The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday, 27 May 2011

Day 9 - Braemar to Stables of Lee

Sunday 22 May (0720-1620)
Distance: 20 miles
Weather: sunshine and showers

Do you remember how funny it was, back in your school days, if someone came out of the toilets unknowingly dragging a trail of toilet paper behind them? Well today I found that it's far funnier when a 50-something man accidentally walks the whole way across a campsite with his silk sleeping bag liner caught in the back of his trousers.

Unfortunately, I missed the incident itself, but when Mick got back from the shower and had his sleeping bag liner in his hand, I had to ask why he had taken it with him in the first place. It turned out that he had got the whole way over to the toilet block before noticing it trailing behind him. I cried with laughter at the very thought.

With the giggles subsiding I managed to pull myself into action and out of the tent into the sunshine. Yes - sunshine! It was so nice out that I opted for the windshirt rather than the waterproof.

By the time we set out the edge of a shower was upon us. Away went the windproof and for the ninth (out of nine) day of this trip I set out in my waterproof.

Having opted for our FWA, I had thought that we would be on roads for the first few miles of the day, but just before we set out noticed a track marked on the map. Directly across the road from the campsite a short yomp up the hillside took us to that track and it was a lovely little walk which avoided both cars and tarmac for the first couple of miles as we headed onto the Balmoral Estate.

Our route through Balmoral wasn't the one that I would have chosen, but it was the one that the Estate had asked Challengers to take. It kept us on good tracks, and it was more tracks that then took us all the way past Lochnagar to the Spittal of Glenmuick.

Lochnagar is the range of Munroes over which we would have walked, had we not opted for our foul weather route, and as we walked by at the lower level we rued the fact that we had believed the weather forecast. The clouds were not scurrying and the wind was lower than it had been for days. We clearly could have gone over the tops.

We consoled ourselves with the thought that by going low we were better able to position ourselves to minimise our time in tomorrow's forecast severe weather.

Lunch was had at the picnic area at the Spittal of Glenmuick (where, just as we were leaving we bumped into Steve and Linke, who we left at Corrour Bothy a few days ago; they'd just been up Lochnagar themselves), then off up to Sheilin of Mark bothy we went.

Many people have independently told us how tricky that bothy can be to find. Maybe it is on some approaches, but the way we went it was there as clear as day, easily seen from quite some distance.

It wasn't to be our night-stop, though, so we just popped our heads in for a look before, in the company of Jon who was headed to the same destination as us, we made our way up Muckle Cairn, down the other side and on to Stables of Lee bothy.

Only one other person was already here (inside the bothy), so we had our pick of camping spots. We wandered far and wide looking for somewhere good, until we finally settled for a spot right next to the track that runs in front of the bothy. Others have since arrived such that there are now five tents here (plus three people inside the bothy). Contrary to the earlier relatively calm conditions, the wind has now picked up. The tent across the track from us is the flappiest flappy thing known to man. It is certainly not a tent for these conditions. The others seem to be standing up pretty well.

We haven't spent the evening sitting listening to the flappy tent. A sociable evening has been had in the bothy where (uber-lightweighter) Jon whipped a Christmas pudding and a sachet of custard powder out of his tiny pack and very generously shared it around. It was by far and away the tastiest pudding of the trip. Christmas pudding will definitely be making it onto our packing list in the future.

And now the hour is getting late, so it's time to snuggle down, wondering how bad the weather will actually be tomorrow.

(Note: this post was typed at Stables of Lee. The following morning I drowned my phone and it took a few days to dry out. I will now see what I can remember about the following days and catch up on those posts.)

Click here to go to TGOC Day 10

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