See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 13 for map
Distance: 37km (Cum 334) [Mike 37 - Cum 317]
Ascent: 760 metres (Cum 11880) [Mike 760 - Cum 9145]
Time taken: 10.7hrs including 2hrs stops
Weather: dreich - intermittent rain, low cloud, cold
Challengers encountered: we walked the first section with Roger Boston, and also encountered Markus and Silke and four others at the tea shop in Fettercairn. Plus 50 to 60 Challengers on the camp site at North Water Bridge
Others encountered: various, including a friendly farmer, excellent tea shop staff, and Arthur.
Flora and Fauna: partridges, yellowhammer, verges laden with pink purslane, and fields of garlic mustard
Best bit: finding the trig point on Hound Hillock / celebrating Stefan's birthday
Worst bit: taking the wrong road out of Fettercairn (Oops!)
Today's walk started with our final big hill of this year's Challenge, Mount Battock. Roger joined Mike and me up here, to bring his tally of Munros and Corbetts to 12 (not bad for a man with two new knees), whilst I have done 8 and Mike 4.
The weather was overcast, cold and dreary, and it started to rain soon after we set off. This is Roger's home patch (he lives in Elgin), and before departing towards Clachnaben, Kerloch and the Fetteresso Forest, he delighted in pointing out an array of small summits to our north.
Meanwhile, Mike and I followed Markus and Silke beside the Burn of Badymicks to Charr Bothy, where Arthur was in residence.
"This is a Five Star Bothy" he announced, "it has central heating." He pointed to the three candles placed strategically under his chair, and explained that he is one half of the MBDT (Mountain Bothy Decorating Team) and that he and his mate Tommy ("only in his seventies") call themselves the "one and a half coffin dodgers". He was waiting for all the Challengers to go through before continuing with his decorating duties for the MBA (Mountain Bothies Association).
Mike and I continued up Hound Hillock, our very last summit. Although only just over 500 metres in stature, the peat hag ridden cloud covered crest of this little beauty made location of the summit trig point less than straightforward. Photos were duly snapped.
A reluctant descent to Fettercairn brought us to the excellent café - The Arch - whose scones and cakes were delicious. Markus and Silke were there, gorging themselves.
It seems that they then set off from there in the opposite direction to us. Villages can be so disorientating! We were both 90 degrees out, but my mistake was worse, adding two km to our day, which was already the longest of the crossing in terms of mileage. At least the extra distance was along a pleasant track beside fields of garlic mustard (pictured).
A long straight road led eventually to this newly mown and very lush camp site, where nearly fifty Challengers' tents are now installed. Needless to say, it has been a most sociable evening, including the celebration of Stefan's birthday - a day early - with Stefan producing a bottle of whisky, and Colin Tock presenting him with a hastily baked (purchased?) cake.
It was drizzling, but warm and calm, so quite acceptable in terms of this year's weather.
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