See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 12 for map
Distance: 31km (Cum 297) [Mike 31 - Cum 280]
Ascent: 900 metres (Cum 11120) NB did you spot yesterday's error? [Mike 900 - Cum 8385]
Time taken: 8.5hrs including 1.5hrs stops [Mike 9.8hrs incl 2hrs stops]
Weather: Fine and sunny, with a cool wind.
Challengers encountered: Roger Boston and I walked together today, whilst Mike went on ahead. We encountered Peter and Barbara a couple of times and nearly caught up with another solo Challenger on the Firmounth Road.
Markus and Silke joined us at our wild camp at Water of Aven.
Others encountered: none of any significance.
Flora and Fauna: wheatears
Best bit: lovely weather, and the beautiful Forest of Glen Tanar
Worst bit: frightening Peter when he didn't spot us behind him (foolish but funny).
Thanks Eddie, Lyn, Tony (we did spot Steve in a café in Ballater and passed on your best wishes over a pot of tea), Sue (I didn't get a photo of the wildcat, I'm afraid), Alan and others for your comments. They are much appreciated.
Last night's accommodation in the room behind the campsite office resembled (I'm struggling for words) - a doss house.
But for the twenty or so incumbents it represented a safe haven from the wind and rain outside. We'd enjoyed an excellent meal at the Alexandra and even JJ and his mates, Croydon and Morpeth, were happy to bed down early. Once Mike had moved into the annex by the freezer it was surprisingly quiet. I think we all slept well.
Mike set off soon after 7pm. There was much discussion amongst others about routes. Ours was clear - our planned route would prevail, but others hadn't planned to be in Ballater.
Roger had decided to amend his route to coincide with ours today, so he and I enjoyed a second breakfast and a coffee at a café before setting off along the disused railway line to Dinnet, where we enjoyed another coffee in the hotel, together with Peter and Barbara.
Today's route, albeit almost bereft of hills, was a delight. The track along the disused railway line was excellent, and through the forest (pictured) it was even better. Then, on emerging from the forest onto the Hill of Duchery, it was an equally pleasant walk to Birse Castle and beyond, where we finally caught up with Mike at 4.30.
Mike had enjoyed a day at his own pace. His bruised foot is getting better.
By 5pm we had reached Water of Aven, our chosen destination for this final wild camp of the trip. It was a fitting venue for the cheese and wine party we enjoyed once Markus and Silke arrived at 7.30pm, having had a late breakfast at their B+B.
This is a good spot. Remote, flat, with a selection of springs, and, like all our wild camps on this trip (indeed, any of my TGOC trips), free of insects and ticks. The company tonight is equally good, with just the call of the grouse to accompany our laughter.
A fine day at last. Even the wind has got tired of pestering us tonight. Wonderful!
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