|Camp site at Lochbuilg|
Martin - as planned but starting part way (5km) into the route and finishing 4km into tomorrow's route.
Mike - FWA from last night's finishing point to today's planned FWA finish - ie a direct, low level route via Quoich Water and the River Gairn.
See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 10 for map
Distance: 25km (Cum 239) [Mike 20 - Cum 224]
Ascent: 1345 metres (Cum 9600) [Mike 540 - Cum 7085]
Time taken: 8.3hrs including 1hr stops [Mike 7.5hrs incl 1.3hr stops]
Weather: blustery showers, wintry above 900 metres, with a strong buffeting wind.
Challengers encountered: Roger (Bionic Knee) Boston, at Loch Builg, who is camping nearby.
Others encountered: by Martin - 4 walkers on Ben Avon, whilst Mike saw nobody on the FWA. Ten mountain bikers were taking a break near Loch Builg.
Flora and Fauna: rabbits and hares, ptarmigan, large beds of Creeping Azalea, Cloudberry.
Best bit: the views from the summits
Worst bit: debilitating wind for several hours
As you may have noticed, I found a phone signal this morning due to finding a hill, after being down low for a while. I enjoyed reading the story of Gibson and Lynne's dog adventure on Ben Avon (see comment on yesterday's posting). It arrived just as I paused to gather my breath in a sheltered spot on that very summit!
It rained all night. So Mike tells me. Even in such weather I sleep well in the old Phreerunner tent, pictured above where I'm now sitting.
Luckily, the rain stopped shortly before we rose, and the sun dried my tent. Mike's dried a bit, but was soaked with condensation.
Clais Fhearnaig is a beautiful cleft with orchids and lochans. It links Glen Lui with Glen Quoich via a lovely path that was a pleasure to walk along this morning.
Mike then took the delightful but otherwise unoccupied route via Quoich Water and the River Gairn, whilst I took the long but easy path up to the 1197 metre North Top of Beinn a' Bhuird. When I set off the cloud base was hanging at about 1000 metres, so I'd expected to spend a few hours in the cloud. The wind put paid to that. At times I was admiring the view, trying to keep the camera both still and dry, and thinking that the walk would have been much easier in a benign cloud than it was in a howling gale and frequent wintry squalls that threatened to blow you away unless you were pinned to the ground!
I hope some of the photos come out...
Whilst I made it to the Munro summits, the slightly unnerving experience of scrambling to the summit tor of Ben Avon discouraged me from risking life and limb by visiting the other tors. I'll have to wait for another opportunity to enjoy that on a calmer day. I skirted them, in the lee of the gale.
Whilst this morning's ascent had been very docile, this afternoon's descent was quite the opposite, with the gale buffeting me down to 600 metres, from where steep, heathery, rocky, boggy (ie difficult) ground led down to Loch Builg.
After passing the mountain bikers I came across a well constructed, unmissable sign that directed me from our rendezvous map reference to this sheltered spot just a few metres away but well hidden from the path.
Roger was chatting to Mike, having arrived from a valley to the north of Ben Avon. Roger is renowned for his imaginative high routes. This year, like us, he has been forced to abandon several of his 'high' days due to the poor weather. His most distressing day had however featured an encounter with a newly bulldozed 'motorway' in the wild country of the Monadhliath Mountains, which showed no thought for or sympathy with the landscape.
Mike seems to have managed fine today - there has been no mention of poorly feet, and he's now out of earshot (though only five metres away) due to wind and rain.
Tomorrow it's an easy stroll to Ballater, where a more sociable phase of the Challenge gets under way, so don't expect very much by way of postings for the next few days - there's probably not much more to say anyway, though I'm sure some dramatic stories will eventually unfold.
Finally, my sympathy goes to those partying in Braemar tonight and planning on going over Lochnagar tomorrow - here's the forecast (thank you, Sue) that I received earlier:
"Extremely windy on Monday as a swathe of hurricane force winds on mountain tops tracks across Scotland. There will also be torrential rain on many mountains."
There's a slideshow of around 40 images for the day here, including a detailed route map.
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