Tuesday, 7 June 2011


FRIDAY 20th MAY 2011

Ooh… There are a lot of lines on the map. To make it clearer I started at the red bit on the LHS and finished at Braemar 3/4 of the way up the RHS. (All the other lines are some of my earlier routes into Braemar…. I like Braemar, you see….)

The congregation will recall, if they had been paying attention, [sit up straight at the back; don’t slouch] that I had gone to bed the previous night a bit down in the dumps. Well, I would like to be able to say that I awoke to a sun-kissed morning full of the joys of being alive. Perhaps a song in my heart and an ode running through my mind to a loved one.
None of it.
Les Silkowsoki's Picture of wanda in the snow
I woke up and noticed that the rain sounded funny on the flysheet and that it was unusually gloomy. On top of that, Wanda was looking particularly saggy. Oh God… No… Not snow! Yes it was wellying it down with huge chunks of heavy wet snow. I pummelled Wanda’s flanks (she likes a bit of rough & tumble, does Wanda) and it all slid away to the ground. I then turned over for another hour or two’s kip.
And so it was at the leisurely hour of nine-ish or so that I was packing up after the snow had melted. All that remained were the little piles at Wanda’s flanks.
A battery powered Duracell Bunny happened to scamper past as I was carefully stowing Wanda into her over-day bag. It was, of course, Ian Cotterill, on his tenth Challenge. To ensure he would make it to the end he had strapped a huge solar array to his backpack and so was zooming along on solar-drive. However, the gods were not all on his side, as they had torn his BrandNewBoots asunder so that he was walking with a gaping hole in one sole and so had the quixotic expression of a hiker who knew the bliss of warm dry feet all at the same time as the misery of cold wet muddy feet.
Ian Cotterill, Top of the Geldie
As all girls on the Challenge will tell you, Ian likes taking pictures. He’s a man of a certain age, after all, and he has wants and needs like anyone else; it’s just that Ian’s involve polarising filters, Vaseline covered lenses (for the romantic shots, he assures me) and carrying three metric tonnes of camera gear bolted to his chest all the way across Scotland, just on the merest off-chance of capturing a pretty face or a well turned ankle. Well, he’s on the right event for the latter, anyway.
So, encumbered as he was and stopping at seemingly random moments to take pictures of imaginary women, I eventually caught the blighter up so that we trundled along together.
Snapper on Sapper's Bridge
By this time the weather and my mood seemed significantly perkier. So, to hell with the expense, I shoved another plate into the camera!
Top of the World!
It’s a fair old plod from where I camped to Braemar; about 30km but it soon disappeared under the shoes, with the promise of a break at Mar Lodge and cups of tea with biscuits. Life could surely not get better than this?
Andy, Tim, Kate, Alvar & Ann: Mar Lodge
But, it could! As well as bumping into Tim & Kate (24 Challenges between them and 150 years!) there was Ann & Alvar and Young Andy, who had miraculously survived the stickiness of Aviemore and who had re-materialised here….. with TWO CANS OF ABBOT ALE that he had had the foresight to post from home. And the boy donated half of this booty to me! What a delightful young man. I have taken back everything I ever said about him. However, I did have to cancel out the 85 minutes he owed me….. Fair Swap!
So, with happy feet and a restored faith in humankind, I trundled down the road to flip up Wanda at the campsite in Braemar.
Andy Walker's picture of our tents at Braemar
A much better day!


  1. Difficult to imagine you "down in the dumps" Alan. I always find your blog posts uplifting that's for sure - wind turbine news excepted of course.

  2. The ups and downs of the Challenge eh? I was cosy in a b&b the night of the snow. The landlord delighted in showing me a webcam from the cairngorm car park in the morning. It was on the white side. Nice and sunny in the end though, always lifts the spirits!

    The word verification for this comment is 'sagily'..........

  3. I am very much enjoying your write up good Sir, and promise I will start my soonish honest.
    I just need to catch up on .. Work, Life and Lucy's big birthday bash, and then I might have enough free time. Oh yes, and I need to sort out the photos.
    Oh and I need to read yours so that I can remember all the bits I had forgotten about.
    I am very much looking forward to your take on the incident at Gelder Shiel.

  4. I'm not one to get carried away (yet) but that's what I call quite good

  5. Dear Alan ,
    I hope you are well, we have enjoyed reading your blog. I am writing to you about our free widget that may be of interest to you and your readers.
    The free widget allows you to map out all local walks and trails in any area in the UK quickly and simply.
    Since you are located and/or concerend with areas of outstanding natural beauty, it will be very useful to your site users for you to showcase on your site the walks and trails available in the surrounding areas.
    Here is an example on a site, but you can set the longitude and latitude to your local area easily.
    Please let me if you would like one for your site and I will send over installation instructions. Instructions are for non-technical audience and it takes 1 to 2 mins to install.
    Thanks again and please email me with any questions.
    Best wishes,

    James Drewett

  6. Not relevant to this post at all but I think I have found the perfect gift for you.....

    O.k maybe not.

  7. Gibson: You are tooooo kind, good Sir!

    JB: Do I detect a little schadenfreude, Mine Herr? :-)

    AW: Ah yes - the Incident At Gelder Shiel... Currently working on that one...

    JD: Sounds fascinating - please send!

    JB: Thankfully, the calendar is now out of date... phew!


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