About the Loon

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A happy chap who likes a walk every now and then

Monday, 20 October 2014

THE TGO CHALLENGE 2014.....DAY 8 (the long and winding glen)

Below the braes o' heather, and far alang the glen,
The road rins southward, southward, that grips the souls o'men

Day 8 Blair Atholl to White Bridge (just short of) 16.7 miles

Another nice day by the looks of it, and what a fine change waking up in crisp sheets, even nicer getting a roasting hot shower prior to partaking in a rather spiffing full Scottish breakfast.

Last night hadn't really gone as planned. I had checked in and recieved the mandatory safety/village nightlife brief on the etiquete in the village pubs and clubs, i was fully intending on heading out for a meal, a pint or two and maybe even a wee jig. So after a long shower, 20 minutes prising a three day old compeed plaster off without the attached skin and doing a washing, I lay on the lovely soft bed for 2 minutes rest before getting the dancing gear on,  7 hours later I woke up, had a glass of water and got between the sheets properly, bloody great night out that was ...........

Anyway, fully rested (13 hours, I think the final total was) and fed i checked out and wandered round to the wee shoppie to buy the next two days rations, steak and wraps for tonight, proper sausages for tomorrow,  I also treated myself to a can of diet coke, some snickers and the cheapest bottle of red wine they had,  the wine was quickly decanted into a couple of 500ml plastic bottles, you just cant buy class.

Today was hopefully going to be pretty straight forward,  straight up Glen Tilt and hud going for as far as possible,  the more done today,  the sooner I'll get a wee treat in Braemar tomorrow, talking of wee treats, yesterday afternoons little guinness and burger session suddenly came back to haunt me, deja vu, oh yes and right in the middle of the bridge of tilt too, luckily ive gained a bit of experience at this lark and I quickly reverted to the clenched waddle, a perfectly legitimate and effective walking technique in these situations. Bridge of Tilt is a mere spot on a map and I was soon able to familiarise myself with the local greenery, apologies to any dog walkers.

A fine morning and a lovely leafy start to the glen, walking alongside the tilt was fantastic I really enjoyed walking up the glen beside the burn, id read before hand that its a fair old hike, it was but being so long it really doesn't seem like your climbing.

I was having a five minute break when an auld lad pulled up on his bike, we had a great chat for 10 minutes, he was making his annual pilgrimage up the glen to the Falls of Tarf, he eventually got back on the bike and headed off. I had seen two loaded down mentalists a good bit behind me at various times and thought they would pass by, but no one else appeared so I assumed they had also stopped for elevenses.  

The wind was getting up a wee bit, but it was on my back so caused me no problems at all, probably the only day in the whole trip I can recall a wind of any sort, rather unusual for two weeks in Scotland. 

 These two obviously havent heard about my reputation. 

I thought it was a rather unusual washing line too. 

As I was nearing  forrest lodge, a wee workies flat bed truck thing came racing down the road, throwing up clouds of dust, give them their due they slowed when they saw me and waved on the way past, they were in good spirits, must be an early louse and happy hour in Blair on a Friday.

As I continued on I noticed something bulky lying in the middle of the track, either a body or a very large sack of money, quids in either way I thought, sadly it turned out to be a bag of cement and just as I got to it the workies reappeared behind me, it seems going fast with an unsecured load on a flatbed isnt condusive to an early finish,  I chuckled away as I wandered on, the "not finishing as early as hoped" crew passed me again a few more times stopping each time to pick up a bag or two, ah well morale comes in all shapes and sizes.

I came around a corner and immediately spotted a lone adventurer just up the track, god knows where he had appeared from as I didn't think I was exactly motoring along and hadn't noticed anyone ahead all morning, I would suspect (but never accuse) that someone had been having a wee lie down in the sun perhaps...

He spotted me and waited while i dragged my sorry ass up the track, I knew the face but until he introduced himself as Gordon Green I couldn't figure out from where, so much younger looking without the helmet on... I'd followed his blog for a while, it was one of many excellent blogs id used for ideas and inspiration to finally attempt the TGO, I was star struck and forgot to get an autograph, next time though (shit, that's the first time ive actually thought about doing it again, it was meant to be a one off) . We chatted as we wandered, Gordon hadn't quite enjoyed Blair Atholl as much as me, but to make up for it, he was heading to some posh gaff to wash his socks, the tarf hotel or something,  hotels out here, now iam impressed,  doubt if it'll catch on though.

Just after Gordon turned off to his all inclusive hotel the auld chap id been talking to earlier came cycling down the glen, again we had a wee five minute muse before we wished each other well and headed off in opposite directions. Soon after that the falls of tarf bridge appeared before me, it was still early afternoon so I had no intention of staying but it looked like a lovely spot for an overnighter.

Just before crossing the bridge the LR track turned into a typical hill path, i climbed the first and pretty much only rise, at the top opposite the path that heads away east to Fealar Lodge, I found a wee spring in a nice sheltered dip and decided it was time for a proper bergan and boots off break. It was a fine chilled break completely hidden from the breeze, As I lay there I watched some sort of hawk about fifty meters away working the steep gorge opposite my spot, I had no bad experiences of any note (other than maybe the motocross section) on the challenge but it was times and days like this that made it an absolutely fantastic experience.

Heading along the Dubh Alltan just before arriving at the watershed

And a wee look back down Glen Tilt for the last time

And finally the watershed just ahead, this felt like i was entering my part of the world, probably only two plus hours to my house (as a car drives) and the area im most often to be found wandering and camping in. The watershed itself was actually my planned bivi spot for tonight on my vetted route, but it was such a grand day and I was in good spirits so I just kept going, I had an alternative site that id used a few times previously just a few miles ahead.

  Although I didn't stop there was loads of scope here for anyone bashering up, lots of big dry flat patches and a fine crystal clear burn bubbling through.

 All that remains of a vegetarian, meat is good.

15 umm, not only a strange (but pure Holywood hip) name, but also a pretty random place to be buried or maybe its 15 Miles to somewhere, Braemar or Blair Atholl? I could have checked the map I suppose.

Bynack lodge, another decent option for an overnight spot and without getting a map out to double check id hazard a guess that the prominent gap in the hills is the Lairig Ghru, with McDui to the right of if.

 A couple of river crossings were required before I got to my spot beside the Ruigh na Clach wood, the first couple were easy enough and a couple you don't actually need to do as you can bypass them. 
Unfortunately the Geldie burn is a stiffer challenge,  it wouldn't have been if I'd taken the sensible option and put my river crossing footwear on and rolled up my breeks, but I was a mere half mile from my supper and sleep spot and a wee bit puggled and couldn't be bothered changing. I also didn't really want wet boots, so went for the old step and ballance technique, after a few false attempts I eventually managed to get to the other bank, well until just at the last step I managed to put both feet in over boot depth, ach well its nae counted as a river crossing if you remain dry.
A furtive check to make sure I hadnt been spotted scrabbling from the burn and I was on my way to the evenings rest platz, it had been a long but  fantastic day

Day 8 Thoughts and Impressions

A fantastic day, no cuckoos, fine folk and its all downhill from here (ish)

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