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21 November 2021

TGO Challenge 2021: To Loch Callater

 

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

It took me a while to fit the extraordinarily large bag of shopping into my pack. More pies and moist pastries.

Morning coffee sashayed into an early lunch, which was closely followed by a few beers and cakes as the sun rose to its zenith and the sun tan cream applied. This was more like it! This was decent weather for Provence, let alone Braemar.

More and more Challengers arrived and before too long we had taken over the decking outside the cafe.

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

We were among that last to arrive. There were tents pitched down by the loch and scattered around the Lodge. It was such a shame that Covid had ruined the annual gathering at the Lodge this year as there was a wonderful bunch in attendance, marking their respect to Bill (and Stan) and Michael and the team that in all other years look after us all so handsomely. 

LOCHCALLATER LODGE


NATALIE NOTCH

We were incredibly grateful that the bothy was unlocked as it was a still evening and the midges were out in full force. My supper was a dehydrated fish soup. It was supposed to be a fish curry but the fill line was woefully inaccurate. I suppose I needed the fluid.

Whisky was taken and a gentle evening had in the bothy until sleep called. I do sleep incredibly well in the Notch as there's a lot of head room when you're lying down compared to the Trailstar. It seems to make a big difference.

IAN & LINDSAY, LOCH CALLATER BOTHY


LINDSAY

CAMP


PLAY AS A LOOP, ON ELEVEN

2 comments:

  1. Just to let you know, I'm enjoying following your account, and would like to thank you again for your generosity in Braemar. Sue and I are looking forward to 2022, though encounters with other Challengers may be limited. With a three year gap since the last serious backpacking, and with the encroachment of old age, a low route will be planned!

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  2. Interested in your comment re fish curry and midges. Experience in Yosemite (though I've never tried it with midgus caledoniensis) is that cooking/eating fish is a great way of keeping the dreaded beasties at bay.

    ReplyDelete

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