We caught a train to Inverness, armed with new boots, new trousers, a new pack, a new tent, a new Tilley, Spenco 2nd Skin and a new sleeping bag. So, this was just an overnight trip to try out new stuff. Not much of which was mine.
We had a minor faff in Aviemore to buy paracetamol (suddenly realised I’d not replenished tablets whilst checking dressings in my first aid kit before we left) and a last visit to porcelain, then a GPS faff, before heading off towards Loch an Eilein. At Inverdruie we faffed briefly and then took a woodland track leading to the loch but at some point, we became slightly navigationally mislaid. The usual, I knew where I was, I knew where I wanted to be, I just had to take an unplanned route to get there! Shortly after that I had a minor left/right issue, but that was easily corrected after a few hundred metres. Oops.
Heading in the right direction again, we no longer needed the map as this is very familiar territory. We crossed the Am Beanaidh via the Cairngorm Club Footbridge and started looking for a pitch.
*After sometime, a suitable pitch was found and the new Voyager Superlight was thrown up for his Christening. Gear was unceremoniously stowed inside, water fetched, boiled and meals rehydrated. The Voyager Superlight was duly toasted with a wee dram of Glenkinchie (it managed to survive the Challenge) and named ‘Sorley’, the anglisized version of the Gaelic name Somhairle meaning summer traveller. A quiet evening was had before we retired to listen to the rain pattering on the flysheet, quite relaxed in the knowledge that TTS had seam-sealed a few days ago and we would be water tight.
9.67 miles, 632 ft ascent, 3 hrs 35 mins total and 2.7 mph average.
We woke to find a few drips. Some were splashes of condensation (TTS is a ‘moist’ sleeper’, I blame him…) but some looked more sinister. Like a bit of a leak. (Hey, I can blame TTS for that too!) This will have to be investigated thoroughly and I will be disappointed if it is not remedied easily as I have plans for this tent. There were a few more light showers and we decided to wait a while before making a move and breaking camp. We were in no hurry.
Eventually, after a luxurious breakfast of coffee and petit pain au chocolate (we were only out for one night on a short walk, we could manage a few luxuries) and baby bel (not together, yuk) we stuffed everything back into our packs and set off back to Aviemore in time for a couple of pints of Cairngorm Brewery Wild Cat and a bite to eat at the Winking Owl before making our way to the station to catch the train back home.
2.42 miles, 66 feet ascent, 54 minutes total, 2.7 mph average speed.
The New Gear
Meindl Burma Boots
We both have a pair of these now, but at least they are different colours so aren’t quite matching his and hers. We both found them extremely comfortable although quite warm, so walking on a hot day like I did towards the end of the Challenge could be interesting. I had no rubbing or discomfort and considering my feet have only just fully healed, so are potentially still vulnerable, I was pleased. Of course, we were using easy tracks, so it was only a gentle test, but I don’t foresee any issues.
Berghaus Ortler pants
I concluded after the heat at the end of this years Challenge that I needed some summer walking trousers. I settled on a pair of Berghaus Ortler pants and I have to say they are extremely comfortable. They fit well, which I often find difficult with my silly shape of ridiculous waist and unfortunate hips. I love the leg venting and the feel of the fabric. I am overall very pleased with these.
Osprey Kestrel 58
I have persuaded TTS into an Osprey pack, but he still feels more comfortable in something more substantial, so a Kestrel it is. He found it very comfortable to carry when loaded and loved all the features, especially the external bladder holder and pole stashing system.
I have finally persuaded TTS into a hat he will enjoy wearing and avoid the glowing pate he tends to sport when out and about. I adore my hemp Tilley and having tried a few on, TTS also settled for this model. Bit of a shame, now we have matching his and hers, but they are excellent hats!
RAB Neutrino 400
David needed a better sleeping bag but wasn’t prepared to shell out (like I did) on a PHD bag, so we settled for a RAB Neutrino 400. He was certainly warm.
Terra Nova Voyager Superlight
There are investigations to be carried out and perhaps another seam-sealing moment will be in order, but the tent itself is easy to pitch and drop, splits nicely between two but I could quite happily carry it myself (and probably will) as it weighs no more than my Kraz but will obviously give me far more space and comfort.
Spenco 2nd Skin
I had the misfortune to need this on the Challenge (fortunately someone was kind enough to donate some to me) and it is magic stuff, so I have sourced some and will now carry it with me at all times. Hopefully, armed with my new Burmas, I won’t need it, but I know it’s in my first aid kit if I do.
* Now is probably the time for a small confession. I had intended a wild camp somewhere after the Cairngorm Club Footbridge, however, as we wondered up the track, everywhere appeared to be a tad damp and overgrown. I couldn’t be bothered to wander too much further on so we turned back and made a bee line for the Coylumbridge campsite. Porcelain and hot showers!