DAY TEN, SUNDAY AFTERNOON: BRAEMAR - GELDER SHIEL
In the midst of a complicated discussion with my B&B landlady about access rights to her business my phone pinged. It was Emma. I'd obviously missed her first message of an hour ago and this second had me in a flat panic.
"Are you standing me up?"
It was now ten thirty and I'd been totally engrossed in my conversation with my landlady.
I'd arranged to meet Em at nine thirty at the cafe. Christ, this was not the best start to my day!
Rewinding a little to last night, our evening had gone along really well and I'd decided that I would skip my route to Clova and Tarfside, to instead have some lovely company, which had been sadly lacking so far on this walk, and take it easy to Tarfside via Gelder Shiel and the Shielin of Mark. Of course there was the matter of my room that I'd booked and paid for at Clova but I then bumped into Tim from Manchester who was himself about to set off up to Callater Lodge and then Clova. We agreed that the room was his for free. He gladly accepted to take my place and prepared himself for a session on the rack to stretch himself to six feet with impossibly skinny legs.
So that was that; I could now grovel profusely at my appalling time keeping and bad manners and settle down to a decent lunch in the cafe with Emma. Of course I had dived down to the cafe without packing and so I had to drag the poor girl back to my room so she could watch me shove my life support system into an impossibly small rucksack. Finally we set off for what for me should be three fairly easy days in delightful company.
Experienced Challengers may well have spotted a really, really bad mistake here. But enough of that for the moment, we'll get back to it later.
|FOOTBRIDGE OVER THE FALLS OF GARBH ALLT|
|TODAY'S ROUTE: RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW|
|EMMA, STOOD UP?|
While admiring the beauty of our surroundings a well-heeled family arrived, out for a ramble. Had we met on the high street I doubt if we'd have exchanged more than a polite 'good afternoon' but out here there was freedom to welcome each other as friends and offer to take each other's group photos. The great outdoors, eh?
For the remainder of the afternoon we strolled through the Balmoral Estate to Gelder Shiel, dodging fierce showers and a biting wind. Arriving at our destination there was a very well pitched little green tent sheltering in the lee of the royal bothy, belonging to Paddy - a lovely chap I've known for quite a few years. Emma had walked with Paddy for a few torrid days earlier in her Challenge, that had involved drenching rain and hazardous river crossings. We spent a friendly evening together with the bothy stove glowing warmth and happiness.
DAY ELEVEN, MONDAY: GELDER SHIEL - SHIELIN OF MARK
With Paddy away early on his day to Tarfside, two sluggards finally woke, slowly easing their bodies into the bone cold bothy, the stove having given up its life giving glow in the night. Accusations of snoring were brushed aside, neatly passed on to the departed Challenger who had nothing to say in his defence.
We were finally on our way mid morning, with a fine ramble up to the Shielin of Mark, or possibly beyond if the spirit were to take us, as our planned itinerary. But first, snaps of our overnight halt:
|ME, GELDER SHIEL BOTHY|
|DAYS ELEVEN & TWELVE. RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE IN NEW WINDOW|
|LOCHNAGAR - MEIKLE PAP TO CAC CARN BEAG. *DO* RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE!|
|EMMA AND THE LOCHNAGAR GROUP: RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|ME, TAKING A BREAK ON THE STUMBLY TRACK DOWN TO GLEN MUICK|
|EMMA, COSY AT THE VISITOR CENTRE|
|A BEAUTIFUL PARCEL OF ROGUES: GRANT, GRAHAM & LINDSAY (THE FIRE-STARTER), AT HOME AT THE SHIELIN OF MARK|
DAY TWELVE, TUESDAY: SHIELIN OF MARK - TARFSIDE
It's best to get the recriminations over with at the start of the day. Which Challengers were snoring all night long? There were two of the bastards but in the crow black, bible black night in the shielin it was impossible to pin the blame. To a man, all present feigned injured innocence.
Before long I realised that I was to be tail-end-Charlie in the packing up stakes. As I was fumbling with my bootlaces the bothy door swung open, accompanied by an icy blast.
"You must be Alan Sloman"
Could it be the canary yellow jacket? Perhaps the pipe-cleaner legs? No, it had to be the balding cranium that's so recognisable. Looking up from my uncomfortable crouch I enquire of the gentleman's name and plead for the door to be shut pretty smartly as I'm a sensitive soul and it's freezing out there. There's unnecessary apologies - I'm being grumpy - and I'm introduced to the genial Chris Vardy, resplendent in neckerchief and woggle. Unfortunately he doesn't stay for long and heads off into the Arctic, probably never to be seen again.
|GRANT, ME & LINDSAY AT SHIELIN OF MARK|
|EMMA, GRANT & LINDSAY|
|LINDSAY WITH LOCHNAGAR AS A BACKDROP|
|YOU DON'T GET A VIEW LIKE THIS IN BERKSHIRE. RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|LINDSAY & EMMA, ATOP MUCKLE CAIRN|
|EMMA IN A COLOSSAL PLACE: RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|GRANT HEADING DOWN INTO GLEN LEE: RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|TO GLEN LEE|
|GRANT'S PICTURE OF THREE VISUALLY IMPAIRED CHALLENGERS|
|AT INVERMARK CASTLE|
|LINDSAY HEADING TO TARFSIDE: RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|RESIDENT PHOTOGRAPHER, IAN AT TARFSIDE: DID I PUT FP4 OR HP5 IN THERE?|
|ALVAR, MANNING ST. DROSTANS, TARFSIDE|
|TARFSIDE PLAYING FIELD. RIGHT-CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|TARFSIDE, THE MASONS|
|A SUCCESSFUL 50 MUNROS TRIP FOR CARL & JURAJ|
|HARDENED PROS RICHARD & PETER WITH A LOVELY NEWBIE, DEAN 😊|
|ANDY, ON HIS TENTH, HAVING COMPLETED THE 4000's|
|GRANT, DOING HIS 'CLINT EASTWOOD IMPERSONATION|
|DEAN READ - A BIT OF A STAR - CLICK ON THE LINK FOR A CORNUCOPIA OF OUTDOOR ADVENTURES|