Saturday, 9 August 2014

Round the Cairngorms.............

Going round the cairngorms has been a time of long road cycles, mountain biking, catching up with friends, big, big distances between each hill, tickless, clegless, hot, hot sun and wet, wet rain.
Rob's heel is at last getting better and he has been out to play at the lecht and on Corriehabbie hill (where he went back onto the hill whilst I was Ben Rinnesing to look for my mobile phone. Needle in a haystack stuff, but he came back with it intact - amazing!). He then joined me for a mountain bike and trekking combo on that miles away from anything hill - Mount Battock. Interesting recent hill path developments taking place here as on many other hills on this journey.
Support has come in all shapes and sizes. Thankyou to Wilderness Scotland for the ice cream and the offers of support on the hill and for Stef for putting me up for the night and cooking me dinner, Oh and updating my facebook page throughout.
I have been joined by Patrick on his local hill Morven then put up by him and his family for the night  in the very bonny Tarland whilst eating them out of house and home and gaining local knowledge of the hills.
John Dunbaven, who climbed all the munros with his German Shepherd a few years back, came up to join me for a few days, move bikes around, climb some hills and eat lots of cake. It was good to share stories with someone who understands all the wee things - the hunger pangs during the night when you wake up and eat everything; being stuck in the tent all night when it's really hot but the infestation of midges means you just cant go outside; not panicking when the weather moves in and you have made a classic navigation mistake like 180 degrees out on the compass; the silly songs that get stuck in your head. Who else remembers this?
 Ma wee schools the best wee school, the best wee school in Glesga,
 The only thing that's wrang wi its the baldy heid heidmaister
  He goes tae the pub on a Saturday night
  He goes tae church on Sunday
  He prays to god to gie him strength to batter us weans on Monday!

I had a big day with friend Steve Willis mountain biking from the punch bowl to Brown Cow Hill and back over Cohnacraig and the twin summits of carn Liath and boy did we underestimate the length of the cycle. Steve has the eyes of a hawk, I saw more wildlife that day than I had all the rest of the journey round the gorms including 3 golden eagle sightings and the fresh tracks of a hare who had been trying to escape. Steve was a guide with Wilderness Scotland the same time as me and was always willing to share his knowledge and his humour.

This had been a big day and it was amazing to finish at the end of the day with some chocolate and whisky sent by Jane from the lake district whom I do not know but who has been following the exploits. It could not have come at a more perfect time.

I have not been meeting many people on the hills but on Ben Tirran i met Ian, the Watch of Barrisdale, after I had walked over the Capel Mounth and all the way down glen Clova to get there and he stated what a short day Ben Tirran was and he was off to do another hill down the valley. the joys of having a car. I comforted myself with the biggest slice of chocolate cake with strawberries and cream in the Glen Clova Hotel after the walk.

A big thankyou to Manny for coming to meet me after a big day walking the 5 corbetts from glen tilt to Glen Feshie. Boy was I ill. I have been lucky throughout this journey but something got to me that evening, having the runs on the hill is not fun - enough said. Manny carried my pack over the last hill of the day while I crawled along behind and he brought me a mountain bike to make the next day easier.
My 2 hills in the Gaick pass were vertical grass slopes, so much so that I did not have to bend down to eat all the blaeberries and crowberries which are abundant at the moment.
A long cycle out to Kingussie ended with a well needed shower, chippy, red wine and bed chez Manny and Brenda. My trip round the cairngorms finished with an ascent of the Fara this morning, I was very surprised to meet someone else on the hill and had to stop for a photo and a wee pic with Alan Chan, it's not often you meet someone on a corbett.
Meanwhile my friend Clare who had came all the way up from Glasgow had to go looking and finding my elusive mobile phone which i had managed to lose yet again on a wee 'comfort break' on my cycle to the hill.
The ling is purple at its best, the deer grass is deer coloured, the asphodel is turning burn orange and there is Devil's Bit everywhere. I'm walking into autumn with 22 hills to go.....

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