourselves in remarkably good form and decide to continue with our route in what is now quite a pleasant evening. We turn right and up the valley for half a mile or so. The clamber up the other side of the stream is particularly boggy and so we head down a very steep hillside and through a few unhelpful fences to make a lumpy camp in a bend in the river.. 

CAMPED ALONGSIDE BURN OF CORSCARIE

This was a cracking day. Highly recommended. And The Goet's actually Ben Tirran - a Corbett, you know!



Sunday, 10 July 2016

TGOC 2016, Day 10: Braemar to Lochcallater Lodge

A sabre toothed mole can bite the heel from a Wellington Boot! That's what the postcards told my grandchildren, written under the verandah of the newsagents. The picture was of a roaring stag which will now forever be a known as a pretty dangerous mole. It's what granddads are for.

A morning swanning about in a sunny Braemar is quite lovely. It's a shame the Fife is shut, but this is more than made up by the cafe attached to the excellent outdoor shop serving lip-smacking lunches and drinks, sat in comfortable furniture outside. As we slouch about, generally enjoying doing nothing, along pops Laura, and then Maggie & Vicky, fresh into Braemar. I persuade them to nip over to the B&B that Phil & I have just left next to the old church as it was absolutely brilliant. All three manage to get places there.

Eventually, we drag ourselves away and stroll the six miles up the golf course road to Lochcallater Lodge. Bill and Michael are in control and there is a freshly built trendy bar in the gentleman's sitting room! We accept with alacrity the kind offer of beds upstairs instead of camping outside. 

Here are a few of the characters, snapped in the living room

BILL



As ever, Bill & Michael's hospitality is tremendous and a great night is had until the small hours.


TOBY

DENIS

LORD ELPUS


SABINE

GERRY

ANDREW


NICK (CYCLIST & BALLOON JUGGLER) OUR YOUNGEST CHALLENGER


WAGGY

DENIS [C/O PHIL]

C/O PHIL

BIG MICHAEL [C/O PHIL]

WILL & SAM [C/O PHIL]

OUR WONDERFUL JEAN [C/O PHIL]

WAGGY, IN FULL FLOW [C/O PHIL]

MAD'N'BAD IN USUAL LATE-NIGHT STATE [C/O PHIL]