View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Tuesday 18 July 2023

TGOC2023 No15: Pt 2, Dalwhinnie to Lochcallater


                            Sir Dave the Beaver

I breakfasted in the bunkhouse, muesli again, and then Tracy and I had a second breakfast in The Apiary Cafe – it might have been considered rude to pass such a lovely place without calling in.

Dalwhinnie Distillery

Tracy and I had decided to avoid the climb over to Gaik Lodge by Sgor Dearg, instead we headed NE, following to course of Allt na Fearne – big mistake! The ground was very rough and made for very slow going. The climb would have been stiff, but infinitely more doable.

We eventually got down to the Allt Bhran, the bridge I’d used in 2005, and was still marked on the current OS map, was long gone, probably washed away. We were a bit relieved to find a very substantial replacement bridge – saving us a river crossing that we really didn’t need.

We camped close to Bhran Cottage, and it only rained a bit. I was impressed with Tracy’s tent, a Lanshan – it was huge, and didn’t weigh much at all.

We discovered what the local children do for entertainment:


Next morning we set off, following the course of the Allt Bhran. We had to cross and re-cross the river, and Tracy didn’t fall in very much at all.

I’m no fan of building roads over the wild parts of the highlands, but the new road through the forestry by Allt na Cuilce was very welcome.


 More Challengers:

Crossing the Feshie was easy-peasy, the river level was the lowest I’ve seen, and Tracy didn't even fall in once. 

Tracy not falling in the Feshie...

....still not falling in

We stopped for a sit down and a cuppa on the east bank of the river, and were looking forward to what we were both expecting to be a pleasant bimble along Glen Feshie and on to Glen Geldie.

Our expectations were most certainly not met! It was a real battle through the scrubby woodland, the LRT on the 1:25k OS map simply wasn’t there. In desparation the GPS was pressed into service, we were exactly where we thought we were – and that wasn’t lost! Nothing for it but to follow the needle to get us out of the jungle.

 This American Challenger came to our rescue! He was kind enough to lead us through the jungle, using the route he'd taken, and from where we were able to continue. What a gent - he even took our photograph!

When we eventually escaped we came across Liz, a first timer, camping on a beautufull spot that I’d eyed previously. 


Moving more quickly now, it was clear that we wouldn’t make our intended pitch, the renovated building at the confluence of Geldie Burn and Bynack Burn, we’d had enough.


We crossed the Eidart Bridge and soon found a flat(ish) bit of ground and pitched our tents. It wasn’t an ideal spot, but it had to do.


On reflection we’d have been better off fording the Eidart rather than yomping up to the bridge, the river was fairly low.


Fast and Light closing in

Whatever, stopping short meant the next day, into Braemar, would be longer than planned.

It’s strange how the passing of time distorts memories: I remember the walk through Glen Feshie as being a doddle, and so the walk from the Eidart to White Bridge – I’m damned sure that someone has lengthened that route!

Not a Challenger


 The non-ruin at Ruigh nan Clach

 Yet another Challenger

Our audience


White Bridge 

White Bridge had been deserted by the Challengers who had no doubt camped there the previous night – they were probably whooping it up in Braemar….or drinking tea and sharing the issued biscuit at Mar Lodge.

 Victoria Bridge

We trudged into Braemar (via Mar Lodge) and I checked into Kate’s whilst Tracy met up with Mick, they were staying on the campsite.

I was too knackered to even go and see these two!

Kate's wonderful bunkhouse





The Fife Arms, once the focal centre for Challengers, has gone seriously up-market (typically £776 / night for 2 sharing) and has priced itself out of the market for many….although judging by the number of flashy cars parked outside there’s clearly a fair bit of dosh still floating around.

A sad sight 


We met up for a nosh at Farquharson’s, then decanted ourselves into the Invercauld Mews where a number of Challengers, including Sir Dave, were taking their rehydration responsibilities very seriously indeed.


Superman - across Scotland with a dislocated hip!

Next day we headed up to Callater Lodge – I’d missed calling in there for too many years, so it was lovely to catch up with Bill, Michael, Jeanette, and of course the Challengers who called in for a cup of tea and a scone.

 I camped outside the lodge, I like to have my own space, even if it was raining.

An evening of merriment followed, songs were sung, stories of dering–do were told – like the great sharing of the biscuit at Mar Lodge, and the great company of similar-minded folk was greatly enjoyed. Callater is the highlight of any Challenge route that passes that way.

I camped outside the lodge, I like to have my own space, even if it was raining.             

Yet another memorable evening ended with me getting into my tent, in the pouring rain, at ridiculously late o'clock....and I didn't snore. Honest.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous14:26

    Good account. Sorry you didn’t get to see Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham.


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