Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

TGO Challenge 2009 - Day 11 - Wilderness Camp at 580 metres to The Spittal of Glenshee Hotel (330 metres) - Cold Rain

Distance walked: 20.6 km
Metres ascent: 853
Time taken including 1 hour 10 min stops: 7 hrs
No of Challengers encountered: 0 (plus 2 at the Spittal)
No of people seen: a man on a tractor

The Simple Life:

• Wake at 6 am after 9 hours of quality slumber
• Lie in until 6.45
• Enjoy a brew then breakfast
• 8.00 - go for a walk
• 10.30 - brew up in idyllic spot (elevenses)
• 11.00 - go for a stroll
• 13.00 - tarry a while for lunch by a burbling beck or gushing spring
• 13.30 - luxuriate in the warm sun with fine views
• 14.00 - go for a wander
• 16.00 to 18.00 - locate Rivendell, and a flat patch of grass for the night
• 18.00 to 21.00 - enjoy sumptuous meal in the wilderness
• 21.00 - settle down to 9 hours of quality kip.

Before you ask, it doesn't take 2 hours to find a pitch - that's just a rough time frame!

The Simple Life is an 'ideal' to those eccentric few of us who enjoy backpacking in wild country.

Today we adjusted the timetable somewhat, lying in late and finding our 'Rivendell' - the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel - early at 3.30 pm.

The in-between bits were a little different as well.

We started late as we had a short day, and it was raining.

True to form, the rain stopped as we exited the tent. But today it soon started again as we sloshed our way up a vague and very boggy path to a col to the east of Carn an Righ.

Ditching our sacks (no chance of theft - we saw no other walkers today) we headed up the Munro, from where, despite the icy wind and Cold Rain, we had a view. The pink buildings of Fealar Lodge looked a long way down, and most other mountains seemed to be in cloud.

'Essential business' was conducted, and a blog picture that perhaps conveys the ambiance was sent.

The rain thickened as we descended. This was the worst weather of the trip.
We overshot the planned route along an exceedingly boggy path and had to backtrack from Loch nan Eun to the end of the ridge where a good path led up to the cloud laden summit of Glas Tulaichean, our second Munro of the day and sadly the last of the trip, and the first in cloud.

Beyond the summit a good track led gently down to the ruins that were once Glenlochsie Lodge. The downside was the slow gradient in the face of a cool easterly wind and Cold Rain.

The view down Glen Shee from Glas Tulaichean

Our feet were dry and warm, as was everything else except our hands. Even my new Sealskinz gloves, whilst keeping my hands dry, caused cold hands due to their absorption of the Cold Rain. And these are gloves that I expect to be good for temperatures of down to -20C (including wind chill) for cross country skiing.

The lodge was dry inside, but dirty, so we decided to lunch outside as the rain had stopped. As soon as the stove was pulled out a big black cloud came and dumped its contents of Cold Rain and hail on us whilst we lunched. We packed up again, then the rain stopped.

It was an easy walk after a tricky river crossing, down a dismantled railway line that ended abruptly at a set of buffers.

A ring ouzel (blackbird with a white bib) fluttered off ahead of us, and there are lots of thrushes in this valley. It must be good 'worm country'.

We continued past the path thieving complex of Glenlochsie Farm to Dalmunzie House (a posh hotel) and thence to our more modest lodgings at the Spittal, where an Indian family is in charge of the hotel. It's a bit quirky, and strange to see them all dashing around in kilts.

Much R + R followed, then a convivial evening with Peter and Barbara, the only other Challengers staying here. They are off Bagging Munros tomorrow, whilst we hit the trail east, with one final hillock, in a bid to reach Montrose by Thursday evening.

Time flies when you do a day's walk, try to socialise, and then attempt to communicate with the rest of the world. But I enjoy it, and so obviously do others. Gayle and Mick are going well, as is Alan Sloman - all keeping up to date with well composed blog entries that we'll enjoy reading at our leisure next week. Weird Darren seems to be in some kind of time warp and at the time of writing is only up to day five with his 'off the wall' postings, but with the help of the natives he seems to be keeping going despite his many ailments.

I'm sure we all appreciate the comments we get, particularly from Phil, and Martin Rye, who would love to be here but couldn't make it this year.

And to Aussie Michael, do come, but sadly you won't find the water any lighter here - I probably weighed a 'nearly full' bottle. Also, there will be an amendment to the kit list for a late purchase - the waterproof gloves mentioned above - 'winter gloves' have been very handy (ha) over the past few days.

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