TGOC 2011 Day 8

Derry Lodge – Mar Lodge

Distance  6.9 Km   Ascent  53 m  – (T’was but a gentle stroll)


I was actually awake quite early.
I say quite early. About 8.00 (am OK)
The weather was actually quite pleasant, which compared to the wind and rain overnight, was quite a surprise.
Rod and Sandy were packing ready to go, and after a chat, and breakfast, it was time for the off.

We bid each other farewell, and they headed off back to their car which was parked at the start of the track.


Rod and Sandy as the start on the track from Bob Scott’s bothy

I was about to leave, but as I started I was overcome with the overwhelming desire to check out the toilet at the bothy.
Mind and body told me that this must be done, and more importantly it must be done in the next few minutes.
There are times in your life when certain things have to be done, and this was one of those moments.

It is a toilet, but in the Greek sense, for those that have used toilets on some Greek campsites.
I haven’t actually been to a Greek campsite for at least 20 years, so they may have got better, but in those days it was a hole in the ground.
It is only one step away really from the hole with the trowel.
Aim is everything, and stance is imperative. Handles would be useful.
You get the picture?
Well, you will be pleased that I did not take any.

Shortly after this revelation, the moment had passed, along with other matters, and cleansed and lighter it was now truly time to head off.
Just one more photo back to the hills through the woods.
You can just see the snow on the tops.

View back to the hills from behind Bob Scott’s. A little Oasis

There is NOT a lot to say about the walk out to Braemar and the road.
I should maybe have taken more photo’s, although those that have been to the web album will probably disagree, so there is little to show on the route.
The weather was good, and I set off at a good pace. I encountered a lot of cyclists heading up to Derry Lodge. More than I would have expected on a Friday.
As I got to the bridge at the end of the track, I knew I needed to go straight on.
But Captain Paranoia was on my shoulder.
“Are you sure it is not over the Bridge, I think you need to check”
“It’s ok Captain, it is straight on!”
“Yes, but are you sure. Remember last time you didn’t check!”
“It’s fine it is definitely straight on! ………… Ok I’ll just get the map out and check”
After a week in the hills, you do start to talk to yourself.
Don’t you?

As I got to the bridge, there was a chap there
(whose name I should remember and someone will hopefully tell me).
He was from America.  Actually, one of the southern states. I knew it at the time, but in the intervening weeks, it has lapsed into the grey memory areas.
His map was not as good as mine, and he was also checking his route.
I told him it was straight on, and just about that moment, John Hancock also arrived.
We all agreed, it was straight on, and Captain Paranoia was nowhere to be seen.
I had last seen John, back at the Wake for the Wild at the start.
I was at the time, wondering how he had got on with his tarp.
So, we all headed off up the river, towards Mar Lodge.
This is NOT a big day, but in that time, we did discover that he was on his final year of examinations at University over here, and had decided to walk from Aviemore to Braemar between exams, just to help wind it all down.
When he finished, he was going home, and hoping to walk the Appalachian trail with his father.
There is a picture of him at Mar lodge a bit later.
If you can remember who he was please add a comment.

It is not far to Mar Lodge.
If you fancy a diversion, there is a nice little walk up the hill into the woods and back down to exit exactly opposite the other entrance to Mar Lodge.
As we arrived on the road at the end of the track, there were other Challengers coming along.


Jane and Hoff arrive at Mar Lodge ,American Chap behind – (I need a name for the other man next to Jane)



John and Chris

From the weather today, you would not have known that last night, it had snowed quite heavily higher up, and over in the Feshie.
So, we all arrived at Mar Lodge.
If you go past Mar Lodge on your Challenge, always drop in.
They provide a wonderful service, with Tea and Biscuits and Cake and stuff.
It is always full of Challengers, and a little oasis for a chat before finally plunging into the fleshpots of Braemar.

Chris, Hoff, John, Me (with seriously bad hair and in need of a shave), and others in the kitchen

The American chap!

So having arrived and partaken of tea and stuff, it was time to go and negotiate on the room.
I was due here tomorrow, and I had heard that there were no rooms tonight.
But if you don’t ask!
So I did!
I explained the room thing, said I was OK if they didn’t have a room, but I would not be staying tomorrow, if anyone needed a room. On the other hand, if maybe they had a spare room, and I could change my booking that would be jolly fine.
I expected maybe in the bunk house if there was anywhere.

Well, wonderful folk that they are, they said no problem, they would find me a room.
And they did!


My palatial room at the Lodge before unpacking. This was just one corner. It was huge!

Well, as you can see, the room was of monumental proportions.
So I unpacked stuff, hung bits to dry, and draped Wendy out, and gave her perforations a jolly good going over with seam sealant. Now this takes 10 hours to cure, so this was perfect.
It is also nice to be able to unpack everything in a space this big, and have a jolly good look at kit. 
And I washed stuff like undies and tops and ……. Brilliant!
Oh yes, the Shower! Big old bath and hot shower. All clean! Nice !
All sorted out, I collected my parcel with goodies in and re-stocked my food and other bits.
And then it was time to pop back down and see who else had arrived, and the plans for the evening meal.

Back in the kitchen (picture courtesy Ian Cotterill)

As I arrived in the kitchen, who should be there? None other than Mr Sloman.
He had spent an interesting night with snow.
Being a nice chap, I offered him my second can of Abbot.
(Especially delivered all the way from the Fens – It’s the little luxuries you know)
It’s the sort of thing you do for mates that is.

Now of course I could have offered it unconditionally, but there was the time debt thing that I had somehow accrued earlier in the Challenge.
It was an opportunity that could not be passed up, and so it was agreed, that the 1 hour + time debt would be written off in exchange for the dark nectar from the Bury St Edmunds brewery.
This was agreed as a verbal contract and can was collected and given to Al, who I must say did not take long in consuming it.

I’d have given him the beer anyway!


Chatting ensued, and then it was time for Al to head off to Braemar for two nights of rest (and probable drinking).

I had contemplated this as an option earlier in the day, but decided that  I would not survive two nights in Braemar, followed by a third night at Callater Lodge.

So Al headed off, and I went for a wander round the Lodge.
The weather was excellent, although not that warm in the wind, but beautiful and sunny.
It wasn’t going to last as we were to find out.

View from Mar Lodge

There are some spooky old corridors in Mar Lodge

The number of Stags heads is unbelievable. Everywhere you go.
If you get a chance, have a look in the main banquet hall.
I cannot remember the actual number, but it is wrong on many levels.
This picture used flash, but in reality the whole corridor is as dark as the far end.

This was taken on my 2010 crossing, when we were allowed to look at the hall.
See what I mean! Impressively WRONG!

The rest of the day was spent doing NOT A LOT, until much later we had our evening meal.
There was a choice of meal and  I had Stovies.

The meal on Friday night. There were a lot of people in tonight.

A pity this year, that there were no functions on.
Mar Lodge can only supply alcohol, if there is a function, and they have a licence.
You need to bear this in mind if you are staying there, and fancy a beer or wine.
Luckily for us, someone was going into Braemar, and we managed to get some for later in the evening.
This was spent in the Gun Room, which is along a small corridor, behind the kitchen.
An evening spent with a roaring fire, and great company.

The fire in the Gun Room

I managed to get a bottle of white wine.
I had a couple of glasses, and left the bottle for sharing.
Sharing is important on the Challenge.
A pity that not everyone there understood that, when Bert was going to have a can of beer. 
We will not dwell on that, it has been mentioned
you know who you are!

Anyway, we had spare wine and whiskey, so it was ok.

A fine night, in fine company, and a  nice rest.
Tomorrow I was off to Braemar.
It was not going to be a long day.
Indeed, Friday, Sat and Sunday were all going to be very short days.
BUT…. Monday and Tuesday were going to make up for that.
BIG TIME!

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