About the Loon

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A happy chap who likes a walk every now and then

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

THE TGO CHALLENGE 2014.....DAY 7 (Mad cows and MBE three)

Here's to them that like us
Them that think us swell
And here's tae them that hate us
Let's pray for them as well

Here's to the heath, the hill and the heather, 
The bonnet, the plaid, the kilt and the feather! 
Here's to the heroes that Scotland can boast, 
May their names never dee
That's the Heilan man's toast! 

Day 7 Loch Errochty to Blair Atholl 14.8 miles

Because I had pushed on the previous day, today's route was more like 12 miles rather than the 14 odd quoted above. 

Usual beans and sausage BiB and coffee for breakfast this morning, and again I thought it prudent to split the scarp down, a combination of rain through the night and condensation had it pretty wet this morning,  its no big deal in reality as it splits down in seconds and goes back up just as quick.

Big day today though, civilisation (well perthshire, so civilisation of a sort) on the horizon after being out and about for 4 long days, there was even a very faint whiff of guiness on the breeze as I crossed the errochty dam.

 I'm decent enough with the bigger raptors, but the wee ones leave me guessing. As i was crossing the dam this one kept buzzing me while screeching a god awful racket (so we've determined its female then........), i presume its nest was nearby and it was giving me the gypsies to keep walking.

A steep but not unpleasant drop down from the dam towards Trinafour passes under the Beauly-Denny power line, it was only a few months ago that i passed on the nearby road and these pylons were all in various stages of construction.  The original line can be seen to the left in the tiny wee clearing, quite remarkable the size difference between the old and new, I really  wish all this could be under ground though.

And right on que, the old power lines to, i wonder if these are due to be taken down?

Only twenty minutes after leaving the dam i was down at Trinafour and all ready to walk on down through glen Errochty to old Struan. Suddenly (very very suddenly) I needed to do the bear in a wood thing, this is becoming a bit of an embarrassing theme, at least this time there was warning.
Unfortunately all the woods here had lovely houses in them and  I'm unsure what the MCoS advice note is in regards to village greens and manicured lawns, hence I thought it best to just clench, turn around and waddle back up the hill, just as I thought I was safe to break out the trowel, two bloody balfour beattie vans came up the hill behind me and stopped just ahead, some got out and gazed at the pylons while the rest got the flasks and news papers out, so I trudged on.
 35 minutes after leaving the dam I was just about back at it, what do you have to do for a bit of piece and quiet around here.
And another 20 minutes later going back down the hill for the second time I gave my best smile as I passed the vans again, I can just imagine all the hilarity and comments in the vans "thats the second time hes passed us, bet hes lost", "at least hes stopped walking like a bloomin penguin" "gosh he smells a bit" "I think hes lost weight" and such like.

TGO Challenge 2014 MBE nomination No3, Seriously folks,  This really has got to be the clincher, if Liz hasn't called with the good news by Monday then im voting YES. 

Wandering down the glen happily doing stomach tightening exercises between every other telephone pole (speedos and beach holiday soon) I noticed a wee lamb by itself in this field, and heaps of ewes and lambs in the other field,  as I got closer it started battering into the fence trying to get through to its mother,  I could see that the gate was slightly ajar, with a lamb sized gap, but the daft beast kept banging into the fence. So I dumped the bergan at the roadside, jumped the fence (ok, fell/flopped over the fence) and walked down, I hoped it would move naturally down the fence line and back through the bloody obvious gap. It didn't work, it moved down ok, but between running into the fence it typically went straight past the gap. All the ewes in the other field moved away and I was left with mum on one side and the wee lamb on my side, both doing the afore mentioed female thing (non stop bleating :-)) so I opened the gate and did my Lekki shepherd impression for the second time on the challenge, amazingly it worked straight off, no messing the daft wee thing was through like a shot. I shut and secured the gate with a florish that the one man and his dog team would have been proud of, then looked around for my new pals, the pair of them had ran off off and disappeared into the crowd, no thanks, no flowers, nothing.

 My entry in the gormless of the year picture, taken walking along side the river garry,  between old Struan and Tomban. To continue the James Herriot challenge 2014 theme, this herd all came running over (stampede esq) as I passed, right inquisitive beasts, I was getting nudged and sniffed (thinking about it now, maybe they thought I smelt familiar) constantly. I actually had a full blown conversation with then for the next 10 minutes or so as we walked together, they were pretty noncommittal about most stuff tbh.
If looks could kill, this was just after we discussd the possibility of Aberdeen winning another trophy in 2014/15 season

Listening intently to me waxing lyrical on the merits of english mustard over german with certain meals, although I think we both agreed that if only they had stuck to mustard (and tea) we would like them better

I had just passed under the A9 (phase 2 complete), a decent enough path between Old Struan and Blair Atholl, better then I had hoped for  at this point both path and road were quite close,  but in a wee bit you cross over the road again and move away from it until you reach Blair.

Possibly a bit of the old/original A9 road

This section is as close as you get to the road, thankfully it only lasts about 200yds or so, then you dart across like a fleeting gazelle and head back into the low hills to the south, the thing on the right is some nutter protesting about something that obviously matters to him, I believe hes been there for months, living in his car, my car looks lived in too.

Getting closer....... Blair Atholl castle, home to the Atholl highlanders, I believe the only private army in the UK/Europe, if I dont get a guinness soon, they’ll be on peacekeeping duties tonight. After getting away from the A9 the going is really good, a couple of farm tracks initially,  then a very faint path for a couple of miles through some pleasant parks, eventually you arrive opposite the village and make your way down to the crossing point

And finally, the bridge into Blair Atholl, the path down to the A9 is easy and quite obvious, theres also a stile at both sides of the road and a wee, but quite overgrown path from the road down to the bridge, unfortunately some bright spark has put a fence across the main path, a wee bit of  jungle training is handy to break through to the bridge.
I crossed over and wandered happily through the village, at some point I happened to look left to see the best sign of the challange so far "BOTHY BAR" being old school at heart I play by the rules (if they suit) and I believe CHALLENGE Rule 1a states " a challenger should never ever ever pass an open bar, especially on a Thursday"

Thank god for rule 1a and it being a Thursday (i think)
Angus steak burger and liquid refreshment, now this is surely the real reason for walking halfway across Scotland. The secrets out, im coming back next year.
The barman in here was ace, every time I got halfway through a pint he enquired if sir would like another poured, in hindsight he was maybe just keeping me away from the lovely smelling tourists at the bar. I bet he was really chuffed i had sat down near the roaring fire too, I did debate taking the boots off and chilling right out, they will never know how close they came.

On a serious note, if you are ever through Blair Atholl, give the bothy bar a go, maybe I just like the simple things in life but I thought it was nice and relaxed, the food was really fine and the staff were a credit to the place, you might even get the pleasure of sitting beside a smelly challenger if you play your cards right.

After quite a few pints and a nice feed I headed over to the bridge of tilt to find my B&B, a bit of luxury tonight,  shower, dhobi, sheets,  ace.

Day 7 Thoughts and impressions

Glen Errochty is very pleasant, I really detest cuckoos now, I need to get a new suit for the palace investiture, the next lamb in distress is going in the bergan, Guinness is nice.



  1. Don't stop at the MBE. Go for it. A knighthood before Independence Day.

  2. Sir, has a certain ring to it and of course the doffing of caps/beanies is something that I could get used to,

    I’ll text wee eck and see knighthoods will be transferable