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 SILKOWSKI’S PICTURE (HE MUST HAVE GOT UP VERY EARLY!)
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.
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.
By this time the weather and my mood seemed significantly perkier. So, to hell with the expense, I shoved another plate into the camera!
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?
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.
A much better day!