Wednesday, 26 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013: Day 12: To Tarfside

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.

TGO2013 DAY 12


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.



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.



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.



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!


  1. Balnamoons Cave, that sounds interesting. You're all heroes in your own little way. Guess you'll be sporting external pants too.
    Glad to hear Pete is doing okay, he's obviously made of tough stuff. Puts me to shame.
    You can slow down now or it'll all be over :-(

    1. That's the thing. isn't it? With two days to go you need to keep the 'fix' going.
      You'll see how we did that this year coming up soon (Friday)

  2. Well done to you all. Sounds like everyone played a good part in this episode.

    1. Andy was a real star - it must have been a huge surprise after all that effort to find Pete already there.

      It made us chuckle as we strolled leisurely all the way over the hill track to Tarfside...

  3. Post script. That prove your not a robot thingy made me write the word "Ivadic". Is it just me and my schoolboy humour that would snigger at this?

    1. Yes, seriously, It's just you. No one else would have spotted that. I sat here for five whole minutes pondering that one.

      A bit like Andy's "VAIN" Dave text.


  4. Hmmm, Sloman "sporting external pants". What a horrible thought.

    Well done for shepherding Pete :-)

  5. Balnamoons cave simply means "beware of the Balnamoons". A wise caveat from the OS in an area where these creatures abound.

    1. "Balmanoon" Ox Eng Dict: "A hirsute creature reportedly eight feet high resembling a man, with the arse out of his trousers with extraordinarily large red testicles."

    2. Well, that could be any one of us by this stage of the challenge ...

      ... except for the ladies, of course ... :-)

    3. Ooh, I'm not so sure about that.
      I've known a few ladies with more balls than most blokes!

  6. And you two snickered over the hill :-).
    Glad to hear Pete is getting himself sorted out.
    Nice rant about the Eagles.
    There were traps all over the place too.
    Thoroughly dodgy lot on that estate it seems.

    Those Eagles last year = the otter this one.

    See you soon.

    1. No Sir. We marathoned over the hill.

      You're right about the traps too. All this killing just so some chinless wankers can get their spotty kicks from bullying and murdering birds. They were probably bullied at school and buggered when they came home from their boarding schools.

    2. They were probably buggered at school too.
      But then man as a species is pretty bloody horrid.
      Waiting for Day 12 now.
      Note I am allowing you to catch up! :-)

    3. You've always been a sweetie. You want us to finish, holding hands in the surf, TOGETHER!


      Day 13 comes out tomorrow afternoon after visit to Oxford.

  7. Although I don't know the chap I'll add my wishes for Pete's speedy recovery.

    We have a long an inglorious history of predator persecution; sometimes to the point of total eradication. It is madness and the environmental and ecological consequences are never good.

    Leaving aside the criminality, killing raptors, who would only take for food, in order to maintain bird populations which can then be massacred for 'sport' is as good an example of human arrogance and stupidity as you're likely to find.

    1. I agree 100% Dave.

      I currently visit hospital in Oxford twice a week and to get there I drive through the Chilterns - where I can usually spot thirty to forty Red Kites on each trip. This is a species that was virtually wiped out by game keepers.

      It is glorious to watch them soar and makes a rather unpleasant day a delight.

  8. Really felt for Pete, glad for the good news at the end.

    Away when Adam was a boy (and young and innocent) a group of us used to go in the school holidays to somewhere near Edzell for 6 weeks (I think) of grouse beating. £1 per day, I think. Made us all fit for the rugby season. Knew no better then, feeling quite guilty now!

    You all had an interesting day here. Good team work.

    1. The Angus glens are a hot spot for game shooting. Back then a pound a day was probably great money and a bit of an adventure for a school lad. It got you outdoors too with your mates.

  9. Just been catching up on all your TGO-flavoured escapades, and a right jolly wheeze it seems as well - despite interesting weather and all the tribulations.

    It's not possible to comment on everythnig, but I especially enjoyed the Rab Boulder review - made me laugh out loud (fortunately, I'm on my own at the moment). After some busy times (both at work and play) I'm gradually catching up with things, so I'll hopefully have more time for blogs in the near future.

    Hope everything is going OK on the "repairs" front as well.



    1. Cheers Jules
      Ah yes - the infamous Rab Boulder Strangling Fleece...
      Currently sitting at Oxford Churchill for one of my bi-weekly follow up appointments. "It's life, Jim...."

  10. Keepers need regulating and putting on a leash. Anyway more to read and then Andy's version of events.

    1. Enjoy!
      Andy's is a wonderful read. It's like he's sitting next to you and talking you through it. Fabulous style and a great story-teller.


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