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 – CLICK TO ENLARGE
DAVE, ANDY, VAL & ROBIN
LUNCH HUT – CLICK TO ENLARGE
POST-LUNCHEON CAIRNGORM VIEWS – CLICK TO ENLARGE
FREAKY DEAN & ME – CLICK TO ENLARGE
FREAKY TRIG & PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE
RIVER DULNAIN FROM FREAKY DEAN – CLICK TO ENLARGE
MAGNIFICENT MONADHLIATH 1 – CLICK TO ENLARGE
MAGNIFICENT MONADHLIATH 2 – CLICK TO ENLARGE
DULNAIN BOTHY No. 1 – CLICK TO ENLARGE
INTERIOR, DULNAIN BOTHY No. 1 – CLICK TO ENLARGE
DAVE & VAL START THEIR LONG MARCH HOME
MR WALKER'S NEW BOOTS (AND SOME SNOW) – CLICK TO ENLARGE
EVENING LIGHT AT BOTHY No. 1, RIVER DULNAIN, MONADH LIATH – CLICK TO ENLARGE
And so to bed. Day 2’s adventures will follow shortly.