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]

Tuesday 18 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 (Part 3: Glen Feshie to North Water Bridge)

Following swiftly on from Part 2, here we go with Part 3, which starts with:

Day 7

After so much greyness and low cloud, it was a delight to wake up on Thursday morning to find wall-to-wall blue skies outside. I took this snap just as soon as we were out in the open, by which time some wisps were appearing. I feared that they heralded the onset of yet more greyness and I wasn’t wrong – but for the first part of the morning we enjoyed the blue skies (even if we were often in the shade of the valley).Day 7_1

I hadn’t realised what a poor picture this next one was, but it does serve to show that there was quite a bit of water in the waterfall which lies just about where our path was to leave the side of the River Feshie (which swings right around on itself at this point) and head over to pick up the Geldie Burn.

Day 7_2

As you can see, it was well and truly cloudy again by this point, and I can’t say that I was overly enamoured with the track that leads alongside the Geldie. The surroundings were perfectly pleasant, but they weren’t stunning (although I’m sure they’d look better under a blue sky!) and that track seemed to go on for ever.

Day 7_3

That night, our dining facilities were somewhat more grand than usual, as four of us sat down for dinner in the huge dining room at Mar Lodge:

Day 7_4

We did have a feeling of being watched…

Day 7_5

As Terry Pratchett would observe, those deer must have hit that wall at a hell of a speed.

Day 8 (and Rest Day)

On Day 8 we walked all the way from Mar Lodge to Braemar, taking the short scenic route (in preference to a road walk). Being shy of 5 miles, it couldn’t be considered a taxing day!

Arriving in Braemar there weren’t many already there so we had our pick of the pitches. We took a lot of time and care picking our pitch … but somehow completely failed to notice that the place we picked was in a dip. Maybe it was because we were meant to be walking out the next day and it wasn’t due to rain in that time. As it went, Mick awoke with a cold the next morning, so we stayed put. It rained very heavily and persistently on Saturday afternoon – the sort of rain where you say “I’m glad we’re not out walking in this”, so our decision to stay put was a good one, but the rain also served to prove that our pitch choice had been a bad one. By Saturday evening our tent was notable for being the one with a moat. Alas, the moat extended into the porch and under the groundsheet and hence at 8.30 on Saturday night we picked Vera up and carried her to a higher position.

Day 8_1 (2)

Day 9

Walking through Ballochbuie Forest, we had just bumped into Lindy, and were walking along, chatting about her backpack, when I saw something in the puddle at my feet:

Day 9_1

It had been quite warm walking through the forest, but it got cooler as we ascended into the cloud (which for me also served to skew any sense of distance and direction). We knew that there was a stunning view of Lochnagar over to our right at about the point where the next photo was taken, but on this day we saw nothing until we reached the top of the track, whereupon there was the tiniest glimpse of brightness.

Day 9_2

It turned out not to be just a little random hole in the cloud, but it heralded the start of a gorgeous afternoon. By the time we stopped for lunch at the picnic benches in Glen Muick we were basking – which continued as we made our way up to Shielin of Mark bothy.

Day 9_3

You may have noticed that snow featured on the track below Lochnagar, but that was nothing to the size of the bank that we encountered later:

Day 9_4

Somewhere in the vicinity of Shielin of Mark bothy was our intended night-stop and we stuck with the plan. We were a little anti-social, in that we sought a bit of not-quite-so-tussocky ground (the area around the bothy is no bowling green!), which led us up onto an island in the river a hundred yards or so upstream. It wasn’t a bad pitch (it wasn’t the fault of the pitch itself that we spent the night inside of the cloud which descended as night fell):

Day 9_5

Day 10

We didn’t take any photos on our way up and over Muckle Cairn, but then there wasn’t much to see, being enveloped in cloud as we were. The cloud had lifted by the time we got down to Stables of Lee (the group who spent the night there woke up bathed in sunshine. Grrr!). I remember taking the snap below purely because I was aware that I hadn’t taken any photos all morning:

Day 10_1

See that bench below? I took that photo about five paces from the extraordinarily uncomfortable rocks upon which we had perched for second breakfast. Obviously, I wish I’d noticed it before choosing where to stop for second breakfast!

Day 10_2

Judging by this one, it was a warm day, even if it was cloudy. Sun hat on and sleeves rolled up – that doesn’t happen just every day, you know.

Day 10_3

Oh, and Mick’s hand! He had taken a nasty fall the day before and his hand was still in the process of swelling when we reached Tarfside.

Day 10_4

Just for comparison purposes, this is how his hand looks today, now that it’s all better:


Day 11

Oh dear. We really had forgotten that the cameras existed by now. Not a single photo worth sharing from the whole of Day 11, except for this ridiculous one of me at the campsite at North Water Bridge:

Day 10_5

I haven’t quite perfected the dance style that Andy Howell demonstrated on last year’s Challenge (I still titter every time I see this one!):


So, we’re nearly at the coast. In fact, so close that if I had another ten minutes at my disposal right now then I would pop the other pictures in right here. As I’m lacking those ten minutes, I’ll just have to string this photo series out for one more post.

Click here for Part 4 of the Photos


  1. Andy is certainly doing something with purpose. Yours looks more, er, rhythmic?

    1. And (I didn't forget in my first comment...ahem) I'm glad Andy's hand is better. That's a seriously fat hand for a skinny bloke!

    2. Which of course would be Mick's hand (tricky typing with a fit of the giggles. Should have just deleted and started again....still could...)

  2. Well done Gayle, you're nearly there. Don't hurry or you may finish up back at work earlier than expected!