See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2012.html Day 8 for map
Distance: 21.4km (Cum 237)
Ascent: 600 metres (Cum 6700)
Time taken: 6hrs including stops
Weather: light rain
Challengers encountered: none after leaving Loch Tummel Inn; in the Atholl Bothy Bar - Bill A, Graham W, Bernhard Koeglmeier, Phil E, Geoff G + entourage
Others encountered: nobody of significance other than Kirsty and Geoff at The Firs Guesthouse
Flora and Fauna: buzzard mobbing, pied wagtail, swallows and martins, oyster catchers, long-tailed tits, greylag geese, wood sorrel
Paul - thanks, we hope you're right about the weather
G - thanks, those dog walkers were actually quite knowledgeable and were interested to learn about the Challenge
Alan - I think you first visited the Loch Tummel Inn following our recommendation!
Gibson - thanks for your comments, I decided not to include a more detailed Munro story as some of my readers won't know that a Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000 feet high. If they read your comment they'll now be puzzled as to what makes a 'Top'! Ronnie Burn must have been a very focused individual!
'Luxurious' - yes Gibson, we know how to live!
Martin R - we had to go up, as Sue thought there might be a spectacular cloud inversion!
We started today by once again by donning our waterproofs and setting off up the hill towards Blair Atholl. There was a boggy bit of woodland with the added spice of some fallen trees for the second kilometre of the day, then we started our 'roundabout route' by heading easily past honking greylag geese and down to Calvine and its trio of bridges over the River Garry.
Tea was taken where our route crossed the indistinct remains of General Wade's Military Road, then we progressed easily, in varying strengths of rain, past a tasteful memorial to Mark John McGowan (1958-2007) to The Falls of Bruar. These tear through a deep cleft as the water (pictured) rushes towards the River Garry. A large group of brightly dressed, helmeted men were doing something adventurous on the opposite bank as we passed on our way to the top bridge.
The next section involved a very pleasant stretch of forest tracks, before we headed up towards today's summit, Fair Bhuidhe (462 metres). It wasn't a big hill. Less than half the size of yesterday's giant. We got to within two 10 metre contour lines, and within 200 metres as the crow flies, to be presented by dense impenetrable jungle. I prepared for the final assault.
"Why are we going to this summit?" enquired Sue (admittedly it was a little off route).
"For the view" was my unhesitating reply.
We gave up the attempt...
An easy stroll then took us to the tourist trap known as Blair Castle (poorly pictured).
The castle is Blair Atholl's most famous feature. It's one of Scotland's premier stately homes, and the last castle in the British Isles to be besieged, in 1746 during the last Jacobite Rebellion. The Castle was the traditional home of the Earls (later Marquises, now Dukes) of Atholl. The Duke of Atholl is the only person in the United Kingdom allowed to raise a private army. This army, known as the Atholl Highlanders, conducts largely social and ceremonial activities, and primarily consists of workers on the extensive Atholl Estates. The Castle no longer belongs directly to the Duke of Atholl, as the 10th Duke, George Iain Murray (1931–96), left the Castle in trust upon his death for the benefit of the geriatric clients of The Wallace Arnold International Omnibus Company. His distant cousin, the 11th Duke, John Murray (born 1929), lives in South Africa, and returns annually to review the Atholl Highlanders. The oldest part of Blair Castle, known as Comyn's (or Cumming's) Tower, a small tower-house with immensely thick walls, is claimed (perhaps dubiously) to date from as early as the 13th century. The majority of the Castle is 16th century in date, though much altered. After the siege referred to above, the upper storey and battlements of the ancient Castle were removed to render it indefensible. A medieval appearance becoming fashionable once more during the 19th century, the Castle, which had become known as Atholl House, was raised in height and adorned with battlements once more. The many alterations in the fabric are largely concealed by the white harling (roughcast) on the walls. The collections of furniture, paintings, historical relics, weapons, embroidery, china, Highland artefacts and hunting trophies preserved in the Castle are among the finest in Scotland, as is the plasterwork and other décor of the principal rooms. Thirty-two rooms are open to the public, more than in any comparable stately home.
From the castle, a fine avenue of trees leads past the camp site where the unmistakeable red Akto tent broadcast Graham Weaver's presence, and into the village, where we were soon able to stock up with supplies and find our way to The Firs Guesthouse (http://www.firs-blairatholl.co.uk/), where Kirsty kindly saw to all our needs.
A peculiar quirk of Blair Atholl is ownership of the water supply. As a result of an unusual legal agreement made in 1911 for the benefit of steam trains, the responsibility for the public water supply to the people of Blair Atholl has been held by the railway companies who own the line through the town, currently Network Rail. In April 2006, it was announced that Network Rail would finance the cost of connecting Blair Atholl and Bridge of Tilt to Scottish Water's supply.
An evening in the Bothy Bar, in the dubious company of the above-named reprobates duly followed. Portion sizes are large in this establishment, and my seafood pasta came in a huge foil bag.
Tomorrow is a long day in a remote area with no phone signal, so the next transmission is likely to emanate from Braemar on Sunday.
Goodnight from two bloated Challengers.
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