Sunday, 30 December 2012

Scotland End to End

A minor bout of 'flu between Christmas and New Year was an opportunity to slump in front of the TV and watch the two part BBC Scotland Adventure Show featuring Cameron McNeish covering the newly opened Goretex Scottish National Trail. The Trail has as its starting point the Border Hotel at Kirk Yetholm (being the start or end of the Pennine Way) and follows a meandering route north to Edinburgh, west to Falkirk and then generally northwards to Cape Wrath, a total distance of 470 miles. Along the way, Cameron meets various people who have something relevant to say about the landscape or a feature of it which adds to the interest. Needless, to say, the photography is stunning and really does justice to this amazing part of the world. The second part of the programme showed Scotland at its remote and wildest best. There was a brief switch at the end to the opening ceremony at the end of October 2012 when the Trail was officially opened by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond. It is clearly hoped that the Trail will equal the West Highland Way in attracting visitors and their spending power to this part of Scotland. It will be interesting to see to what extent Mr Salmond and others in high places oppose the current plans for the Ministry of Defence to close off Cape Wrath (most of which it already owns). This will presumably have the effect of cutting off the final section of the Trail and force out of business the Ozone Cafe. There is a possibility of a community buy out and it is to be hoped that this is successful, otherwise this beautiful corner of Scotland will be closed to public access.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Review - Berghaus Ardennes softshell

I was sent this softshell jacket for review and I liked it very much. It has been available for maybe a year or so. There are a lot of softshells on the market. Is this one any better than any of the others? I really don't know but Berghaus is a well known name and British (despite the Germanic sound of the name).

I'm of maybe just under average height (5ft 6ins) with perhaps 38in chest; the size medium was just right. It was a good fit.  The colour  was a two-tone grey (dark and light) and quite attractive.  I felt that the white zips were a bit on the stark side but got used to it.  I wore it during a weekend that wasn't too cold. The fleece lining was comfortable and so were the elasticated cuffs. The hem is adjustable if you feel the need to keep cold weather out from below.

It is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish so should shed at least light rain. It's also windproof and breathable. There is a full length zip and also two zipped side pockets, mesh lined; there's no chest pocket. Inside are two large mesh pockets.

The jacket weighs 540g in size medium. Using layering, I don't see why it shouldn't be suitable for year round use. The RRP is £90.00; a variant with a hood is also available for £100.00. There's not much not to like. It does the job and well.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Terra Nova Voyager Ultra 2

I cannot believe anyone paying £1,000 (reduced from £1,100!!!) for a two man backpacking tent. See It may be good (assuming it is) but .......

If Terra Nova will lend me one for a weekend I'll happily try it out and post a review.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Backpackers Somerset weekend

Well, it was a very select three of us who turned up for this, including Dave the organiser. I arrived at the farm site at Priddy late Friday afternoon after battling my way through the traffic in Bath. Lovely city, heavy traffic. In the evening we spend some time in the Hunters Lodge pub which does an excellent pint of Butcombe (and Cheddar Ales Potholer), gravity fed, I believe. The food menu was interesting. I wasn't eating there but the menu listed some basic items, all priced at £4.00!

Next day, the other two were walking off somewhere, returning to base later in the day. I fancied a wild camp somewhere so set off alone after breakfast. From the site, I went across fields to Priddy village although there didn't seem much to it. I joined the West Mendip Way and followed this westwards to a bridleway following contour lines above Draycott, seeing no point in dropping down to the village, only to climb up again a little further along. The path then skirted Cheddar. The views here were wide ranging with Cheddar Reservoir in the foreground and the Somerset Levels spread out around and a glimpse of the Bristol Channel in the far distance.

My path then climbed up close to Cheddar Gorge and then wound down through woodland to the road at Black Rock. I last went this way in 2009 on en route to John o'Groats. The West Mendip Way then heads towards the village of Shipham although I left it in Rowberrow Warren, heading northwards to pick up the Limestone Link in Dolebury Warren. Mud was here aplenty but it was a nice route to follow. The rocks of Burrington Combe came into view. This rocky gorge was the inspiration for the hymn "Rock of Ages" by Augustus Toplady. It was by now late afternoon and I was able to collect water from a stream and I looked for somewhere secluded to pitch for the night. I came across a lad, his girlfriend and a dog with a tarp pitched. It was the girlfriend's first night under a tarp. I wondered how she'd feel about it in the morning.

I found a nice spot about half a mile further on under some small trees, separated from the path by a belt of ferns, well out of sight. It had been a lovely sunny day, apart from a brief shower in the morning. All was very quiet here, even the wildlife was almost silent.

Next morning, I was off by 8 o'clock. It was only when I reached open ground that I realised that there had been quite a frost overnight. My route took me eastwards to Compton Martin. Not far from here, I picked up signs publicising the Chew Valley Arts Trail and I found Venue 19 at Shortcombe Farm, just outside West Harptree. There was an exhibition of sculpture by Jeremy Palmer (and paintings by his wife, Pauline). I was made very welcome.

A little further on, the views across to Blagdon Lake were beautiful.

On the B3135 road, going into woodland, I picked up the Monarch's Way, a 615 mile route loosely based on Charles II's route of escape in 1651 after losing the Battle of Worcester. Parts of it were very muddy. From here, I headed back to Priddy, following a path across the Priddy Mineries, a nature reserve, an area used for lead mining in centuries past (in fact, until 1908).

The weather today was sunny with clear blue skies. Once again, the weatherman got it wrong. Yesterday's walk was about 15 miles and today was 10 miles.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Book review - Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams by Chris Townsend

What an odd title! Also, an unusual format, landscape rather than portrait. The book is paperback and provides an excellent taster of the quite new Pacific Northwest Trail in the USA. This is trail that was long in the making, the result of many years pioneering work by Ron Strickland, who wrote his own account in Pathfinder: Blazing a New Wilderness Trail in Modern America, but they are very different books. The PNT starts in Glacier National Park in Montana just south of the Canadian border and ends on the Pacific coast near Seattle, some 1200 miles.

Townsend's book is an account of his solo hike along the PNT. Each of the seven chapters covers a section of the trail. There is a heading comprising a chapter name, the start and finish points of the section, the dates and mileage and also a very helpful map showing the section with his route and the PNT guidebook route. He didn't follow the guidebook route all the time for various reasons. Whilst reading, I often found myself referring back to the maps.

He writes well and manages to make this far more than the "I got up early ..." type of account and my interest was sustained throughout. I wanted to be there doing it as well. It wasn't an easy walk though, far from it. There was a navigable trail along some of the route but in some parts he was bushwacking and struggling to discern a path. It was a tough walk and to complete it, as he did, was quite an achievement. At other times, though, there were road sections that were tedious and an e-reader came in useful!

The book is generously illustrated with colour photographs taken by the author as he went and complement the text very well.

At the back of the book following the account of the walk are appendices setting out some statistics, navigation, food (as resupply was something that had to be well planned in advance), equipment and clothing, finishing with a short section on photography. He took 1,868 photographs in the course of the walk.

I enjoyed this book. It is well written and an engrossing read. It made me want to be on the next flight across the Atlantic!

Peak District

Frank, Sean and I met up in Matlock. Our night's camp was pre-booked at the Duke William pub, a good pitch apart from the very loud church clock nearby. Still, the pub was welcoming, the beer was good and so was the food.

Next morning we set off north along the Derwent Valley Heritage Way out of Matlock for about three miles up to Rowsley where we stopped for coffee and a snack at Caudwells Mill.

It would have been nice to have spent more time here but we had to get on. We left Rowsley along a yellow (on the map) road northwards which turned into an enclosed track and then into woodland at Bouns Corner, across the top of Haddon Park and then down to the A6 road, taking the footpath across the road from Haddon Hall to Alport. From there, into Youlgrave and a refreshment stop at The George. We probably stopped too long there!

From Youlgrave, we joined the Limestone Way and followed it for a few miles into Winster where we pitched behind The Miners Standard. The last time I camped here was February 2011 when we were hit by heavy snow - see Next morning, we continued along the Limestone Way back into Matlock. An excellent, but ridiculously inexpensive, full English was had at the cafe adjoining The Railway pub.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Backpackers Exmoor weekend

The weekend didn't get off to a good start, to say the least. My usual packing list was composed ages ago and I've been using a tarp for the last ten years or so. I thought this time I'd take my new £200 off Laser Comp. When I was the best part of thirty miles from home it suddenly dawned on me that I'd left the tent pole at home. I turned around and went back to get it. Absolute pain. I then hit the M5 around Bristol at 5.15pm, the worst possible time. It took ninety minutes to get clear of it. As a result, I didn't get to Malmsmead (between Porlock and Lynton) until 8 o'clock, by which time it was dark. I took the wrong road off the main road down to Malmsmead, having to negotiate a hairpin bend on the single track land and then Robber's Bridge, with a stone sided wall either side. I just breathed in and hoped for the best.

I didn't see any of the other attendees until the next morning. There were just five of us, a very select bunch. I fancied a day out walking on my own on the Saturday so set off south towards Badgworthy Water across the river from Cloud Farm. It was a perfect morning.
Walking east of Badgworthy Hill, I passed by Larkbarrow and then on to the lane by Alderman's Barrow. The Exmoor Hunt was much in evidence, milling around me at times. They were pursuing a stag, I was told. At Larbarrow Corner, I went westwards on the Macmillan Way West by Warren Farm to Prayway Head and then along the B3223 until I veered off east on a bridleway at SS764423 across moorland where I stopped for a snack at Hoccombe Water. I then headed back to Badgworthy Water and Malmsmead. A really nice day.
Saturday evening was spent at the Staghunters Inn at Brendon. I didn't eat there but others did and said the food was good. Not fancy but good wholesome fare, e.g. liver, venison, etc.
A scene from Lorna Doone
Sunday's walk was back down to Badgworthy Water (really lovely), towards Larkbarrow and then up to the hamlet of Oare. At this point, I was with Andrew (probably in his late 60s) and Ian, aged 73. Andrew was navigating and led us the wrong side of a field boundary. We ended up having to negotiate a double barbed wire fence, scrambling up a steep bank and then jumping over another fence to tumble down the other side. It didn't end there! We found ourselves in the garden of Oare Manor House. Walking down the driveway, there were a pair of electric gates separating us from the road. Andrew was trying to give Ian a stirrup lift over but they were too high ( I don't know how the last man would have got over). Anyway, I saw a way out, up a rock wall and over a fence into the churchyard and that's where we went. All very unorthodox.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Backpackers Oxfordshire weekend

It was very nice to have a Club weekend not far from home that I could walk to. I scooted home from work at lunchtime and, with everything packed the night before, I was on my way at 1.15. It was a lovely day with fair weather forecast for most of the next two days so I didn't even bother to take waterproofs. Without any other warm top either, I took a Golite Wisp windshirt, no longer made but an excellent very lightweight garment that is windproof and so stops a bit of chill in the evenings and is moderately water resistant.

The afternoon's walk to Barford St. Michael took me through Little Tew and Great Tew (where it would have been all too easy to fall into the Falkland Arms but time didn't really permit this). I arrived at Barford around 6.20 where, after a quick meal, I joined others at The George where there was a mini beer festival going on which was an unexpected treat.

Next morning, a group of us set off southwards, passing through Nether Worton and Over Worton, and then whiling away some time at the White Horse at Duns Tew, an excellent pub but, I suspect, in great danger of closing if the locals continue not to support it. We were the only customers apart from a couple of cyclists passing through. Then on through Steeple Aston, the other side of which our eyes were caught by the Rousham Eyecatcher.

We then crossed the River Cherwell and the adjacent Oxford Canal at Lower Heyford, going north to skirt Upper Heyford and then east to a commercial site next to the former USAF base. I chose to stop just before then where I planned to string my hammock up in a nearby wood. I've got this down to a fine art now and it only took a few minutes, doing so some 25 feet in from the path. After a quickly prepared meal and reading suspended above the ground for a while I decided that I didn't much like the look of the clouds coming over so I put my tarp above me (in the event, it didn't rain overnight).

A little while later, after dozing and reading, I heard a twig crack and, lifting the tarp up, there was a man standing only some 10-15 feet away from me. I didn't have my glasses on so didn't see him that clearly. I said, "hello?" but without a sound, he was off. I don't know how long he'd been there. Maybe he'd just been curious about the tarp and had come over for a closer look but it was a bit unnerving. For a while I considered moving elsewhere as I prefer to be invisible to others when wild camping. In the end, I stayed put but it was a lesson learned for the future. I could have been further from the path and should have been. Anyway, he didn't come back and I slept quite well.

I was away by 5.10 the next morning very quickly and set off south west along the line of Aves Ditch, a pre-Saxon ditch and bank structure, which I left after a couple of miles to head west to Northbrook and then back over the canal and river. Here I stopped for breakfast, the hot coffee being very welcome. The sun was out and a fine day was promised. Then over the railway and into Tackley. Not far from here, I realised the map I had didn't quite cover the ground I was on and I struggled to get my bearings. In the end, I took rather a long way round to get to the village of Wootton where, sadly, the pub there, the Killingworth Castle, was an earlier victim of lack of patronage. Then up to Glympton and, on the edge of the Glympton Estate, a grand antlered stag emerged on the path about fifty yards ahead of me - a fine sight but not for long! Crossing the A3400, I passed into the Ditchley Park Estate where the clouds came over quite quickly and from then on I spent the afternoon largely avoiding the intermittent showers by being in woodland or being able to take shelter beneath trees and hedges.

On the edge of the Estate, I joined the Wychwood Way back to home. This was a good day - twenty miles walked.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Golite Breeze pack

My favourite pack is the Breeze, which I've had since around 2001. I have a couple of other packs but this is the one I invariably return to. So simple, so light and very little to go wrong. Now, it seems to have gained recognition as a style icon.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Challenge Day 14 May 24

Another hot day. A number of Challengers set off early for the eight or so miles to the coast, depending on their chosen finishing points. We weren't due to meet Bert at St. Cyrus until midday so were in no great rush. We left shortly before 9am.

It was a road walk all the way but the roads were rural and quiet. Entering St. Cyrus, we made for the cliff top where we found Bert on a bench at the top of the cliff path, high above the beach. The tide was out a fair way from the wide, flat beach. Frank and I made our way down the stony zigzag path and dipped our shoes in the sea.

We then repaired to a café for a bite to eat and then caught a bus into Montrose where we checked out at Challenge Control at the Park Hotel, obtained our certificates and T-shirts and then to the camp site to get pitched with all the other Challengers who were already there and others who arrived after us.

In the evening we ate at the Picture House as we weren't going to the Challenge dinner. Unfortunately, they've stopped serving real ale as they can't sell it. Such a difference between the beer drinking habits of the Scots and the English, and yet, we had very good locally brewed beer - the Moulin Brewery - at the Atholl Arms in Blair Atholl.

We went to the Park Hotel afterwards for the speeches and awards. An award was given to Bill Robertson, aged 78, who completed his 30th crossing this year. He's such a self-effacing man, he always checks out and goes straight home. Many have never seen him.

The oldest successful Challenger was aged 89.

Another good end to another Challenge (my third).
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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Challenge Day 13 May 23

Another hot day was in store for us. Taking the road out of Tarfside, we called in to The Retreat for tea and toast (second breakfast). Crossing the bridge over the River North Esk at NO534783 (where we were joined by Vicki Allen), we followed the track alongside the south side of the river for about four miles, past the Rocks of Solitude (must look up how the name originated), looking down to see the water rushing through a rocky gorge. Then, continuing along the minor road at Dalbog, taking the field path on the bend in the road, which emerged at Lochside on the B966, from where it was but a short walk into Edzell.

A refreshing lager shandy was followed by lunch at the Tuck Inn café, easily identified by the mound of backpacks outside.

Then, after crossing the river bridge (accessed by a path to the side of the post office), instead of enduring the 5km straight road walk to the North Water Bridge camp site, we used a couple of back routes, first on the south side of the road, passing through Arnhall farm and then to the road and then, after maybe 2km on the road, taking the left turn by Capo wood and following the straight track to emerge back on the road just before the site. We passed by a very imposing turreted house called Inglismaldie on the left and a dovecote some distance away in an adjoining field.

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Challenge Day 12 May 22

Woke up at 5am and happened to notice two ticks embedded in the back of my wrist so occupied a couple of minutes removing them. Then slept till 7, by which time, the sun was well up and it was really warm.

Looking back to the bothy
From Shielin of Mark, it was a case of aiming generally for the right hand shoulder of Muckle Cairn, a distance of a mile or so. It wasn't nearly so wet underfoot as last year but was rough walking, with no path; just plenty of heather, bog and rough grass. On attaining the track which crosses the top, we then walked along it until we reached the track down into Glen Lee. A short way along here, we came across a burn which crosses the track on its way down to Water of Lee. It was flat and calm, crossable by stepping stones. What a contrast to last year when it was a fast flowing torrent. 

The same burn a year ago!
Stopped for second breakfast at Stables of Lee, going inside to be out of the sun. Frank thought it should be first lunch but conceded when he realised that it was only 10.15. It was a tuna roll for him whatever we called the occasion.

First lunch proper was had at the Kirkton end of Loch Lee. From there, we took the direct off road path to Tarfside, arriving at about 2.30. We headed straight to St. Drostan's Hostel where, each year the hostel offers food and accommodation to Challengers, manned by Challenger volunteers. After refreshment and some good company, we went down the road to pitch. As far as I can count, there are now 59 tents pitched here.

We were told that 52 Challengers have withdrawn from the event, one of the reasons being exhaustion. More detail will be in the Final Report in due course.

It's been really hot today. One and a half days to go.

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Challenge Day 11 May 21

The local oystercatchers were up and about early and being very noisy about it.
Bert hobbled/shuffled off to the doctor's surgery. Frank and I topped up food supplies at the little Co-op (catching a glimpse of a red squirrel in the high street) and then set off up the path opposite the camp site, through the wood uphill to meet the path that leads round by the Lion's Face rock. Then down through the wood on the other side to the road, following this until the old Invercauld Bridge, over this and then into forest belonging to the Balmoral Estate.

We aimed for Balmoral House to visit the tearooms there. On the way and within sight of the House we came across a man busying himself with a circle of boulders by the side of the estate road. 

The Diamond Jubilee Cairn - base level

Feeling nosey I asked what he was doing. He was the project manager employed in the construction of a Diamond Jubilee cairn which is likely to be unveiled around June. He was a little coy about when this would be and what the consequences would be if it wasn't ready in time. Money for the cairn has been by way of voluntary contributions from estate employees and local holders of Royal Warrants. There are eleven other "Royal" cairns around the estate but this will be the first to be constructed for over a hundred years.

Leaving the estate past the Royal Lochnagar Distillery (to be visited another time), we took the track south for several miles, eventually reaching the little visitor centre at the Spittal of Glenmuick. The sun was quite hot and I made good use of my umbrella as a sun shade, feeling quite cool underneath.

We saw an adder which crossed the track just ahead of us but there wasn't time to get the camera out.

There was quite a little group of Challengers gathered, sitting in the shade outside the visitor centre at Spittal of Glenmuick, apparently putting off the longish climb up to their, and our, intended pitch around the bothy at Shielin of Mark. Frank and I only stopped for a quick calorie intake and then set off up the side of the burn, so different from this time last year when hurricane winds and rain made life so very interesting.

The bothy can be tricky to locate as it's tucked in the near side of the next valley. On previous occasions, I've followed a very wet route to well overshoot it to the west and then follow the burn until it comes into sight. This time, however, with time to spare if necessary, we decided to head straight for it on a compass bearing. A group of six young Hungarian Challengers asked if they could follow us, to which we agreed. Our route was a little wet in places and through peat hags and groughs. In wet weather, this might be rather messy. Anyway, over the top we went and were very pleased with ourselves when the bothy appeared just below us.

We are pitched right next to the burn. There are around sixteen tents pitched here with two others a couple of hundred yards away.

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Challenge Day 10 May 20

Woke to the sound of grouse and curlew after a calm night. A really nice pitch. As we'd not got quite as far yesterday as intended, we started extra early (for us) at ten to eight.

Bert went on ahead, not at all comfortable. Worse than that, in fact. It was an easy path and, after a while, we started to see patches of blue sky. We waded through Bynack Burn and then a deeper Geldie Burn (mid calf level) and stopped for second breakfast at White Bridge, by which time, the sun was out and it was getting quite warm. Further along, I stopped and dug out the sun tan lotion as my right ear was starting to sizzle.

Geldie Burn

We called in at Mar Lodge for tea and biscuits, an annual service laid on for Challengers. They also provide meals and accommodation for those who want it. It was here that Bert irrevocably dropped out of the Challenge. He had made his mind up and accepted a lift into Braemar. From Mar Lodge, Frank and I had a very pleasant road walk of about four miles into Braemar. We called into the Village Hall and helped their fundraising for the primary school by having soup and pudding for a fiver. At 3pm, we left to go on to our pitch at the local Caravan Club site. There aren't that many Challengers here; yesterday would have been heaving with them. The noisiest birds to be heard here are oystercatchers and there are numerous ducks wandering around the site. The weather is forecast to be dry and sunny for the next few days.

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Challenge Day 9 May 19

Today has been the day of Bert's blisters. They are a horrifying sight, although for the most part mercifully hidden by many Compeed blister patches. Although we haven't seen it (and have no wish to do so), he says that his left little toe has no skin left on it and is red raw. During the day, he took to wearing one of Frank's sandals on his left foot which helped a little and looked quite strange. His right foot has blisters as well but just feels numb. At the day's end, he has blisters on his heels as well. Not a happy bunny.

I only asked him how his blisters were!
That said, today has been easy. Leaving Blair Atholl, we went north on the lane towards Fenderbridge, coming to a good grassy path above the River Tilt which was followed for a mile or so.

On the other side of the valley, there was shooting going on, shown on the map as a rifle range. The steep sided hills on either side began to close in as we entered Glen Tilt, crossing to the other side of the river over the bridge just past Marble Lodge (presumably at some time past a hunting lodge but now an idyllic holiday let).

We followed a good vehicle track for several miles up Glen Tilt. Eventually, it veered off and our way became a narrow path up to the Falls of Tarf with its elegant black wrought iron bridge. It was constructed in memory of one David Bedford, who lost his life there. It being a place that so obviously needs a bridge, it seemed a shame that a life had to be lost before a bridge was built.

Going on from there, we followed an undulating path above the Allt Garbh Buidhe. Here the hills immediately either side opened out and we are camped in an idyllic spot at NN998823, east of Loch Tilt. All we can hear is a light breeze, the occasional cries of grouse and the sound of running water just a few yards away. Looking to both north and south, we can see snow capped tops.

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Challenge Day 8 May 18

It rained lightly all through the night. I heard what may have been a stag. I'm not sure what the noise they make is called. Barking? Roaring? Anyway, it was quite close.

Black slugs were all over the place this morning. They seem to be attracted to metal. I often find at least one on the pan I heat water in for morning coffee. They soon drop away as the pan warms up.

Yesterday morning, I found that my gas cartridge was empty which I suspect may have been due to me not having turned it off fully. My plan B then came into operation. I'd brought with me a tiny meths stove which, when turned upside down, has a smooth surface on which I can burn white fuel tablets and I'd brought a few with me. They've seen me through yesterday morning and evening and this morning. They're surprisingly good, at least in relatively calm conditions. I've now got more gas.

This morning, we continued east through Tummel Forest along the forest road. We looked down to the power station at Tummel Bridge and the vast forest clearance operation going on. Going by Loch Bhac, we then left the forest, going on to a heather moor, on a clear path, quite muddy and underwater in places.

There was then a far off view of Blair Castle and the long descent into Blair Atholl which we reached around 2pm. We stopped for a quick restorative at the Atholl Arms Hotel and decided we would eat there later. We then went to pitch at the Bridge of Tilt site where our resupply parcels were waiting. Hot showers were then had, the first since last Saturday.

Love the leaded windows!

The food at the Atholl Arms was very good. Black Pudding Skirlie starter followed by macaroni cheese with garlic bread. The beer is excellent - Moulin - brewed locally and a single malt, Edragour. A few other Challengers were there as well, including Martin and Sue, continuing their B&B trek! A nice end to a quite short day.
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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Challenge Day 7 May 17

It rained/drizzled all through the night. Bert was "unwell" in the night but, fortunately, he was on the other side of the burn so didn't disturb us. He slapped more Compeeds on his blisters and dosed himself up with paracetamol and decided to walk today.

Today was a day of constant drizzle. However, the walking was easy as it was on tarmac. From Bridge of Gaur, we followed the minor road for nine miles along the south side of Loch Rannoch to the village of Kinloch Rannoch.

Here I topped up food supplies at the Co-op and we then sought out Treats café. Their tomato, chilli and lentil soup and crusty bread and a pot of tea went down very nicely. Here we met other Challengers Alan Sloman and Andrew Walker and a few others turned up as well. We hadn't seen any others since Sunday.

We then continued along the B846, picked up water along the way and are camped just a short way inside Tummel Forest. It's still raining but I've had a four course dinner, including local smoked duck pate as a starter, so am feeling quite mellow.

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