Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Happy Birthday!

This little blog is now five years old! I can’t believe it’s five years since I first heard about The Great Outdoors Challenge, via The Adventure Show, and decided it was ‘the thing for me’. I have loved the planning, the research, the walk, the people I’ve met and everything about it! And this blog has been mainly about the adventures I’ve had along the way. One day, I hope to be able to share the Big Adventure with TTS as that was the idea at the very beginning, but that’s not yet feasible. I’ll just keep plodding on with the best friends I’ve ever had until my Bestest Ever Walking Buddy can join in all the fun (but I still get to do all the planning…)



Yep, should be fun!!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Chocolate Cake

The day had an inauspicious start. As I walked into the lounge with my breakfast, one slice of toast slid gracefully off my plate and landed on the carpet, marmalade side down.

When we arrived in town where I was to drop David to collect a pool car, the offices were not open.

When we finally got on our separate ways (although initially in the same direction) we got behind every bit of slow traffic we could find and this was to be a theme during each of my journeys today.

As I brought up the rear behind two cars and a van going over The Lecht I became aware of that nasty burning clutch or brake smell. (Apparently there is a difference, one smells of rotten eggs. They both smell of burning to me!) I was praying very hard that the smell was not emanating from my car. I had to wait a while after the two cars passed the van before I could but I was pleased to find I left the smell behind me. Phew.

I collected Laura and we set off to leave the car at the beginning of our chosen walk, after having first persuaded each other that 10 miles was perhaps a little ambitious given the time constraints, so we headed for Thistledae. It was a clear day with a little high haze, but very warm and slight breeze. Things were looking up.


Near the start

We had a job to do on this walk. Laura had received a request for a photograph with a certain theme, so we duly complied with this request.


Happy Tree Hugger


We found a baby one too

By this time we were on a path that Laura was not entirely happy with. It wasn’t following the map, but the wayposts were most definitely sending us this way. We continued up hill through the trees, expecting something interesting to happen with regards the direction of the path.


Admiring the purple heather, there was a lot of it


There were views


And views


And more views

After a while, another waypost hove into view, this time directing us off the lovely track we were on through long grass and thistles to another post. Off we went, there was no path that we found, but plenty of tussocks and holes and I “Ooopsed” and giggled and squealed my way across the meadow. At the next post, we located the next against the boundary wall. At this point either the grass got longer or we were sinking deeper into the decidedly damp, tussocky, holey ground. I hoped we weren’t going to get out of our depth.


Looking awfully relaxed


Shorter grass, but the ground was still damp

We eventually made it to the remains of some buildings, something to do with corn and men designating a male only building in which to chat and drink whisky. I expect us wimmin had fun at that time too….

We followed the waymarkers and joined the track Laura had expected us to be on in the first place, it was obvious we’d been on a detour to visit the ruins that had not been adopted by most folk who probably did the short out and back from the track we were now on. I know, in my heart of hearts, that if Laura and I had ignored the waymarkers and stuck to the track as marked on the map, we would not have done that out and back (I’m too lazy) and would have missed that little bit of history. And all that fun…


A bit later, after we escaped the long damp, grass, at some different ruins


“The field of two goats” was obviously wholly inappropriate today


There were still views


We had our lunch seated at a handy picnic table near this beautiful building

As we lunched, there was some entertainment provided by the local birdlife, a very noisy buzzard and what looked and behaved suspiciously like a peregrine falcon, but I need to do some more research on that.


And the views continued on the way back

Once back at the car, we discovered we had time to find a local tea shop and partake of a little traditional afternoon refreshment. (I think that sounds all wrong) Anyway, in Ballater, we browsed the outdoor shop before retiring to the Bothy for tea and cake. Or scone. I had cake, chocolate cake as it happens. This finished the day off rather beautifully.

Roughly 5.68 miles with a total of 963 ft ascent in a bit of time.

Loved it, what a wonderful day, thanks Laura, Ls Belles’ Tea Shop Tours of Scotland!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sunshine on a rainy day

So, there has been some walking, two days in a row in fact, and both of which were in good company in sunshine and showers.

At somewhat short notice, Mick and Gayle asked if there was a pitch available nearby our house. As luck would have it, the neighbours were away and there was indeed room for Colin on our driveway on Friday night. A rather delightful evening was spent supping a little wine and chatting until well passed Gayle and even my bedtime! Luckily, I had the whole of Saturday to recover from the lack of sleep in time to meet them again on Sunday in Grantown-on-Spey. As it happened, Laura was free too, so she came through to join us for a little stroll from Revack Lodge, a shortened version of the walks I have done from here several times before.

There was much faffing in the car park, involving jackets and GPS, before we were all ready to start the slight incline to the viewpoint. The GPS faff continued at intervals for a short while, Mick, Gayle and David were very patient.


At the viewpoint, we had a view!


Jolly walkers

The walk was pretty unremarkable, very similar to the way it was previously, but with excellent company, much chatter, a bit of laughter, some rain, some sunshine, a bit of faffing and the odd tick.

We lunched on a small patch of flat grass a little way from our path and hadn’t been sat long before it started to rain. We continued to eat and enjoyed chocolate and ginger flapjack supplied Gayle as it rained gently, but as it become more persistent, we all decided to don full waterproofs and get back to the business of walking.

As the track took us down to the road, the rain stopped. We turned right instead of left to follow the Backharn Way, stopped to remove waterproofs, crossed the road and eventually joined the Speyside Way. Not long after we left The Way, crossed the road an made our way through the woods and back to the car and van. Soon after, we found ourselves in the cafe with hot beverages and cakes, num num num! By the time we popped Mick back to Colin on the campsite, it was time for a cup of tea and a guided tour of Colin, it would have been rude not to, so more chatting and drinking of hot beverages was done before we had to return to collect the weekend worker and cook dinner.

A very pleasant 6.05 miles stroll with around 906 feet total ascent.

On Monday, poor David had to go to work, but I was available to join Mick and Gayle for another short walk, this time locally. They arrived just in time for a cup of tea as a shower went through, and then another one, and another one. We briefly considered alternatives, liking staying in doors! But after an amount of bullying, we found ourselves sitting in Colin at the car park as another shower went through. Must be time for lunch we thought, and so it was.

After an amount of faffing, when I couldn’t faff with my GPS as I found I’d left my mobile at home but faffed with my jackets instead, we left Colin and started our walk. Walking around Altyre Estate is always pleasant and really quite easy, but I’d taken my map just in case and I may have referred to it once or twice, just for reassurance at some of the slightly unfamiliar junctions. We did not go awry.


Cute calves

After a stroll along a country lane, we entered woodland and made our way passed Loch of Blair, although Mick and Gayle would never have known had I not told them, as the view of the loch was almost completely hidden by reeds. We then went off by the Big House that they recognised and struck off on a bit of an adventure as I took a path I hadn’t used before. We avoided The Kennels where the dogs bark and headed off for the ford. I remember a small bridge here before, but it seems to have been completely overgrown and there was no sign of it, so we all got slightly damp feet as we crossed. Some of us may have heaved our sorry carcases up a slight incline to meet the High Path through the forestry at the top of the estate. I never mentioned that the last time I was here, the track was deep in mud and puddles, but this time it was quite a nice path and I chose to keep quiet. We had quite nice views of Findhorn Bay and the Moray Firth through the trees that have really grown since last time!


The view was better than this photo suggests

After a short while of walking through the trees we joined the Dava Way and we were on our way back to Colin.


There has to be a comedy photograph…

We managed to fit in a cake stop shortly before we got back to Colin and as we sat enjoying the view and yummy cake, I spotted a roe deer in field in front of us. Well, I could see it and it wasn’t a duck.


Playing hide and seek with a roe deer

6.68 miles and roughly 442 feet total ascent and I have to say two wonderful days walking with friends even if there was a bit of rain along with the sunshine. Thank you all!