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Friday, 8 June 2012

TGO Challenge 2012: DAY 12: Shielin of Mark to Tarfside

8:30 came and went with no sign of Andy being ready for the off, so Peter & I set off slowly in the morning sunshine to wander down the Water of Mark before cutting across a few peat hags and heading up over Muckle Cairn.

This is a delightful walk in these conditions, following a gurgling caochan’s grassy banks up hill, a route that’s popular with the deer, resulting in a dainty little track. The view back to Lochnagar was slightly hazy, yet I never tire of it; It’s still one of the finest on the Challenge.

Lochnagar from Muckle Cairn

At the top we collected the old track down into Glen Lee and another fine view, this time with a bit of foreground interest that is Peter Shepherd.

Glen Lee & Morpeth

This is a short day and there is no hurry, but it’s best to get the walking done before the heat of the day and so we strolled down, admiring the sights.

Two good ol' boys

It was time for an early elevenses and so we picked the shade of a few ancient old scots pine trees and lay down for a bit of a snooze to wait for Andy’s inevitable clatter. We were joined by a few more and soon there was a little peaceful gathering under the pines,

Val Hamilton

Val told us of her torrid start from Lochailort on the Sunday (the bad weather Sunday) and how she had to double back after a day’s walking and completely revise her route due to the raging torrents she encountered in South Morar. All in all, an indomitable first timer, who still managed to get back on schedule and have a good time.

Big Ian still had some red wine left which he kindly shared in the hot sunshine. If I had shut my eyes, I could have been in the south of France. Bloody lovely, it was! There was then a great deal of excitement as two white-tailed eagles were spotted soaring up above. They circled and played for a good ten minutes or so and everyone tried to get snaps of them. I shall wait for Mr Cotterill’s efforts to see good pictures – mine were very poor snaps; Here’s the best of a bad bunch:

Magnificent picture of a white-tailed eagle....

Everyone set off once more in dribs and drabs down the valley. I really love this stretch; it’s a good track, mainly downhill with wonderful views opening out as you round each bend. I gave Morpeth a head start and then gleefully loped after him at a good lick to catch him up. It’s all good fun.

On the way to catching him up I had a madcap chase with a snake; the snake slithering away at some speed with me trying to snap her with my little point & shoot job. The bright sunlight on the screen meant that I could not see if I had captured the beast. In fact in five of the pictures there was no snake at all. I was keen to get a picture as I had not seen one this large in years.

SNAKE!

Man Eating Snake!

Full length snake!

Having caught Peter up and after all this excitement, it was time for a rest. At the junction with the path from the Shank of Inchgrundle we spotted a figure on the far side coming our way. We both guessed the figure’s identity correctly as Lynsey Pooler and we also guessed correctly that to be here at this time, she can only have been camping at the top of the Waters of Unich, the location of our 2010 Cheese & Wine Party.

Then we all loped off together as a ramshackle bunch of sunburnt hikers to the end of Loch Lee to have a spot of lunch at the old graveyard. I could get to enjoy this Challenge lark at this sort of pace… Lots of warm sunshine, lazing in the shade on short cropped grass with friends.

After a fine repast of bread, cheese, sliced ham and orange juice we were off again. The hill path up and over to Tarfside is another cracker, a bit like the bay in the road on the way to Braemar. I just can’t help myself when I see small groups of Challengers spread out on the path ahead, and I immediately switch into ”catch-up racing” mode. I reeled in zillions! I know it’s bad, but it’s just such wonderful fun. It’s not good for the blister on the bottom of your foot though, but that was fixed for me by Lynsey at Tarfside.

St Drostan's

The new team running Tarfside this year did a wonderful job this afternoon, looking after dozens of hot, thirsty, hungry Challengers as they piled through the door of St Drostan’s. I was in time to bag a room had I wanted one, but as the evening was wonderfully warm and dry, I opted to flip up Wanda on the school playing field with about fifty other Challengers. I did have a lovely shower and washed the smalls and managed to get everything dry in the sunshine. Sunshine makes a huge difference to morale.

We drank St Drostan’s dry of beer and so moved on to the wine, before strolling across to the Mason’s for a great evening catching up with old friends and new.

Lynsey, Val & Big Ian

Peter, Louise and JJ

Tanya & Big Ian

I slid off comparatively early, out into the pitch black of the night with no headtorch – tricky… but found Wanda glowing in the dark to sleep very happily indeed.

Today’s route: 18km with 180m of ascent.

TGO CHALLENGE 2012- DAY 12 MAP

25 comments:

  1. Is that what an adder looks like? Fracking huge!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was quite startled by it's size. It was only after chasing the beast that the thought occurred to me that it might have turned around and got a bit pissed off...

      I lead a charmed life at times.
      :-)

      Delete
    2. I will shortly be posting 2 more adder photos to go with the one on the Day 11 report.
      Never seen any before in any crossings.
      It was a pretty awesome wildlife day.

      Delete
    3. It was always going to be a good finish for adders. After two weeks of rain they like to come out to bask in the sunshine and the eastern hills are fill of the little luvvies.
      One year I remember uncoiling a ball of about five adders with the tip of a trekking pole.

      Delete
  2. Hasn't Louise got a lovely spoon? Where'd she get it, I wonder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This Challenge seems to have suffered from a far higher drop out rate of Sporks. It seems most sporks couldn't take the wear & tear after Sunday, Bloody Sunday; Replacements having to be stolen from out of the way tea houses and other combatants.
      If the Spork attrition rate continues at this rate, there will be a run on the Central Bank of Sporks. Who knows where this might end? Will Scotland be forced out of Europe and have to resort to the old Dagger?

      My guess is that the resourceful minx purloined her spoon from an ageing Challenger. She was sure in her own mind that the old lag wouldn't make it across anyway.

      Heartless.

      Delete
  3. Actually, it is great thet you are posting first, because I can find out everyones name.
    Keep going, only a couple of days more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh - If you're hoping to glean names from my dodgy memory, you're on to a loser! I am dreadful at remembering names...
      :-)

      Delete
    2. I know you are Albert but if they are wrong I can blame you :)

      Delete
  4. Having looked again, that is ONE BIG SNAKE you have there sir.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh...
      The pity of it all is that no girls have ever uttered those wonderful words...

      Delete
  5. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman ...

    :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (Wish you could have seen his face Phil. It was an excellent moment! Mind you, the names he called you...)

      Delete
    2. THAT REMINDS ME!!!!!
      :-)

      "Stand by your man" indeed... Sung by a fair few, who all knew all the words, at the Masons.... I have now uncovered the plot on Doodlecat.

      There will be revenge!
      :-)

      Delete
  6. I have seen a few more flattering photos of myself Sloman, thanks for that one.

    That is an extending spoon that is, and very fine it is too. It is from Jetboil to go with my Jetboil Flash. Except it's the wrong colour see. But it's very long when it extends, oo er Mrs!!

    Bet not many girls have said that to you either Al. Ha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering where you had nicked the Christmas Cracker party hat, actually.

      You are not the first young lady to have remarked on the unflattering pictures of themselves on this blog, you know. Probably won't be the last either...
      I chose the one with your eyes closed as your eyes in the other were particularly blood-shot. I put it down to the vast quantities of booze...

      :-)

      Delete
  7. You've missed out that we all sang Stand by your Man to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is all coming back to me... It was utterly ghastly!
      That song had haunted me for four months on my LEJOG... And Phil set up JJ, whilst he was living it up in some warm and comfy bed the night we were stranded in a flooded bothy, and there I was in the warm evening airs at the Masons' supping a pint of the black stuff in warm convivial company, when out of the blues came .... "Dum de dum de dum, STAND BY YOUR MAN!"

      It took quite a few more pints to purge the mental agonies.

      Delete
  8. I have a wonderful photo of the moment you realised I will post it when I eventually get up to day 12!.

    I do agree with Louise - can you photo shop the photos of us girlies so we look glamorous at all times!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynsey, Lynsey...
      That way lies madness and deceit. Electronic tweeks and then... it's just a short step to Botox, and brow-lifts, nip & tucks...

      All the girls on the Challenge this year looked wonderful. A touch of sunshine on the cheeks and the radiant glow of having reached Tarfside.

      Delete
  9. ...If that's a 'radiant glow' I'll stick with average thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This a good write-up Alan. It has inspired me to apply for next years event.

    I thought I would "raise the tone" of your blog with some beautiful poetry.

    Old John Billy
    Had a ten-foot willy
    And he showed it to the girls next door
    They thought it was a snake
    So they hit it with a rake
    Now it's only three-foot-four.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter
      Your poetic prowess will be in great demand at Loch Callater Lodge and the Masons' next year.

      You should start the rehearsals now, so as to be word perfect when it is time for your piece.
      :-)

      Delete
  11. Never mind the rehersals - will their be demonstrations to match?!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we should leave all the demonstrations to Peter.

      Delete

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