Season of the Witch - Terry Reid
So, having spent an extra day at Fort Aggie, it was time to head off again into da hills init.
The interactive map above shows route to Water of caplaich and will appear again in the next issue too.
A small group consisting of myself, Lynsey, Carl, Gordon & Robin met up in dribs and drabs near the campsite & headed off in the direction of Glen Doe.
The weather was Scottish. Couldn't really make it's bloody mind up.
So there was drizzle and wind and rain and...
Well, you know how it is.
It is a deceptively long walk this, and it starts up the road until you get to the right turn onto the rather wide access track for the reservoir.
Oh, and this bit goes up.
But, before then it was up and ok, and then up and windy and then up and a bit wet
|Bad hair day|
|Me, Lynsey & Robin|
Luckily Bob & Rose and co were leaving so that left room for us.
And if you go to this wee hut and it is busy, there is another bigger room round the back.
We stayed while the rain lashed down outside.
Luckily that was not all bloody day like day 3
And it was time to leave.
So we headed off.
I was last one out and like a plankton forgot to shut the door.
"BUGGER! I'll go back and shut it, don't rush off!"
"Just leave it open, the next poor wet sods can shut it, and anyway, we don't know them so Fuck Em", said Carl
"NO, that is terribly unethical, I must go back, and you are a very bad human." I said
"I don't think they should allow you on ever again Mynott" I added, and rushed back across boggy ground to do the honourable deed.
OK, I made that bit up about what Carl said.
But I had left the door open by mistake.
So, I had to go back and shut it.
And that is what I did..............
AND! NONE of the Fuckers waited for me.
Luckily, I am like er well 'ard an fit an sit, and I caught them really quickly (eventually).
And they said.
"Like we didn't wait cos you was gonna catch up being so fit an agile an stuff"
And I said
"But like that ain't the point, cos like I had to rush an stuff"
"And anyway, that's bollocks and yoos is all a bunch of heartless ****s"
And they said
"But like we was gettin' wet an cold an shit"
And I said
"But we is mates init so yoos should av waited like init anyway"
And they said
"Like FUCK THAT MAN, it's pissin down"
And I said
"Like Fuck you bastards then, you can kiss my ****"
And we carried on up the hill
And the rain stopped (a bit)
And the sun came out and went away
And we went up towards the reservoir
And like I made a lot of that up just for effect OK.
So move on.
It's my blog right!
A bit before the top amidst washed away and crumbling tarmac track that had been ploughed to crap by rain and wash water (never ever underestimate the power of NATURE), we saw a blue Peugeot.
Seems like a bloody long drive to look at a grey view.
A bit past that we got to a large lump of snow across the track.
They had been through it with a large tractor (almost), but failed
|That's me that is.|
There were some fine misty and moody views, which pictures cannot do justice.
As we began to descend, the wind became stiffer and a lot keener, meaning sodding cold.
Part way along we stopped for a rest and a snack.
It was windy and wet, and really a lunch stop was out of the question.
Either side of the track is miles and miles of bog
A small chocolate bar and even colder fingers later we headed on.
Shortly after this Robin departed to head up to Stronelairg Lodge and the Markie.
I had planned to go that way, but the forecast for the next day was good, and I had unfinished ridge business, so a detour was in order, via the tops and then Kingussie.
Anyway, I was in mighty fine company, and Challybeate is a brilliant camping area (or was it??)
So we bundled on, waved goodbye and headed the last long few kms to our overnight spot.
The wind was carrying on.
And it was looking like rain.
|Heading the last bit of track to Challybeate Springs|
As we got to where we intended camping, it was pretty bloody obvious we would NOT be crossing the river that night.
The last time I was here we skipped across on rocks.
They were under water, and the water was not moving slow.
We carried on along the left bank until we finally found a suitable place to stick up a few tents.
It was breezy and the tents were flapping about, as you will see from Carl's video shortly
I battened down my SolomidXL with a few tasty rocks.
And yes, I put them back the next morning.
I didn't build a HENGE!
And we didn't open a Supermarket either!
|My SolomidXL (the hexPeak would have been less windy & I should have brought it).|
Lynsey's Laser Comp, Carl and then Gordon.
Later more would turn up.
|A brief moment of sun before it rained again|
You'll see how windy it was. Look at Lynsey's Comp above in the Video.
Unless BLOGGER has cocked it up yet again!!!
It was once done and tensioned bloody good.The inner would have been better with a solid back.
Which may be the case, since I am going to get AsTucas to change it.
Carl Lyns and I snuck into Carl's Tarp Tent and we drank whisky and er whisky.
Food was cooked, and eventually after a small short party, we all headed off to our separate shelters for the night.
Tomorrow, the forecast was good.
It was going to be blinding day.
IT DIDN'T DISAPPOINT!
Day 6, over the hills to Kingussie
|Morning View and the river had dropped by a good 6 to 8 inches (thankfully)|
Sun was out.River was down.LURVE my Flatcat Snow Leopard stove
It is a fairly easy but tussocky walk up.
This year however, there were some quite large snow fields to get round, or through, depending upon steepness and snow conditions
Just because it looks firm on top, doesn't mean it is.
As Carl found out.
Friends would have rushed to help him.
Lynsey and I rushed for our cameras as Carl's feet slowly went numb in the pool of water he was standing.
We stopped on one of the tops before plunging off through even bigger and better snow fields.
Our main top of the day being Carn Dearg
Eventually we got to the small dip before Carn Dearg.
Dropped our main packs and headed off to the summit.
And then back to have a rather late lunch before heading a bit further round the route and then down towards Newtonmore and Kingussie.
Now, you may remember the bad News I had about Ollie and his possible ACL problem in Australia.
As we dropped down off the main ridge, having had some lunch, I got a text message through.
It said bad bruising and bursitis, probably 2½ weeks out but no ligament or ACL damage.
And this is how I felt.
I gave Carl a big hug.
I may have had a tear of Joy/Relief
Today was the other end of the spectrum.
And life was good again.
We headed down towards Glen Balloch
Not the bastard wet silly slippery evil route that Sloman had taken us down on a previous Challange via Gleann Ballach
This was a sensible route over to the next valley behind Meall na Ceardaich over easier hills (ok, a bit steep at the end) to pick up the river down to the little bridge and along the Allt Fhionndrigh
The bridge I had stood at last time waiting, and waiting, and waiting in the pissing pouring rain for those 2 old codgers Sloman and Lambert. (Listen, I love em both really)
But I had NEW AMIGOS this year.
Younger, sprightlier fitter ones.
We practically bounded down.
OK, I did.
We headed up and over to the main track down.
It had become bloody hot again.
We stopped to loose Gaiters and such, and then went down the track, past the camping spot by the river were my earlier amigos had wilted and collapsed into their tents.
NOPE, none of that stopping early shit this time.
We were earlier.
And the weather was OK.
There was a pub at the end of it.
We dropped down through the farm and along the track, eventually hitting the tarmac road just by the small hill and car parking area.
It goes on a bit this road. A bit up and down, but eventually down to newtonmore.
Some nice views back.
In Newtonmore I popped into the Coop for some fluid.
The others carried on.
Why would I expect them to wait?
I wasn't going to be long was I.
Except for the queue of locals buying Ginsters Pies, Cigarettes, beer and Scratch cards :-((
Eventually I left.
I stuck some headphones in and headed out of town and across and onto the cycle path.
I was making good time, but I reckoned they had 10 minutes on me.
I caught them just as we entered Kingussie.
We made our way to the Tipsie laird.
Lynsey went to her B&B and Carl to book into his room.
Gordon and I went to the Tipsy and blagged beer, and as it happens a bunk each.
That was it.
And a good night was had by all.
The proprietors had only taken over that year.
I think they were overwhelmed by the numbers by the end of the evening.
It was heaving with Challengers requiring Beer and Food and Beer.
But despite a tiny hicup with my Venison Burger that got resolved all was good.
Carl came down earlier before the meal and we met up with Nina & Fiona.
I had not met them before other than via Twitter & Facebook.
What a bloody lovely couple they are, absolutely smashing.
And there was beer and stuff and hugs and lots of talking, and then the evening was over.
Challengers and others eventually trotted off to their rooms.
A pretty fabulous couple of days.
In the very best of company.
There is walking
There are hills
There are people
And that is what the Challenge is all about.
Tomorrow we were going to go for another
SODDING LONG WALK,
because we had to get all the way to Cairngorm Lodge YHA