Mon 21st May 2012 – Callater to Shielin of Mark
We rose at a reasonable time.
JJ was up and gone back to Braemar by the time we rose from our beds.
Al was up next door, but Bill was still fast asleep as I crept out.
Not a surprise, I think he finally got to bed at about 4.00am
I limped downstairs to get a cup of tea and a bacon butty, and also because I needed to go for a short walk for a pee.
Later I discovered that Al had been allowed the honour of a pee in the inside toilet.
After breakfast and more tea, and more conversation, I went upstairs to add suitable plasters to my fingers, and also put a blister plaster on the little toe.
It was still twinging, but a small Compeed from Al ,and some physio tape that I cut very carefully using scissors, and I was ready to go.
We dragged our packs down after saying goodbye to Ross who was still in bed, and had another cup of tea and a chat.
|David, Tanya, Al and Bill|
|David Lintern & Tanya Morgan.
They had a rather fine 2 Oookstar.
More of that tomorrow
|Lynsey about to Leave, and the Loch, just before we departed|
By now of course you know about Al’s blister.
You will probably also know that he was not 100% on this Challenge, and so our original high level plan was cancelled in favour of a slightly easier route via Dubh Loch and down to Glas Allt Shiel. There was also quite a lot of snow at the top, and we didn’t know what the melt water was like. I think a fully fit Al would have done the original route, but this was fine by me. There are other years, and in the pending heat of today, this was going to do just fine.
We started out from the loch and headed up the track to An Sagairt Mor.
Lynsey was just ahead of us.
I started up the track with Al and Pete.
|Looking down to the few remaining tents.
We believe one of them was Freddie’s, because Pete had somehow
managed to get him back to his tent last night,
but no one had seen him since.
|Al and Pete on the early bit of the way up|
As it happens today, I had my hill feet on, and was soon crashing up the hill, leaving Al and Pete a long way behind. Indeed this would be a theme for today.
At some point, I caught up with Lynsey, and we carried on until there was a suitable stopping point on a nice rock. It was already getting pretty warm work.
Lynsey broke out a slab of Kendal Mint Cake, and kindly gave me a bit.
Memo for next time (Kendal Mint Cake)
We waited for a while and eventually Al and Pete arrived.
There were others in the distant catching fast.
Ian C arrived, and so did Carl.
Carl then headed off, and Lynsey was going too.
Al was fine walking with Pete, and I cannot do up hill unless I am going at my uphill pace, so I set off.
After a while I caught up with Carl, and we continued after a short photo pause
|Last view of distant snow capped hills|
After a while, we could see Lynsey in the distance, and we also caught up with Di, Charles and Keith. We walked with them on and off until the drop off point to head across to the plateau with Broad Cairn.
I was very tempted to go that way, because it is a lovely plateau walk, but then I was not sure Al was going to make of it if I completely disappeared, so I decided to wait as the others headed off. Carl also pondered on this route, but eventually headed off to the gate.
I waited about 12 minutes, but still no sign, so I followed after Carl. I could just about make him out in the distance, but he is young and fit and was off at a gallop.
There was increasing snow on the ground, and it was wet and slushy, so I just broke off the track, and headed down towards the fence line that takes you to Dubh Loch.
|Looking up before dropping down to Dubh Loch|
|The view down to the Loch|
As I started down, through the slightly tufted ground, I came upon a couple of bits of aircraft debris.
Carl was a long way off by n ow, and absolutely no sign of Al or Pete.
I carried on towards the falls.
As I got here, I could see Carl basking in the sun.
It looked like a damned fine idea, so I dropped my pack, and joined him.
Flat rock, water, sun, and wondrous views.
I pondered on the fact that I had never actually come down this way before.
I had been nearly every other route from Callater to Clova or Glas Allt Shiel, but not this way, nor the route we were going to take.
|Carl on the rock.
He still had his pack on, using it like a built in backrest
|View down to Dubh Loch.|
From here, it looks like the loch is no distance at all.
Trust me, it is a lot harder work than it looks.
|Water cascading down the flat rocks.|
Carl left first, and I stayed for a while to see if I could see Al or Pete in the distance.
No sign, and in the end I decided that I would head on down and wait at the bothy rather than up here. Anyway, I was suitably rested by now.
|Water Falls on the way down to the loch|
The track down to the loch is not completely obvious, but the way down is.
It is a case of follow the river to your right.
As you get nearer the loch, the track gets a lot boggier, and the path you have to take starts to weave about.
In places it is quite steep, and sometimes a bit slippery.
Eventually I arrived at the loch.
No sign of Carl, who had long gone, on legs 20+years younger than mine.
|View from the start of Dubh Loch|
The path runs along the left side of the loch, and rises up above the loch for most of the way, dropping down finally near the far end.
|Looking back to Dubh loch before stating the descent to Loch Muick|
Once past the smaller loch, the path becomes much clearer on the ground, but it is also nasty and rocky. Hard work with steepish bits that wear on old knees.
It was a pretty hot day, and the descent was not pleasant walking.
I could make out Carl in the distance.
You had to keep your eyes peeled though to avoid stumbling on loose rocks.
It must have been designed by someone that hated walkers.
The path goes on for quite some time, and the loch never seems to get any closer
|Looking down to Loch Muick|
On the way down and also tomorrow, there was the occasional adder basking in the sun.
|There will be more tomorrow on the way to Tarfside|
Finally after quite some while I arrived at the bothy.
Carl was having dome lunch here, with another couple of Challengers and I joined them in the shade.
After a while though, I was getting cold, and we moved across into the sun.
I showed Carl where the entrance to the bothy was (not easy to find), and also where the secret toilet was as well.
He went away just after that for a while, while I went to get some water from the stream.
I was hoping that the bothy toilet was not plumbed into the stream.
Carl returned, we had a brief chat and then he headed off up the loch.
I decided to wait for Al and Pete.
I lay in the sun, watched the odd tourist, and a lot of wild life.
I was visited by a very pretty little Chaffinch, but every time I went to get my camera he did a runner, despite the fact that he walked right up to my feet.
Eventually, after a good hour, maybe more, Al and Pete turned up and slumped onto the grass.
Being a GEEZER, I set up the stove, got some water, and made them a cup of tea.
|Pete and I by the edge of the loch.
Picture pilfered from Al’s blog
|Al and Pete as the tea brews.
I think Al is darning socks.
He may have been saying ‘darned socks’
We stayed for probably another hour, maybe more, just relaxing by the loch.
There was only a short way to go (short?) to get across to the Shielin of mark bothy, and we were in no hurry, although had we known how many would be there, we would maybe have gone earlier.
No we wouldn’t, it was lovely here.
I also took the relaxing time, to take a couple of pictures of the loch.
The colours in the sun were fantastic.
A far cry from the grey was had endured at the start of the week
|View back up the loch|
|View down the loch looking towards the Spittal of Glen Muick.
Magnificent blue reflected off the sky
Eventually it was time to head on down the loch.
Al and Pete set off at a renewed pace, and I faffed about with stuff, and decided that I fancied a bit of music on this bit, until we got to the Spittal.
I boogied along a bit behind, having the odd shoe faff, and also took a few photo’s.
|Looking to the loch from the North shore path|
|View back up the loch, from the far end|
|Al and Pete heading across the end of the loch towards the Spittal.
Al was now on fire, and way into the distance.
He may have needed the toilet.
We eventually arrived at the visitors centre at the Spittal.
Mike?, Lynsey (that’s the other Lynsey) were here and shortly to head of to the Shielin of Mark.
We went inside and had a cup of coffee at the machine (take your cup with you), and also a look round the centre.
Then Al went off to the toilet for a bit of a sit down.
Pete and I decided that we would slowly head off over to the bothy, and since big Ian had just arrived, we told him to tell Al.
I set off at my going somewhere pace this time, and had soon caught up and passed Pete.
I reckoned that if I got over to the bothy, I could bag us all a few places.
In no time flat, I had also caught up with Lynsey and Mike?, who were filling the water bottles.
They could not remember if there was water at the bothy.
I told them there was loads all the way.
|The small bridge on the way up from Spittal of Glen Muick|
And then I just crashed on to the end of the track, and up and over to the bothy.
I took the path to the end of the river and where it forks, took a bearing of 105 deg.
OK, I had told Carl 101 deg, which is why he may have arrived a few hundred meters up stream.
I was also slightly out, because my mini compass and thermometer were not quite reading east as East.
THE THERMOMETER STORY………………….
Priced at £ 2.99.
A fine precision instrument.
On may occasions throughout the entire crossing Al had checked the temperature with me.
The thermometer had diligently always reported back as
10 deg, regardless of the actual temperature.
This included the time at the party when it was snowing, and also at Invermallie bothy, and the walk to it along a windswept loch.
It was adamant, 10 deg.
This continued until we were on our way to Glen Tilt.
At some point along here, the thermometer must have dropped out.
The compass remained.
BUT… and here is the odd thing.
From that point on, the weather improved dramatically.
Now, I am not saying there was any correlation between the two events
Of course, the other issue was the fact that the compass, may not have been completely accurate, as I discovered when I compared it to my proper Silva Compass.
And back to the story …………………………………….
Eventually, I arrived at the bothy.
My concept of bagging some spots was woefully off.
It was more like a pop festival, with tents of every shape size and colour (except for powder blue), and it was getting hard to find a spot.
I thought about crossing to the other side of the river, but though that was a pain if I wanted to come back to the bothy, which I did.
So after a lot of walking up and down, and surveying suitable spots, and measuring and pacing and chatting, and generally wasting a shed load of time, I eventually put of Treeza, in the first spot I had thought about (it’s often like that isn’t it), just by the side of the river, facing where the sun would come up.
It was a great little spot, and soon I had everything sorted and inside, and an army of crawling and flying beasties had descended onto my tent, as it was the best insect disco, nightclub and entomological (might not be a word that) shagging pad in town.
I do not know what a bulk of these little beasties were, but they soon paired up and where at it hammer and tongs, just as they had been at Langdale.
Anyway, I damp cloth soon quelled their ardour, and pretty much terminated an entire generation, by which time it was necessary to think about popping over to the bothy to cook up some nosh.
And so I did.
|Looking down to the camp.
Picture courtesy Al, since none of mine came out.
You can just see Treeza standing out like a yellow beacon.
And attracting every insect known to man.
Al and Pete arrived a while after, and set up on the opposite of the river.
It was another good night, although it did get a bit cold as the evening wore on.
I did not see much of Al and Pete (Morpeth) that night.
I did spend quite a while sitting in the bothy with Peter (from Holland ) and Lynsey.
I also took a picture but it did not come out, which is a shame.
A few drams and a lot of laughs later, it was time to crawl off to my tent.
By the time I got there, the insect army had vanished, and I walked across to a symphony of snoring. In fact so much snoring, that it really required a conductor.
I could write more, and maybe I will add some, but for now that will do.
Tomorrow we were all off to Tarfside, and another party at the Mason’s.
But that story will have to wait…….