I have been told that some of the TGO Route Vetters occasionally swing by this blog and so I shall be all sweetness and light in my appreciation of their sterling efforts.
Theirs is a thankless task of trying to decipher the illegible scrawlings and horrendous mis-spellings of unpronounceable Gaelic hills and place names all written down by the illiterates of the walking world. The only reason the Challengers go hill-walking is to avoid holidays that include museums (that would only reinforce their cultural deficiencies amongst polite society) and fancy French restaurants (that would finally prove that they were utterly hopeless at mastering a foreign language, let alone their mother tongue.)
I of course include myself in this band of brothers. It’s the glue that holds the Challenge together, coupled with the social whirl of the inevitable soirees along the way. Lying in your Wendy-house, staring into the misty bog whilst reading the contents of your packet of freeze-dried food is infinitely preferable to gawping at a Mondrian and wondering what Cervelle d’Agneau could possibly be.
It was with deep shock that I received an email from Uncle Roger, the Lord High Protector of the Challenge, earlier in the week, letting me know that my Vetter, the aptly named Mr Grumpy – the Brutal Roundhead Captain of the Challenge - “had been so complimentary” about my route! I had to re-read the email several times to check if I had read that correctly: Sarcasm isn’t one of Uncle Roger’s traits.
Not only that but upon reading Mr Grumpy’s notes on my route I was surprised and pleased to learn that he was concerned that I might not be well rested enough with just the two days off in Braemar. He suggested that should I have an upstairs room I should make every effort to hold myself back in order to conserve my energy for the last gasp effort to haul my sorry carcase up to my resting place.
Of course there was the usual helpful guff about torrents and river crossings, missing bridges, terrifying snow and ice fields that will require a team of Sherpas to carry me up or down: In fact all the usual stuff that you think “I must write that down on my maps” and then promptly forget to do so until you remember it when facing a horrendous river crossing with imminent fear of death and crushed skulls as you are flipped over the teetering waterfalls a few months later in May when all hell is going on in the icy wind with hail like grape-shot peeling your face away from its fine high aristocratic cheek-bones.
And not content with supplying these pearls of wisdom he goes on to tell me that someone has stolen one of my Munros! Apparently some thieving bastards have made off with Car Ban Mor in the night so it is no longer a noble Munro and has been demoted to a slightly more prosaic “top”.
But Good Ol’ Mr Grumpy is nothing if not helpful and has very kindly suggested I bag Sgur Gaoith in it’s stead.
All heart, are our Vetters.