Friday, 8 November 2019
Lucky The Dog really doesn’t like fireworks, not one little bit. It didn’t take a huge amount of badgering to get his Dad to take him off on a wild camping trip dahn sarf for a couple of nights, and so it came to be.
Lucky & Dad arrived on Monday 3rd November in order to pre-empt any possible pre-emptive firework-whizz-flash-bang displays around the green and pleasant land of Crookshire.
It didn’t take long for the peaceful trip that Lucky’s Dad (henceforth known as Mike) had planned to be gatecrashed by Judith, Beryl the Peril (aka Margaret) and meself.
Judith, Margaret and I had agreed to rendezvous on the Tuesday. On arrival, Judith was found trying to locate a benchmark on the side of a building. It’s what she does.
We headed off after an hour or so, having demolished our packed lunches, and then walked for miles and miles over hill & dale and through raging rivers to seek out the appointed very very nice and flat camp-spot.
Although it certainly wasn’t anywhere near dark, the light was just beginning to fail and I couldn’t make out Mike’s dark green Akto, it blended very well into the background of cow-poo laden grass.
Fortunately Mike had spotted us and he flashed his torch (well I think it was his torch) which really stood out well in the low light of the winter afternoon. Tents were soon erected and after sharing our tales of daring-do it was almost time for tea….but not before copious amounts of, er, tea.
Then it got rather cool, really very quite chilly-cool. A bit too cold to socialise outside our tents.
Inter-tent communication is always a bit difficult – made even more difficult by the hiss of a gas stove. I spent the evening eating, reading, listening to the BBC R4-type-wireless, dozing, eating some more…oh and drinking tea. Camomile tea seeing as you ask – doesn’t need milk y’see.
I didn’t sleep too well, I was plenty warm enough but just couldn’t get comfortable, in spite of being pitched on flat ground.
The night was clear and the moon shone brightly, even so, loads of stars were visible. I should have taken a photograph or two but it was too damned cold for me to want to escape the warmth of my tent.
Next morning, the grass was white with frost – even as late as 10am.
The morning wasn’t wasted, we spent a good 10 minutes studiously studying maps in a successful attempt at planning a route for TGOC2020. After all this inventive route planning a blur of frenzied activity followed - and an early 11am departure – Denis would be proud.
We retraced our steps, and after hours of battling the sleet, snow, sun, rain, and cold wind we arrived back at our cars.
Judith found her Benchmark, I found an Eccles cake in the boot of my car, Mike & Lucky went off to find a hill, and then we all went home.
A nice little trip, thanks to Mike for arranging and making it happen. We should do it again.
More photographs here.
Oh, and here’s a map of a bit of Wales:
Saturday, 2 June 2018
In which we frighten the ladies
I slept badly. This wasn’t down to grunting, farting or snoring (well there wasn’t THAT much snoring), it was just another of those nights that my brain had engaged hyper-drive.
I made a cuppa around 4am and stuck my head out of the tent to see what was going on.
Nothing. Nowt. Nada.
It hadn’t got fully dark all night and now, approaching dawn (hello Dawn!), the snowy peaks SW of us were standing out quite dramatically. I photographed the scene but I’m no expert – see yesterday’s post for the photo. I was using my Lumix TZ70 Compact (a fine little camera, but at the end of the day it’s just a compact), plus the camera on my Samsung S5. In spite of these limitations I was quite pleased with the results.
Up and about fairly late, around 7.30am. Mike had reported that our tents were icy earlier – he’d been forced to leave the warmth of his pit for a …..well, you know.
View from my tent at 7.45am
Fab views all around this morning: bright sunshine illuminated the hills all around.
T’other JJ spotted a big bird, he reckoned it might have been an eagle.
Whatever it was, it whizzed over far too quickly for me to even grab my camera, let alone photograph it.
Much poorly–ness in camp this morning. Mike was slightly under the weather and t’other JJ wasn’t feeling too good either.
Up and away around 9.30am, it was cool and fresh but rapidly warming up.
This wasn’t the most exciting day, most of it was mainly either on LRT or very minor road with just a titchy bit of forestry track where we didn’t get very lost at all. It was all easy going though.
The major stop of the day was the very excellent Rannoch Station Tea Room, situated rather conveniently at, er, Rannoch Station.
Approaching Rannoch Station
Much tea was supped, toasties guzzled, and wonderful soup slurped. This worked wonders – it gave us all a damned good kick in the pants. Or kilts.
The sun was shining very hotly. Ladies on the adjacent table, possibly quite frightened by the appearance of naked knees (the ladies were frightened, not the table), were struggling to concentrate on their lunches…nowt to do with me, I was well dressed under my kilt. I couldn’t possibly comment on the state of Mike’s
undress, you’ll need to ask him.
It must have been the heat.
It was 3pm by the time we left the tea-rooms, we thought we’d best move on before we got moved on. You can only ask for a finite number of tea-pot top-ups with hot water before suspicion is aroused.
We were now on a wiggly tarmac minor road. the B846. The planned destination for the day was the Forestry Commision Campsite at Carie on the south shore of Loch Rannoch.
Unidentified wildlife (Fossilised Giant Haggis?)
In search of a suitable pitch
The campsite was shut* although as it happened it didn’t matter. We didn’t get there that evening, we were just too knackered to walk the last 5km of road. Instead we found a slightly lumpy patch of ground on the loch shore at NN569566 and we pitched there.
* Although the site at Carie was shut (closed-down by the look of things), another Forestry Commision Campsite had opened a little further down the road, towards Kinloch Rannoch.
I enjoyed a brill tea of home-made and home-dehydrated pasta bolognese + a dollop of olive oil followed by a couple of Eccles cakes for pudding. Eccles cakes really are quite excellent – especially when they’ve been crushed inside your pack. For a true Cordon-Bleu experience they should be submerged under a topping of instant custard….but not tonight. Only because I wasn’t carrying any.
Chorley Cakes, BTW, simply won’t do. They’re a completely different animal. Obv.
By 9.15pm (as I was writing my diary up) it had got very cold so I was snuggled in my sleeping bag, supping a mug of camomile tea.
Sunset over Loch Rannoch
I left my tent door open until quite late, watching the light fade over the loch. It was all quite romantic really.
Cuckoo count: 7 (much better)
Other wild animals: Two red squirrels, numerous lizards, various deer, and a suspected eagle - there were other birds too but I didn’t count them.
No wild Challengers though.
Monday, 28 May 2018
Kilchoan to Scurdie Ness….sort of
The Plan, for there should always be A Plan, was to walk from the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the West coast of Scotland, to Scurdie Ness Lighthouse on the East coast.
The reasons for choosing this start point were two fold:
I had ‘discovered’ Kilchoan in both 1973 & 1974 when I attended the Loch Lomond Motorcycle Club’s Antler Rally. The ride, from Manchester was a tough one – especially on a 250cc MZ motorcycle, comfortable as they are. In those days Kilchoan’s electricity was supplied by generator and when the generator went off at night the whole place was plunged into darkness. I recall the petrol station dispensed fuel by hand-operated pumps. Anyroadup, I was keen to revisit the place just to see how it had changed over 45 years.
T’other reason was that I really needed a quiet start, and given that Kilchoan isn’t the easiest place to get to I imagined very few Challengers would be using it as a start point.
…by train, to meet up with Denis & Mary. Even three days before the event there were Challengers waiting to board the train at glasgow Queen Street. My destination was a poky and rather overpriced hotel in Oban. Oh well.
View from the hotel in Oban
Oban’s a lovely place and it was good (and important) to spend a bit of chilling / unwinding time there before the start of the Challenge.
Denis & Mary are good company and aren’t exactly unknown in Challenge circles. Other Challengers rolled up over the next couple of days – notably Chrissie Dixie. Food, beer and coffee were all consumed only to slight excess thanks to the excellent Wetherspoons by the harbour.
A bit of relaxing wandering around the town:
…by sea and bus. I met with The Kilted Pieman at the CalMac ferry terminal in good time for the sailing to Craignure on Mull. A bus deposited us nicely in Tobermory where we didn’t go for a pint. Until later.
Our ferry disgorging it’s load at Craignure
I was staying in the SYHA whilst Mike treated himself to a night in a hotel.
Tobermory in the sun
We met up for a bit of a very nice walk after tea. Apres-walk rehydration followed.
…by sea. The Plan was to catch the late Friday morning sailing to Kilchoan but the strengthening winds meant there was a good chance that that sailing would be cancelled – so it had to be the early sailing or nothing.
Kilchoan HarbourTo Singing Sands…and beyond
A bumpy ferry crossing over the sea deposited us in Kilchoan in good time to have missed most of the other Challenge starters. I was sorry to miss Neal from Shetland who had proved such great company on last year’s Challenge.
The Kilchoan Hotel
The Kilchoan Hotel, our sign-out point, had changed somewhat over the years. In 1974 it was a basic ‘proper’ pub. Now it was all fancy menus, heated toilets and coffee from a cafetiere. Not quite the same.
A cafetiere of not-very-good coffee set us up for our individual Challenges and after signing out we headed off for two weeks of walking.
It wasn’t long before a couple on a rather nice tandem pulled up for a chat. The couple, Sandra and Jim Robb, were both Challenge Leg-Ends and justifiably proud of their record. Their last Challenge in 2004 (C25) was my FIRST Challenge.
Sandra & Jim headed off to the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point, whilst Mike headed East and I went North.
Then the wind got up my Sports Kilt and it started to rain. Rather a lot. My PacLight overtrousers were needed, they worked well over my Sports Kilt. So far my route was on single-track roads, nice and quiet but a bit exposed to the elements.
First deer of the trip
The north coast of Ardnamurchan is quite wild and beautiful. I started to get a move-on, not wanting to be out in the bad weather for too long.
I was looking foward to getting my tent up by Singing Sands but the signage had a slight deterrent effect….so I carried on eastwards.
And then I carried on some more because there was nowhere to camp, the ground was either too sodden, too rough or too ‘public’.
It was 9pm when I arrived in Acharacle, miles beyond my intended camp-spot, I struggled to find a sufficiently out-of-the-way spot to pitch my tent but I’d spotted a fall-back opportunity on the map: a church yard. Added advantage of such a camp spot is that they often have an outside water tap….but this was the West of Scotland where rainfall is plentiful, a water supply isn’t really needed in this area! Oh well, I didn’t want a drink / meal / wash anyway. Well not much.
My chosen spot was flat, very private, and offered plenty of early morning sunshine to dry off my Akto. And there were red squirrels. Nice.
I slept well that night.
Part 2 tomorrow. Probably.
But before that, a few more piccies. The first lot are for Rob who has a thing about doors (I don’t ask):
And these are for AlanR….of course:
…or Five go Adventuring Again Lucky The Dog really doesn’t like fireworks, not one little bit. It didn’t take a huge amount of badgering t...
Testing 1 – 2 - 3
It was all a bit last minute. I needed to get out for some serious brain-straightening peace and quiet, plus I had some new(ish) kit to test...
Well Dear Readers, spring has officially commenced as we assembled at the Lantern Pike at Little Hayfield. Spring was definitely so...