View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Brain-straightening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brain-straightening. Show all posts

Monday, 11 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 10, Bridies

In which we meet Rowan

Firstly, missed from yesterday’s entry:

Cuckoo count: 1 (yes, just one) – VERY poor

Other wildlife: Not much at all really. No wild Challengers - although we met two very civilised Challenge virgins.

So, on with Day 10….

I surfaced around 7am with a mouth like a well-used flip-flop.

My tongue felt like a breeding ground for cactii. Copious quantities of coffee helped disguise the ghastly taste in my mouth. Heaven knows what that was all about – it’s not as if I’d been drinking alcohol.*

Oliver & Jo (you don’t mind me calling you ‘Jo’ do you Joanna?) had been up for a while and were well on with packing. They needed an early start because they were due to hit the East coast on Wednesday….plus they probably didn’t relish another day walking with a couple of strange blokes in kilts. Understandable really.

Off they went, via Kirkmichael, which just happened to be where we were initially aiming for.

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A man in a kilt – in deep thought. The man, not the kilt.

It was only few miles to Kirkmichael, but what a pleasant little walk it was. We only got lost a little bit – probably because we were just enjoying the pleasing scenery. Or maybe it was because we were gabbing too much and forgot to look at the map.

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Kirkmichael’s Kirk…closed and up for sale


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The Village Pump

Whatever, we arrived at Kirkmichael’s Village Shop, purveyors of fine bridies, pots of tea and nice chocolate cake. Oh, and cheap whisky for Mike. So rather unsurprisingly we ate bridies, drank tea, ate chocolate cake (not Mike ‘cos he’s not allowed, so I had his) whilst I explored the contents of the food parcel the shop was holding for me. I was more than a bit relieved to find that I’d packed my maps – at least I’d know where we were going for the next few days.

Anyroadup, if you ever go through Kirkmichael you can do much worse than calling into the shop. The staff are lovely, they sell cheap whisky, chocolate cake…and they’ll hold a food parcel for you. Norralot not to like really.

Heaving our rather heavier packs onto our backs we nearly jumped out of our skins when a campervan, piloted by none other than our Toby, blasted it’s horn, left about 6” of rubber on the road and swerved onto the shop’s forecourt – scattering young children who’d been playing innocent young children-type games – like pulling legs off spiders, teasing dogs and taking the mickey out of kilt-clad Challengers.

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Toby was ably assisted by co-pilot and chief navigator Vicky (who I suspect is responsible for ensuring everything goes to plan) and flight engineer and lovely smile-generator Rowan.

What a lovely surprise that was! This was the first time I’d met Rowan, a delightful little boy, a trainee Challenger in fact, and I’d not seen Toby & Vicky since the TGOC a couple or three years ago. They’re lovely people and the Challenge is the poorer for their absence.

Bidding our farewells, they headed north whilst we continued in a sort of easterly direction. Mostly.

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After some interesting navigational decisions we passed by Ashintully Castle’s ‘Keep Out’, ‘Private – we don’t want your sort here’, ‘Go Away’ and ‘Welcome to Scotland’ signs.

It’s nice to feel wanted.

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We walked through some very pleasant countryside to camp at Coire a ‘Bhaile (NO115627), a nice spot that was almost flat and had a nice stream running close-by.

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Tea was an experiment: I’d found a nice recipe for Lentil Soup on an American cookery website I subscribe to. The soup was delicious, but being American, the recipe made LOADS. I ate loads of the soup, froze loads and dehydrated the rest. Tea tonight was that soup. The good news was that the experimental meal was successful. It was tasty, nutritious and very easy to dehydrate & rehydrate. The recipe now resides in my little red ‘Backpacking Meals’ recipe book.

It mizzled a bit during the evening so I stayed put in my tent to write up this diary, listen to Mike slurp his Kirkmichael Single Malt blend (Bells) and subsequently drift off into an alcohol-induced snory sleep.

I drank camomile tea.

The day’s sunshine (and there wasn’t THAT much) had charged my solar charger, the charge level had gone up from 3 LEDs to it’s maximum of 5 LEDs – it must be doing SOMETHING right.

Cuckoos Count: 2 (better)

Wildlife: Nothing of any note today. No wild Challengers either – although we did meet the very civilised Jo & Oliver who we’d camped with the previous night.


*I’d eaten a Mars Bar (=loads of sugar) before bed the previous night – maybe that contributed to having a mouth like a lavatory pan.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 9…A Bacon Butty Start

In which Chef Pieman excelled

At 7.30am a bacon barm was thrust (a good word that, ‘thrust’…I must use it again) into my tent as I was slurping my second caffeine shot of the day. Mike had been busy cleaning the camps site’s communal frying pan and using his culinary expertise to maximum effect. I thrust the bacon barm down my neck, washiung it down with what was left of my mug of coffee. Thanks Mike – it was good, and a pleasant change from my usual muesli.

The sun was shining brightly and the laundry I’d left out all night was virtually dry - my white undies were now only slightly grey.

We left the campsite, continuing east along the disused railway line that coincided with the Rob Roy Way and then along a very quiet lanes for a couple of miles.

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A seriously BIG hare bounced away across the road and into this freshly ploughed fields as we approached.

Came across a farmer from the North Riding of Yorkshire who was moving his cattle around. We stopped to chat – what a sad story he had to tell: during WW2 his house had been destroyed by a crashing aircraft – one of ours. His parents and his brother had been killed in the accident. He described his life as being ruined. I can’t imagine how such a young lad would have coped with that loss. The widow of the pilot had offered to adopt the orphan – she must have felt distraught too.

On to happier stuff…

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Yet another bridge over the River Tay

Stopped for a quick chat with the couple doing the Rob Roy Way, they were finishing in Pitlochry later that day. They’d wild camped before us the previous night.

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Into Ballinnluig and the very excellent Red Brolly Inn: Sausage, eggs, chips & beans plus a pot of tea: £7.90. Lovely staff too, You should go.

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Ballinluig’s petrol station type shop. I don’t think this petrol pump works these days.

Left the town and headed in the general direction of Kirkmichael where I had a parcel of goodies waiting for me. Came across a couple of young Challenge virgins, Joanna and Oliver. They were having a blast and were both determined to return to the Challenge in 2019, maybe dragging their fathers along with them.

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Joanna and Oliver walked with us and we camped together by Lochan Oisinneach Mor at NO029552.

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Joanna & Oliver…you might need to look carefully!

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Lochan Oisinneach Mor at NO029552

I was interested to see the solar chargers that Joanna and Oliver were carrying. Oliver’s was quite a large affair that charged a device directly – ie it didn’t rely on charging it’s own internal Lithium Ion battery so would only charge a device in when exposed to light. Joanna’s was a 2 panel Power Monkey charger, very similiar in size to my rather cheaper charger.

Both declared that they were pleased with their chargers. Interestingly, although Joanna’s Power Monkey had it’s own internal battery, she kept it connected to her phone whilst walking along – that’s something I’ll try with mine….when it’s not raining of course!

DofE Ignorance

Whilst pitched up we were passed by two separate DofE parties. Although they were separate it looked like they were from the same group – their kit was very similar.

Perhaps part of the DofE training should include developing social skills in the hills. Neither party acknowledged our presence, in fact they ignored our existence completely in spite of us waving and shouting ‘hellos’….even though they passed us so closely that they really couldn’t have missed us.

Perhaps is ignoring fellow walkers & backpackers is included in the syllabus.

Anyway…

The breeze over Lochan Oisinneach Mor was chilly. Even so I was all horribly sticky and smelly so I indulged myself: a top-to-toe wash down in my tent got rid of the old JJ and replaced him with a fragrant and not at all sticky JJ. Nice….well I thought so.

By 6.30pm the cloud had thickened and the wind had changed direction so I stayed put in my tent, feasted on home-made and home dehydrated lamb casserole (seriously yummy), drank camomile tea and listened to BBC R4….that damned wedding.

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I wandered up the hill to get a 4G signal to check the weather, view some online porn (solar chargers!), and to attempt to make a phone call or two.

All was quite well in my Challenge world.

Smile



Monday, 4 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 8, Sexy clothing on the TGOC

In which Mike finds a phone. He was after a new one anyway.

It had been a cold and very clear night although I had been quite cosy in my cold-weather sleeping bag.

Awake at 3.30am for no good reason so made a cuppa and spent the next half-hour or so picking heathery bits out of my socks. Then I read for a bit and listened to the BBC World Service-type wireless. I think I need to get a life.

A lovely windfarm appeared in the East as dawn approached.

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I drifted off to sleep and then woke again, this time with a thumping headache. Up and about at 7.15am and eventually set off on the leisurely walk to Abergavenny Aberfeldy, initially on a good LRT.

Mike spotted a big fat otter, it was quite a sight. We’d obviously startled it. It skitted around a pool and the scuttled off, up a bit of a waterfall and vanished under a river bank. I took photos but they weren’t much good – I can pick out it’s tail. Just.

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Spot the otter

It was a long descent to the road and then we were on a very minor road, and a few short miles later we arrived in Aberfeldy in time for lunch.

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Another Man in a Kilt

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Fishing hut on the banks of the Tay

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Yet another bridge over the Silvery Tay

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Two fish & chip filled Challengers. Note my sexy garter.

We’d been warned not to expect much in the way of shops in Aberfeldy, yet all the essentials were there if you had time to look for them.

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As it happened we managed to get (slightly greasy) fish & chips, cups of tea, pies, bacon and a few other odds and ends. And beer…or maybe it was vinegar. Although the landlord changed it for something fizzy without fuss I’d have preferred something proper.

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Leaving town, initially by road, we were soon on paths – a mix of riverside paths and disused railway line. All very nice really.

Met up with a couple walking the Rob Roy Way and enjoying every minute of it. So they said.

Mike had earlier spotted a (locked) mobile phone hanging on a fence – nobody around, maybe it belonged to a Challenger? A bit of detective work later and we discovered that it belonged to one of a group of anglers from Ireland, up to their wotsits in the silvery Tay and trying to catch something. A cold probably.

Their gillie (Douglas – a nice bloke who makes walking sticks for beer money) helped us locate the phone-less fisherman and once again all was well in my little world.

Feeling thoroughly decent, having done The Right Thing, we trundled our way eastwards once more along the banks of the Silvery Tay and more disused railway.

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Tempting, but we didn’t.

Our overnight stop was in Grandtully (pr ‘Grantly’. Obv.) at the Canoe Club campsite. The site was at the old railway station, now converted into a nice little place to stop….although the gents were a bit whiffy. Our footpath delivered us nicely straight into the site.

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I’m not sure how this lot fitted into my Exos58

Grantly has a chocolate shop (that we didn’t visit) and a pub….that we did visit. Douglas, the gillie from earlier in the day, called in for a pint and ended up buying us beer too – I think he was grateful for us finding his client’s phone.

I was hungry (nowt unusual there then) and ordered a nice bar meal whilst Mike kept on his carefully calorie controlled diet and stuck to drinking beer.

We’d had quite a nice day. Apart from the tarmac and the smelly bogs, but there you go.

Cuckoo count: 3 (not very good really)

Other wildlife: 1 otter, a load of rabbits (on the campsite) and some random birds – not a clue what they were. No Wild Challengers…not even any tame ones.



Saturday, 2 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 6: Lunch in the sun

In which we frighten the ladies

I slept badly. This wasn’t down to grunting, farting or snoring (well there wasn’t THAT much snoring), it was just another of those nights that my brain had engaged hyper-drive.

I made a cuppa around 4am and stuck my head out of the tent to see what was going on.

Nothing. Nowt. Nada.

It hadn’t got fully dark all night and now, approaching dawn (hello Dawn!), the snowy peaks SW of us were standing out quite dramatically. I photographed the scene but I’m no expert – see yesterday’s post for the photo. I was using my Lumix TZ70 Compact (a fine little camera, but at the end of the day it’s just a compact), plus the camera on my Samsung S5. In spite of these limitations I was quite pleased with the results.

Up and about fairly late, around 7.30am. Mike had reported that our tents were icy earlier – he’d been forced to leave the warmth of his pit for a …..well, you know.

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View from my tent at 7.45am

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Fab views all around this morning: bright sunshine illuminated the hills all around.

T’other JJ spotted a big bird, he reckoned it might have been an eagle.

Whatever it was, it whizzed over far too quickly for me to even grab my camera, let alone photograph it.

Much poorly–ness in camp this morning. Mike was slightly under the weather and t’other JJ wasn’t feeling too good either.

Up and away around 9.30am, it was cool and fresh but rapidly warming up.

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Rannoch Moor

This wasn’t the most exciting day, most of it was mainly either on LRT or very minor road with just a titchy bit of forestry track where we didn’t get very lost at all. It was all easy going though.

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Lizard

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Curious deer

The major stop of the day was the very excellent Rannoch Station Tea Room, situated rather conveniently at, er, Rannoch Station.

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Approaching Rannoch Station

Much tea was supped, toasties guzzled, and wonderful soup slurped. This worked wonders – it gave us all a damned good kick in the pants. Or kilts.

The sun was shining very hotly. Ladies on the adjacent table, possibly quite frightened by the appearance of naked knees (the ladies were frightened, not the table), were struggling to concentrate on their lunches…nowt to do with me, I was well dressed under my kilt. I couldn’t possibly comment on the state of Mike’s undress, you’ll need to ask him.

It must have been the heat.

It was 3pm by the time we left the tea-rooms, we thought we’d best move on before we got moved on. You can only ask for a finite number of tea-pot top-ups with hot water before suspicion is aroused.

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We were now on a wiggly tarmac minor road. the B846. The planned destination for the day was the Forestry Commision Campsite at Carie on the south shore of Loch Rannoch.

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Unidentified wildlife (Fossilised Giant Haggis?)

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In search of a suitable pitch


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The campsite was shut* although as it happened it didn’t matter. We didn’t get there that evening, we were just too knackered to walk the last 5km of road. Instead we found a slightly lumpy patch of ground on the loch shore at NN569566 and we pitched there.

* Although the site at Carie was shut (closed-down by the look of things), another Forestry Commision Campsite had opened a little further down the road, towards Kinloch Rannoch.

I enjoyed a brill tea of home-made and home-dehydrated pasta bolognese + a dollop of olive oil followed by a couple of Eccles cakes for pudding. Eccles cakes really are quite excellent – especially when they’ve been crushed inside your pack. For a true Cordon-Bleu experience they should be submerged under a topping of instant custard….but not tonight. Only because I wasn’t carrying any.

Chorley Cakes, BTW, simply won’t do. They’re a completely different animal. Obv.

By 9.15pm (as I was writing my diary up) it had got very cold so I was snuggled in my sleeping bag, supping a mug of camomile tea.

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Sunset over Loch Rannoch

I left my tent door open until quite late, watching the light fade over the loch. It was all quite romantic really.

Cuckoo count: 7 (much better)

Other wild animals: Two red squirrels, numerous lizards, various deer, and a suspected eagle - there were other birds too but I didn’t count them.

No wild Challengers though.

Friday, 1 June 2018

TGO Challenge 2018, Going over the top. Day 5

In which I lighten my load…

Up at 7am to start packing, I had breakfast in thew hotel - £10 for a full English Welsh Irish Scottish, good value for what I had: all the usual stuff you get with a hotel breakfast, but rather having a fry-up I opted for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It was probably the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. I’ll be using the MacDonald Hotel campsite again – it’s better than other commercial sites I’ve used in the town.

I joined John Jacklin for breakfast, he’d planned a similar route to mine – whatever that was!

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The view up the loch from the campsite was quite stunning – the morning light was just right.

Up and away via the Post Office (to send some stuff home) and the Co-op to buy choccy and bread.

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JJ, Mike and I left town at 10am for the long slog up to Devil’s Staircase.

Lots of kilt comments (mostly complimentary) and loads of requests for photographs….we should start charging! The vast majority of the walkers we saw were on the WHW, some hoping to get to Fort Bill that day whilst others seemed content to stop in Kinlochleven.

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Miffed that the cafe at the top was shut

It got a gloomy as we climbed, then it got gloomier still as we climbed some more – then waterproofs were needed as the wind drove rain in. It got quite cold too. This was the second and final time that I walked in rain on TGOC2018 – quite a record.

As late as 4pm some WHW walkers were still heading north, it would be quite late before they got to KL.

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The rebuilding of Kingshouse

Once past Kingshouse the kilt comments virtually dried up. We were now off the WHW and we didn’t come across any other walkers for what remained of the day.

The rain had now stopped but the cold wind remained, at least it dried the outer shell of my Velez quite nicely.

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Black Corries Lodge

I’d intended to camp before Black Corries but it felt right to continue on beyond the lodge. And so we did.

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A mile or so later, at NN322552, we came across a nice flat spot with an abundant supply of water – just what we needed. It was adjacent to a LRT but we really weren’t mithered about that.

Tents up and brew on – just in time for the Archers on BBC R4 LW.

I had an excellent meal of home made and home-dehydrated beef & ale plus Idaho mashed potatoes – these are now my favourite packet mashed potatoes, they’re delicious.

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Pudding was a good sized (= big!) piece of chocolate, an Eccles Cake and a mug of tea. I was replete.

After a top-to-toe wash down in my tent I slid into my sleeping bag and wrte up the day’s diary….ie what you’re reading here.

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Looking over the lochan in the fading light was really quite relaxing. The snow-covered tops added to the beauty of the scene. The sky was clearing so I expected a cold night ahead. Because I’d loaned Eden some of my lighter-weight stuff I was carrying my winter sleeping bag – cold was not on my list of worries that night.

Eden was doing his DofE Bronze expedition at the same time as my TGOC, I didn’t want the poor lad to be weighed down with a pile of heavy kit.

Whinge warning:

On the subject of DofE, which I’ve commented on previously (causing some knee-jerk reactions by those who couldn’t be arsed to read my words thoroughly – or just want to argue / disagree with my P.o.V.):

There are some absolutely brilliant and very experienced DofE expedition ‘intructors’ out there (you know who you are) but there are also some who clearly don’t have much idea at all. They probably don’t know who they are.

Expedition instructors can’t be held fully responsible for their teachings, the recommended expedition kit list can be viewed here – I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions….but we’ve all taken pity on overloaded DofE teenagers. I’m surprised that so many return to the outdoors.

Some fellow Backpackers Club members, including me, have offered some local DofE groups help and advice but as far as I know, and certainly in my experience, our offers haven’t been taken up.

End of whinge.

I slept badly, not because of the cold, I was actually VERY warm, it was just a load of crap going through my head that wouldn’t allow me to wind down. A mug of camomile tea, a listen to the BBC World Service and a bit of time spent taking photos helped take my mind of the rubbishy stuff and eventually my mind found neutral and I drifted off.

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The view from my tent at 4.10am

Cuckoo count: 3 (poor)

Other wildlife encountered: Not much at all really, a just few birds lurking around the lochan. Not even any Challengers.



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