TGOC 2013 Day 13 - Tarfside to Northwater Bridge (AGAIN..SIGH)

In which we try and find another way to do the same route.
AND I over indulge into a world of lacking coordination, direction and possibly behaviour!

The Music is Ollabelle - No More my Lawd

The Video is the Day 13 in Pictures

I woke in just about enough time to get packed.
Then off to get breakfast at St Drostans
Then down the river


So, I woke in time
Actually, a lot early
Performed ablutions (sit down porcelain)
Went back to tent
Packed gear
Packed tent

TO DISCOVER that Al and Phil were not ready, because they had MOVED the Goalposts

They had gone to get breakfast early

And NOT only that

They had NOT told me

AND............. It gets worse


So, by the time I got there WITH ALL MY KIT

Not only was the bacon GONE, but so were all the Eggs

Thankfully Ann went to their camper van with enough eggs to do an Egg Roll

BUT ...... Here is the point



So, what I am saying to all the brilliant people that run St Drostans and Tarfside, and do a brilliant job is

Well Done

Thank You



Anyway, I had already told Al and Phil, who had gone back and were NOW also planning to walk down the road that ..........

I would see them somewhere on the way to Edzell, past the bridge

BECAUSE, I was NOT going back to the Campsite
NOR walking down the bloody road

AND anyway, I had told Nigel that I would show him the way down the river, and also the secret bridge that takes you over to the Blue Door Walk (what with the bridge NOT being on any Maps)

AND...That is exactly what happened.
I had what was left of breakfast
Had tea
Paid JD my bill
Had a chat with several folk

Then Nigel and I headed off over the bridge and down to the VERY rickety but OK bridge across to pick up the track to the Clash of Wirren, that you turn left off, almost as soon as you get on it, and it takes toy down the new LRT all the way to Keenie.


So, IF you have any pictures of that bit Nigel, AND you read this, ping me a couple will you please.
I appear to have none of the early bit.

Would it rain?
Looking over the Hills of Wirren Direction
Wonderful Skies in the Esk Valley

Approaching Keenie
The river here is beautiful
Another view from near Keenie.
Looking across, you can see more of the new LRT's that scar the landscape.
I guess they are good for the local economy
I guess they make walking easier.
But There are so many of them
As we walked along, I counted at least 15 new wide Landrover access tracks running up the hillsides on both sides of the Esk
Even more this year.
Going back 7 years I can remember hardly any round here.
Now the hills are littered with them, along with the parallel electrified fences.

Is that all progress?

I am not sure.

Tree near Keenie

Anyway, as we headed round the track the other side of Keenie, we had to navigate past a large bulldozer that was rebuilding the track.
I am not sure if this was just track improvement, or if they had had a bit of a land slip over the winter.

Trap across the ditch.
We saw a lot of these today

We carried on round to the bridge that is about ½k before Dalhastnie, where I spotted Phil and Mick walking up.
It was just past here that I met Al last year.
We carried on together.
Al was further along, having headed off before Phil.

We finally caught up with Al lying in a super spot a bit further along from the Milden Lodge iron bridge

Milden Bridge.
I once walked over this from the other side, having accidentally walked though their garden, only to find that the gate was locked at this side.

Mick, Al, Me & Gerry (Nigel is out of shot) - I think this is Phil's picture
Here we are having a another good stop.
Nigel was just behind me out of shot.
Gerry had caught up with us, and a few others had gone on.

We stayed here for quite a time, just sitting in the sun, and watching the river drift past.

What was the hurry, Edzell and Northwater Bridge would be there.

After a while we headed on.
It is actually a surprisingly long distance round the next corner.
I was a bit remiss with photos today, considering how good the weather was.

Looking across the hills a bit earlier
We carried on round the corner, gradually catching up with a group in front that had Russ in it.
It is amazing how fit you feel by this stage.
Al said

"We could have them!"
"Go on I dare you to run past them"

"I'm not going to do that I said as I sped off"

And so I did, walking at first, and then running past with full kit with a cry of

"Come on you lot, get a bloody move on!" or some such childish nonsense.

And then I stopped, because it was silly, and I walked for a while with Russ, until Al caught up, and we headed off. Catching another group a bit later on before the woods.

Al's Smiley Rucksack
I couldn't resist this, although it is a bit blurred because I took it on the move.
But I realised that to the insane mind, Al's Rucksack had a big smiley face on it.

Yeah, OK, I was losing the plot by now!

And so it went on until we got to the spot where we would cut off the path, and cross the river on the New bridge that isn't on maps yet.
You can see roughly were it is from the map.
It isn't clear from the track.

While we waited here, the wind picked up, and then a sudden rain shower hit us.
It was sudden waterproofs.
Gerry handed out Barley Sugar sweets.
A few others passed us heading on towards Dalbog.

We went down and crossed the bridge

I had spotted this last year.
It still raised a titter.

We crossed over the bridge, having picked up 2 more Travellers whose names I will get from Al.

The other side, there is a track that winds round to the left and then zig zags back up.

Al, Phil and Mick went left.

Gerry and I headed straight up the hill, followed by Nigel and the others.

At the top, we waited for Al, Phil and Mick to arrive.
Pretending not to be knackered by the sudden rapid climb.

From here, you follow the track up to the road.
Do NOT get lured off by the grassy track that appears to go straight on a bit further up.

We have been there.

That way lies madness, rufty tufty and a barbed wire fence.
Bear left to the road

Just before that left turn I spotted this little fellow/lass on the track

Turning right we made our way the short distance along the road until we turned off right again and dropped down to the beautiful walk along the Rocks Of Solitude to the Blue Door.

Stopping briefly (well, not that briefly) on the seat for a brew.

The next set of photos, and also the brief video are all of this short but brilliant route into Edzell, first discovered (as a Challenger not in reality) by Phil, and then shown to Al, and then Al showed me.

Looking down at the river near the start

Al going through the rock built by the prisoners of war - Phil's Picture

More of that beautiful walk (A's Photo)

Carved Butterfly in Tree towards the end

Another carving

View across to Big House

Looking Down to the river near the Blue door

The Blue Door

Along this stretch apart from the Rocks of Solitude, the waterfalls, the rapids, the gorge, you will also pass through parts of the Estate, and also see the salmon Leap.

Near the start there is the magnificent path, carved out of the solid rock, so I am told by Napoleonic Prisoners of War.


We crossed the road, and carried on down the river, this time with the river on our left, until we turned off, about 200m before the suspension bridge, and made our way up to Edzell, and to the wonderful Tuck In cafe.

I shot up the road while Al settled in, to buy a PIE (Yep, Solid Food), for the night, and also up to the only shop (past the garage on your left), that sells Alcohol, to pick up and decant a bottle of wine.

I met John Jocys here, and we also got Jelly Babies.

Then I headed back to the Tuck In, to have a sit down, cup of tea and something to eat, before we had to set off on the ridiculously long (or so it seems) road walk to Northwater Bridge campsite.

After a goodly sit down, and after watching it intermittently rain, it was time to head off.
Al and Phil were already gone, and Mick was just leaving.

I packed my stuff eventually.
Found the MP3 player (cos that road is a bugger)
Tuned in, and zoned out

Headed down the road, and then left at the garage to go down and over the suspension bridge.

The Bridge

Down river from the bridge
 I made my way across, and then followed the track out past the houses.
I short way along the road, before Chapleton, I met Mick, and we walked the rest of the way together.

In fact just after Chapleton, but before the road, we got hit by an almighty hail storm.
Just managed to get waterproofs on in time.

By the time we reached the road, it was done.

I took of thew waterproof trousers, but now couldn't be bothered to lose the top.

So together, but independently, we headed along the road.
I was tuned into Zero 7 this year, and as far as I can tell, Mick was singing along to The Beatles.

We turned left at Northgate, and then right to follow the track parallel to the road.
I don't think it is any further really, and it is far less stressful.
And you don't risk getting wiped out by a lunatic on that last left hand corner, or some nutter doing a blind overtaking manouvre.

And so we arrived at Northwater Bridge campsite.

Paid our £6.00

And went and put tents up.

I was going to put mine up a bit closer to Al, on a lovely flat spot.

BUT Al stuck his head out and said "Where is Phil going to go?"

So rather than argue, I moved my Trailstar over to the right in another big patch.

Mick put his almost where I had thought of going

AND a bit later when Phil arrived, he put his tent NOWHERE NEAR that spot.

After I had put my tent up, the nice little man, whose car was on the path, and who had the big permanent home caravan cabin thingy to my right came furtivelky out, and moved it away.

Possibly to stop me doing something dreadful to it later on.

That would have been difficult mind you, because it was a Rover 400 so it had already had something dreadful done to it during design and manufacturing.

And with tent up, I went and washed up, and tidied up, and charged my phone and ate my pie, and all the stuff that you do at a campsite.
The weather was not good for a while consisting mainly of light rain.

Then as if by a miracle, although it was NOT WARM, it stopped raining, and folk came out from their tents, and sat around at tables.
Then others joined in the form of Vicky and Toby, who brought their table over to ours.

And there was, Al and Phil and Mick and Pete and Gerry and Russ and John and Lindsay and Vicky and Toby & loads of others I cannot remember.

And we spent the evening yet again in brilliant company,
talking and drinking,
and drinking and talking
and all manner of crazy things.

AND I had a brilliant time, and everything was going swimmingly well,
until Gerry brought out the Rusty Nails and I also drank that.

OK, to be fair I have scant recollection of much that happened that evening, other than having a good time

These photos will explain it all.

AND THEN I HAD TO WALK TO THE TOILET BLOCK before I went off to sleepy sleepy land

I may have had assistance on the journey (not in the toilet I don't think).

But I can say that as I staggered down the path on the way back,
keeping to the tarmac to avoid going anywhere near tents
(I at least had that much sense just),
there was one BIG thought going through my head.






TGOC 2013 Day 12 - Almost the Sheilin to Tarfside (nearly there)

In which we managed to get PETE to sanctuary,
and my feet really got pissed off.

What your Eyes Have seen - Harry Manx
Don't pass this music by.
It is brilliantly beautiful

I was going to wait for Al, so I could find out where we went, but I think I can manage today.
What with there being no mist, and no birds of the feathered kind.

I was awake a bit late today, and Pete had arrived before I was packed.
He was looking a lot better.

I scrambled at break neck speed (AHH.. So that is how I fucked my neck up), and got my stuff already to go by 8.00.

I think that this Challenge I was never late leaving.
In fact sometimes I had to wait for Al.
He wasn't late, I was early.

And all packed and ready.
Far less wind this morning thank the Lord, we set off over the the Sheilin.

Just as we were leaving, or maybe just before, Vicky and Toby came past.
OR, I may have dreamt that.

I think Al told them the approximate route, and they headed off ahead of us.

They are younger and fitter than us.

Well, Vicky is! (Sorry Toby mate, I had to get that one in).

So we set off on the well known, but highly indistinct, which in Scottish parlance means bugger all sign of  route to the Sheilin

I think it was his veritable divine self David Towers, who once told me that from the fork in the river, you take a bearing of 105 deg, and it takes you to the bothy.

Shame then that in 2012, I told Carl 101 deg, and he ended up 400+ m to the left of the Bothy.

Sorry Carl!

We slowly made our way over the top to the Bothy.

Landing just to the right.
We had NOT used a compass.

Phil s photo as we approached the bothy
gratuitously pilfered from Mr Slomans Blog 

We sat Pete down, who was really not a happy bunny.
Not only was he struggling, but he also had a dodgy knee.

I ferreted into my rucksack to find him some tubi-grip bandage, which by Sid's Law, had gone to the very bottom of everything.
I also looked for some Ibruprofen Gel, but could not find it.
It turned up 2 days later somewhere else.

We sat him down, and Al made him a brew.

Phil may or may not have added whisky.

Amazingly, about 10 minutes later Vicky and Toby arrived.

You can take a horse to water!!

No, seriously, it is just so easy up there to get off track.
Been there, done it, got the T shirt back in 2005.

We spent quite a while at the bothy to let Pete get sorted.

Then we set off.

Vicky and Toby had moved on, with some directions.
We wouldn't see them again until Tarfside.

Sadly, I have very very few pictures today.
I may snaffle the odd one from previous years to pad things out.

We had a short chat with Liz Robertson, and then headed off.

It was slow going up, step by step, with frequent stops to let Pete get his breath.
Exactly as it should have been.
Liz caught up, and as a group we made our way to the top, where we had a rest, before descending down to Glen Lee.

Looking back from Muckle Cairn.
OK, it was in 2010
After a bit of a sit down, we headed down.

There are two possible routes.

The old LRT, and just straight down the short or burnt heather.

Many take the LRT, but Al and I took the far far easier heather route.

Fluffy bouncy stuff, which with care will not break your ankle.

And eventually we reached the bottom, crossed the small stream, and slumped to the floor for a well earned rest. Collected water and just sat about.

YES. By day 12 of the Challenge you are a lot fitter than when  you left the flatness of the Fens.

BUT, you are also bloody shagged after Braemar and Callater.

You wouldn't miss them out, but they do you no good at all physically.

Eventually, in dribs and drabs, we headed off towards Loch Lee.

It is all down hill from here (Metaphorically)

Hunt Hill.
A bloody great dark slab that sits in view.
A couple of years back we had dropped down the other side of this, as we recovered from the hypothermia of the Cheese and Wine at the Waters of Unich.

I headed out on my own, and somewhere just past the Stables of Lee, caught up with Vicky Allen.

Vicky travels at a goodly pace.

We motored along at speed, and I was grateful to discover Al and co lounging under the tree near the old building that sits in the now cleared woods at Cairn of Carniet (may be spelled wrong, but so are my eyes).

Vicky carried on before us, but we rested again.
There was NO hurry.
The weather was good

Although I tend to travel at a pace that suites me, I have never understood people who do HUGE miles just for the sake of it.
I wonder if they ever appreciate the true beauty that they travel through.
YES, ok I did tend to go faster than Al and Phil at times.
But it was my pace, and I stopped to take photos, and just to look.

Gerry had told me a story back during the Daunder of the walking group that he was with, that never stopped.
They just banged out HUGE mileage.
Heads down, pound , pound, pound.

Yes. OK, there are times that you need to do this

C2C Vale of Mowbray springs to mind.
Miles of same.

But NOT on the TGOC, or in the Lakes.

Actually, very rarely is this needed.

If this is your bag, then take up Fell racing.

And you're back in the room................................

We carried on towards Loch Lee.

A bit before there I spotted an Adder.

"Adder", I shouted.

First one I had seen this year.

A small one.

Possibly a young female, taking the rays.
It was in the middle of the path.
But soon shot off at speed.

Adder 1 (at distance - It was quick)


Closest I could get
Nowhere near as quick as the ones we saw in 2012.
But hey, it's an ADDER.

We carried on along Loch Lee.

The wind varied between Blustery and not much.

The whole way along we played catch up and overtake and stop

with Willem and Marianne.

We stopped again at the same place that we met Lynsey last year. (The other half of Alistair).

Lynsey was not on this year, what with it being Alistair's turn (so an almighty bugger that he didn't get a place), and also because Lynsey is due to deliver No 2 in the next generation of Pooler's.
TODAY I think..
Maybe even as I write this.

All the best Lynsey, GOOD LUCK, and see you in October for the Dales Walk.

HOW THE ***K do I remember all this???

Anyway, we stopped at exactly the same place.
The start of the Loch proper, overlooking Inchgrundle, just past the bridge

PHIL, who is a mighty fine chap, and also the cause of everything that befell us during this Challenge, gave Al a FREE Tuna and Tomato Snack.

SO, it was VERY BAD form, that after consuming the same, Mr Sloman, gave him BACK the packet to carry out.


Phil also gave me some nice oat cake biscuits.

I think Tini had packed them for him.
He doesn't like them.

I will leave the rest to you.

I was most grateful.

And I carried the packets out.


Eventually, we headed off to the far end of the Loch, where we again stopped to ease the now really moaning feet at the old Church at Kirkton.

I didn't take this either.
Well, I did, but back in 2007.
Some things just don't change
We had a good rest here.

But again all too soon, it was time to leave.

Al came up with a cunning plan.

"I have a cunning plan", said Al

"I can guess your plan", says I

"What" says Al!

"Pete is not a happy bunny" says I

"Indeed, says Al, and you being the fittest of us", OR the most gullible.
He didn't actually say that

"SO, you want me to go to Tarfside, and Blag him a room"


"Only a complete ***T would say NO..Consider it DONE"

And with that, I set off at a lunatic break neck
(YEP, you can see now why my neck is well and truly ****ed)

The old Keep at Kirkton, in nicer weather.
I didn't take this this year.
2007 :-(

Very soon I was a long way up the road.

I met many TGO folk, and with or without the need, regaled them of the essence of my mission.

I carried on, collecting Challengers on route.

I was soon a long way past Westbank

I was a man on a mission.

Somewhere along here, close to Tarfside, I met Dave.
He was just walking back to talk to people.
I told him the story.

"If they don't have a room, he can have mine."

What a Diamond Geezer eh!

I am almost embarrassed to have posted this one of Dave in his tent last year


So, off I went, AGAIN.

And then I was at St Drostans.

The Hostel at St Drostans
St Drostan's Church

I went in, and as I arrived, I met Alvar.

I told him the Pete Saga.

"We're Full", said Alvar

"Yes, I know, BUT Pete REALLY REALLY needs a room, and he can have Dave's"

"Pete is here".

"I am talking about Pete Shepherd, MORPETH"

"Yes, he is here"

"What, you sure, PETER SHEPHERD? Can't be, I left him just past Kirkton"


"No, I have come here at WARP speed, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise would not be here yet"

"He's here"

"Can't be the same Peter", and I headed of to the Kitchen

I went in, all smiles and hello's

Pete was sitting at the table.


I later apologised to Alvar

"Err Pete, HOW THE ***K"

As it transpired, a bit further up the road, Peter was SO bad, that Al and Phil had got him a lift in a builders lorry.

The wonderful man was going back towards Tarfside, and gave Pete a so much needed lift

So, DAVE did give up his room, although Pete had got a room anyway.


All the rooms at St Drostans are named after Saints.

Pete was in St Peter's"

I can say no more

I had beer, and a rather huge Bacon Butty

I got 2 cans set aside for Al and Phil, after the farrago of the year before when they ran out (more of that tomorrow)

I generally chatted with all the people, including Russ, an absolute TOP bloke.

I bought a second beer to take out.

Al and Phil arrived.

We sat around, and had tea, and ran up an enormous bill

And eventually, we had to go to the field and put up tents.

Which we did.

For the first time, in MANY a year, I did NOT order a meal.
I just had too many packets of food left, and I had to eat them.

So I played music, socialised, and cooked my Adventure Food Meal.

Oh yes, and I had my beer.

And then we went to the Mason's Arms

There was still NO SIGN of Dennis.

He had eventually turned up at Callater on Monday having reputedly slept somewhere near the Golf Course.

He was rumour had it on his way to Tarfside

He didn't turn up.

We had another fine night in the Masons.

JJ had arrived.
Waggy was on the Harmonica
Pete and Mick were re-united

Many consumed assorted beers

Lindsay was there already with her trolley

We will come back to that at NorthWater Bridge

I recited (Under Pressure) the Poem YET again.

And then after a bloody fine evening, staggered at some incorrect hour back to my tent.

I had NOT actually drunk that much.
It was late.

I was leaving my over-indulgence to NorthWater Bridge

BUT we will come back to that.................

I went to my tent

I put on music


Tomorrow we would NOT be going to Brechin

I will explain tomorrow

It was time for sleep.

I was knackered

We all were!






See you tomorrow.
When I am going to maybe over indulge to the extreme.


TGOC 2013 Day 11 - Callater to Near Sheilin of Mark (but not quite)

A huge day and a descent to remember
In which we accidentally climb 2 Monroes

Clapton & Windwood "Can't Find My Way Home"

Read On!

[I have added a few pictures that Al had since this was put up.. mainly cos I am in them :-)]

We got up reasonably early, because we had a BIG day planned.
I had already packed most of my kit, and I headed off with the spade in an attempt to find a suitable location.
I was having a big day too, and I did not fancy scrapping a hole half way up the hill.

I hoped I was not visible as I set in for the duration.

No-one came along (which was a blessed relief in more than one way)

I went back to the Lodge to acquire Tea and Bacon Butties which Mick was cooking up.
More of the usual culprits were there having breakfast.

NO sign of Gerry though.

This was NOT surprising, since along with Pete (Morpeth), I had poured him into his tent at some Un-Godly hour in the morning.
Gerry had attempted the manouvre without undoing the zip.
We had opened the outer for him, but were NOT quick enough to prevent him from attempting the same manouvre  with the inner.

Eventually we managed to get him sequestered into his tent and went off to bed.

On my way back from the Spade expedition, I had checked to listen for signs of life.
There was noise, so I went off.

Gerry had enjoyed the previous evening


We had more tea.
Al and Phil joined for breakfast.

It was eventually time to go.

We said goodbye to all the Callater folk, and especially Bill.
Hand shakes and manly hugs were in order.

Al gives Bill a manly hug (photo Martin Rye, off Al's Blog)
Next year is the 20th anniversary for Callater, and I promised Bill, that if I did not get a place on the Challenge, then I would go and help anyway.

And so we headed off up a BLOODY BIG HILL.

On the way up, we decided that since Carn an Sagairt Mor was there, it would be rude not to do it.

I often wonder why after a Callater night we always do such huge days.

I put it down to anesthetics.

We slowly climbed the up the track to look back at the wonderful loch.

The weather was quite warm at this stage, although far more overcast than expected.

Looking back down to the Loch
This is quite a goodly climb, and we stopped frequently on the way up.
Especially as my up-hill speed is faster, I kept pulling away.
At times just seeing Al and Phil as sistant Specs.

Part way up, we met Pete (Morpeth)
Pete was seriously struggling today.
He had had a chest infection for a few days, and so this sort of steep up, was the last thing he needed.
At the time, we hoped it was his chest, because he was seriously struggling for breath at times.
All manner of dreadful thoughts crossed out minds.

By the time we got to the gate, we had decided that we would make sure Pete got up.
Mick had gone off, and Pete was on his own.
We felt he needed some moral support.

Luckily just after the gate I saw Mick, who was waiting.
We had a rest, and then Pete and Mick headed off to Dubh Loch, and we did a sharp left turn to head up to the summit of Carn an Saigert Mor.

Actually, you have done the worst of it by now.

The visibility however, was not good with hill cloud sweeping in.

However, I did see several of these little fellows.

And a bit before the summit I found this

Remnants of the Canberra that crashed in 1956
There are parts of this scattered around here, and heading down to Dubh Loch.

Here is a bit from last year

More remnants on way to Dubh Loch 2012

More remnants on way to Dubh Loch 2012

Al and Phil had now vanished a long way behind me as I reached the first of the two summit cairns.

I dropped my pack and waited for them.

It was chilly, and visibility was intermittent, although it looked like it would clear to a fashion.
Eventually they arrived, and we stopped for a break, and also a photo.

Here is Phil's timed photo of us all at the summit.

I still have at least ½ to 1 stone to lose I can see.
I'll keep at it.

We headed off after a stop to the second cairn, and then we would make our way down, and then eventually up to Lochnagar

Al and Phil heading off
View down to Dubh Loch as we descended off Carn an Saigert Mor to the track
It was a goodly hike to the top, passing through a lot of melt water, and also several small snow fields

Al and Phil heading up one of the smaller ones
The last snow patch was much steeper and bigger, and so I decided to stop and put on the Micro Spikes.
I had carried the bleeding things all the way from Tulloch, and I was bloody well going to use them

Al and Phil putting on Spikes
So with spikes on I headed across the last patch of snow.

I found that they really helped on this last bigger, steeper section.
Al didn't.
But Al had hefty Scarpa boots, and I had shoes, and I think with shoes the beneficial effect is more significant. 

The next 3 pictures are Al's of me on the snow on the way up to the top of Lochnagar

Al and Phil just coming to the end.

Distance shot of us c/o Willem Fox

After this, the ground was grass and rock.
I took of the spikes immediately to preserve the spikes against the rocks.

As we got to the flatter ground we saw a Dotteril?, or MAYBE NOT as I am later informed.

So...Day 11 QUIZ

Is this a

1. Dotteril (however that is spelt)
2. Dunlin
3. Golden Plover
4. Another BIRD

I am not good on birds of the feathered variety, and sadly have few if no opportunities with the other kind.

So we continued our journey heading nearly but not quite to the summit of Carn a Choire Bhoidheach (thanks to Al for that correction - I have fixed the map roughly too) and then we continued our journey over to the Stuic, where we had fantastic views down to the Lochan.

Al and Phil

Phil's picture of Al and I
As we stopped here for a snack the people who we had seen in the distance arrived.

It was Willem Fox and Marianne Grootveld.

I had sent Willem some information about B&B's in Dornie.
Unfortunately just before he was about to stay there, there was damage to the roof in a storm, but they managed to find alternative accommodation.

I was MUCH TAKEN with Marianne's pole lights.
Perfect idea for use with a Trailstar.

The white light on the central pole for illumination.
The red light on the door pole for guidance and also hazard warning.
Just held on with cable ties.

"Sheer Genius" I told her, "Why hadn't I thought of that?"

Willem's picture of us on the Stuic
And what has happened to me?????????
What is really EERIE though is the fact that I appear to be being followed by another ME.
I was NOT at the time aware of having an out of body experience
But since I saw this photo, I keep looking over my shoulder
And it isn't helping my neck get any better.

OOOOHH Cold shivers...........!!!!!

We stayed and chatted for a while, and then we set off.

View down as we traversed round to Carn Mor.
This was NOT a bit of snow to go and walk on!

Another View Down

It is a surprisingly long way round to Carn Mor and Carn Beag

The cairn at Carn Mor
I arrived here well ahead of Al and Phil (again).
Some great views already, and a far cry from the visibility back in 2006.

Back in 2006
Well, I thought that this was going to be much clearer, BUT as we shall see, the cloud cover increased quite a lot, very quickly, and quite soon.

Al and Phil arriving in the distance
We did not dally here, but headed across to the main summit at Carn Beag

Fantastic views all around us.

Al and I on the summit


Looking down to where we had to go.

Looking back across the the Stuic
Second Attempt. The Temperance 3 at the summit.
Cloud rising from the Valley
Willem and Marianne on the way up
Just as we were leaving, Willem and Marianne arrived.
They had left their packs a bit further back.

It was about 16.00 now, and we still had a mighty long way to go.

On the way down, we met Vicky and Toby heading up.

They were first timers.
Vicky had posted some sensible questions on the message board, and been shot down by a select few in the normal way.
I had sent her an email with information, and also to say to ignore these people.

We stopped for a chat.
As the remainder of the Challenge continued, we got to know them both well.

They are a great couple, and made of JUST THE RIGHT STUFF.
The sort of younger blood that we need to perpetuate the true spirit of the Challenge.

Well, coming from me, that has probably damned them....Sorry!

As we had been sitting on the summit, the cloud had been closing in.
We could see the mist coming up from the valley.

By the time we had started the descent over to Miekle Pap, visibility was declining rapidly.

We dropped off the side of the hill and descended.
Meeting up with Willem, Marianne and a young chap from Finland, whose name I temporarily forget.
BUT... Thanks to Maria I now know, it was Antti. He was a nice guy.
His Blog is HERE, but you'll need to be able to read Finnish

We dropped down into the boulder field.

A descent that in good visibility is not a problem.
But today, in cloud, with bloody great packs, and slippery rocks, was less than kind to the knees nor the mind.

The following pictures are C/O Willem, who kindly emailed them to me.
They are NOT in the boulder section though.
It was not the place for snapping photo's


Me somewhere in the boulder field
We followed the cairns down, although at times it was hard to spot where they were, and the rather large drop that was somewhere to the left was a focus of concentration for the mind.

Also this was NOT the place to break a leg, or turn an ankle over.

We very slowly as a group descended until at last we met the flatter ground and made our way to the track that comes over from Gelder Shiel and goes down to the Spittal.

I was walking with Marianne at this point and making a good pace.
Too good as it happened, because Willem caught me up to say that Al had stopped for a rest quite a long way back, being pretty knackered.

I stopped, dropped my pack.
Said goodbye to them and waited for Al and Phil whilst playing the Harmonica on the rock.
Have I mentioned the Harmonica.

I am no Waggy, on a harmonica, but I can knock out a bit of the Blues.
Mine was in A, a small Blues Harp.

It must have sounded like some ethereal noise whining across the hills.
The call of the Banshee, as they descended the track to me.

We set off again.

Of course, in NO TIME FLAT, I was away on my own.
I carried on.
They were big boys now.
We knew where we were going.
No one was going to get lost

AND.. I had the others in my sights.

By the time we got to the river crossing, I had caught up to Willem and Marianne, and also
Vicky and Toby were there as well.

Just as we entered the woods, Toby had taken a spectacular tumble, on the mud and tree roots.
He was perfectly ok, but I has awarded him 8 out of 10.

I continued my meander to the Spittal talking to them.

And then we were at the visitors centre at the Spittal.
Gear was littered about.
I dropped my pack, and we chatted as we waited for Al and Phil.

They arrived surprisingly quickly.

We went in and lay down on the floor or any seating, and had a Hot Chocolate, since all the Soup was sold out.
Vicky & Toby and Willem and Marianne headed off.

We stayed a while longer....
It was warm and dry.
AND my feet were really complaining today.
They had had enough of this bloody pounding and wanted to stop.

It would have been easy, but we needed to get over to the Sheilin, or at least a good pitch nearby.

We had to head off.

It was a chore.

Part way up, before the little bridge we saw Willem and Marianne putting up their Trailstar.
Just nearby was the Finnish chap, and a bit further on, or was it back????
we had seen Mr Boulter (James).

We chatted briefly but had to crack on.

As we got over the bridge to the top, the Snow was right down over the river, forming a bridge (not weight bearing).

I have never seen the snow like that here at this time of year.

We skirted the snow, and just before the very top, we cam across Pete Shepherd again.
He was in his Akto.
Mick was LONG GONE again.

We had a chat, told him where we were going to pitch up, and said we would wait for him the next morning.
We intended to leave about 8.00am

We carried on.
At the top before the nasty haggy bit, there are some reasonable size pitches, and we stopped to put up tents.

The wind had seriously picked up by now.

I got the Trailstar up with a lot of effort, and then discovered that the Peat soil was too weak for even the longer pegs.


I had to move it another 2 feet to the left.
And there was only about 2 feet of usable space.

Phil turned up and helped hold the pole while I stuck the inner up.

He had come bearing Whisky.
I so needed whisky.

Finally, I got everything sorted.
I needed a meal.

BUT first I popped over to Al with some mind clarifying fluid.

Al was a bit further up, and had gone to his tent for the night.
(As he says, to avoid the snoring)

This was a short visit.
I headed back to my tent in the now very blustery and cold wind.

Al's photo of the Camp

Inside the Trailstar it was warm and sheltered.

I made my Bla Band meal.
Mighty fine they are.

Had a nip or three of the hard stuff.

Stuck my MP3 player on

And drifted off to the music of Zero 7.

It had been a Magnificent but long day.
And it was ALL Phil's Bloody Fault

.............The STAR.