Saturday 23 May
TGO Challenge Control closed promptly at 1700 last night (the final finisher having come in an hour earlier), which left us free to head out of Montrose. The question was: to where? We hadn't even decided in which direction to travel next, but we couldn't stay put, such was our aversion to giving the campsite in Montrose a seventh night of our business.
Eventually a decision was made to head south, but as we sat in Tesco's car park cooking and eating tea, we were struggling to come up with somewhere to stay. So, we started our southbound journey by heading northwest, spending the night at Tarfside (well known to the Challenge community; this year well over half of all participants stayed there). I'd like to say it was a quiet night, but one of the groups camped on the playing fields didn't heed the "please be quiet between 2200 and 0800" bit of the notice that says you can camp there for free. We could have driven four miles further for a quiet night, as that's where we were headed first thing this morning, but such was our fatigue by half eight last night that even four more miles of driving was too much. It's a tiring business, sitting in a room for a week, you know!
Having relocated those final four miles at just after nine this morning, we watched the car park fill around us as we drank tea, before heading off ourselves. I had been a little undecided as to which hill to visit and had finally opted for Hunt Hill. A good decision, I thought, as we watched most people (including a particularly large group, with a clipboard-wielding leader) head for Mount Keen, which had been the other main contender for our time today.
I soon learnt, as we approached Loch Lee (the length of which Mick had walked only a week ago) that the clear blue skies were deceiving as to the true nature of the day. That head-wind had a bite to it and, rather than dejumpering (as I had expected to need to do), I was soon digging around for my gloves.
Only one couple was seen up to the point where we left the track to head up our hill, and unsurprisingly nobody was encountered on the hill itself. We did see plenty of hares and there must be quite a population of deer, as their trods helped us through some of the heathery sections. Dropping down off the hill into Glen Lee was another story; it was busy with day-walkers and the occasional backpacker.
The plod back alongside Loch Lee (oh to have a couple of bicycles to hand...) was broken by a good chat with a family group, before we returned to a car park which had overflowed onto all nearby verges:
Although it clouded over whilst we were out, it proved to be a fine day to be out and quite warm as the day went on. A very enjoyable day it was too, with gorgeous surroundings, and excellent views from our hill (the snap attached is looking down to Loch Lee, from our ascent route).
The stats for the day came out at 10.9 miles with an amount of ascent that I've not yet worked out.
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