Weather: Fair in the morning; bright sunshine in the afternoon
|Day 8: Route|
Ok. Before we go any further I have to confess. The above title is salacious trickery and has nothing to do with this post. As far as I was concerned there was an almost complete absence of the above on the Challenge, although I know that a few paracetamol were consumed, and some Challengers did use Compeed quite a bit, but that's hardly a Class A substance. However, I have a theory that my blog posts get far more hits if I use a title that suggests it is something other than an account of a walk across Scotland. Thus, I am now carrying out some empirical research and will try to gauge the impact of the title on the numbers of hits. Look, I know I should be able to pull in readers by the quality of my writing, the intricacy of the plot, the appropriate use of the apostrophe, and the strength of the characterisation, but it just doesn't do it folks. So if smutty headlines work, expect to see my future inspiration coming from the Daily Star.
Actually, I did start the day with drugs, but of the prescription variety. I have been suffering for a while now with twinges in my right shoulder caused by osteo-arthritis and the doctor has prescribed some medication which, unfortunately, can make you want to throw up. The plan today was to walk with Dave Wishart over to Mar Lodge. We had arranged to set off at 8.00 am. I was ready a good few minutes before this. So I explained to Dave that I would wander off slowly, what with me feeling rough, and he would catch me up. A kilometre or so up the glen I was overhauled by Graham Weaver who had come from the bothy. I introduced myself. He introduced himself. I then proceeded to chunder. Loudly. It’s not how people greet each other in polite society but hey ho. Graham was clearly embarrassed, assuming that it was his horribly bright orange jacket that was to blame, and then politely pretended he hadn’t noticed and kindly slowed his pace to mine ie rather slower than the proverbial snail.
|Graham Weaver at the Pony Hut: The only Challenger with a louder jacket than Andrew Walker|
|The Eidart Bridge - look closely and you will notice Graham is crossing the bridge|
So it was off and up to the Pony Hut, more up, then across the Eidart Bridge and then over the watershed. Just after the bridge we were caught up by John Sanderson and Dave and we walked on. Well they walked. I was jogging at their heels to keep up, but feeling better by the minute. The scenery was fab, the weather was getting fabber, the entertainment value of my three companions was fabbier still. I seemed to recall quite a bit of laughter on this stretch of the walk, and not all at my expense. We lunched at the ruined building by the Geldie Ford, wolfing down Primula and the last of my wraps, in the knowledge that tomorrow we would hit Braemar and could replenish our stocks
|I can't remember what had been said but I literally fell backwards with laughter at this point. Look carefully and you will see Graham Weaver on the left of the picture in his rather quiet jacket|
The walk from the Geldie to the Linn of Dee seemed shorter than last year. That’s because I had earlier kept reminding myself that it was a lot further than those OS guys made it look. Half way along and we were clearly going to be at Mar Lodge quite early, so I stopped running to keep up with the other three, and sat down for a snack and a nice ‘shoes off’ sunbathe in a lovely little sheltered spot. The others strolled off, effortlessly it seemed, covering the ground rather faster than Usain Bolt could manage on a good day, or so it seemed to me.
|There are two jokers in every pack: Graham Weaver and Dave Wishart aka The Chuckle Brothers|
|Looking back towards the Geldie from near the Linn of Dee|
|At the Linn of Dee|
Mar Lodge. It was now warm and sunny. Rebecca from the NTS did a booze run for us, taking our money and alcohol orders down to Braemar. And amazingly she came back too! The lawn in the walled garden rapidly filled up with Challengers. An idyllic spot to camp. John Sanderson asked to ‘borrow’ the last of my Primula. He had noticed some of the seam sealant had peeled off his Trail Star and I watched, fascinated, as he smeared a small amount of Primula over the affected seams as a temporary repair. Apparently, the fat content of Primula is highly water repellent, as he had learnt whilst on a climbing expedition to Patagonia, when it had been used successfully as an emollient to protect hands in the ice cold streams flowing from melting glaciers. Old friends appeared – Ian Sommerville, the Brocklehursts and the Dunsires from last year; Hugh and Barbara from earlier in the week.
|Nice bit of turf that|
Some of us had booked for the Mar Lodge meal, at a tenner a head. We tucked in to venison casserole and fruit crumble in the kitchen at trestle tables. Last year we had eaten on a highly polished table in an oak panelled dining room, surrounded by the Duke of Fife’s butchered stag heads. The food tasted just as good. The numbers who could have the meal were limited. Those who couldn’t get a place were told they could have any left overs. I had three helpings in a valiant attempt to make sure that those who hadn’t paid didn’t get a freebie at my expense, but it was to no avail. There were pans full of the stuff left, and when we finally retired to the Gun Room to finish off the booze, the others were all there already, licking their lips and smirking in a smug, self-satisfied sort of way. Cats and cream came to mind. I was very late to bed – it was after 9.00pm when my head hit the Exped inflatable pillow.
|These foolish folk (me included) paid for our meal|