TGOC2017 – Shiel Bridge To Aberdeen, Part Four

Day Ten – 14.9 miles

I have a shuffle about of plans. My feet are still not perfect, but they’re improving. In an ideal world, I would now have a couple of days’ rest to sort them out properly but I haven’t got that option on the Challenge. And successfully finishing the Challenge is now uppermost in my mind. It’s more important, in fact, than any route choice I make.

My original plan for the next two days takes me over Bynack More and onto Cock Bridge. I decide to alter this for something I assume will be easier walking underfoot, maximising the healing potential for my feet. It will mean a lot of road walking on the second day, but that doesn’t bother me – the flat surface of tarmac is currently more comfortable than a rocky path.

I set off from Loch Morlich then, initially heading for Nethy Bridge.

I’ve actually done this route before, many years ago. It’s very pleasant, passing An Lochan Uaine and Ryvoan Bothy, before heading into the Abernethy Forest.

 

 

It’s too early for First Lunch, so I don’t call in at the bothy. Last time I was here, there was snow down and a herd of reindeer pottering about. No such luck today.

The forest is quiet and peaceful, and I find a spot in here for First Lunch.

 

About 20 years ago, I stayed in a hotel in Nethy Bridge when I was doing a Winter Skills course, but I’d forgotten what a pretty village it is. It also has a shop – which is open – and I buy some more Dairylea Dunkers (the Bread Stick variety this time) and the obligatory can of Coke, and have Second Lunch.

Picking up the minor road which crosses to the A939, I continue on a few more miles. I’m surprised at how pleasant and quiet this road is. Good views and reasonable grass verges, too.

I pass a few B&Bs on the outskirts of Nethy Bridge and there are several spots (complete with small streams) further up on the road where I can pitch a tent quite happily. I don’t object though, when Crowther B&B services turns up. And it seems just a bit daft to pitch the tent outside the van…

Day Eleven – 17.4 miles

Geoff is panicking. He’s worrying about my Road Day. In contrast, the thought of it isn’t bothering me at all. I tell him I’ll be fine.

In fact, the A939 is nowhere near as busy as you might expect and there is once again easy grass verge walking for much of the way. The weather is fresh and dry, and the views are far ranging.

 

I’m happy, content and singing.

Shortly after Bridge of Brown, I find a nice track which cuts a corner off.

 

A couple of miles before Tomintoul, I find a footpath which takes me into the town, avoiding the main road.

 

Yesterday, James told me that Tomintoul has loads of good eating places so I’m looking forward to a nice lunch. As I enter this ribbon development though, it has all the appearance of some deserted town out of a Spaghetti Western.

I’m hungry now and it feels like the town goes on forever, but all of a sudden it opens out and The Old Fire Station Tea Room comes into view.

Lunch is delicious.

I speak to Geoff on the phone. He is still worrying. There is an alternative to the road which I can take from here – along the side of the River Avon to Inchrory, and then the track to Cock Bridge. It looks good, but taking that route would make the distance for today 24 miles, instead of just over 17. I don’t want to walk that far today.

So, I continue on my merry way. The sun has come out and there’s a pleasing breeze. I now have to climb over the pass at Lecht. I’m not a fan of the look of ski resorts in the summer, but nevertheless, still feel good when I reach the top. I call in for an ice cold Coke, then a German couple who’ve cycled up ask me to take their photo in front of the sign.

 

From here, it’s not far to Cock Bridge. I’ve had a Good Day. With hindsight (a wonderful thing) I reckon my feet would have been fine on my original route over Bynack More. But for now, I’ve got a real buzz knowing that I’ve just walked nearly 18 miles today, and not had a single problem with my toes.

Day Twelve – 13.3 miles

I’m now back on my planned route and heading for Ballater. It’s promising to be a hot day.

Following the Old Miltary Road today, involves more tracks and paths than tarmac. It’s delightful.

 

 

Another Good Day. I see no one walking at all, until another Challenger rolls up while I’m eating Umpteenth Lunch, only a couple of miles out of Ballater. This is Mark. We have a short chat and agree to meet up again later – we’re both spending the night at Ballater Campsite.

 

Geoff and the dogs are waiting for me at the site. And shortly after I arrive, Mark turns up. He pitches near us, and joins us for afternoon tea and cakes. Very civilised!

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TGOC2017 – Shiel Bridge To Aberdeen, Part Three

Day Eight – 10.1 miles

I have a very luxurious night at Newtonmore and sleep really well. Aiming to set off around 9am, I prepare my feet for the day in my new sock liners.

They won’t be a miracle cure today, but they feel lovely and I know the blisters will now stand a chance of starting to heal.

I’ve only a short day planned and the weather is once again dry and sunny. First off, I mooch along to Kingussie. There’s a cycle path all the way, so I don’t have to dodge the traffic.

I am already forming a plan for First Lunch. I’m going to raid the Co-Op in Kingussie and then sit in the park in the sunshine for a break. As I come out of the shop, I hear a cheery shout.

‘Hey, Chrissie! We’re looking for somewhere good for breakfast, have you found anywhere?’

It’s Rupert, who I shared a room with in Fort Augustus.

‘No, I’ve just bought some stuff to eat in the park. Good luck!’

I drink my Coke and eat a whole packet of Jaffa Cake Bars, in the sunshine.

Setting off again, I meet another guy. Apologies, but I can’t remember his name. We walk, and chat, together for about half an hour, before heading off in different directions.

Pottering on in the sunshine, I stop for Second Lunch on the edge of the forest, before picking up the track to take me to Uath Lochan.

My destination for the night is reached mid afternoon. It’s rather pleasant and I find a great spot for the tent right next to the water.

 

I filter all the water I need for the night, and settle down to a brew or two before evening.

A handful of people wander around the loch – it’s obviously a nice ‘after-work-wind-down’ spot I reckon, but it’s nevertheless still peaceful. I have a good night’s sleep.

Day Nine – 13.5 miles

It rains overnight and is still raining when I wake. I’m glad of my standard routine of collecting all the water I need on an evening, so I don’t have to faff getting any more for breakfast.

I’m sure a sopping wet fly sheet adds about a kilogram of weight to your rucksack!

A route is planned through the forest to take me to Loch Morlich, where I’m meeting up with Geoff and the dogs.

About half a mile down one of the tracks though, I find my way barred by a huge, fallen tree.

It looks problematic but I determine to try and crawl through the branches. Once I get up close though, I can see there’s maybe 3 or 4 more huge, downed trees across the track after this one. Accidental, or on purpose? Not really having a choice, I backtrack, look at the map, and give in. If I go round on the road, it’ll be nearly a mile shorter than my planned route anyway.

I hit a bit of a low point. Everyone’s allowed a low point occasionally.

Trail Magic does exist, though. Just as I round a bend, having eaten First Lunch, a couple of backpackers appear. After my encounter with John Boy the other day, I realise that they probably are Challengers, even though we’re walking in opposite directions.

We stop for a chat. They should be going through the Lairig Ghru, but with the weather being inclement, have plumped for Glen Feshie instead. Hence their southerly route today. And a bit more chat, reveals that one of the guys is a Boxer Nut like me and is using his Challenge as a vehicle for raising money for Boxer Rescue. Coincidence or what!

This all cheers me up enormously, and keeps me going for the rest of the day.

And what a welcome I get at Loch Morlich! Hubby and dogs all greet me as if I’ve been away for months.

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TGOC2017 – Shiel Bridge To Aberdeen, Part Two

Day Four – zero miles

Morag’s Lodge in Fort Augustus is a great hostel. Not only are Colin and Dave staying here as well, I meet up with Challengers I already know – JJ and Andy Walker – and a whole load I’ve never met before. The place also does a good breakfast and evening meal.

But my feet need a rest and some serious tlc. I have two big blisters on each foot – on my little toes and the ones next to them. I’m competitive, stubborn and I like to win (ask Geoff…) so I’m not about to let them get the better of me, but nevertheless, I need a plan.

First off, I book another night at the hostel. I have a day in hand, so I can cope with this. Then Colin comes up with a brilliant suggestion. Three days down the line I’m booked in at Newtonmore Hostel. Why don’t I order some toe socks over the internet and have them delivered there? And why didn’t I think of that myself? No sooner said than done, and I have something really exciting to look forward to!

I’m not the only one here today. Andy Walker is on a day off – but only because he’s a day ahead already – and another Challenger is spending the day catching the bus to Inverness and back, to buy some new boots.

So, I potter about. I empty the Chemist of Compeed, eat lunch at the local outdoor cafe and bump into more friends – Mike Knipe and his son, James. They appear to be buying whisky and wine, and pouring it into their water bottles…..???

 

I pamper my feet and sort a regime for getting through the next few days. This involves antiseptic wipes, Savlon and Gehwol on an evening, then antiseptic wipes and Compeed on a morning.

And somehow, a large block of chocolate marzipan finds its way into my possession.

 

Day Five – 5.6 miles

A good breakfast and I set off for Newtonmore. I’m allowing myself three days for this, going over the Corrieyairick Pass.

The weather is pleasant enough as I pick the track up, but gets breezier the higher I get. Looking back occasionally, there are good views of Loch Ness.

I’m expecting pylons shadowing the route – they’re marked on my map. But in reality, these old pylons have been removed and replaced with another set paralleling the track, several hundred yards away.

Once again, I’m on my own. I don’t mind at all, I sing all the time when there’s no one around! I don’t have a huge repertoire so there’s a bit of repetition (unless it’s Christmas time, when I know oodles of Carols all the way through…) but I keep a watchful eye out so I can stop as soon as I see anyone.

The wind strength increases. It’s nothing horrendous, but enough to notice it. The clouds are darkening, too. I’m thinking that Blackburn Bothy might be a nice spot for lunch.

It is, and it’s very pleasant inside.

 

No sooner do I get lunch out, than the rain starts. Nasty, horizontal stuff, lashing the windows. Five minutes later, and three sopping wet guys burst through the doors. Challengers, of course, friendly greetings are exchanged and two of them immediately sit down and start tending to their feet. One of them is rubbing Vick all over his….

The third guy makes some tea, offering me some as well. It would be rude not to! Discussions follow. Do they stay the night here, or push on over the Pass? In the end they push on, but by now my mind’s made up. It’s cozy and dry in here.

Making myself at home, it’s not long before another guy turns up. This is Patrick, on his umpteenth Challenge. He comes in having already made the decision to stay the night and do the Pass tomorrow. I make him a brew while he sorts his stuff.

Conversation flows easily and  we pass a very pleasant evening. 9pm is plenty late enough for both of us for bedtime, and Patrick makes us both a hot chocolate to set us up for the night. What a gent.

 

Day 6 – 11.8 miles

Setting off this morning, Patrick and I are happy with our decision to cross the Pass today. Sunny and just slightly breezy, the weather is much nicer than yesterday.

We’ve both slept well – only disturbed by mice a couple of times – and breakfast is a very civilised affair in the bothy.

We start off walking together, but our paces don’t match at all, so we’re soon well separated out. Patrick is very quick on the flat, but then I overtake him as I’m much faster once the climbing starts.

It’s pretty much ‘up’ all the way for the next four miles to the summit, and the pylons start closing in.

 

The wind isn’t particularly strong, but it’s pretty Arctic with the wind chill and I feel the need to zip everything up and cover any exposed skin.

 

The descent down the other side is totally different. Lots of switchbacks, it takes me quickly down into the corrie itself, and then a very gentle slope, finally ending up alongside the River Spey.

I stop for a long break at Melgarve Bothy.

Just as I’m thinking of setting off again, Patrick catches up with me. We have a good chat, and he says he’s decided to spend the night here. I need to go further though, as I don’t want to be walking 20 miles into Newtonmore tomorrow. We’re both booked into the Hostel tomorrow night, so will no doubt meet up there again, if not on the way.

So, I continue on to Garva Bridge, where I am totally amazed to be the only tent there. Another very peaceful night!

 

Day Seven – 14.6 miles

I wake at about 3am, shivering. There’s ice on the tent, so no wonder I’m cold. I put another layer on, plus my Prism trousers (which I’ve brought with me just for clear, cold nights like this) and go back to sleep.

Waking again at around 7am, it’s clear it’s actually going to be a gorgeous day.

Clear, cold nights seem to be the one thing that produce an awful lot of condensation in the Enan. Even the inner is drenched and the foot of my sleeping bag is also damp. I surface slowly, allowing the sun to come up properly and start drying stuff out. By the time I’n ready for the off, my bag and the tent inner are fine, but the fly is still wet. Once again, I split the tent to pack it.

It really is one of those Good To Be Alive days. The temperature is just perfect for walking in, and the views are far reaching and gorgeous. The ‘track’ is now tarmac, but I really don’t mind that. It’s flat and smooth, and quite easy on the blisters, to be honest.

I see a load of deer scampering across the road at one point. You’ll have to look very carefully to spot them in the photo mind, never seem to get them on film successfully!

Enjoying my usual private sing along, I round a bend and spy a guy up ahead, walking towards me. Time to be quiet again! Carrying a large rucksack, he’s obviously out for a backpack, but can’t be a Challenger, he’s going in the wrong direction.

He greets me and asks if I’m a Challenger. I look at him and answer by asking him if he’s John Sanderson. Of course he is, he looks just like his avi. He’s going in the wrong direction because he’s one of those Super Challengers who do a million miles a day and go all over the place. We have a lovely chat for a few minutes, then continue on our respective ways. Another unexpected little meeting that is making the Challenge so enjoyable for me.

 

I gradually eat up the miles into Newtonmore, the journey only marred slightly by the traffic on the last few miles of road.

 

 

Patrick is already at the Hostel when I get there. Having not slept so well, he’d got up early and set off at about 5am, passing my tent on his way, while I was still fast asleep.

And since I’m turning up at Newtonmore a day later than I originally planned, there’s no room left for me in the actual Hostel. Shame. I am given a private room in the house – with a BATH! – instead. I just about manage….

 

 

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TGOC 2017 – Shiel Bridge To Aberdeen, Part One

The Wise Man appears as if from nowhere, out of the sunlight, and speaks.

‘Your first time?’

I nod.

‘Be prepared to alter your plans.’

And as fast as he’s appeared, he’s gone, into the shadows.

Prophetic.

Day One – 12.9 miles

I wake with a migraine. Brilliant. I’ve actually been worrying about this, so that’s probably why it’s happened. I start the day with doses of cocodamol and ibuprofen, and try and ignore it.

Signing out at about 9:15am, I realise I’m already much later than many! No rush though, I set off in blue skies. The day promises to be hot.

My route along Gleann Lichd opens out and I start bumping into people. A quick chat here and there, and before I know it, I’m climbing past the waterfalls and up into Glen Affric.

Everywhere I look, there are views to lift the spirits. I stop for a break, take on more water and chill for a while.

Moving on, the ground starts to level out as I approach Camban Bothy.

A popular place for a break, I bump into several people, including John Woolston. Most set off again before me, but that’s fine. I’m happiest going at my own speed.

The weather is holding up well. I continue on and before I know it, Alltbeithe Youth Hostel comes into sight. I’ve heard they do scones. And tea.

 

Inside the hostel I join John again, and we both partake of home made scones and jam, before I move a bit further on to pitch for the night.

A lovely, quiet pitch with just a few tents to see in the distance. I’m still struggling with my migraine though, which is now making me quite nauseous. I make my dinner and find I can’t eat it. It’s my favourite too, macaroni cheese. Thank goodness for Complan. I make up some cold – it tastes like strawberry milk shake and that goes down easily.

Day Two – 13.5 miles

Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve slept well. The migraine is also fading fast. I do marvel though, at my own stupidity at not having brought my toe sock liners. These socks were a miracle discovery of mine a couple of years ago, successfully stopping all the blisters I used to get on my little toes, which fold underneath the next-door toes. I’ve become a bit blase of late, as I don’t need them on short walks, but normally always use them backpacking and on longer routes. My little toes are already starting to feel sore after one day. I try taping them up for today.

The weather this morning is overcast, but not raining. Breakfast is enjoyed – porridge with strawberry bits – and I set off. I’m aiming for somewhere near Plodda Falls this afternoon.

The Glen is very quiet. I see no-one till after I’ve turned off for Cougie. And the Cougie turning is a surprise. Last year, it was a little path heading off uphill, but this year the whole area has been turned into a construction site, with a path diversion in place.

Easy to follow mind, I sit and have some lunch amidst all the chaos (I am very hungry) then move on, soon passing another guy on his own break. A quick chat, then off again, wandering along a much nicer, grassy track for most of the rest of the way.

Again, not a soul in sight. Very peaceful!

But by the time I hit a touch of civilisation again, I’m ready for tea and toast, and a chat with three other challengers with the same idea. My little toes are also starting to get very sore this afternoon. Obviously taping them has not been mega successful.

 

Delicious! Migraine and nausea now all gone, I am enjoying my food again today.

Moving on, I manage to pitch for the night in the vicinity of Plodda Falls. Another quiet spot, not another soul anywhere around.

 

Day Three – 16.9 miles

It rained overnight, and it’s still raining while I breakfast and sort myself for the day – including putting more tape on my sore toes.

The fly sheet is sopping, so I split the tent before packing in order to keep the inner dry, and set off with full waterproofs on.

It’s a long slog today, climbing up to about 550m before dropping down to Torgyle Bridge, and then up and over another ridge before reaching Fort Augustus. It’s about 9 miles over the first section and I want to get it out of the way before lunchtime.

Although it’s a good track it still feels wild and remote, and the weather matches it. Alternating between wild, windy and dry, or wild, windy and heavy rain, it’s certainly atmospheric!

 

As I finally drop down to near the road at Torgyle Bridge, I bump into Morecambe and Wise – sorry, Colin and Dave – having their lunch. I’m enjoying these unplanned meetings with other Challengers. A couple of retired policemen, with Scottish accents so broad I have to concentrate to understand them, they persuade me that they know the best way to Fort Augustus from here. My toes are now very, very sore, so it sounds like a good idea to team up.

All I can say is, that after scaling a 7 foot fence and ploughing through the undergrowth under a line of new electricity pylons, it’s a good job they’re funny. We have a good laugh and it takes my mind off my feet for a while.

I reckon we probably make a sorry sight when we finally drop into Fort Augustus. I’m limping, Colin has very achy shoulders and Dave has a painful back.

Morag’s Lodge beckons us all for the night.

 

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Dark Peak Circular – Or – Thank Goodness I Packed My Winter Sleeping Bag

Pebbles and I plan a three day backpacking route around the Dark Peak – starting and finishing at our house. Reuben and James are invited. We all have a couple of weekends free, so we pick the last one in March. Seems as good a one as any.

They come over to Hayfield the night before, making for a relaxing morning on the Friday. There’s no need to get up silly early and rush off. The days are all about the same length – around 9 miles.

The forecast is good! Leaving the house at around 11am, we walk a couple of miles before first lunch.

 

Pebbles has known Reuben for a couple of years and she is madly in love with him. This is their first backpacking trip together though and the excitement is almost more than she can bear. Constantly wanting to alternate between smothering him in kisses and play fighting with him, he enjoys the attention – but only up to a point. Every so often, he has to put her in her place. That’s fine. She needs to learn to be cool and play hard to get.

Out of the wind it’s surprisingly warm, but as we get higher and finally join the Pennine Way on its winding, flag-stoned way over to Snake Summit, the wind is quite bitter and relentless.

 

Second lunch is had at the Liberator wreck, on the way to Mill Hill.

 

 

 

It’s a bit of a slog over to Snake Summit, so a third lunch is had not long after we hit Bleaklow. And from there, it’s only a couple of miles to our pitch for the night.

 

 

We’re a bit sheltered here and the wind finally drops completely. It starts to feel like it’s going to be a cold night.

Pebbles is normally impeccably behaved in the tent, but knowing that Reuben is nearby is driving her nuts. We have half an hour or so of toddler like tantrums – during which time I could have quite happily packaged her up and sent her home – before she finally settles back into the cuddly Pebbles I know and love.

 

We eat, then feel tired, then Pebbles and I fall asleep – snug and warm – around 8pm. However, I awake quite suddenly at around 10pm. I’m cold and shivering. Touching the sides of the inner, I notice that it is covered with a thin film of ice. Donning my down jacket, I go out for a wee, then bring both my boots and the water purifier into the tent inner. Before going back to sleep, I check on Pebbles. She’s curled up, fast asleep and as warm as toast. I’d be the first to admit that the fancy dog sleeping bags we got her and Islay are ridiculously – even obscenely – expensive (primarily due to import tax etc from the States), but they really are the business. I’m very happy to see that her bag is keeping her comfy and warm, even when the temperature is obviously below freezing.

I awake again at around 3am, this time too hot! I remove my down jacket now, and spend the rest of the night quite happily….. I haven’t quite had the faith to bring my three season sleeping bag for the weekend like James has, but am more than content now to have lugged my winter bag up here.

We aren’t planning an early start, so by the time we surface for breakfast the sun has nicely warmed everything up. It’s even nice enough to eat outside.

 

 

We set off for the day at about 10:30. We’re now totally off path for a few miles, heading for a trig point to the east of the Alport Valley. It’s wet, it’s peaty, it’s slow going.

Conversation runs a bit like this for most of the weekend:

James: My pack is too heavy.

Me: Bet it’s not as heavy as mine.

James: It might be.

Me: Pebbles!!! Enough now!!!

Repeat any of the above at random intervals.

First lunch today is when we finally reach the trig point.

 

A bit of a path is picked up here, making progress a little quicker. It’s not long before we reach Alport Castles, for second lunch.

 

 

It gets hotter and the packs get heavier. We continue on, partaking of third lunch just before dropping down and down, to cross the Snake Pass near Hagg Farm. Then it’s up and up again – a quick break in woodland in Woodlands Valley – and onto the Crookstone Hill path to take us to the eastern summit of Kinder. Part way up here, fourth lunch is had by the lonesome tree. A rather special tree with a bit of history, I suspect.

 

 

My phone rings and we have a brief Peter Kay moment.

“I’m waving! Can you see me?”

It’s Mark, somewhere near the summit. And no, we can’t see him, but he can apparently see us. We’re both wearing orange……

Off we go again. Mark wanders down as we wander up, and we meet. Pebbles goes into overdrive once more, but quickly settles. She’s tiring now, but is still game and having fun. A bit of a conflab ensues, and a bit of a wander around produces a perfectly acceptable pitch for the night, with water not far away in Jaggers Clough.

 

 

We pitch, then take it in turns to watch the dogs while we filter water.

 

It’s cool, but nowhere near as cold as last night. We chat for a while, eat, then fall asleep. I sleep really well. As does Pebbles.

 

Mark is up and off much earlier than us in the morning. it’s been good to meet up, but he has a train to catch. It’s 10:30-ish again before we’re off.

The original plan is to plough straight across the plateau, visiting both Four Jacks’ Cabin and Kinder Gates, before dropping down to Hayfield. But it’s going to be hot and we’re still vying with each other over who has the heavier pack, and the edge path suddenly feels more attractive.

 

We skilfully manage to avoid around 300 runners on the Edale Skyline Fell Race, but it nevertheless gets busier and busier the nearer we get to the top of Grindsbrook.

 

 

Today just happens to be Pebbles’ second birthday. Still a baby really, but I notice how brave and strong she’s starting to get – thoroughly enjoying herself learning to pick out routes up and around little rocky bits. Mountain Boxer in the making.

 

 

Nearly at Crowden Tower, we suddenly spy a familiar couple of figures. Geoff and Islay appear, on their way to meet up with us. Pebbles and Islay greet each other as though they’ve been apart for at least a month.

 

Proper lunch is had near the top of Crowden Brook, continuing on afterwards in the direction of the Woolpacks. Here, we’re not so lucky at avoiding the fell runners. The three of us go off in slightly different directions, trying to avoid runners, peat and rocks, before meeting up again out the other side.

 

 

A clear view of Swines Back now shows what looks like hundreds more runners heading for us. Nightmare. Local knowledge kicks in. I suggest veering off towards Edale Rocks and around the far side of Swines Back. Almost instant peace, and another break is had looking down towards the Hayfield side of the massif.

 

It’s been a fantastic weekend. Brilliant weather and company, and challenging enough to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

All that remains now, is the foot crippling slog down the Edale Cross track, and a short tarmac plod back into the village.

 

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TGOC 2017

Well, since other people seem to post their routes, here’s my planned route for the Challenge, so feel free to have a look if you’re interested.

I’m sure it’s a basic, first-timer type route, which is absolutely fine by me. I have other variations in my head if I suddenly decide the weather is brill and it would be a nice idea to change some bits, but I’m also quite happy if I end up doing it exactly as planned.

Hope the link works….

Click here!

 

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Annual Pieman Visit To The Dark, Dark Peak

It was that time of year again. The time when the TGOC folk hold the annual Snake Inn Gathering, and the Pieman – being one of The Gatherers – ventures south.

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A few years back whilst in the area, he visited us when I was immobilised with a broken leg in a pot. And for the last couple of years, he has joined us for a wander on the Saturday of The Weekend in question.

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Usually, he has some Tump or something he wants to bag and gives us forewarning of the relevant top so we can plan a route.

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This year, he was after two Tumps. Mt Famine and South Head.

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A route was duly plotted and gorgeous, spring type weather was ordered, and an excellent day was had.

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And this year, on the Saturday evening, Geoff and I also drove over to The Snake Inn and joined in with the TGOC Gathering.

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A very convivial time was had, meeting up with lots of lovely people and partaking of delicious food. I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again on the actual Challenge, in May. Not long now……

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Unfortunately, one of The Gatherers had earlier in the day had a mishap whilst out on the hill, but GMRT had professionally organised his rescue and he was helicoptered off to hospital. We understand he suffered a fractured ankle and wish him a speedy recovery.

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