Yesterday afternoon hadn't gone exactly to plan, which was how I found myself in the Co-op mid morning on Sunday (today is Sunday) buying stuff for the next leg of the Challenge - from Braemar to Brechin over three days. After a cake lunch at the Hazelnut Patisserie I had, for once in my life, headed straight to the hotel rather than slip into the Fife Arms for a quick one and staying for more. I blame Phil. Now he was absent I slipped effortlessly past temptation.
With laundry performed and the room trashed with steaming washing, I lay back on the bed watching Wales vs Denmark on the telly, drinking tea and scoffing the biscuits. So far so good.
Then promptly fell asleep.
A hastily rearranged meet with Lindsay and the others meant that the food shopping had been missed.
I met up with Lindsay and seemingly half the TGO Challenge at the Coffee Bothy - attached to the excellent Braemar Mountain Sports - on a rather blissful sunny morning.
|STEVIE, MORNING COFFEE AT THE BOTHY, BRAEMAR|
|CHALLENGERS AT LUNCH AT THE BOTHY, BRAEMAR|
As is ever the case, we hoisted our packs way later than planned and started the gentle saunter up the Golf Course Road. Today's walk is designed to place us in a position to make the day to Clova far more manageable, as it cuts six miles from an otherwise big day from Braemar to Clova. And of course, in a normal year it means that we get to spend the night at Lochcallater Lodge hosted by wonderful friends of the Challenge, Bill and Michael.
On the minor road section past the golf course I recall an incident with a Scottish knuckle-dragger supposedly in charge of a van who tried to run both Lindsay and the group behind us off the road. I'm glad to say that Lindsay doesn't take prisoners and he was told off soundly and roundly.
It's a lovely stroll up to Loch Callater and we were soon overhauled by Jess and Ian who had formed a partnership born out of similar pace - they both trundle along at warp speed. They were soon little specks in the distance. It's generally a Sunday for this part of the Challenge and as we walk up we are always met by a procession of happy walkers coming back down from their big days in the hills. This year they were bronze-limbed, clad as they were in shorts and t-shirts and smiley under a brilliant blue sky.
|WALKING UP TO LOCH CALLATER|
|IAN & LINDSAY, LOCH CALLATER BOTHY|