View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Friday, 23 June 2017

Sleeping with a Mad Woman, 20th June 2017

A Summer Solstice Wild Camp

Heat does something to your psyche, so I’m told. I couldn’t possibly comment.

The MetroLink tram journey from Wythenshawe to Manchester, around 7 miles in a straight line, took 1 1/2 hours. It arrived at Piccadilly train station just as the 6.40pm train to Edale was departing. The next train was in 2 hours and wouldn’t arrive in Edale until 9.30pm. I couldn’t have walked into Manchester in that time, but given cooler weather I most certainly could have jogged it. Oh well.

The light was fading as the train approached the tunnel beyond Chinley but the sky was fairly clear. When the train emerged from the tunnel in the Vale of Edale it was as if I’d been transported to a late autumn day: dark, grey and very foggy – the hills were completely hidden by a thick wet mist.

I resisted the strong temptation to cross to the other side of the station and to jump on the next train home – I’d made it so far I might as well stay. Anyway I might have been able to climb above the clag. Or not…

I walked north, past the Nags Head, crossed over the river and began the steady climb up to pass to the left of the rocky outcrop of Ringing Roger. The mist was so thick that it remained invisible until I was almost upon it. 

I got to the lower of the two footpaths that run East – West above Ringing Roger and turned right (East….which is A Very Good Direction). My idea was that by sticking to the slightly lower path I could use the slope to my right as a handrail….perhaps not the safest choice given the visibility.

By this time it was really quite dark and I had to use my head torch, set on low so as to reduce and reflected / refracted glare from the water droplets. At least I could see where I was putting my feet.

My plan was to get to the stream running down Jaggers Clough and then bear left, uphill. In normal visibilty it would have been a straightforward navigational exercise. In the thick mist and dark it wasn’t quite so simple. For a start, the stream, which was to be my water source, was dry. Fortunately I’d guessed that it might be dry on the tops and I was carrying 2 litres of the stuff.

Eventually, and after much cursing, I located the feature I was looking for, a footpath crossing the stream. From here I knew I could pick up a path to my intended pitch: Madwomans Stones – highly recommended by Chrissie.

I could hear voices in the far distance, it sounded like a group of 2-3 people were chatting, they sounded in high spirits.

It was 11.30pm by the time my tent was up and the kettle on. Visibility was quite dire and I wasn’t holding out much hope for a clear sunrise at 4.38am – I set my alarm just in case.

At 4am I awoke, it was getting light but the mist hadn’t thinned at all. I had a wander around but it was clear, actually it wasn’t at all clear (!) that there would be no magical Summer Solstice Sunrise for me. I made a cuppa and got back under my quilt…zzzzz…..

Awake again at 6.30am, the mist was lifting / burning off. It was going to be a warm one. The sun was hot – my sock and trail shoes, wet through from last nights trudge through sodden heather, were drying nicely.


First job of the day: make coffee….and drink it.

There was no sign of any other campers in the area, heaven knows where the voices I’d heard the previous night had come from.

I packed up, had a wander around and took a few photographs of the stones, the views and other stuff.









Jagger Clough dry stream bed

My return route was via the higher path to Ringing Roger, in the light there was zero risk of getting lost.



A hairy caterpillar


Ringing Roger



Ringing Roger

Breakfast of muesli (as usual) was at The Nab. A cooling breeze tempted me to linger longer but the path was getting busy with day walkers so I scuttled off downhill in search of water.


My breakfast stop at The Nab, overlooking Edale

It was now cookingly hot and very humid. I was back in Edale by about 11.30am so I topped up with water and soon found myself at the visitor centre, sampling the rather good Bradwells Ice Cream. If you haven’t already, then you really should – it’s a bit excellent.

My route:

Madwomans Stones

Not very far, around 7.5miles + 1400ft(ish) of ascent….according to Memory Map.

A nice little trip, it would have been nicer in clear conditions. There’s always the winter solstice to look forward too….when I would expect no lack of water.

I improved my MetroLink tram journey time from Piccadilly to home: 1hr 25mins.

Friday, 16 June 2017

TGO Challenge 2017 Part 4, May 2017

Tuesday 23rd May, Spittal of Glen Muick to Tarfside

I slept very badly, the previous night’s terrorist attack in Manchester saw to that. I had my radio on most of the night trying to glean as much information as possible. There was little to learn in those first few hours, just that there had been carnage. A black cloud followed me for the next few days.


A trio of Aktos in the early morning


Allt Darrarie

The day’s Plan was fairly straightforward: over to Sheilin of Mark Bothy > Muckle Cairn > Glen Lee > Tarfside. Nothing difficult there, although the boggy gound to the bothy isn’t the nicest – even on a lovely sunny day like today.

Mick’s Plan B was far better: a bit of stream following delivered us, along lovely dry and grassy runnels to where we wanted to be.


Croydon leading Gill & Patrick of the Manchester Crew


Shielin of Mark Bothy with Mount Keene a very long way away

Having said before that my boots were dry, my right foot was feeling every-so slightly damp.

The route over Muckle Cairn involves a fair bit of bog-hopping but once at the top it’s a fairly straightforward descent into Glen Lee.


Into Glen Lee

Glen Lee marked the end of the big hills of my Challenge, not that I did many. From here onwards the hills would be far gentler and by lunchtime the next day the big mountains would just be a memory.


Loch Lee….where you really mustn’t camp ’cos of the night fishermen

It’s a bit of a boring trek alongside Loch Lee (where you mustn’t camp in case you disturb the night fishermen. And, presumably, night fisherwomen). to Tarfside so we decided that the nice bench seat at the East end of Loch Lee would make for a nice tea stop. We wouldn’t be camping, and it wasn’t night time anyway.


As I took my boots off – really to get some air at my slightly damp-feeling right foot…. there was a scream from Gill. Now I know I have whiffy feet, but this was over-reaction – surely.


She’d spotted a little passenger in my right boot.

No wonder my foot felt a bit odd. The poor thing had probably been in my boot for two days. I’m not sure if it expired because of the noxious foot fumes or it had met it’s end when I pulled my boots on. Whatever, it was quite dead now.

We continued, mouseless, to Tarfside and tea, bacon butties & cake. My tent went up in double quick time and my stove was pressed into service for more tea. The drinking kind, the eating one came later.

Beer was scarce at the Mason’s. For reasons best known to the Mason’s Computerised Stock Control System, the place was beer-less by 9pm.


The Mason’s

Many started on the wine, then the whisky. Not me though, I don’t go in for that sort of stuff. An early night followed.

I couldn’t get the thought of that poor mouse out of my mind though.

Cuckoo Count: 1

Wednesday 24th May, Tarfside to Northwaterbridge

BBC R4’s 6am news consisted mainly of coverage of the Manchester terrorist attack. The police appear to have made some progress, arrests had been made – but welcome as this news was, it wasn’t going to bring back the 22 who ended up losing their lives, nor would it be much consolation to those that suffered live-threatening and live-changing injuries.



Breakfast was a most civilsed affair – sitting on a real chair, eating off real plates using proper knives and forks. The Retreat knows how to look after Challengers. Before leaving I made full use of the facilities. It’s so much nicer to start a day’s walk feeling clean and smelling, er, a bit better.

It was dry and warm, some Challengers were heading NE for finish points such as Stonehaven. Others, like me, were following the trade route to Edzell (and more food!) and then Northwaterbridge.



River North Esk

I steamed along the footpath that roughly follows the course of the River North Esk. I was moving at a fair lick. I was mostly alone but that was fine, it gave me the chance to catch up with my thoughts – something you don’t always get when walking in company. Of course I met plenty, passed plenty – and was passed by plenty more.


I’ve stopped to chat to this farmer on more than one Challenge

Edzell appeared, mobile phone coverage too. I was at last able to catch up with family & friends to check that all were okay after the bomb attack. Thankfully all were well.


My now customary visit to The Inn for refreshments, er, refreshed me nicely. A most healthy meal of whale & chips followed by the most disgustingly large ice cream sundae ensured I wouldn’t need any tea that night.


 Lindy and Croydon

Onwards to Northwaterbridge….



I’m not sure what sort of fish this was in the River North Esk (a salmon?) but it doesn’t look too healthy. I estimated it was around 70 – 80cm long.


Friendly doggy in a garden, just over the river from Edzell.

The campsite at Northwaterbridge was full of Challenge Family. After my huge lunch I didn’t need to eat – but I drank oodles of tea. It had been a warm day and I hadn’t drunk enough.


After a long and hot shower I wandered around the campsite, mug of tea in hand, catching up with everyone and finding out what they’d all been up to.


L>R: ? , Barbara, Lindy. Illumination by Baby Bel candle

Then it was bed time. After two weeks of camping in the highlands, a commercial campsite like this isn’t the most restful place in the world – heavy waggons whizzing past on the adjacent A90 saw to that.

It was a warm night and I had a lot on my mind, I didn’t sleep well.

Cuckoo Count: 0

Thursday 25th May – to the seaside!

I was away from Northwaterbridge by around 7.45am. It was going to be a warm ‘un, the sun was already quite hot. I was glad it was going to be a short day.

The major obstacle of the day was met early on, the A90. You really take your life in your hands crossing this busy road.


Crossing the River North Esk for the last time this Challenge I’m rudely reminded that I’m re-entering ‘civilisation’.


River North Esk

The route to the coast is mostly tarmac but Lindy had pointed out a nice bit of track that presented a very pleasant diversion for over a mile. Looking at the map it appears to be the old road (or one of them) into Hillside.


Lindy’s far nicer route into Hillside


First sighting of the North Sea



Hillside’s War Memorial

From Hillside there’s just a short stretch of tarmac to the next obstacle of the day…


A garden centre….


….and strawberries

Next stop, the North Sea and the end of my TGOC 2017



It was great to be ambushed by Neil, he’d been lurking in the sand dunes – he knew where I was finishing and he’d walked up from Montrose to meet me, what a star!


The End

Apart from Cuckoo Count: 0…. and a few photographs worthy of appearing here:







 Even more photographs here.

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