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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Freaky Dean & the Dulnain; a Monadhliath leg-stretch: 1

 

RIVER DULNAIN FROM FREAKY DEAN

THE DULNAIN FROM CARN AN FHREICEADAIN (FREAKY DEAN) - CLICK TO ENLARGE                             

Ten months ago Brother Dave did an incredibly brave and generous thing; He gave me a completely new start in life by giving me one of his kidneys. For over thirty years my own had been slowly, very slowly, packing up, leaving me with a kidney function of just under 12% That’s like chucking away one and three quarters of your own wonderfully plumptious kidneys, leaving you with just under a quarter of one kidney to get by with. It wasn’t a good place to be and I was constantly knackered and generally in very poor health. Of course, this degeneration happened over time, and so I learned to live with it, but latterly, my kidneys headed south at an alarming rate, and so walking with a rucksack up Scottish and Pyrenean Mountains proved to be one hell of an ask.

So on D-Day in June of last year, Dave and I were both under the knife at Churchill Hospital, Oxford. He came out of hospital a few ounces lighter and I came out a few heavier. Superficially, all we have to show for his wonderful act of generosity are a couple of scars that look like a shark’s had a nibble. However, I cannot even begin to tell you the difference Dave has made to my life.

With the TGO Challenge coming up in May, I thought it was probably time to try out “Our Kid,” as we have named Dave’s kidney, and so I booked train tickets to Scotland for the first week in April. The plan was to have a wander around the Monadh Liath - with no fixed targets – just to see how I coped. There was also the small matter of getting used to Trinnie Trailstar and her little sister, Oook.

Wonderfully, Mad’n’Bad Mr Walker and Blogpackinglight’s Mr Evans also wanted a bit of an airing and before too long they had their train tickets as well. Local knowledge should never be underestimated and after a bit of arm-twisting, Vivacious Val & Diamond-Geezer Dave agreed to join us for the first day as well.

With the team selection over we found ourselves in a pub in Newtonmore, downing pints of Wildcat, straining like greyhounds in our traps. Well, okay, more like big fat bastards working our way through the menu, before collapsing onto our beds at Sue & Ali’s wonderful hostel at Newtonmore.

The game was afoot!

This map will show you the route we took, so sit up smartly at the back, pay attention and experiment with it. You can, should you so desire, blow it up to full screen, in a new window, by clicking on the green text “Freaky Dean and the Dulnain: April 2014” (which will turn purple when you hover your mouse pointer over it) and then you can zoom in & out, pan all over the shop and have a jolly good time playing with it.

The route starts at Kingussie Railway Station and finishes at Aviemore.

In pictures, this is how it went on Day 1:

THE CAIRNGORMS, CLIMBING OUT OF NEWTONMORE

THE CAIRNGORMS, CLIMBING OUT OF NEWTONMORE – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

DAVE, ANDY, VAL & ROBIN

DAVE, ANDY, VAL & ROBIN

 

LUNCH HUT

LUNCH HUT – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

POST-LUNCHEON CAIRNGORM VIEWS

POST-LUNCHEON CAIRNGORM VIEWS – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

FREAKY DEAN & ME

FREAKY DEAN & ME – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

FREAKY TRIG & PARTY

FREAKY TRIG & PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

RIVER DULNAIN FROM FREAKY DEAN

RIVER DULNAIN FROM FREAKY DEAN – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

MAGNIFICENT MONADHLIATH 1

MAGNIFICENT MONADHLIATH 1 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

MAGNIFICENT MONADHLIATH 2

MAGNIFICENT MONADHLIATH 2 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

DULNAIN BOTHY No. 1

DULNAIN BOTHY No. 1 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

INTERIOR, DULNAIN BOTHY No. 1

INTERIOR, DULNAIN BOTHY No. 1 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

DAVE & VAL START THEIR LONG MARCH HOME

DAVE & VAL START THEIR LONG MARCH HOME

 

MR WALKER'S NEW BOOTS (AND SOME SNOW)

MR WALKER'S NEW BOOTS (AND SOME SNOW) – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

EVENING LIGHT AT BOTHY No. 1, RIVER DULNAIN, MONADH LIATH

EVENING LIGHT AT BOTHY No. 1, RIVER DULNAIN, MONADH LIATH – CLICK TO ENLARGE

And so to bed. Day 2’s adventures will follow shortly.

24 comments:

  1. Cracking start Alan. Good the snow was not a challenge. Mind you those Cairngorms on the horizon photos show lots left still. Crack on with the rest now please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sir!
      Tomorrow's a busy day but I should get some time the next day.
      It's worth waiting for...
      :-)

      Delete
  2. Oooh very lovely indeedy. Could I have part two now please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's very sweet of you, Jim!
      I'll start on it as soon as possible.

      Delete
  3. Well done Alan, great to see you fit and well once again.

    JJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Fit & well once again"
      Well? Certainly!
      Fit? A bit of work to do there yet!
      But getting there!
      Cheers, JJ
      :-)

      Delete
  4. Inspiring stuff. Good to see you fit and strong!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve.
      :-)
      I just need to work on the fitness thing now. Strength has never been a ....ummm... strength of mine? I'm away in a few days' time - off up to the Lakes for another bash, so should be ready for the Challenge in May.

      Delete
  5. Great stuff Alan and Co. I can just imagine a quiet weekend with Val. Never could happen. What a lovely couple.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Al.
      They are really lovely, aren't they? And they live their lives to the full - dashing all over the shop. They're both due at this year's Cheese & Wine Party as well!
      :-)

      Delete
  6. Great news Alan. You chose a superb bit of Scotland for your trek. The photos are splendid.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We looked at the Cairngorms but the expected snow conditions there made a flexible route choice difficult (as I wasn't sure how I would be able to cope) so plumped instead for the backpackers' paradise - the Monadhliath. We chose this particular spot, as any day now a decision is due on the Allt Duine wind farm, which was slap bang central to our route. If it gets the go-ahead we will at least have seen it before the wildness is destroyed.
    As it is, two huge anemometer masts dominated the views for miles around - and they're tall slender structures at only turbine hub height. The actual wind farm will be massive in comparison.
    :-(

    ReplyDelete
  8. Glad to hear that all is going great for you after your big op. I do rather like the Monadthliah but have only ever been in the depths of winter. Looked a lovely route and I've definitely had lunch in that lunch hut at least once,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chrissie
      :-)
      I think the Monadh Liath are right up there in one of the best places to backpack anywhere in Europe. The problem, unfortunately, is the increasing threat of the wind farms. Already, Dunmaglass and Farr are ruining the western and northern views, and if Allt Duine & Stronelairg get the go-ahead it will be destroyed forever.

      What an appalling waste.

      Delete
  9. Some stirring pictures there. Bothy location looks sublime :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stefan.
      It is wonderful. The little side stream that comes in there leads wonderfully up and over to the Findhorn - another fab valley with excellent side valleys to explore.

      Delete
  10. Andy is looking alarmingly slim. You are looking alarmingly fit. I am alarmed :-0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too was alarmed upon seeing his lithe new look at Kings Cross Station; He says he has lost well over a rucksack's weight of flab. I tried desperately to encourage the lad (in the bar at Newtonmore) to pile on some calories with Wildcats, but he was having none of it.
      He insisted that those days are over...

      I might look fit in that picture but as you know, I am a wizard with Photoshop.

      Delete
  11. Full of vim, verve, beer, fitness, and victory. Good show. I think I'll research the Monadh Liath. There's so much in Scotland I haven't seen - and so far I haven't paid much attention to the area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd get there quickly James. It will soon be buried under wind turbines.
      Desperately sad.
      We've planned a wonderful stravaig through the Moanies this May.

      Delete
  12. Splendid! And so glad that you were in the Dulnain before Full Moon on April 15. As you'll know Maurice Woolf has posted advisories for Challengers moving through that area on and around May 14 2014 regarding The Werewolves of the Upper Dulnain - and the teenagers of his pack do tend to hang out around that hut. I understand that the Venerable Vetters have suggested route alternatives. Maurice is a decent skin, tho' a stranger to the razor, and a good fiend to The Challenge. The unfortunate incident back in '83 has thankfully been finally resolved this year through the tireless efforts of the Kincraig Peace and Reconciliation Initiative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, HMP3, members of the KPRI accompanied our band of stragglers to the Upper Dulnain to ensure safe passage. We spent a while on Freaky Dean staking out the Dulnain in very cold winds, aware that our scent was being blown straight to Maurice and his brethren.
      When it was deemed that we would not be a surprise, we headed down to the wolves' lair.

      Delete
  13. Nice report and a good trek you have planned out there. Social Hiking is excellent too. Looking forward to the next instalment!

    Did I see some of the participants wearing Paramo??? Shock! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The next instalment should be up tonight, Mike.
      And yes - you did see a lot of Paramo in these pics - I was almost tempted to take my own as it was perfect Paramo weather - no heavy rain forecast!
      -)

      Delete

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