17 November 2021

TGO Challenge 2021: Day 9: To Braemar

Kirsten was packed by 7:30 and so made use of her time by chivying Colin along. This brought back, with huge fondness, memories of walking with Maria van de Flugt for a few days back in 1998. She had formed the impression that Prof White and me were idle layabouts who liked nothing better than to lie either in our sleeping bags or down in the heather at every available opportunity. She would allow ten minutes before the encouragement to move along began. We generally had forty minute breaks. In fairness, she was not too far from the truth but we did actually cover long distances over some pretty tough terrain. I believe I witnessed young Colin receiving a 'full Maria' in this picture.


I've combined two days for the map, as both days are half walking days, just over eight miles to Braemar and six miles from Braemar to Loch Callater. This meant that I had plenty of time today - a Saturday, to get the food shopping before the shops shut and still be able to luxuriate in my hotel room, have cups of tea, get the washing done and go out for dinner. Tomorrow would be a nice lie-in, a decent hotel breakfast and a morning either in the pub or a cafe before heading off to Loch Callater to continue the walk and an evening with friends.

Combined Distance: 23 km
Combined Ascent:  510 m

Our happy band of walker's first pause was taken at the bridge at the Linn of Dee.  It had a been a pretty dry first week of the Challenge and so there wasn't a lot of water in the Linn, but it's not a stretch to imagine the water belting along in spate.


Being a caring soul, rather than over-stretching your mind, I've borrowed a picture of the Linn from the Facebook page for the River Dee (see link below the picture) of a fairly normal high flow. Earlier in the year the Dee was all but filling the arch of the stone bridge.


I've walked past this lovely little post box at Inverey quite a few times over the years and I've always been interested in it because it's a wall box and not a fee standing pillar box - the wall being three slabs of granite clad around the box. However, Google comes to the rescue - of a sort - with this article, which a little unhappily doesn't quite nail the beast down. However, it does explain why it's a wall box and not a pillar box.

No. I'm not going to tell you; you'll have to read the very interesting piece. Expend a little effort, it's good for the mind. It looks to me to be a modified Smith and Hawkes No 2 size (WB78). I say modified, because it looks to have had a front collection plate at the top of the box that has been removed. Of course, these days there are no longer 'next collection' plates. Royal Mail is quite content for its customers to only know the last time of collection and so sadly the little collection plates are no more. That's progress.


We continued on our way, and the next point of interest was the monument at Inverey. It was erected to a man born locally, at Corrimulzie a few steps eastward, who emigrated to Bavaria and rose to become the Astronomer Royal. I've provided a link beneath the photograph which will provide you with all the gen.


And so onward to the next P.O.I. (Stick around, you learn things here) Which is the small cluster of refuse bins outside a row of cottages in Inverey. Some of the group - no names, no pack drill - made use of the public spiritedness of the kind folk of Inverey and emptied three tons of assorted rubbish from their packs into said receptacles. Okay, some of the stuff you learn here may not be right up the street of those not wishing to dispose of six weeks of backpacking rubbish, but in case they ever change their minds, here it is.

It's a long old road walk to Braemar but we had a delightful stop at the roadside overlooking a track that descended to the Dee. 

Now here's the thing. From before time began I've been walking the TGO Challenge with the very dapper, ageless, Lord Elpus. When times got tough he has been my rock. Indeed when pitching Trinnie Trailstar and her inner, he has invariably finished loading up his Akto with all a gentleman could require for an evening, and then set about fetching the water. Seeing me still fixing the inner to Trinnie, he *always* very kindly fetched water for me. A proper gent. The little kindnesses - sharing his last jelly babies, not farting until downwind - all those little gestures of friendship; they mean a lot to a chap. But I've been walking with Lindsay for three days now, and I see that Phil might need to up his game a little.

When walking up the Feshie it suddenly turned squally and for the life of me I could not find my gloves. Not a problem: Lindsay had a spare pare immediately to hand. And now, at the side of the road the lass spotted a couple of rather nice log chopping blocks. She maneuvered the (quite heavy) blighters over to where we were sat to provide two very comfortable seats to make our rest more enjoyable.

I'll just leave this here, in case Elpus swans over to this place. Food for thought, Phil?

We decided against walking through the (delightful as they are) woods to the Tomintoul viewpoint, as the view is now blocked by fast growing birch trees and so plodded along the road, which has excellent views of its own, and eventually the metropolis is reached in the form of the Hazelnut Patisserie. This is not my picture - I swiped it from Google Maps. The accreditation is a link below the picture.

IMAGE SWIPED FROM GOOGLE - Charles Gunning's picture

For older, experienced Challengers who may be confused by change (that's me) this used to be a wonderful emporium known as 'Taste'. I'm not sure what happened but the new business is jolly good too, with outside tables and chairs not shown in the picture - but of course this may be down to Covid and no one being allowed to sit inside. 

Whatever, before too long there was a host of Challengers taking over the place. We noticed a sudden disappearance of the clientele who were here on our arrival. Perhaps it was the whiff of three days out in the hills? A high carbo-loading of sweet gorgeousness from the cake display satisfied my immediate cravings for decent food and I set off again to find my lodgings - the Braemar Lodge Hotel, to be looked after by its long standing proprietors, Ronnie & Fiona - to trash my room on arrival and lie on the bed  drinking tea and scoffing the biscuits.

The evening was spent in the bar of the Invercauld Arms, which was being refurbished, with Martin & Sue Banfield and of course Lindsay. They weren't doing food so Lindsay and I managed to nab a table at the Braemar Lodge Hotel's restaurant and did it very well indeed.



  1. You sure know how to build tension. I just had to read the post box article, a triumph of nerdery, but I only got as far as Edward V11.

    1. I entreat you to continue to the myriad of boxes manufactured under our longest reigning monarch, Conrad.
      Those boys at Wikipedia know their stuff. It is indeed an absolute triumph.

  2. Patisserie & brewery - now that's a combination!

    I do hope those comfy seats are where Lindsay left them. Y'see, being now in my eighth decade lugging tree trunks around is something I think is best left to those sprightly young things that you have taken under your wing.

    Spiffing read so far, captain.


    p.s. Do the new Challenge rules permit the use of porters by those of a certain age?

    1. I've been doing arithmetic. When you and I started this TGO Challenge malarkey together, we straddled 45 years old. On our next Challenge, in 2022, we'll be straddling 68.

      Where did all that time go?

      I'd suggest the certain age you talk about should be between sixty five and seventy, and the porters should be chosen from those between seventy and seventy five, for they will have the guile and cunning learned over seven complete decades, and will know the ancient ways of carrying Heavy Things.

    2. Absolutely with you regarding the 'certain age', but no need to look for porters of that advanced age. Experience tells us of wives who have plenty of guile and cunning at younger ages and who (with the guile that we have ourselves naturally learned from being at a 'certain age') may be persuaded to tote any Heavy Things for us - often all we have to do is look helpless and they respond beautifully. The only problem is if the aforementioned wife has herself brought too many Heavy Things (like power banks which she finds suddenly turn heavy when climbing up alongside the Falls of Glomach) and you then find yourself having to become a porter to her, instead of t'other way round.... I shall attempt to 'reply as anonymous' in case she takes a shine to reading your esteemed journals, Alan.


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