View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Northern Pies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northern Pies. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 6: Lunch in the sun

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.



Rannoch Moor

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.




Curious deer

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

TGO Challenge 2018, the first bit.

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.

To Scotland…

…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:




Oban Harbour.Wetherspoons had run out of Adnam’s so I left.

To Tobermory….

…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.





To Kilchoan….

…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 Harbour

To 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:




All my photographs from this trip can be viewed here.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Not Daundering, 23rd–25th April 2018

A naughty backpack from Clapham to Dent

This was all Mike’s idea, me Dawn, Lucky and Chrissie just went along for the ride. And the beer, there may have been beer involved.

Mike, for reasons that will become clear, is henceforth to be referred to as The Kilted Pieman. If I remember, which I probably won’t.

Anyroadup, me and Chrissie (who just happened to be on the same train as me) alighted at Clapham in t’Yorkshire Dales and wandered over to the pub – always a good move.

We were supposed to meet up with Lucky and his Dad plus Dawn at Lancaster station, but train delays and cancellations severely buggered-up their arrangements – hence the pub visit.

The New Inn is a fine establishment that serves, amongst other stuff, TT Landlord. A couple of beers after arriving the pub door flung open and LTD marched purposefully into the bar ahead of his Dad and Dawn and demanded beer with menaces.

It was raining and the latecomers were a tad soggy and damp.

It was still raining, but only a bit, as we left the pub and headed up to our camping spot at Gaping Gill.


Spooky house


A fine set of knees near Clapham Bottoms. Honest.

The area around Gaping Gill was quite murky and much of the ground was nicely adorned with sheep-poo – a clean(ish) pitch was hard to find.


 Murk at Gaping Gill

The weather didn’t encourage outside-of-tent socialising so I stayed in for the evening and read a book (The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe) and listened to the wireless-type radio to catch up on the usual depressing news.

More depression followed when my NeoAir decided it would be a wizard prank to deflate slowly but quite surely. Lovely. I couldn’t find the puncture so ended up kipping on the teensiest bit of 5mm thick (thin?) foam mat. It wasn’t a comfortable night.


Gaping Gill


One dog and his man

Next morning we headed Ribbleheadwards, towards Ribblehead, famous for the Ribblehead Viaduct and a pretty decent pub, more of which later.



A gentle bimble, at daunder pace (not that we were daundering – heaven forbid) to the foot of Ingleborough where it was a bit wet and the breeze was getting up. Dawn & Chrissie, being the sensible sorts they are, bravely volunteered to single-handedly guard The Kilted Pieman’s (see, I remembered) and my rucksacks whilst we ventured forth and upwards to conquer the peak’s lofty, er, peak.

This was a good ascent, we fought the elements and refused to falter – until eventually, exhausted and almost out of oxygen, we got to the top.

I’d like to say how fantastic the fantastic views were, how you could see the snow-covered Southern Uplands of Scotland, how clear Blackpool Tower was, and how we could easily see fellow walkers ascending neighbouring Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside. Except you couldn’t. You couldn’t see a damned thing, such was the thick cloud that enveloped us.

Ho hum.


On top of Ingleborough

We descended to find our rucksacks abandoned in the rain whilst our brave guards sheltered in a tent – hastily erected as a last-ditch defence against marauding Swaledales. Their cunning plan worked, both they and our rucksacks were unharmed.

These girls are clever.

Next stop was the Station Inn at Ribblehead, purveyors of very good beer and magnificent pork pies. We drank the pies and ate the beer, all was well with the world.


Approaching The Station at Ribblehead

After beer and pies we escaped the pub and, in between the rain showers, hurried to get the tents up.

Whinge warning:

Camping here is currently free but for how long I don’t know – there are some campers who don’t treat the area with respect. Broken glass, fires, rubbish left behind etc is all evidence of the irresponsibility of SOME visitors. They obviously don’t get the idea of ‘Leave no trace’. The farmer who owns the land isn’t going to put up with that sort of behaviour for long.

End of whinge.

Back to the pub for more food and even more beer….the food looked generally good although my pie could have been better. The good news was the landlord took my criticism on board and did something about it. I’m happy about that – I’ll certainly eat there again.

Another uncomfortable night followed. The wind and rain got windier and rainier and my NeoAir only held enough air for about 90 minutes of relative comfort before my bum and other bits came in contact with the cold ground. I had spare clothing which I was also lying on but it wasn’t enough.

I repaired the NeoAir when I got home….more later.


It must have been very windy overnight, one of my tentpegs had become dislodged.

The intended 9am start was rescheduled to 11am ‘cos the weather forecast was pretty awful. Poor Chrissie had an attack of the flashing lights and had elected to bale out early – Ribblehead railway station was a very short walk from our camp spot and trains ran fairly regularly to get he back home so it was an easy decision.





Leaving Chrissie behind we wandered alongside the Ribblehead viaduct to walk up to Blea Moor. The promised foul weather didn’t arrive, not in the Dales anyway – although I gather it was pretty grim dahn sarf.

A military-looking tracked vehicle had been spotted going up the hill earlier in the day. As we ascended it came back down to meet us.


Onward, upwards and over Blea Moor, we were planning on the hoof. We’d pretty well decided that we’d just make our way to Dent by the prettiest way possible – that included a lovely Mossy Bottom picnic spot by the railway line and a wander down a section of the Dales Way.



It would have been nice to stop for a beer….


…but the pub was shut

The weather remained fine as we trundled down the road to Dent, only to find that we’d just missed a train. Being as wot the sun was sort of shining we found a nice little spot on the banks of the River Dee (no, not THAT River Dee) where we just chilled. In fact we chilled so much that we needed to wrap up, the sun may have been shing but the breeze wasn’t so warm.

A lot of contour lines were crossed in rapid succession as we wandered up to Dent Station, where, incidently, it was bloody freezing.



A wall heater in the waiting room did the neccesary, as long as you didn’t sit on it. The heater that is, not the waiting room.

Then we all went home via Leeds.

It was good, very laid back and a lot of fun. I don’t know how far we walked but it wasn’t too far – it didn’t need to be.

Thanks to Lucky for inviting me along and to Mike, Chrissie and Dawn for putting up with me.

One last thing….for Alan, ‘cos he likes this sort of thing:


 So that was it. A great little trip that definitely wasn’t a Daunder.

What actually happened can be read:

Chrissie’s blog

The Kilted Pieman’s blog

Dawn’s blog

More pics

Oh, and another last thing: the punctured NeoAir.

It was pure coincidence that last week, my mate John B from Bramhall, who’s currently walking LeJoG, phoned me with a SitRep and to report a similarly punctured NeoAir and consequent cold bum.

He tried to repair it with the repair kit supplied by Thermarest but it just didn’t do the job. He ended up using E6000 glue. Two applications were used: the first one to actually seal the puncture, the second as a reinforcement.

That was over two weeks ago and the repair has held, certainly up to a couple of days ago.

I didn’t have any E6000 to hand but I nipped over to Go Outdoors and bought a tune of SeamGrip

This stuff is recommended for all sorts of repairs – including puncturedsleeping mats.


Two layers of the stuff on my NeoAir seems to have done the trick – although I’ll be carrying the tube of SeamGrip with me on the Challenge – just in case.

Anchor Inn session