TGOC 2019 Days 7 to 9 - Balgowan to Braemar

TGOC 2019 Days 7 to 9 - Balgowan to Braemar

It all started to so well, and then a major schism 🤷‍♀️

What ya gonna do Ghost Busters 🤔

Yes I do have music, just below.
It doesn't auto start on a phone app.
BUT... The music is chosen for the blog story.
It should be listened too.
Turn it on, or listen to it after.
Even if you don't like it, it is part of the JOURNEY!

Day 07 - Balgowan to Kingussie via Newtonmore

Well, after yesterday it was time to finally head off as a group.
So about 08.30 ish, David and I headed off 😂🤣

Actually we were not exactly sure what route Al and Phil were going to take, but we were going with the original plan, and having found extra information from the nice people at the B&B, that there was a route up via the woods, rather than go through the castle grounds we set off, left and then right.

Meantime, Al and Phil were sorting out their food parcels, that they hadn't collected the night before.
The great big ones in plain sight as you came via the door.

I estimated at least another 45 min.

So off David and I went!

And there it was.
All signposted and everything.
A nice track that wound out through the woods, and then onto the open ground and then totally bleeding vanished.

And that is where the maps help 😂

We followed the stream across, and then picked up the larger main track and followed it up to the bothy building by the Allt Madagain.
A bridge is shown here on the 1:50000, but it doesn't exist.
We headed across the river.
No problem as water levels very low.
Dry feet.

A change of bearing.
We chatted away, and totally missed the track to Glen Banchor.
Luckily, after about 200m, it seemed obvious and we cut back.
TBH, that path doesn't actually appear to exist on the ground at that point.

We followed the river now, picking up a faint track, and having a sit down and collect water where it crosses the feeder stream from Dalballoch.

From there, the path became clearer, although the actual track runs higher up than the one shown on OS.
Mind you OS maps and reality in Scotland 🤔🤔

It was another hot day, but not as hot as the previous day.
We followed the track via the woods and then past the farm to pick up the wide open track that goes down to the start of the road.

From a short way along the road, we cut right, and followed the pretty little track that follows the Calder, rather than the horrid tarmac trudge.

This eventually drops in looking down onto the cemetery, across, just past Ali's house, and then down to the road.

We headed down the road and into Newtonmore Hostel for a sit down and a chat and some tea and cake.
Chats had with old and new Challengers.
Met TallManWalking (Michan I think), and discussed the Feshie route to Braemar.
It was hard to get up and head out again, but I needed to go and buy some tape at the Pharmacy in Kingussie, and so needed to get there before it shut.

I also DID NOT want to walk the road and cycle track that David was going to do.

No sign of Al or Phil yet, we set off down the high street.
Got some money out on route, and then a bit past the Coop, David headed along the road, and I cut left, following the small white road. The inReach tracker is pretty crap over short distances.
I actually turned left at the second wider track past Strone.

Needs a bit of work
Following a wide track, and then the narrower track over green ground, with lots of sheep.
It headed up to the corner of the woods.

Lots of new tracks up here.
It would be easy to take the wrong one and end up dropping back down again.

I took the track across the bottom of the woods, then turned left to head up and then right to get the higher track that goes along and then drops down to Loch Gynack.

The edge of the loch is fenced off nearly all the way along.
They don't want any plebs down there.

At the far end just past the hydo building, I cut right again.
This heads down and then towards a house.
In theory, the track ought to go through the grounds, but there are signs everywhere saying private.
I headed down the fence to a small weir by the river, then left, following this track along.

Further down, it finally divides.
It looks like it goes left along the river, but this would be a dead end. The right fork up towards the golf course and then take this track along the right side of the river gets you finally out onto the main track south, having dropped down some steep steps first.

Once onto the golf course track, there is an option to cut across a small bridge and take a scenic path into Kingussie, or stay on the road and come in further along slightly.
I took the scenic route.

And then I was there.
I headed into town, went to the Pharmacy, where I got some of the things I wanted, and then down to the Silverfjord where we were staying.

Headed in, and walked through to the bar.
There was a motley crew of Challengers there.

Skippy may have had a few....
I say a few .....    🤔🤔🤔😮😮😮

And they were heading off to the Feshie this same day.

I have no idea how.
I could definitely NOT have managed it.

But we had some beers.
Then went and sorted the room again.
David, being a very very nice man, had again let Al and Phil have the nicer room (he said).

Popped into town for additional supplies.

And then later it was downstairs for a meal, before finally retiring at some latish hour, or not.

Technology 🤔😂

 Day 08 - Kingussie to A LONG WAY up the Feshie


It all started so well.
Everyone together.
Breakfast at the cafe.

AND THEN ................................  🤔🙄🥴

So, anyway, this is how it panned out.
It will make Al growl again.
Everything had simmered down, and now I am writing this 😨

Still, we had a good time at the cricket last week. 😎

LOOK, I will take the blame for this OK.
It was indeed all my idea.


It's in the trail name (Mad 'n Bad)...
What are people expecting ?  🤔🤔 Is all I can say.

But, back to the start.

Breakfast over, we headed out past the barracks.

From the barracks, we followed the road up to Tromie, before turning right to head via the woods towards Baileguish.
Our path was to be crossed a few times with Darwin and Bigfoot. (Nice chaps, I liked them).

At this cut off point, I headed on a short bit away from buildings as I needed a pee.
I waited.
David arrived, but no Al and Phil, as they were having a sit down.

We headed on, following the track until we finally had a break just past Baileguish.
There is definitely NO bridge her.
We crossed the stream and then had a sit down.

A while later, we saw Al and Phil.
They had gone round on a wider loop, and were now ahead of us.
I don;'t think they had seen us at all, as we were low down by the stream.

We grabbed packs and headed off after them.
Catching up as we entered the woods again.

Now it was a longish trek down towards Stronehopper.
David and I were ahead again.
I cannot remember TBH, if Al and Phil had stopped.
But somehow we were a long way ahead now.

Now, at this point I should mention the confused mixed messages.
I will take the total blame, for abandoning my team.
Heh.. You have to do your own Challenge right?
AND... I was influenced by pending crap weather.
Lots of rain tomorrow and 32k, or far more today and less in the rain tomorow ?
Also by the fact I was feeling mighty fit.
So I formulated a plan for the day.
AND yes, I should have clarified this with my team, rather than just saying, if we are NOT at the end, we will be a bit further on, don't worry about us.
Mixed interpretation of that one with hindsight.

So... Sorry Al and Phil...
I was bad.
I take the blame.
Shit happens chaps
Can't roll back the clock
Heh 🤔🤷‍♂️

And as such, I told David my cunning plan.
I think he was also keen to get nearer Braemar.
OK, maybe not as far as I eventually dragged the poor bugger.

A bit past Stronerhopper, just before the bridge that crosses, we met Bigfoot and Darwin again.
Had a sit down, and a chat, and looked at maps and stuff.
It was final decision time....
Like in my head, I had already made the decision.
No sign of Al and Phil.
Decision made...

I was going to get as far down this valley as possible.
NOT our original route.

David had gone on ahead.
Same route change.

So, it was to be.
I headed across the river and soon caught David, as we headed towards the bothy.
Spectacular landslip was obvious .

A major rebuild at the bothy.
A new upstairs too.

Nice to see that they kept the old door.
Although, I always found it a bit spooky.
Like a gateway to some strange religious cult or worse 💀💀

And after a short stop inside, David headed off.
I had attempted to explain the way up to the Corbett to a Dutch chap and his son.

I popped up to the water source (but a trickle).
Drank about 1½ litres and filled the bottle, then headed off.
Taking the higher route to avoid a climb and fording the streams.

I caught up with David, and we continued along the path, encountering this well disguised adder on the path.
He wasn't feeling photogenic, so this was the best I could do by the time I got the phone out to take it.

We carried on.
It was hot.
A spectacular glen, we continued until we reached the short drop down to Ruighe nan Leum.
Here we stopped for some fluids and a sit down.

And then off again, to see where we got to.
I say we...
We would see how far david got.
He was happy this side to just stop when he needed a rest.
Meantime, I had a plan to reach the ruin this side of the Geldie crossing, just before the track cuts left (North).

On route, I sprinked a small file of my Mum's ashes.
There was some in Glen Turrett too.
More pending for near Loch Callater Lodge.
She has been liberally spread this way across much of the country in 200g distributions.
She liked to travel, she liked Scotland, so best to shove some here I thought.

And then on to cross the waterfalls, and see how far I got.

Looking at the map across, it would have been nice to go the other side in all honesty, along Caochan Dubh, but then carry on.
I think in all honesty, I could have done it totally solo, as when we got to the ruin at the end of the day, I felt fine, and could certainly have gone on another 6 km at least.

That was not to be.
We carried on, and on and on.
Over hauling Lou and Phyl on route.

I thought David was going to put his tent up, so carried on.

Eventually I caught up with Russ.
He was pondering on a river crossing as I skipped across.
To be fair, I do have hips!!!

We chatted away, and David caught us up.
Another chap came past too.
We said hello..
That was it, he headed off carrying his large and then not so large extra pack 🤔🤔🤔
Look, to each his own!

And then after what again seemed like forever, we arrived and put up tents.
An Australian couple were there.
They were not on the TGOC, just on a backpack.
They had come up the Tilt, and were heading back up the Feshie tomorrow.

The wind was picking up.
The weather was closing in.
It would rain before 22.00
We had maybe 18km to go to Braemar in the morning.
In the rain.

I could live with that.

Tents don't have to flap about in the wind like sails.
You can pitch them tautly!
Just sayin'!!!!

I think I actually just had soup that night.
3 packets.
And chocolate and peanuts.
And whisky!
AND... A lot of fluids.

It had been a long day.
I reckoned in reality about 40km (ish)
David reckoned 44.
I still think it was a lot closer to 40.
I may plot it and update this later.

Whatever the case, it was fine.


Day 09 - Feshie (nr White Bridge) to Braemar via the Morrone Birkwood

We woke to intermittent wind and rain.
It had been thus most of the night.
Managed to get the tent down in a short dry bit, then headed up into a strong wind towards White Bridge.
It was going to rain.
It did.
It did.

It was going to get a lot wetter before it got better! (see a poet).

Hence, not many pictures today.
Doesn't help the phone, and it was going to be grotty images.

We trudged in past white bridge and up to the Linn of Dee, stopping at intermittent points to be lashed by wind and rain, and to look at blustered Challenger tents.

By the Linn of Dee however, it had briefly stopped raining heavily, and I dragged David down to the small track along the river, before cutting up to the road again, and the long trudge to Mar Lodge.

I normally walk through the grounds at Mar Lodge, regardless of the signs.
But David being an upstanding citizen refused outright to flout the rules and so we trudged along the road. FOR MILES!

Well, I'll not do that again sir!

Obviously, it was raining again, so we went in to the tea room, signed the board with some drivel, and had a sit down, chatting to the many folk about.
A rather large number of whom I appeared to know.

Had a sit down with Mick, and then after a brief stop, we donned gear and headed out into the bloody drizzle again.
Scottish drizzle is a special kind of penetrating rain all to itself.

We took the route through the woods.
Too bloody wet for photographs.

Then down from the viewing point to take the back road into town.
Gerry had walked in with us from Mar Lodge, but went off to visit the church, whilst David and I headed into town and to partake of tea again at Gregory's before heading down to the B&B.

Obviously there would be no sign of Al and Phil, as they were now many miles away in wet blustery weather, where I had callously abandoned them yesterday, without even a word.
Look, don't take my word for it!
Ask Al, he'll tell you.
I'm just bleeding lucky he doesn't bear a grudge 🤔

And it was to the B&B, and collect parcels and sort and tidy, and TBH, just doss about.
Bloody good B&B too.

But I'll NOT tell you which one, because I want to book it again next year, before you buggers fill it up with Riff-Raff.

Mick and Norman with Keith in the background in the Cafe.
And probably Martin's hand, although I'm not sure which bit of Mick he's trying to grab 🤔😂
Then later, it was down into town to initially the Fife to see what it was really like.

Well, opinions differ on this.
Some love the decor, the clever pastiche against the hunting, or whatever.
It's certainly had some money thrown at it.
They did great beer.
The food is very good.

The decor???
The extraordinarily expensive rooms.
The odd ambiance of ("We'll let them in briefly")
Personally, I did not like it much.
I am sure it will appeal to some.
For me, it was 2 pints, food and then down to the Invercauld.
They had done us proud the last few years.
IF, they had been selling food, I would have gone straight there.

A humerous statement, or some sort of dreadful design abomination?
Decide for yourselves

And the evening went on, and on, and there may have been beer.
There were loads in at the Invercauld.
Jayme, Peter, Lindsay, Mick, Norm, Nik, Lynn, Ian, Russ, etc etc etc
Jeez, I can't remember.
I was on my 4th pint by then, and I rarely do more than 2.
There may have been a whisky.

No Al or Phil though, as they had stayed I believe, at the Fife.

And then at some point I headed back to the B&B.
Trying not to wake David as I sneaked in at some Ungodly hour.

And this wasn't even the party night.
That was coming tomorrow....

After a bit of Corbett climbing.