Over breakfast Phil & I discussed the route for today. We had planned to head for Balnamoon’s Cave and onwards down the Water of Mark. However we were really concerned about Pete’s condition and so we decided instead to take the easier route over Muckle Cairn.
DAY 13: ROUTE BETWEEN THE RED CIRCULAR DOTS: CLICK TO ENLARGE
Pete arrived bang on eight o’clock. He looked in better nick than the previous evening, but his breathing was still very laboured and he had a very painful knee. We assured him that we would be sticking with him today. It’s not a long day – something just over twelve miles - with St Drostan’s Hostel as the destination, where Pete could be looked after and pampered.
We set off up the caochan to find that the Laser had been sheltering Toby & Vicky who were both in fine form this morning. Then it was a simple matter of threading our way through the peat and over to the Shieling of Mark. This is a wonderful little walk and the trick is working your way up the little green lanes up through the peat with only a last minute bog hop at the very top and then a nice little green way down to just above the Shieling.
PHIL'S PIC: SHIELING OF MARK & ME – CLICK TO ENLARGE
At the Shieling we sat Pete down and Andy did some magic with his blue sports tape and painkillers while I set about making Pete some tea. There was plenty of time today and so we were ensuring that Pete would have plenty of stops to rest.
Then we were off up over Muckle Cairn – again, the trick here is to follow the little caochan up the hill and follow the deer track and then veer left just before the top to pick up the track that take you down to the Stable of Lee. We were joined by Liz & Sue on this stretch – who we had started with us at Oban. They were having a grand time and had camped at the Shieling. We took plenty of little rests on the way up.
MORPETH, LORD ELPUS, LIZ & SUE, MUCKLE CAIRN, LOOKING TO SHIELING OF MARK & LOCHNAGAR: CLICK TO ENLARGE
The path off Muckle Cairn is a rubbly affair and it is far easier to work your way down through the burnt heather. This area is grouse country, which you can see clearly from the muirburn in the next picture. The Estates in these parts have an appalling reputation for Raptor persecution that the police service is having great difficulties trying to prove. When a Golden Eagle’s last known position is in Glen Esk and then is mysteriously found dead, with broken legs in a layby on Deeside, you have to wonder.
Last year a group of us had watched a pair of white Tailed eagles soaring over Glen Lee. Well you won’t be watching them any more as the local Invermark Estate has been accused of the deliberate cutting down a tree that was home to the Eagles.
I still cannot get my head round the sort of person who wants to dress up in tweeds, walk the glorious hills and go about shooting birds for fun. They are sick bastards. The fact that the Estate Keepers then go about trying to eliminate competing species, sometimes illegally with poisoned bait, sometimes trapping and sometimes just simply shooting raptors, reinforces just how disgusting this “sport” has become.
ANDY, DROPPING DOWN TO GLEN LEE – CLICK TO ENLARGE
With plenty of rest stops in the sunshine, we continued down the glen, bumping into more and more cheery Challengers, all making their way to the bacon butties and beers to be found at Tarfside. But all was not well with Pete.
When we got to the short-cut hill path over to Tarfside, I asked Pete which way he would like to go – over the hill or around the road, which was slightly longer but probably much easier for Pete to manage. Alarmingly, Pete couldn’t get an answer out – he was so short of breath that he couldn’t speak for a moment.
We sat him down, plied him with some water and came up with a plan. It was important to get Pete to Tarfside as soon as possible where he could get transport to Edzell to see a doctor. Andy – being the quickest of the three of us, was volunteered (thanks, Mate!) to nip over the hill path and let Tarfside know what was required and to bag a room for Pete where he could rest in the warm and dry in some comfort. If there were no rooms left, Andy was under instructions to turf someone out of their room so Pete could get some rest.
Phil & I stayed with Pete to make sure Pete was fed and watered and then Phil nipped back to the car park at the road end to see if he could blag a lift for Pete from any of the cars parked up there. Unfortunately when he got there all the cars were unoccupied and so came back disappointed. Then there was a lucky break.
A HUGE articulated truck, that had been delivering kit houses to a large house up the glen rumbled down the tiny road towards us, filling it completely. Quick as a flash, Phil was on his feet in the middle of the road waving this huge behemoth down. Thankfully there was a massive hissing of air-brakes as the thing rumbled to a halt. I climbed up onto the driver’s step and explained that Pete needed a lift a few miles down the road to Tarfside.
The driver was an absolute star. He turned off the engine and we installed Pete and his rucksack & poles into the passenger seat a good eight feet above us and in the matter of a moment, in a whirl of dust and a bellowing engine, they had rumbled off down the road.
At this point, Andy had been gone for about half an hour, and we realised that he would be going like a rocket only to arrive at St Drostan’s to find Pete already there. I know it’s not nice, as Andy was being an absolute star doing this, but it did make us giggle. Naughty, I know, but well, we’re good mates.
So Phil and I, happy that we had done a good job, set off in the sunshine over the hillpath to Tarfside. Of course, when we got there we found Andy already on the outside of a couple of beers. The star had put by a couple of lifesaving beers for Phil & me which were quickly followed by a few more along with a couple of bacon butties.
Dave Pickles had very kindly given up his room for Pete, but we were surprised to hear Pete wasn’t due to go and see the doctor until the next morning, but he insisted that this was fine by him.
The three of us then walked over to the village playing field and flipped up the shelters, had a leisurely dinner and strolled over to the Masons’ for the evening.
All was well with our worlds.
POSTSCRIPT: I spoke with Pete yesterday. He has been under the doctor since getting home. He has had a really bad chest infection with a lot of fluid on his lungs. He’s been on strong antibiotics and his chest is almost better now – a month after the event. His knee is still very painful and so this game seventy two year old is off today to the Sports Injury Clinic to have it looked at. I wish the old sod all the very best!