David has been supervising another D of E Silver group Practice Expedition this weekend. The group was from another local school so we didn’t know any of the participants, although it did turn out that David knows the parents of one of them. I didn’t volunteer to assist him this time, but as they were going to be in the Glen Fiddich/Glenlivet area, almost half way to Ballater, I offered to pop by to help with the car shuffle and stay over at the bothy Friday night and then I could finish the other half of the journey and go for a little stroll with Laura. Seemed like a plan.
The expedition didn’t go quite to plan. One chap dropped out after lunch on Friday feeling unwell and David had to walk him back out and return him to Dufftown for collection. We met at a car park in Glenlivet before walking in to Suie bothy and once there, found that one of the girls had struggled during the afternoon and had now also decided to drop out. The plan was for her to be walked out in the morning to meet her dad.
Calum had a fire lit
David, doing what Supervisors do best
The night at the bothy was unremarkable, I did notice the wind get up in the night and I did briefly think I should have been in a tent (it would have been easier to gauge how the group were coping if I was experiencing the same conditions) however the thought didn’t last more than a split second and it was gone, I went back to sleep…
The bothy cat
In the morning, the Assistant Supervisor (Calum) was up nice and early (6.30 am…) to pack and sweep out the bothy (helpful) and the group were up and breakfasted soon after. I went to say hello and found the five of them dealing with their tender shoulders and blistered feet. They were a nice bunch. The retiring girl had made her mind up but as I chatted with her seemed quite up beat and determined to complete the Qualifier Expedition. After breakfast and packing, David and I were on our way by 8.30 am, leaving Calum to walk the retiring girl out.
6.94 m and 498 ft round trip
We were soon in Tomintoul parking the spare car and visiting the powder room before I dropped David off on the road to the Clash of Scalan and then I continued my drive over the Lecht to meet Laura for a stroll, a little behind schedule by now. A little treat as I drive up across the moorland between Corgarff and Gairnshiel Lodge, a peregrine falcon flew across the road in front of me, wow!
I found Laura chatting with a friend, not feeling too abandoned and lonely and we quickly came up with a plan. Coffee. And something nice. Which turned out to be Date and Ginger scones.
After a good chat and powdering our noses, we went for a stroll, taking the path along the river out of Ballater but heading the other way from the direction I’m used to! It was a very pleasant day and we had some lovely views. There are a couple of bridges that have been added on this route which Laura wanted to see and she also wanted to try out her new shoes. Although she wasn’t very thorough with this I thought.
An incredible pig
An impressive cockerel
A shy one
We made some friends along the way, although the guard jack russells were not quite so friendly. After crossing the Polhollock bridge we realised lunch was missing from our tummies and as luck would have it, just as we started to rate little grassy tussocks out of ten as potential lunch stops, we found a bench, woo hoo! We sat, chatting a little more, eating sandwiches and crisps and trying to identify a sneaky bird that was just outside the reach of our (somewhat doubtful) vision. The consensus in the end was a woodpecker.
Laura celebrating the new bridge
Walking sensibly over the next and very substantial bridge
Threatening to bounce on the Polhollock bridge
…am I missing something?!
We continued on along this lovely woodland path until we met a road, which we then followed. I had a flash of recognition and realised I’d walked this road before, again going in the other direction. After a brief pause at the bench, we continued along the road to Ballater, then we had The Incident with the ovloV Man…
Now, Laura and I had a few issues towards the end of the Challenge with ignorant and careless drivers, we waved nicely to those that were considerate and not so nicely to those that weren’t…As we strolled along this relatively quiet lane, a shiny, new, silver ovloV drove towards us at speed. The driver made no effort to pull out or slow down, despite there being no traffic approaching in the other direction nor any obstruction to his vision along the road. We waved accordingly. A change in the engine sound made me look over my shoulder and to my dismay the driver was braking and slowing down. Oh dear. A few moments later my attention was drawn by the sound of an approaching vehicle and sure enough, it was ovloV Man. He drew along side us with his window lowered, “Is everything alright ladies? You seemed to wave me down, I thought you were hitch hiking but you would normally hitch in the direction you want to go!” The reply went something like (we spoke at the same time…) “We’re fine thank you, but it’s nice if drivers slow down and pull out when they drive passed, you were a bit close!” “Oh that’s alright then” and he drove away, turned at the bridge to Ballater and returned. Laura trotted across the road and left me to be almost mown down as he drove closer and fast than before. Too fast for me to catch the registration. Git!
At the end of our (mostly) delightful stroll, we needed refreshments, but I had been a bit clever and brought some maps with me for planning purposes, so we needed space as well. We decided that Laura’s Kitchen could provide lashings of chilled ginger beer and a table top to work on, so that’s where we went. A rough route was easily agreed, despite me *expressing surprise that having thought I’d taken all the maps I needed for the route I had in mind, I’d left a crucial map behind. And then, after some pop, planning and powdering, it was time for me to make my way back over the Lecht and home again.
5.48 miles and 333 ft at a very gentle stroll speed.
What a lovely day out! Thank you Laura.
* I realised later I had had it with me, but as it was the Ballater map, it was in the map case in my day sack in the car. Doh!