Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Saturday 28 May 2011 - SWCP Day 1 - Abbotsbury to Weymouth

23km, 380 metres ascent, 6.5hrs incl 1.7hrs stops.

Sue and I have been strolling around the SWCP (South West Coast Path) at this time of year for quite a number of years now. We have got all the way from Minehead to Weymouth, with just one small missing link for me in North Devon, and a bit more for Sue.

In recent years the TGO Challenge and other commitments have relegated this trip to the autumn, but this year a pre-prepared bag enabled me to spend just 20 minutes at home between returning with JJ and Graham B from Montrose and setting off for three days on the SWCP, based in Weymouth.

Yes, Gayle, I seem to have brought the dodgy weather with me, but I'm sure the 'Phreerunner Effect' will result in a 'reversal of fortunes', as Anne Robinson would say, shortly...

Thanks again for the comments, especially re TGOC kit, which I'll add to when I finally get some time at home. That's needed soon as, having spent the week before the Challenge in Scotland, my supply of usable kit and clothing is dwindling!

Today a bus delivered our intrepid party of ten - Sue, me, Andrew, David, Sue, Dave, Betty, Gaynor and Hilde to the pretty village of Abbotsbury.

Coffee was taken and various members of the party attempted to lighten their loads by leaving items in the tea shop. "We acquire a wide range of walking poles and prescription spectacles" commented the friendly owner.

A stroll down towards the beach afforded us a sea view. But our route today took us inland of West Fleet and East Fleet, the lagoons that are protected from the sea in all but the stormiest conditions by the high barrier beyond - Chesil Beach - along which we did not attempt to venture.

The inland route was pretty handy in today's strong winds, as it provided some welcome respite from the cold draught, which admittedly was on our backs.

Elevenses (pictured), featuring a freshly baked batch of CCS (Chocolate Caramel Shortbread), were soon taken before we pressed on past fields of Ox-eye Daisies to our lunch stop in another sheltered spot near Langton Herring.

The going was easy, much more so than on the roughty toughty coastlines of previous years' trips, so we soon arrived at a random spot near East Fleet where Liz, the eleventh member of our party, was patiently waiting after a long bus journey from Exeter.

We ambled on, along an increasingly 'industrialised' coastline, past a firing range and an army training ground - interspersed with a camp site and a holiday park. The verges were full of sweet smelling flowers.

Ferry Bridge, in Weymouth, was reached at 3.40pm. An enticing looking café - the Crab House Café - had closed for the afternoon, but a nearby ice cream kiosk provided sustenance. That gave us the energy to continue for another four km or so to our B+B.

Our walk was brightened by some chirpy chaffinches before we descended to the ferry terminal, where we were confronted by a huge black cloud. Leakage from that was surprisingly minimal, and we all managed to stay vaguely dry, for a while, until our shower cubicles were pressed into use.

So it was a very clean bunch of diners that reconvened at the Red Lion in Winfrith for an excellent nosh and a sideways glance at Man Utd being thrashed by Barca in the Champions League final.

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The Fleet Lagoon


It's great to be back on the South West Coast Path with some of our old 'ex Jo'berg Hiking Club' friends.

This year's section started today from the picturesque village of Abbotsbury. The route follows inland paths for a while to protect the wildlife from marauding humans, eventually regaining the coast here at The Fleet Lagoon.

It hasn't rained here for weeks, but as you might gather from the picture, I seem to have brought the 'weather' with me from Scotland!

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Friday, 27 May 2011

TGO Challenge 2011 - Index, Gear, etc

Thanks for your kind comments, everyone.

Thanks also to any Challengers who may read this, for helping to make this year's Challenge so friendly and sociable, and to Mike for keeping me company. It was great to meet Colin Crawford - my vetter, fellow bloggers Louise and Laura, and many other new and old friends at Montrose campsite and at the Park Hotel last night.

Mike and I only used two B+Bs - at Oban and at Bridge of Gaur, where Eddie and Heather's hospitality was unforgettable. We hope to visit you again soon.

The staff at Ballater, North Water Bridge and Montrose campsites were all very friendly and helpful, given their sudden bombardment by lots of bearded backpackers, Ballater in particular being extremely kind in letting 20 of us sleep in their back office rather than throwing us all out to find B+Bs in conditions that were too dangerous for camping.

An index for this year's postings will be provided in due course.

But for now, after yesterday's wonderful evening celebrating the successful conclusion of a Challenge in wet conditions, but mainly applauding Roger Smith's efforts as coordinator over the past 20 years, I'm already moving on to the next trip.

Today's image is one taken last Sunday from the summit plateau of Ben Avon.

Here are a few initial comments concerning kit:

Star performers: RAB SuperDru jacket, RAB Bergen overtrousers, and Sealskinz socks worn continuously for 8 days - no water ingress at all with any of these items.
Phoenix Phreerunner Goretex tent - used and abused for many years - slight ingress in a major storm was easily dealt with using a J-cloth.
Scarpa Infinity Goretex lined boots - these old boots were supremely comfortable, any slight seepage being easily dealt with by the Sealskinz socks that dried overnight.
Karrimor XXL dry bag (new) - the only dry bag used, for everything, and it worked.

Problems: Sealskinz gloves - very soggy when wet but dry inside unless you insert (with difficulty) wet digits. Not suitable for severe weather. Any suggestions?

Major concern: frayed hip belt, both sides, on Go-Lite Quest rucksack. This three year old rucksack has been worn for around four months in total. It's irreparable, so had a disappointingly short life despite good weight and comfort.

Breakages:
Ortlieb 2 litre water carrier - seam failure on this old piece of kit.
Avon Skin So Soft - turned out to have crystallised despite a 2012 sell-by date.
Lifeventure silk liner - worn seam at bottom - had to tie a knot in it; these liners seem less than durable.
Matches - didn't take enough! Bought a lighter at Dalwhinnie.

That's all for now from the 2011 TGO Challenge. Thanks for watching!

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Thursday 26 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 14 - North Water Bridge to Nether Woodston Beach (NO 756 648 - 0 metres)

Route: almost exactly as planned.
See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 14 for map

Distance: 16km (Cum 350) [Mike 16 - Cum 333]
Ascent: 250 metres (Cum 12130) [Mike 250 - Cum 9395]
Time taken: 3.2hrs including 0.2hrs stops
Weather: heavy rain overnight, then easing as we started walking and fine for most of the walk.
Challengers encountered: we walked with both Peter ('Morpeth') and Mick ('Croydon') at times and finished together with Mick, Markus and Silke. Hundreds of other Challengers are here in Montrose.
Others encountered: none worthy of mention
Flora and Fauna: coastal flowers
Best bit: the award ceremony
Worst bit: the café at St Cyrus being shut
Number of days in full waterproofs: 9+ (for Lynsey)

A short walk to the coast ended the fortnight's physical endurance test.

There followed an afternoon and evening of socialising, during which Roger Smith handed over the organiser's mantle to John Manning.

It was a memorable night, of which more in due course.

A small section of the campsite at Montrose is pictured. Unlike last year, it wasn't raining!

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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Nether Woodston - Thursday 26 May 2011 - 11.15am - TGO Challenge


Mike and Martin, with nowhere further to go....

Finished!

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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wednesday 25 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 13 - Water of Aven to North Water Bridge Camp Site (NO 650 663 - 30 metres)

Route: as planned apart from a navigationally challenging additional 2km as a result of taking the wrong road out of Fettercairn (I take full responsibility!).
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.

Happy Days...

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Tuesday 24 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 12 - Ballater to Water of Aven (NO 549 871 - 440 metres) A Fine Day for a Cheese and Wine Party!

Route: as planned with minor amendments and a short cut to the finish.
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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Monday, 23 May 2011

Monday 23 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 11 - By Loch Builg to Ballater Camp Site (NO 370 952 - 200 metres)

Route: as planned, starting 4km into the route. Mike did the FWA omitting Craigendarroch.
See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 11 for map

Distance: 27km (Cum 266) [Mike 25 - Cum 249]
Ascent: 1965 metres (Cum 10220) [Mike 400 - Cum 7485]
Time taken: 6.8hrs including 0.7hr stops [Mike 5.9hrs incl 0.6hr stops]
Weather: rain all day, and quite windy.
Challengers encountered: Roger B - all day, numerous in Ballater.
Others encountered: nobody daft enough to be out walking, other than Challengers.
Flora and Fauna: the crows were flying backwards
Best bit: a hot shower at Ballater camp site
Worst bit: wearing waterproofs all day (again) but at least we are dry.

The rain started around 4am, and the wind gradually increased, on this our eighth day out eleven wearing full waterproofs.

Nevertheless, it's a lovely valley walk from Loch Builg to Ballater, and with the 'weather' mostly at our backs, we still enjoyed it.

Roger joined us for the entire walk, which was conducted in wind and rain, without sufficient respite for a brew stop.

Roger and I trotted up Craigendarroch (I'm pictured there) whilst Mike found his way to the camp site. We followed, after calling TGO Control, where Roger Smith sounded stressed. We found out why when we got to the camp site. Trees had blown down where Challengers had been pitched last night. So we are not camping. We are in a big room in the camp site office. About a dozen of us. It'll be noisy!

Elsewhere, it seems Challengers are stranded with even some low level routes being impassable.

We are looking forward to a leisurely evening with Markus, Silke and Roger, as well as numerous others, in the Alexandra, where Bill Strang tried but failed to reach us - sorry not to be seeing you Bill!

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Sunday 22 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 10 - Clais Fhearnaig to By Loch Builg (NJ 195 026 - 490 metres)

Camp site at Lochbuilg
Route:
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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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Saturday 21 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 9 - Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy to path junction at Clais Fhearnaig (NO 057 923 - 400 metres)

Route: FWA exactly as planned, subject to arriving back on tomorrow's route, ie we continued up Glen Feshie and across the watershed to Geldie Lodge, then on via White Bridge, the Linn of Dee and Glen Lui.
See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 9 for map of planned route - we took a lower option to the south

Distance: 30km (Cum 214) [Mike 30 - Cum 204]
Ascent: 660 metres (Cum 8255) [Mike 660 - Cum 6545]
Time taken: 9.2hrs including 1.7hrs stops

Weather: spitting with rain in the morning, but we ignored it; steady rain in the afternoon and evening, with strong wind easing. Noticeably warmer this evening - 14C in the tent
Challengers encountered: we were pleased to see Peter and Barbara shortly after setting off. They had waded across the River Feshie last night during which Peter had a Jelly (Croc) failure, but their spare tent pole had worked and they were fine - last seen heading effortlessly towards Mar Lodge. Then we came across Ken and Norma Proudler, with impressively light loads and a very relaxed regime involving low levels and a B+B or hotel every third night. Next we found first timers Sue and David Tooth crossing the Geldie Burn after walking up the Tilt from Blair Atholl this morning. They managed the crossing easily in their Terroc shoes, and we then walked with them for a while before sheltering from the rain in a copse whilst they brewed up and sorted out their socks. We left them to wander down to Mar Lodge in their own time. On our way up Glen Lui we met a friend from previous Challenges, Judith Barnes.
Others encountered: a mountain biker on his way from Montrose to Fort William in four days - heading for Kingussie tonight - he looked fit but wet. Three backpackers came from the Braemar direction. More mountain bikers were heading down to the Linn of Dee, including a couple with dogs in their rucksacks! Then numerous day walkers coming from the direction of Derry Lodge. They all looked very wet.
Flora and Fauna: there's a fair smattering of Cuckoo Flower (Lady's Smock) over the route at this time of year, and much of the Butterwort we saw today was in flower.
Best bit: bumping into Judith / realising that my feet are still dry!
Worst bit: the rain has returned - we have worn full waterproof gear for five whole days and for half of two days - ie 6 out of 9 days so far.

Poor Mike. He burnt holes in his groundsheet last night when a match head misbehaved. Then his watch adjusted itself to Central European Time and he got up "an hour early" - at 4am, though why he should normally get up at 5am I don't know...

Anyway, he was all packed up and waiting to leave when I woke at 6.30 - he had been reluctant to enter the bothy as he didn't want to disturb Richard, whose snores were as loud as those coming from Mike himself whilst Stefan and I were chatting last night.

We left at 7.45 and soon came across P+B, then we plodded happily up the Feshie valley, through natural pine woodland - very pretty.

Once in the open, at around 400-500 metres, the cold wind gnawed at us. We were so thankful that, as throughout this Challenge, it was on our backs.

A draughty brew stop provided a welcome break before we moved on to the Eidart Bridge (pictured), and the watershed where we met the friendly mountain biker.

Past Geldie Lodge (a ruin), Ken and Norma were enjoying lunch in a sheltered alcove. We joined them.

Then it was a slow descent all the way down to the Linn of Dee, during which we walked for a while with Sue and David. Mike's feet started to suffer for the first time, so he was relieved when we finally came to rest at this scenic spot. Unfortunately heavy rain has stopped play on the scenery front, and we are stuck in our tents, cooking and snoozing.

Just before arriving here, a familiar figure approached.
"Where are You going" quizzed Judith. "Braemar" I joked. Judith looked puzzled, "where's my shortbread" she countered. "Next year!" I offered, "I have a plan*."
"Is this 'Poor Michael'?" asked Judith, pointing at my weary companion.
"Yes" replied Mike, "do you mind if I sit down, M'I duggereb", he said, before giving an impressive impersonation of a jelly.
"Oh dear, Poor Michael" observed Judith, before hastening on to Mar Lodge after having come through the Lairig Ghru today.

(I'm giving Mike a day off tomorrow - don't worry - he'll take a short, low route whilst I go over Ben Avon.)

I hope this rain stops...

*I'm hoping to get Sue, the 'shortbread lady' back on the Challenge next year. She will no doubt arm herself with goodies for everyone she meets, and will also be available, at a high price, (Mr Pigeon!) for foot massages.

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Friday 20 May 2011 - TGO Challenge Day 8 - By Loch Cuaich to Camp by Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy (NN 846 928 - 360 metres)

Route: virtually as planned, with Mike omitting Meall Chuaich and tomorrow's FWA up the Feshie started in preference to Allt Fhearnagan, with other minor adjustments.
See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 8 for map

Distance: 29km (Cum 184) [Mike 29 - Cum 174]
Ascent: 1240 metres (Cum 7595) [Mike 970 - Cum 5885]
Time taken: 10.7hrs including 2.6hrs stops
Weather: rain all night, turning to snow when we got up, then wintry showers all day, with spells of sunshine and spectacular rainbows (pictured)
Challengers encountered: Peter and Barbara this morning - we thought they would come here, but they haven't arrived, Richard Fuell who arrived a little while ago and is staying in the bothy, and Stefan, who has just (9.30) arrived by a different route. He has sore feet!
Others encountered: nobody
Flora and Fauna: mountain hares on Meall Chuaich
Best bit: fabulous rainbows over Glen Feshie
Worst bit: having full waterproofs on all day

After raining all night, it went quiet in the tents. Snow.

Nevertheless, I couldn't resist going up Meall Chuaich. It was even quite pleasant on top, by winter standards. I stayed for some time.

Meanwhile Mike caught up Peter and Barbara and found me by chance at Allt na Fearna. We spent an hour over a brew, and with some difficulty replaced a pole section on P+B's Nallo tent.

We left P+B to potter along at their own pace and enjoyed a bit of sunshine between the showers. An otherwise idyllic lunch spot on the bank of a river housed a cold wind that deterred us from brewing up.

A mixture of rough but easy ground and Land Rover tracks took us easily up to the summit of Carn Dearg Mor, Mike's first Corbett. A high wind made it unpleasant to stay long, though the views towards the Cairngorm plateau were great.

Mike continued on whilst I hunkered down to post the previous entry, during which one of several wintry squalls passed over, resulting in a spectacular rainbow.

The rest of today's walk was uneventful, even to the extent of the bothy being empty when we arrived. But Richard is now ensconced in there, and the ever jolly Stefan, who is proud to have seen an adder today, is again camping next to us on a fine patch of grass behind the bothy.

This is a lovely area of natural pine forest. I've enjoyed the evening (we arrived here at 6.15) gazing at it from the door of the tent.

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