TGOC 2011 Day 9

Mar Lodge – Braemar

Distance  8 Km   Ascent  175 m  – (Nice morning, shame about the weather)

I woke to another nice day.
I had dropped off quickly the night before, but woken at about 3.00am and could not get back to sleep, so I read a book about Scottish Clans that was in the room.

Bit of a ruthless lot some of them I have to say.
In particular the Campbell’s (Glencoe Massacre) and the McDonalds to name but two.
So I read up about them.

Not a lot of Scottish Loyalty between the clans, not a lot of love either.

I must have read until about 4.30 am and then finally managed to drift off again. Weird!

Finally got up at about 8.00 went down for a fine breakfast, although not quite as good as last year, and then got kit ready for the stroll into Braemar.

The forecast was for rain later, but it was looking good, and as I hate putting my tent up in the rain (have I mentioned that before), it was time to go.

Since there was no one about (I wasn’t being antisocial honest), I walked in on my own.

As I strolled down the drive in mar Lodge, I was pondering on the need for something to perform at Callater.
You need to know about this, because Mick will get you otherwise.

So having a small harmonica in my pocket, I decided a bit of a blues ditty would do.

Not sure I can remember it all now, but I will try and do that in time for the Callater Blog.
Failing that I will put something in similar, and I will apologise for the swearing now.

As I approached the gate, with Harmonica blaring, and lyrics sung a bit too loud, I noticed that there was a chap walking along the bank of the river fishing.
I had not noticed him until that point.
He must have wondered what the hell was going on.

As I crossed the bridge I just nodded to him, and we carried on our way.
I waited until I was a bit of a way down the road before starting again.
I thought it best.

If you go up through the Woods, it is a lovely little walk into Braemar.
A lot further to the cut off into the woods than it seems, and easy to miss if you are not concentrating. Luckily I was concentrating.

There are two main tracks up into the woods. You can take either.
The higher path goes almost directly right to start with, and then curves round and up.
You have to be careful further up to then turn left, and not get dragged up too far into the woods. Tip here is look at the geography.
The lower track is straighter, but they join up with each other just past the small lochan.
One above and one below it.

Once the paths join they head east, and eventually come to the start of the Morrone Birkwood.
It looks when you get near here, that the path drops down, but it does not. You need to take the right fork, and a short distance further on you will get to the stile into the woods proper.

View from just over the stile. Stormy clouds forming. It looks like rain

As I got over the stile I saw a small (about 18″ so not that small) animal scurry across the path.
It was hazel/ginger colour, (a bit like our old cat, but that is no help to you).
It was too fast to see, and although I managed to dig my camera out, by then it was long gone.
It could well have been a Pine Marten.
This is not the same one             ==========>
But it was similar.
So, I carried on my walk.
It looked like it might rain later, but it was ok for now.
I was hoping I would be able to get the tent up in time.

This little pool was a bit further on.

Wood Anemone by the side of the track

The view from the trig point before the track down to Tomintoul.

I almost wandered straight past the trig point, not concentrating you see.
You can go straight on, but you will end up in the Golf Course a lot further down the road to Callater. Best to turn left at the trig point and follow the track down that eventually comes out on the road into Braemar.
As I got to the road there were a few spots of rain, and I hoped that it would stop later to get the tent up. It was also getting windier (an omen).
On arriving in Braemar, I firstly popped into the Fife (as you do).
There were a few there already, cannot remember exactly who.

I needed to go up to the shop to organise some new underwear.
I was having an elastic malfunction in mine, and this was causing issues with the left tackle area.
But first, it was important to get down to the Campsite and get booked in.
So I headed down the road.

The shins were playing up again (might have been the road walking, or the pace of the last bit), not sure of the cause.

As I went down the road to the campsite, there was a B&B on the left with vacancies.
I was tempted, but resisted.
That was a mistake because it would have been really nice to be in a B&B later that day.
Too late though, I didn’t.

At the campsite I was told to find a pitch and then put up my tent.
I found a pitch between 27 and 28 and went back to report.

“You cannot put it between pitches, it has to be on a number”.

This was crazy, because they could have got a lot more in if you didn’t have to do that.
The pitches were for great big tents, and we were single tents.

Apparently it was a Health and safety issue or something.

There is a LOT to be said about the Health & Safety Executive. NONE OF IT IS GOOD!

So I went back to find a pitch which I did.
It was near a tree, which I was not happy about.
I could also not get the skewers in because of the roots.
And it was getting windy and a pain to pitch.
I decided to move, and went further up on a flatter bit of Grass, but more open area.
No trees you see, no falling branches.

(Health and Safety ???? You cannot pitch too close to another pitch, but you can pitch under trees where the branches could fall on your tent! Bloody Madness! Whatever!)

So, I pitched on PITCH 4.
I went back and reported I was on pitch 4.

“Someone on that Pitch”, they said. “Yes a chap called Sloman

Well to be honest, I knew that, but it was all getting a bit silly, so I said

“Sorry, I though he was on pitch 5”, on the grounds that his tent was nowhere near the number 4, but quite close to the number 5.

“I’ll come and have a look”, says the bloke in charge

Now I was not trying to stitch Al up here (honestly).
I was just trying to get a sensible pitch, amidst weird rules.

“That’s fine”, said the chap. “You are nowhere near him”

Common sense had prevailed over mindless jobsworthing
and he gave me No 32! (still trying to work that out now).

What I am saying is, that it is a good camp site, and the folk there made a good decision.
So, tent up and gear unpacked
AND it was still dry!

Wendy finally up
One of the biggest problems was the wind when putting up the tent.
The ideal way to erect the Stephenson, is with the back directly into the wind.
Which is what I did.
And of course, the wind then immediately moved through about 50º.
Too late, I left her as she was, it would only have changed direction again.

Cute Ducklings at the campsite. They were obviously a prediction of the weather to be.

I went back into Braemar, for shopping and pants and stuff.
I also met Al and many others.
I cannot remember the exact sequence of events now, but I do know that it was getting windier.
I do remember that I met Phil having a coffee, so popped in for a Chat.
I had not seen Phil since the train to Strathcarron.
The lucky bugger was booked into the Fife.
I was now really regretting not going to the B&B.
Especially as the forecast for the next 3 days was not good.
Bloody awful springs to mind.

So after coffee, I went to get the new pants. Important!

Just after this, I bumped into Al.
He was waiting for Dave.
Dave is his mate from schools, and was coming up to walk from Braemar to the coast, with a view to doing the Challenge at some future point.
He had come to the Lakes with us in April, and had a good time.
The next few days as we shall see, were going to test the metal of the lad.

Anyway, Dave arrived on the coach, just as it started to rain.
It was going to rain more.

It was decided that we ought to get Dave’s tent up, so we went back to the campsite. and this was order of the day.
Dave was using Al’s old Red Akto, so with a bit of instruction this was done, in the rain, after which at some point we went back into town to the Fife, and maybe elsewhere.

At the Fife, seats were hard to come by, at least where everyone was sitting, so Dave and I having asked the lovely bar lady if they might put the Heineken Cup final between Leinster and Northampton on the TV, and the wonderful bar lady asking the man in charge, and the fantastic man in charge saying YES, sat down the far end and watched the match, as the wind and rain swirled outside.

What a great way to spend an afternoon.
Well almost, because Northampton lost.

So, let’s discuss English Rugby, the blinkered use of the set piece, rather than the ability to play what is in front of you, and the primary cause, which is the English Academy system, mainly run by those poorly qualified to choose, where younger generations are plucked from their clubs, and taught to play formulaic rugby rather than learn and read the game. It is a counterproductive elitism based on size and not on skill. No wonder we get hammered by the Southern Hemisphere and Ireland.
Whew! – That should get a reaction (Note Austin Healey has this opinion as well, and Will Greenwood as far as I can tell)
It was great afternoon.
The next stop, was down to the Hungry Highlander for Fish and Chips.This is a place where small is not understood, but BIG portions are standard.

It is the sort of meal that can fortify you for the next 2 days.

A short trip back to the campsite, where I seem to remember standing in the laundry area for quite a while, because it was nice and warm, and the weather outside was crap.
It was a long day of doing not a lot after, but it was relaxing. Probably!

Finally back into town and off to the Moorfield House Hotel to grab a pint, and watch
Bingo Wings. This a bit of a way out the other side of town, infact on the road you come in by if you come in via Tomintoul.
It is also a bit of a hike in crappy weather, but it did make for a good evening.

Now I am not necessarily a fan of these things, but I have to say it was OK,
and great fun was had by all. Especially Shirl, who wasn’t even there, and had a request played to her live via Al’s mobile phone. Woo Hoo! (See U Tube Clip at the end – Not Bingo Wings!)

Al & Jim as Al talks to Shirley

Shirl talking to Bingo Wings Singer

Mick and Al doing Dad Dancing

Press run to listen to Woo Hoo song (Song 2 by Blur)

A good time was had by all.

After this we somehow ended up back at the Fife.
I was soundly thrashed by Dave at Pool (3 – 0)
Then back to the campsite (It was still raining), and some sleep.

I say sleep, because along with Ducks quacking, and the Sheep bleating, various birds tweeting and stuff, and assorted operatic snoring, along with a lot of wind and rain, it was not the sleep of the blessed.
Even with the storm supports attached, Wendy still rocked and rolled that night, and it wasn’t to music.
I am not sure where John Hancock slept. He might have slept under his Tarp, but if it had been me, I would have gone to the Information Room, or the Drying room and slept inside.

All that said, and despite the noise, and the wind, and a bit of shaking, Wendy was warm and cosy, and pretty much bullet proof.
And her bottom was not leaking after surgery at Mar Lodge. Result!

But tomorrow, the celebrations would begin. Tomorrow was Callater Lodge!

And then it would be MONDAY!

3 thoughts on “TGOC 2011 Day 9

  1. Blimey! All that for a six mile walk…

    They are a bit fussy about where you put your tent at the campsite, aren't they? I just stuck mine down not realising it had to be by a pitch number. I only found them when I went to pay.

    It *is* a very good campsite though, apart from the birds, that is that wake you up at dawn. And Denis of course, who wakes everyone up with his snoring.

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