I decided my Challenge training should commence straight away so Laura and I arranged to meet at East Auchavaich at 9.30 am. I set off, a little later than intended, with blue skies and sun blazing. Not far from home the car suffered a wind screen wiper mal-function, but this was easily put right and I was able to continue my journey, although now, I knew I was going to be late. The road works I encountered didn’t help and I eventually parked up next to The Van at around 9.50 am. Ooops.
I climbed out of my car, nipped round to the passenger side of The Van and clambered up into the passenger seat. Together we surveyed our surroundings. We should have been enjoying a lovely view of The Ladder Hills. Instead, we saw heavy, grey clouds shrouding what had been our intended hills. Oh. Time for Plan B.
For Plan B, I had to drop out of The Van, nip back to my own car and climb back into the driver’s seat. I then followed The Van as Laura drove back to Tomintoul and we found parking. The vehicles neatly abandoned and purses rescued from the depths of day sacks, we pottered across the road to the Fire Station Tearooms and ordered two milky coffees. We then took a window seat so we could watch the clouds and make a well considered decision.
The decision was, initially, to make use of the porcelain and then, have another milky coffee.
So we did.
After a little more chat, a map discussion and a second visit to the porcelain, we thought it was probably about time we girded our loins and set forth. So we went back to the vehicles, changed our boots and jackets, put on our rucksacks and mitts and set off.
Towards Carn Meadhonach and Tom na Bat
Towards the Ladder Hills
We were heading for the north end of the village so that we could pick up a footpath to take us to Bridge of Avon and then pick up a circular route that would take us to Bridge of Brown and back. The path started well. We walked and chatted, occasionally stopping to enjoy the view and take photographs. The turn to the bridge arrived very quickly and we went down steps made for giants to the road. The road but no bridge.
Steps for giants
So, we went back up the steps not made for hobbits and continued on the path that soon degenerated to a mudfest. We were in a field obviously regularly frequented by cattle, so I don’t want to think too hard about the mudfest. It was muddy and quite deep and slippery so we took our time. Quite a lot of time as it happens. By the time we did eventually make it to the very pretty Bridge of Avon, it was definitely lunch time. There was a handy bench, so that was where we parked ourselves in a nice sheltered spot. We ate our sandwiches and then we ate cake.Now you see it...
Now you don't!
Laura needed a rest after that.
We re-consulted the map and thought that as it had taken us so long to plough through the mud, it might be wise not to continue on to the Bridge of Brown circuit. I’ve been there before and it’s very muddy in places. We didn’t want to be making our way back in the dark. Instead of returning the way we’d come (the mudfest just didn’t appeal!) we decided to walk up the road instead, nipping onto the wrong side of the traffic cones along the road works and then just hugging the kerb until we reached the steps not made for hobbits again and could take a detour on a lower path back to Tomintoul. It was a pleasant little path with a handy bench with a view, which we sat on for a while.
4.20 miles, 1.4 mph moving average, not sure about the ascent (my GPS is saying something different now?…) and a simply lovely day! (Apart from the sad bits.)
I stopped on the way home to enjoy this view towards the Cairngorms