Monday 17 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Days 13 and 14: Sacrificial Virgins

Stonehaven Beach 23 May 2013

I have deliberately made the heading for this blog salacious.  The last time I used the word ‘virgin’ in the title of one of my posts I got a record number of hits. Smut sells apparently. If you are wondering what I was writing about last time, it was in my post of 24 August 2012. I can’t do the clever linky thing so you’ll just have to look it up in the blog index to the right of this post if you really want to check it out.  Another post of mine, incidentally, that also got a large number of hits, was one in which I made a mildly jocular reference to missile testing in North Korea.  The statistics thingy on blogger informed me that many of those additional hits were from China.  Paranoid? Moi?

From Feughside I could have made the coast in one long day. Instead I split it into two short walks. Having heard that the tracks in the Fetteresso Forest were being pretty much mucked about by large amounts of heavy machinery, building another useless windfarm, I had decided to skirt around the edge and head for Lochton, where there was a B and B called Lochton House.  This, to my mind, was an amazing coincidence, what with it being located at a place called Lochton. I had phoned ahead and was told it was fully booked, but when she found out I was on the Challenge, the landlady, Anne, kindly said she would find some space for me to crash on the floor in a spare room or let me camp in the garden.
Mulloch Stone Circle

It didn’t matter it was a short day. I would fill it by buying a newspaper at Strachan on the way to Lochton and then read it slowly over coffee and cake in the café there.  As it turned out, no I wouldn’t. There isn’t a shop in Strachan to buy a newspaper, or to buy anything else for that matter.  Nor is there a café. So I ambled slowly along the lanes, with the weather almost reverting to that of a week earlier, strong blustery squalls and showers of rain, sleet and hail.  For the first time on the walk I actually bothered to stop to brew up. This was in Knock Wood, and I then diverted a short way to see an ancient stone circle shown on the OS Map. It wasn't exactly Stonehenge or Avebury, but I am sure that such showy Stoneage vulgarity was over doing it if all you needed to do was to sacrifice a few virgins.  And then it was on to Lochton, and a nice cup of tea with Anne, a pitch in the garden, and the keys to the house as Anne was off out for the evening.  This was to allow me to make use of the facilities, including a shower and sit inside if I wished. And in the morning I got the full Scottish breakfast and then Anne tried to say I only need pay a fiver for all this - breakfast, camping, shower, sitting room and loo, which was way under the odds. Another of the very kind people I met over the fortnight.
Not very wild camping at Lochton House

The following day I set off along what is called the ‘Slug Road’ towards Stonehaven. Why? Not why did I set off to Stonehaven, as that should be obvious to anyone cleverer than a slug. Why is that road so named?  The first few miles were horrible as it was very busy and it was tipping it down. It is telling to watch and consider driver behaviour towards pedestrians when there isn’t a pavement. I estimate about half don’t slow down at all, and about a quarter don’t even move out. A simple, polite action which might add at most 10 or 15 seconds to their journey, yet potentially prevent a serious accident and even avoid killing someone, seems to be beyond some of the morons who are allowed behind the wheels of cars, vans and lorries.
I pondered on the name of this busy road and, of course, I was ridiculously pleased when I eventually saw a real slug in the road. Once I could cut off onto minor roads the walk improved tremendously, despite the driving showers of hail and rain.  Then the sea came into view, and then Stonehaven, and then Graham, the only other Challenger I had seen since leaving Feughside. Graham and I walked down to Stonehaven together. It was really good to have company for this last stretch of the walk, and we were both a little taken aback by being stopped on the outskirts of the town by an elderly gentleman who simply wanted to know if we were Challengers and then congratulate us on getting across. How nice. It added to the feeling we had done something special.
The obligatory toe in sea photograph

Stonehaven Harbour 
So we arrived on the beach. The sun had just come out and we smiled a lot and took photographs and that was it really. I’m not certain what I felt. Pleased to have made it across and not given up. Certainly.  Sad it was over?  I’m not sure.  Glad it was over? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure of that either. The normal mixture I suppose many experience. I’m not even certain I know now, three or more weeks later.
Park Hotel Montrose

And then it was the train to Montrose and the dinner at the Park Hotel and the pleasure in seeing what felt like long lost friends, none of whom I had ever met just a fortnight earlier, and then it really was sad thinking that I would not often, if at all, see these people again. Unless, of course, my name comes out of the hat next year……
Now, where are those maps? My route is going to be so much better second time around. It will be more challenging. I will be fitter.  There will be less apprehension and more anticipation. Less road walking. A bit more bog. A hill or two. Or even three. Callater Lodge and Tarfside. And even the occasional deviation from 180 degrees east. And whatever the weather the sun will shine. As another, far more experienced Challenger is fond of saying, "it's all in the mind".

Challenge Dinner, Park Hotel
Chas and Dave with Vicky and Toby
With Chas and Dave. Dave was the youngest Challenger and the best catcher of a duck you ever did see :)

Thursday 13 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Day 12: Pigging Out

A long but easy day, but with the hardship of lots of refreshment stops.   It involved 35km between the public camp sites at Ballater and Feughside, with a bit of a detour to sample the shopping delights of Aboyne.  The latter were somewhat limited, incidentally.  The Metro Centre it is not.  Thankfully.  The 35km was made all the more bearable by three refreshment stops, happily situated pubs and tea shops located equidistantly (no such word?) along my route at almost exactly the quarter way, half way and three quarter way points.

Deeside Way on the way to Dinnet
So off it was along the Deeside Way, which was well suited to my strategy as outlined in a previous post.  It went east. And it followed the line of a former railway.  Thankfully, trains are not good at going up hills so the gradients encountered were of the 1 in 150 variety which makes for very easy walking.  I had a shock at Dinnet as the nice waitress at the hotel there thought that they had run out of tea cakes to go with my morning coffee.  She explained that Challengers the previous day had scoffed the lot.  As I knew who was on this route the day before I was contemplating tracking them down and tearing their livers out with my teeth, which seemed to be to be a measured response to the desperate situation I found myself in.  Fortunately, the waitress then found there was one left and I polished it off in a posh lounge with a cappuccino whilst watching the cleaners hoover the carpet.  Well one has to get one’s entertainment somehow.  I thus felt especially guilty when I stood up to leave and saw that half of Scotland’s detritus (good word) had come off the Raptors on to the carpet around where had been.  I did go and apologise to them, so I think that the Challenge suffered no embarrassment.
Then it was on to Aboyne.  Why does that name sound like it should be in Ireland?  Aboyne looks jolly posh.  It is also very long and the shops are about one million miles further on than the shortest turn for Feughside, but hey ho, I needed more cake and another drink so I sought them out.  I then got chatted up by an over friendly cyclist as I was leaving the village, who wanted to know all my movements (not of the Andrew Walker variety, I should add), where I was spending the night and so on.  I started to worry I was in the company of some mad axe murderer, so I gave him a very severe look until he went on his way.
The Potarch Hotel: Serves Good Guinness

The next refreshment stop was at the Potarch Hotel which is very nice indeed and situated next to the Dee and a lovely village green which, I believe, has been used as an upmarket wild camping spot by Challengers.  I went up to the bar to order afternoon tea, but sat down with a pint of Guinness and a bag of crisps.  This shows that despite a week and a half of walking I had still had my mental faculties and had not completely lost my mind.  The bonus on leaving was to find that a new section of the Deeside Way had been completed, which reduced the expected road walking by a couple of miles, although the new track was just a few yards from the road.  And finally I reached Feughside.  The Inn there has closed but it was still a jolly nice place to stop for the night and that is just what I did.

Happy Bunny

Sunday 9 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Day 11: Pet Shop Boy

Soon after this was taken I popped in for tea and cake

My route across Scotland was always intended to be relatively low level and straightforward.  But sitting in the Fife Arms in Braemar on the Sunday evening I had realised that all along I had had a very straightforward strategy for the Challenge.  It had been in my sub-conscious, but sitting with James, Chaz, Dave, Vicky and Toby it suddenly hit me what I was up to.  It was not very original.  This strategy had first been articulated in 1993 by one of the most sophisticated and talented set of rock musicians that the 20th Century ever produced ie the legends that were, indeed still are, the Pet Shop Boys.  These two kings of backpacking (well queens of camping about anyway) articulated by way of words and music what I had been doing and would continue doing.  With one vital exception.  They were 180 degrees out in their thinking.  You may recall their melodic crooning of these lyrics:

“Together, we will go our way

“Together we will leave someday…

“Together we will make our plans

“Go West, life is peaceful there

“Go West, in the open air

“Go West, where the skies are blue

“Go West, this is what we're gonna do

“Go West”.

And that was it.  Except I was going east to where the skies would be blue. In as straight a line as possible. The only diversion from east would be if a hill got in the way. Then I would go round it.  Other than that it was Go East.  In a straight line. Shortest distance between two points and all that.  Go around any hills. Stop when waves hit toes.

And so on Day 11 of my walk I headed east.  Well I did after a minor altercation with a man who was “serving”, and I use that term loosely in this context, behind the Post Office counter in the Co-op in Braemar.  If Scotland has an award for the rudest shop assistant in the country then this man ought to be entered.  He would romp to victory. Indeed, I suspect he would win the award for the rudest man in Scotland without too much effort, if such a competition were ever  to be run.  The altercation would have been far worse but it was a nice morning and I didn't want to spoil it.

Caledonian pine forest on Balmoral Estate

Majestic site near majestic castle

The Dee near Balmoral
So east it was to Ballater via Balmoral.  After a short stretch on the road, the way to Balmoral was a joy.  The sun was out much of the time as I walked through the Caledonian pine forests beyond the Invercauld Bridge, passed large herds of red deer near Garbh Allt Shiel, and on to the castle.  And you have to hand it to Her Maj.  She lets tourists wander on the lawn, and the tea shop was actually open and serving.  I was so impressed I bought a post card showing Prince Charles in full highland regalia and wondered at the mind of the man who will one day be our King.  It was then along minor roads towards Ballater. It seemed further than it actually was.  I cut off through woods and crossed the Dee by a rickety suspension bridge at Polhollick.  Soon after, a road sign told me Ballater was 1 mile away.  I left the road again in favour of a path by the Dee.  And let me tell you I walked for another 45 minutes from there by the river and the Golf Course to get to the camp site, so it was either the slowest or the longest mile in history.

6 miles? Two hours? Wishful thinking

Not a bad camp site.  A fabulous evening in the good company of lots of Challengers including Graham, Colin Crawford and John Wright in the Alexandra Hotel which served up a cracking meal. 
Akto City, Ballater

Wednesday 5 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Days 9 and 10: Braemar, Booze and Crazed Ducks

Mar Lodge also offers Challengers a help yourself continental breakfast for a fiver. Great value, especially when you get up early, eat whilst everybody else  sleeps, pack your tent  up then go and have another breakfast whilst almost everybody else except Dave the Devon policeman still sleeps.  Not that I would stoop so low as to eat a second breakfast and pretend it was my first.  Certainly not.  Oh no, that would be just greed that would.

Victoria Bridge on the way out of Mar Lodge
The walk into Braemar is short and sweet.   I walked with Alan Kay from Ilkley (I don’t think he was bah tat), who had come down from camping at a very windy White Bridge that morning.  We met a married couple of Challengers on the way.  The lady was sitting down on the verge tending blisters.  Her husband chivalrously helped her on with her pack.  “Crikey this is light” he said as he picked it up.  I asked her how she managed to have such a small load.  “Simple” she replied “I do all the packing.  I pack his sack as well as mine.”  I assume after that revelation they will both be consulting family law solicitors.
Braemar from Creag Choinnich
Braemar.  My first visit. As I arrived it started to rain.  Later it heaved down.  Absolutely heaved.  Cats and dogs and lions and tigers.  My B and B, Callater Lodge on the Glen Shee Road, let me in at 12.30pm, long before the official 4.00pm opening time.  Thanks hosts.  Spent the afternoon drinking tea, eating and drinking Guinness, but not necessarily in that order.  Actually it was in that order.  As those heavens really opened I was thankful that I had finished early for the day, and that I wasn’t staying on the camp site.  Not well'ard me, you see.  The town was filled with Challengers and I met others only known previously through the blogosphere, including Martin Rye and Philip Werner, both with their wealth of knowledge on matters backpack.  I also met more loveliness in the forms of Norma and John Keohane who were staying at the same B and B.  Well Norma is lovely, whilst John is not.  John is just funny.  That’s funny ha ha not funny weird, although he may be weird too, I can’t judge, although I can have suspicions.  And of course there were a whole bunch of other Challenge legends around including Messrs Lambert, Walker and Sloman with great stories of derring do to tell.  Alan, in particular, enthralled the audience as the photo below shows.  I think I may have taken this on the Sunday morning, but I am not sure whether he was on the same anecdote from the Saturday at this time or whether he had moved on to another one.
These hardy Challengers, gathered round Alan Sloman, listen enthralled to his anecdotes
L to R: Andrew Walker, ANO, ANO (sorry, but they know who they are) Philip Werner, Martin Rye and Alan's leg

As even Phil Lambert loses the will to live and resorts to texting, Alan slumps exhausted from his valiant efforts to entertain and contemplates what an ungrateful lot his companions are
It was a disappointing evening in the Moorfield.  I thought there would be communal Challenge entertainment.  There wasn’t.  I was put on a table for one to eat (I mean to eat dinner, not to eat the table), just like Billy All On His Own Because He Is So Pathetic He Has No Mates.  I wasn’t having that, so I physically man handled another solo Challenger who was dining alone, Tony Pugh, and twisted his arm behind his back until he submitted and agreed to sit with me. “Just pretend we are together”, I hissed, “and make out that I am the sort of guy that people would like to spend the evening with.  If you don’t you’re dead meat”.
Sunday was a planned rest day and was a considerably better day, both socially (sorry that is not a criticism of Tony Pugh who was good company) and weatherwise.  James Boulter stormed in to town despite his bad ankle.  Hurrah!  Chaz and Dave arrived too.  More cheers.  I was feeling fit, and not really in need of anymore rest after the short Saturday, so in the fabulous afternoon sunshine I walked up Creag Choinnich (538m above seal level), the small but perfectly formed hill behind the town, admiring the beautiful pines on the lower slopes, disturbing a small herd of deer higher up, and enjoying the great views of the village, and the Dee Valley and surrounding mountains from the top.
The Pines on the way up Creag Choinnich
Looking down the Dee Valley from Creag Choinnich
James and I had a good meal in the Old Bakery in the evening before heading into the Fife Arms.  We took our Guinnesses and joined Chaz and Dave at a small window table.  They were eating pizza.  What happened next was all over in about 15 seconds, so the precise sequence of events is unclear.  But as we discussed our Challenge heroics a brown streak of feathers flashed through the air between the four of us.  It was a low flying duck, moving at what seemed the speed of an RAF Jet Fighter.  It splatted into the window, bounced and landed slap in the middle of our table.  It reared up on its webbed feet and flapped its wings violently and at speed.  I grabbed my Guinness and leant backwards.  James grabbed his Guinness and leant backwards.  Chaz kept on eating.  Dave the young Dutchman calmly leant forwards, reached out, took the duck by its neck and held it at arms length away from the table.  The duck flapped.  Dave didn’t.  The barman walked over, took the duck by the neck and said “sorry about that guys”, and carried the duck to the front door and chucked it out into the street as if it was a drunk on a rough Saturday night.
We looked down.  The table was covered in - how can I put this delicately? – the biggest pile of bright green duck shit you ever did see.  I checked my Guinness.  The head was still perfectly cream.  James did the same.  His was also ok.  To me, Chaz and Dave’s pizzas now looked dead dodgy. Were those anchovies, green peppers or something far less edible?  The barman reappeared.  “I’ll get you some fresh meals” fellas he said.  “No need, these will be fine” said Chaz, taking a mouthful.  Dutchmen are just so cool.
This incident had a fortunate spin off.  We all sought out another table and hence ended up making more new acquaintances, the wonderful Vicky and Toby from Leeds, both with lots of interesting tales to tell, and not all Challenge related.  I shan’t repeat them as that would be telling tales….


Tuesday 4 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Day 8: Just Lovin’ It

Retrospective to previous night's camp spot

Awoke early and had to put my down jacket on in my sleeping bag after what was the coldest night so far.  The water in my Platy had started to freeze.  The weather was fair again, and I wandered around, not too long after dawn, admiring the Glen and the river and the hills whilst drinking tea.  I can’t do much in the morning until I have a couple of mugs of tea inside me.  Another tent had arrived after I had gone to bed, and its occupants were already packing up and heading off for an early start.  It was David and Margaret Brocklehurst who I had not met before.  I realise that “lovely” has been an overused word on my Challenge write-ups so far, but David and Margaret are another lovely couple of Challengers.

By 7.40am I was packed and walking up the good path come Land Rover track towards the top of the Glen.  It was here I met David and Margaret properly for they had stopped by a stream for a second breakfast.  I was about to ford the stream when David called me to a spot where it was possible to boulder hop and keep my feet dry.  This was kind of him.  As it happens it was a bit of a waste of time as within half and hour they were soaked anyway as the path was quite boggy in places once the LR track had petered out, and the stream just before the old pony hut had to be forded anyway.

The bridge over the Eidart near the top of Glen Feshie
That's Phyllis under the big pack approaching the bridge

I lost the path at this point but the way up to the bridge at the waterfall was clear, not least because I could soon see up ahead the walking rucksacks of Phyllis and Lou and I passed them near the bridge.  They hadn’t reached the pony hut on the previous evening when tiredness had set in so they had a longer day to complete today – and they were thinking in terms of getting to Braemar, a few km beyond my target of Mar Lodge.  I felt huge admiration and respect for them as I headed off towards the watershed between the Feshie and the Geldie, with magnificent views all around.  The walking was easy and delightful, with magnificent scenery in all directions.  Despite a stiff breeze it was also warm enough to take off my micro-fleece and walk in merino shirt alone for the first time – quite a change from a few days earlier.
Looking back towards Glen Tilt  (I think), near the Geldie Ford (I further think) 

I will not bang on too much about the rest of the walk.  It was great, although the stretch from the Geldie Ford to Linn of Dee via White Bridge was far further than on the map.  Certainly it was.  Without a shadow of a doubt.  Clearly my map was wrong.  The OS cartographers had cut out a few km from this section of the walk.  I may write to them and demand a refund.  By the Linn of Dee I was flagging and resorting to another Snickers (bloody stupid name and why did they turn a singular into a plural) for energy when along strolled Ian Sommerville, who is exceptionally nice and exceptionally clever, what with him being a real life professor at an ancient Scottish University, and the company made the last couple of miles to Mar Lodge fly by.  We arrived at 4.15pm to be met by other Challengers with free tea and coffee in the Gun Room.
Mar Lodge

Not a bad camp spot
Mar Lodge Ball Room with its 2500 antlers
My first experience of Mar Lodge.  What can I say?  Stunning yet bizarre.  Half a dozen Challengers camped on the splendid lawn by the Ball Room, whilst others used the bunkhouse and apartments.  Gate crashed the Ball Room to see the ceiling when some Americans were being shown around.  Marvelled at the Duke of Fife’s seemingly unlimited ability to massacre deer.  Had dinner in a grand room with 20 or so other Challengers.  Venison casserole and apple crumble for a tenner.  Yum yum.  Was supplied with free booze by Ian and AN Other because I hadn’t understood the alcohol ordering system (or so I claimed).  And that was the second of two fabulozy days.  Little did I realise that in less than 48 hours the strange incident with the duck in the Fife Arms would occur.
Challengers dressed in their Sunday Best (although it was Friday) to match the elegance of their surroundings

Monday 3 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Day 7: Two Rucksacks Walking

Having waited for the Kingussie Post Office to open at 9.00am to send a few bits and pieces home, I set off on the first of what were to be two fabulozy days on the Challenge.  Possibly the best two.  Weather, walk, scenery, fitness and company all combined in a happy coincidence of happiness.  Leaving the village you soon come to the ruins of the Ruthven Barracks.  At this point, just in front of me, were two rucksacks walking.  I joke not.  There were two massive rucksacks walking slowly along the road all by themselves.  Clearly Challenger rucksacks, they appeared unaccompanied by their Challenger owners as they slowly made their way up the slight incline towards Tromie Bridge.  I assumed they had wandered off when the door of a B and B had been carelessly left open. I hoped they were micro-chipped so they could be returned to their owners when picked up by the stray rucksack catcher from the Council.  At this point I stopped to put on my waterproofs (I always carry waterproofs whilst walking across Scotland because I am very experienced in the carrying of waterproofs in places which have a climate where water regularly falls from the sky.  If you wonder what I am now taking, you may want to refer back to my earlier post TGOC 2013 Day Minus 1:Do I really look that stupid?).  As it happened this was the last rain, such as it was, until Saturday lunchtime, and it was now only Thursday so this was the start of Scotland’s driest spell since records began.

I caught the rucksacks up.  “Heading up Glen Feshie?”, called I, to the leading rucksack.  “Yes we are, but don’t follow us as we will be walking slowly” called the leading rucksack in a female voice.  It seemed bizarre that a rucksack could talk, but even stranger, it had an American accent.  And this was my introduction to the legendary Phyllis and Lou from Maryland in the US of A.  Both octogenarians, they were on their umpteenth Challenge.  Both are tiny so they were completely dwarfed by their packs.  Their gutsiness is in inverse proportion to their height.  And both of them oozed loveliness and positivity.  Our paths were to cross a number of times over the next two days.
Towards Glen Feshie

Over the next hour or so I met and walked for short distances with a number of other great Challengers.  Matt Little again, a really good guy; Bob Cartwright and his two companions, Bob wearing the most expensive black bin liner in the history of bin liners, which was doubling as a wind shirt.  I gave Bob some feedback about his company “Backpacking  Light”.  This was along the lines of “brilliant customer service, wish the range was greater because I could then buy all my stuff from you” and also Richard (sorry I didn’t get his second name), who I walked with for much of the morning.
A happy bunny on a  nice strong bridge over the Feshie

And so it was through a lovely forest or two in the sun, and then into Glen Feshie which was just perfect.  Lunch by a delightful stream of the babbling brook variety.  A brief stop at the bothy.  Held a conversation there, at cross purposes, with Chris Leach, which almost led to me making a bad decision.  I explained to him that I planned to camp further up the Glen, and would head for Mar Lodge on the following day.  “Why not stop here?” he asked.  “Because then I would have to walk 32 or 33 tomorrow and that’s further than I would like” I replied.  “Nah”, says he “it’s only just over 19 from here”.  We argued slightly about this, with Chris insisting his vetter had said it was 19.  My route plan clearly showed 30 plus.

I was tempted as the bothy looked rather good.  Then I cottoned on what the issue was.  Chris was talking imperial; I was talking metric.  19 miles is just over 30km.  Glad I stuck to my guns.  It was good to do a few more km today to even out the distances over the two days. 
Glen Feshie beyond the bothy


Lazy afternoon at a brill camp spot

I was even gladder as I walked up the lovely glen for a few more km as I came to a brilliant camp spot near the river.  It was only 3.00pm ish and I had planned to go slightly further, but the sun was out, and a brew beckoned, so the Akto was up and I had a lazy few hours drinking tea, cooking, eating Snickers ie Marathons, chatting to passing Challengers, and doing the numerous similarly important tasks that you can tackle when your pace of life is just perfect.  Two rucksacks hoved into view, Phyllis and Lou again, heading for the old pony hut some way further up the glen.  Graham and Marian arrived to camp and so did Karen and Lawrence from Holland.  And it was all just brilliant.

Looking down to the Akto before the late arrivals - I wandered up a bit higher to take this picture because I was feeling good!

Saturday 1 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 Day 6: Stunning Wild Camp

The sixth day of my Challenge was very short and simple.  Good to have a rest after my long walk of the previous day.

I simply went from Newtonmore to Kingussie.  I walked part of this short distance with Simon Hutchinson and Iain Robertson, who I “knew” through Twitter.  They, too, were on a lowish level route but were piling on the miles.
On arrival I was back on my proper route and on schedule, and felt good and ready for the rest of the Challenge.  The weather was better than fair, with just one light shower whilst I walked, and it was great to see James Boulter again in Kingussie, hobbling somewhat on his damaged ankle, but determined to carry on, after an additional rest day on the following day.  We had a good meal in the Tipsy Laird that evening, along with Graham (Crowder?) and his wife.
Given the short day I will not bother to write anymore, but my superb wild camp that evening in pine woods just near an old bothy, not far from Newtonmore is worth a photo or two.  I am pleased with the picture of the wild camp as it shows clearly some of the ultralightweight gear I was carrying, and some of the latest quick drying clothing from one of our specialist British manufacturers.

Wild camp near Newtonmore Bothy - note my ultralight cooking set up, water system and quick drying gilet

The Newtonmore Bothy - one of the oldest in Scotland (located in the grounds of the excellent and free folk museum)