Tuesday, 22 May 2007

DAY 81: Lochcallater Lodge to Shielin of Mark

Sunday 20th May 2007
(Posted from North Water Bridge)
Today: 15.6 miles
Total so far: 1178.3 miles
Percentage Completed: 70.6%


(Click map to enlarge)

Today is Lynnie's Birthday and our wedding anniversary but there is no signal on the phone. The flowers arrived yesterday, after a bit of a performance with Interflora, so my guilt is slightly lessened at being away for Lynnie's birthday for yet another year.

Bill dons his chef's hat once more and a magnificent breakfast is prepared and gratefully wolfed down. I am in surprisingly good shape and I am away before 9:30 - a record for me after staying at Stan's!

I am not sure what the weather is doing so I follow my intended route and leave my options open until after Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. The path up is newly repaired and a beauty and I positively whizz up the hill and am soon dropping down to the bealach. There are stinging little showers coming in from the west, but the tops remain clear, so I head off to Cairn Bannoch on a good path, an airy perch with magnificent views in every direction.

Then I am off to Broad Cairn - aptly named - and stop in the lee of the top to have the pasta I bought in Braemar. The walk off the top east to the pony hut is a rocky scramble - one I would not like to have tried for the first time in bad weather but today is fine and I make out the faint path through the boulders. I have a second lunch on the seat outside the pony hut, finish off my water and head off down Corrie Chash, for no better reason than to see if anyone will be in at Glas-allt-Shiel.

20th May: View from the tops, looking south

20th May View from the tops, looking north

The paths on this newly acquired royal estate are in tip-top condition, and I am down at the Loch in no time at all.

20th May: Loch Muick

I poke my head in at the bothy, and have a Braemar pork pie followed by various Braemar chocolate bars and apples (I will never finish all this food!), sign the Bothy Book and set off again into the bright sunshine and keen wind to make the Visitor's centre at the Spittal of Glenmuick.

This is a fine spot, as it serves hot soup from a vending machine and also, more importantly, has a heated loo!

I avail myself of all the services and then set off up the hill once more for the Shielin of Mark. Straight away I bump into Vicky and Aunty Barbara. They are the stuff that TGO Challenges are built from - Equally charming, good humoured, and built of strong stuff. Aunty Barbara is in her late seventies but camps all across Scotland each year. Her pack weight was getting too much for her this year, so she ditched her Thermarest to save weight. She is made of the right stuff.

The Shielin is well populated with tents and so I pop mine up where the sun will hit early in the morning. The evening is clear and after a doze, around ten, Humph Weightman appears in my doorway and we finish off his excellent flask before he leaves to put up his tent.

Probably one of my best Challenge days for ten years.

Head of Glen Callater 20th May

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