Callater Lodge – Gelder Shiel (The Long Way)
The weather was a little damp, it was not the sort of weather you took your camera out in.
|This is our corrected route (Al’s comment) via Connchat Cottages.
The one that was here I think I used in 2005.
It was all a bit head down
Got kit sorted and went down for a nice bacon butty breakfast and cups of tea.
The kitchen was quite full, as were some of the other rooms.
It was NOT nice outside, but you had to stick your head outside to appreciate how NOT NICE that was, and for full immersion as to NOT NICE, you needed to take your whole body outside.
I decided that a pee was enough, and anything else would need to wait a bit.
We’ll come back to that.
it was necessary to decide on a route.
This was further than any up and over variation, but with predicted winds gusting up to 130 mph on the tops, safety seemed best. Add to that that it was intermittently chucking it down, the road route, as horrid as it was, looked like the best option, so that is what we eventually did.
Just at the end of the track, I caught up with John.
Then Al and Phil arrived, Dave having gone on one of his high speed missions.
It takes a while in the wind and rain just to get ready.
By the time I had finished I was even wetter, and I didn’t pee myself, I checked which way the wind was blowing. I can say this, I was sure glad I wasn’t a lady.
These were not nice walking conditions, but eventually we got back to Braemar.
And now, it was time to use a public lavatory.
Also, it was warm in the toilets, and there was a hand dryer (which was nice).
His audience being Al, John and Me, plus Dave.
We nodded and went in.
I am not going to have dig at Tony, nor say anything nasty, because he is a very nice chap, and also a very well meaning chap, but as we shall see, he does have his quirky side.
In a brief conversation Tony (remember Tony) mentioned that 33 people had had to drop out.
We knew this, but it was ok information.
I pointed out to him, that for one, no one likes to withdraw for any reason.
It is usually injury, and no fun.
Also that 3 of those were Vetters, and another one was Bill Roberts,
and that between just those four, there were something like 100 crossings.
But it stayed on, and just before the bridge we cut off the road, onto the track and the long walk up to bothy.
Oh what little we knew.
The river here was on the foamy side. Normally it is quite docile, it was an indicator of the rest of the streams we would encounter
He’s very into lightweight kit and gear as well.
Only problem is, he carries it all with him, which could explain his pack being up near the 40lb mark.
That and the number of Turmat meals he had. I cannot remember if it was 7, 8 or 9.
This was probably too many considering that there were only 4 days left.
His feet were playing him up as well, which in not surprising with a that pack weight.
John, Al and Dave
Sadly, I have no more pictures after this, because shortly it would become a tad too damp to get out the camera, but I might borrow one or two off another Web Album (Ian).
I came this way back in 2005, but then the weather was absolutely brilliant,
and I had done Inverey YHA to Glen Lee in a day.
But as we got out from the shelter of the trees, the wind and rain hit us like a train.
You had to lean into the wind to stop being moved sideways.
These were not little branches, these were 4 to 6 inch branches that had been ripped off by the wind and blown away.
The tiny ditches just off the track, had become streams.
As you walked along, the rain stung as it lashed into our faces.
It was fortunate that most of the time it was sideways.
Even then we were looking through a small hole on the front of the hood.
My waterproof trousers were not cutting it here, but there was nothing that you could do but push on.
I did not get a picture of this, but I borrowed this from Ian Cotterill’s pictures.
I hope he doesn’t mind, but I had no pictures of the hut, or the foaming burn.
Ian and a few others would be arriving at the bothy a bit later. WET!
Jim JJ, Tom, Seth, Bill and others at ANOTHER hut.
Al has pointed out that this was not our hut, but it is similar, as are the dreadful weather conditions.
You could sleep in that hut!
Feindallacher Burn courtesy also Ian Cotteril
It was ok (bloody wet and horrible) until we turned to head up to the bothy.
Then it was in your face.
There was no opportunity to talk, you just walked.
By 200m I think we had all individually made the same decision.
This was fantastic, because we now knew that we would be able to
b. Have a bunk
We knew that there were going to be quite a few more arriving (it was surprising how much later they arrived), and we wanted to clear as big a space for them to use.
I did this from the burn, trying not to slip in and get dragged downstream.
I fear that anyone falling into it that day would probably not have survived.
That would have saved me some hairy moments.
But, I did get the water, all was ok, and back inside we decided a brew was in order.
The weather was getting worse, and still no sign of Ian and co.
We set up some extra washing lines for hanging dry stuff.
Found some wood under a bunk to block the gap under the door, were water was driving in, and everything was looking good, with stoves producing both food and heat.
Not that there would have been any dry wood anyway.
As it happens, we nearly did have a fire, but I’ll come to that in good time.
Ian, Jim, Richard and Al. That might be a bit of Bill
Tom (he’s young) and Me, and is that Alcohol in that Lucozade bottle? Al and Dave are lying in their bunks.
I think this picture was taken by Ian, it is not one of mine, but whoever it was can you make me look better next time! I know what you’ll say Cotterill!
Everyone was warm, had a space, had been fed, and the wine and whiskey (mainly whiskey) was flowing.
He was just going to stay long enough to make everything wet.
You couldn’t stand out there easily, let alone put up a tent.
We told him to forget it and stay inside, but he was quite insistent and off he went.
This is the Challenge, and it was hell out there, so we did our best to find a spot for him, and get his gear into the bothy without everyone becoming cold and wet, which we did.
First step was to get his ageing Petrol based stove out, get some fuel in it, and then pump up the pressure.
Which he did.
A pity therefore, that he had not noticed that with each pump, that very same petrol was pumping back out all over the table and the fumes were filling the bothy.
Never one to give up, Tony carried on, after first attempting to fix the stove (with the missing valve), and wearing his wonky glasses, I think that they were broken too in an earlier accident, I cannot be sure, and then giving it another go. With the same result.
By now, everyone was awake.
About awake as anyone can get in the face of an imminent explosion and instantaneous death by conflagration.
The Stove, the table, everyone in the immediate facility, Gelder Shiel Bothy and possibly half the Balmoral Estate, starting with the petrol lake that was the table.
I say nervous, but more terrified.
There were a few laughs, as you do in that moment of terror just before death.
It was an interesting scenario.
Have you seen the end sequences of Carrie.
Richard being a nice chap was doing his best to look after Tony, and as it happens all of us, because Richard stopped the spark, mopped up the petrol and saved our lives,
and to Richard we all say
a HUGE THANK YOU.
or more likely, you didn’t.
The petrol was mopped up.
The door opened for a while to let out the fumes,
and then Tony’s food was cooked on a stove that was not a threat to Western Civilisation.
It would not have been hard to be better though.