Distance 32 Km Ascent 869 m
In which 3 go for a walk, and Dave discovers why he needs better shoes
As you can tell, I have survived the hernia operation! Don't get one, they are fine, but the post operation hurts like a B!£c&
It was time for an early start today.
So Al and Dave and I were up, packed and away by 7.30. We wanted to be gone before Tony cooked his breakfast!
So along with Hein we headed off to Spittal of Glen Muick. It is a bit of a way, but the weather was good. What a change 12 hours can make. There was a goodly dump of snow on the top. There is a track from the bothy, but it is easier just to yomp up and over the heather to pick up the higher LRT.
It is a good track over to the Spittal of Glen Muick, although very gusty winds higher up. If we had been doing a shorter day, in better conditions, I would have considered taking the track up to Lochnagar. But today was not the day for such an adventure.
By the top of the track, we were making good time.
Dave was not yet in full yomping mode, and so sometimes he had rushed on ahead, and others he was walking with us, and others behind. Actually, it is good walking with Dave when he is not at top speed, because we can talk about heaps of stuff.
As we arrived at the bottom, we got to where the track crosses the Alt na Guibhsaich. Today with a bit of care, this was quite crossable, although poles helped, and I lent mine to Dave. I can only imagine what it must have been like yesterday. Un-crossable possibly.
Soon we had dropped down through the wood, and past the buildings to Cross over the flat plane to the Spittal of Glen Muick.
Al had gone off at speed. This may have been the lure of the toilets in the car park, or it may just have been that Dave and I were chatting away. As we got half way across, Dave realised that he had dropped his gloves. We could see them lying on the track. So I took some photo's, walked very slowly while Dave received his gloves at some speed. It was very windy crossing, and as we went across, there was a brief shower.
By the time Dave and I got to the information hut (the refuge for at least 12, the previous night), Al had headed to the car park. So Dave and I dropped our packs, and also headed to the car park, where the temporary toilets are sited.
I will admit now, that I used one of the ladies toilets.
I did go into one of the men's, but this was not a pleasant place, and far be it from me to even try and describe it. No sir, that image you do not want. Ever!
The weather was still good, but very very blowy, and it was now time to head up the path and over to the Sheilin of Mark. This is a very nice little track up by the river, crossing about half way along on a small bridge. One of Al's favourite types of bridges, narrow, and with no rails.
And today it was windy. Very windy, and interesting.
You had to wait for a lull in the wind to get across quickly.
I wondered why Al was standing there, as I was coming up.
Al had gone on ahead, but Dave had taken a tumble, and so we were a bit slower. Fortunately, he did not hurt his ankle or knee, when he fell. He did almost lose his rucksack cover, but we persuaded him to take it off at the bridge.
Al and Dave on routeVisibility was great, and we were soon heading over the top to the bothy.
I think the bearing is approx 105° from the end of the river. Despite the weather, it was actually dry, and nice walking. Al was off on a mission again, and Dave although he did not say anything until much later in the day, was struggling with blisters.
View from the top on the way over to the Sheilin, looking back to Lochnagar
At the bothy, I removed my thermal top and allowed it to dry in the breeze. Then we collected some water, and made some soup for lunch. Although the weather was good, it was still very windy, and the bothy gave a nice shelter. Just after we got the soup on the go, Ian arrived.
I seem to remember something about English Whiskey as well.
It is a nice bothy, although quite small. Dave is applying another layer of socks. Maybe not the best socks, being cotton.
We set off fortified to go over Muckle Cairn. On a good day, this is not a bad route. The ground underfoot was still surprisingly dry, and the river crossing easy.
Just over the top, we had a brief pause and a sit down, before descending to Glen Lee. This was mainly so that I could have a shoe and gaiter faf. Well, a shoe Faf and take off my gaiters.
At the stables of Lee, we met some other Challengers. We could also see another Challenger in the distance who turned out to be Maggie.
We set off towards Loch Lee, in intermittently blustery conditions. Ian would overtake us, then take some photo's, then overtake us .......
There were waves on the Loch, and it was a fine view Al and I were really cracking along at a goodly pace. Indeed I had fallen out of Al's slipstream, and was now being buffeted by the wind.
Meantime, Dave had fallen off the pace, and was struggling with sore feet. These were blisters that were on the increase. Later at Tarfside we would discover that he was developing some fine Blisters
Just at the end of the Loch, we hankered down behind the wall at the end of the Loch to get some shelter from the wind. Dave caught us up, and admitted to foot issues. Just as we were about to do the final run into Tarfside, Maggie caught us up.
So together we set of along the short bit of road before cutting up by Westbank. Al and I were chatting, and Dave was walking with Maggie.
The Keep at Kirkton. Al stopped for a Pee just round the corner, by the sign that says danger falling masonary.
It was time to carry on. Dave and Maggie were almost with us, but we headed off again discussing earlier crossings, and Al reminiscing and stuff, and anything to take the mind off the aching feet, as the Tarfside Ladies, (and I include Pieman in that group) beckoned.
It is a nice little stroll over via Westbank. I have promised that one day I will go up to the monument. One Day!
Just as we dropped off the track into Tarfside, we met a nice man in a pinny, or not as the case actually was. This was the bearded Lady of Tarfside, known as the Pieman, alias Mike Knipe.
We were also rather looking forward to a can of Tarfside Ale, and a bacon butty. On the way down, Al and I had deliberated on tent first, or St Drostans, but eventually came down on St Drostans, on the grounds that this involved, Tea, Biscuits, Beer, Bacon Butties, and booking the evening meal early. As well as a reunion with all those wonderful Tarfside Ladies.
So imagine the shock and horror on our faces when Mike told us that there was no power there.
Now had we been talking to any other man, we would have believed this immediately. But this was the Pieman, so of course we just assumed this was a windup.
Mike insisted it wasn't, and then to our utter horror, showed us the tree branch lying through the power lines.
But we went in anyway, and of course even though they only had a single twin camping gas stove, they were still managing to churn out the bacon, and tea and coffee. And there was the beer as well, and the company.
So it was all ok (well, apart from the evening meals), and normality was resumed (almost)
When we got to Tarfside, there were quite a few tents in already. So we got our tents up quickly lest it rained.
There was quite a lot of interest in Wendy & Wanda at Tarfside. It is not often in the UK that you see one Stephenson Warmlite, let alone two side by side.
So we got our tents up and so did Dave. It was at this point that Dave's feet needed some attention. I went to have a look at his blisters with my blister packs. Dave's blisters were to say the least, impressive. Unfortunately, Dave had left his feet without care and attention for too long. This was compounded by cotton socks, shoes that were just not fully up to the job, and water ingress during Monday, and having no First Aid Kit. Result, wet feet, then blisters, then bigger blisters, then more blisters. SO.. minimum sympathy deserved really, but a steep learning curve for Dave! I suggested new skin, or decent size padding and also draining the blisters. I was going to have a go at the sorting them out, but in the end I left it to Dave. They were after all his feet, and he is a big boy. I do not think he drained them, but to drain or not to drain is an individual decision. Eventually, Nurse Maggie came to Dave's rescue, and administered chiropody and bandages. This was good thing on two counts. Firstly, I did NOT want to really go near Dave's feet. Secondly, it was much better for someone else to sort him out, so a big thankyou from all of us there!
By this point, it was getting a tad windy outside and since there was no food at St Drostans, (because of the power line issue), it was either cook your own, or get some food sent up from The Retreat.
Some waited for the Retreat delivery, I decided I would cook some food up, and as I had not allowed for an extra nights food, Al gave me a bag of his fine own dehydrated food. So fully sustained, it was time to head over to the Mason's for one or pints of something or other.
We tried to lure Dave out of his tent, but he had temporarily plummeted into Blister Depression. So we popped into the Masons, and managed to grab the last few cans of Guinness. While Al was acquiring these, I got a can of Mckewans, and headed off to try and lure Dave out of his hermit like state.
It is amazing, the therapeutic power of the Golden Ale, and within another 15 minutes Dave appeared. Result!
It was another fine night at the Masons, and we all went back to our tents relaxed and watered.
Only two days to go, the adventure was almost over now for another year.