TUESDAY 24th MAY 2011
ALL MAPS & PICTURES ARE CLICKABLE (WE TOOK THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE)
We woke up; alive! I always believe that waking up is a bit of a miracle just in itself but after last night we were even more fortunate. We had agreed that today we would have to get a wiggle on in the morning as we had twenty miles to do and the weather was still set to be quite windy.
There was no faffing this morning and Hein, Andy, Dave & I were away 7:30 ish as we had about 20 miles to do with three and a half ‘ups’; the first up and over to the Spittal of Glenmuick, the second over to Shielin of Mark, the third over Muckle Cairn and the half over the hill path to Tarfside.
This morning the burns were back down to ‘rushing about like mad things’ rather than yesterday’s ‘roaring & screaming beasts’ and they were looking their best for us. The sun was actually trying to break through and so cameras were dragged out of the depths of their waterproof bags and the silvered plates were once more exposed to the watery sunlight. I couldn’t think of a better foreground at the time and so I am afraid that you will have to accept Dave as “foreground interest”.
It was still very windy indeed and so we didn’t hang about and were soon up and over the first hill and safely at the Spittal where everyone investigated the temporary plumbing arrangements. Then, no rest for the wicked, we were up and off to head for the Shielin. There is a little footbridge half way up the Allt Darrarie with no handrail. You had to pick a lull in the gusts to cross or it would have been an early bath.
The Shielin is a little cracker of a bothy. It has a lovely little multi-fuel stove and is tucked just below a bank to be out of the worst of the weather. It’s south facing and so catches the sun all day. We had covered eight miles and so made a little soup and hot drinks to go with my usual repast of foods that would surely see me to the other side.
It was at this point that Dave mentioned that he might have a couple of blisters so we just ignored him and let him tape them up. He seemed happy enough…
Then we set off again for the glorious walk over Muckle Cairn. Here’s a picture looking back at Andy and Dave (just coming into shot) with Lochnagar in the background. If you look carefully you can also see the Shielin of Mark.
It’s a grand stroll over to Glen Lee which passed peacefully enough. We called in at the Stables of Lee to find a few Challengers having a brew but nipped on, as bacon butties and cold beers were calling to us from Tarfside. And besides, we wanted to see Mike Knipe in a pinny as he was helping the ladies out this year.
We scooped up another Challenger on the way and Dave fell in with her for the rest of the walk as he appeared to be slowing up a little, which isn’t like our Dave as he is usually to be found at break-neck pace at the front.
We crashed though St Drostan’s Hostel door with our tongues somewhere round our knees, gasping for a beer and bacon butty. But unfortunately a tree had crashed through St Drostan’s overhead power line in yesterday’s storm, leaving the volunteer girls with no electrical power. Misery ’Eck!
However, by dint of a two ring Calor gas burner the girls performed miracles and soon a few of us were tucking in to fried pork products encased in soft white rolls and quaffing Mr Carling’s Finest Lagers. Dave was beginning to talk to me again but was shuffling about with a pained expression.
It was in the Mason’s later that evening that Andy asked if I had seen Dave’s feet. Apparently Dave had spent almost an hour cleaning and dressing his wounded feet and he was feeling a bit low. Andy is a super bloke and so disappeared off into the evening with a can of lager to entice him out of his tent. It worked and very soon Dave had joined us and was back to his ebullient self:
There were others at the Masons’ too; all rehydrating. Here are a selection of those who had told their partners they they would be away for two weeks… I kid you not!