Sunday, June 15, 2008

Beyond Spittal Cott—Water of Dye Campsite (about N O 656 863)

I probably should have stopped sooner. I may be playing the hare to other Challengers tortoises by going farther and thus having to deal with Heatheryhaugh alone. We will see

I sallied forth out of Tarfside full of bacon botties (bacon on  bread)  in good spirits ready for the short 15 kilometer day. I worked my way along the farm paths through Cairncross farm checking my location against my route on the GPS. I walked under clear skies at first serenaded by birds that I suspect were either courting or telling me to move on. I passed livestock that at one point included cows which had, up until this point, been rare. I took a chance that the track I was on did what I thought and so I avoided the perhaps substantially shorter cross country hill climb that I had originally plotted (at N.O. 540 804, turns out it would be a lot shorter. It's worth noting I had already made an error on the farm tracks that probably added close to a kilometer).  But as the clouds rolled in from behind me my luck would shift as I soon lost the footpath across Blackcraigs and then Stobie Hillock. I picked it up from time to tome but overall I just tried to aim for waypoints along the plotted route. This meant a lot of walking through shoe grabbing peat bogs, sudden dips in the terrain, heather, and other hazards that slow one down. The worst obstacles were deer fences. Ideally you find a corner with angle bracing and climb that. If you must climb elsewhere the fence will likely bend backwards and make you feel very nervous indeed (a technique suggested to me later is to put your pack on a climbing carabiner on the top wire hanging on the far side of the fence to act like a counter balance). I found I could slip through one fence and the other had a flattened spot I could scoot over. This all took quite a lot of time to get through but I returned to the obvious track and some 7 and a half hours after leaving Tarfside I arrived at Charr Bothy (probably having hiked more like 17 kilometers instead of 15).

An hour break for tea and matchbook pastries really buoyed my morale. I decided to go a little farther so I could shorten my day tomorrow down to something more comfortable than 38 kilometers to Dunnottar Castle.  With one thing and another I probably only traveled another 6.5 kilometers before setting up camp at 22:00 (I made a costly error at Spittal Cott trying to find my way across the river; and another time consuming mistake at the farm at N O 650 859). However, it isn't all bad here at this little campsite on the river. I may have used up the most time going the shortest distance today but it felt reasonably good


This is what passes for signs, when you actually have them, along my route. I think this is the first time I saw something like this and I know I have not seen anything since the bridge over River Feshie several days before. May 20, 2008. 10:59.

The cross country trekking I would end up doing bounced me over numerous small hillocks, into sudden gullies, along enticing though dangerous freeways of peat bog, and past little flowers like these. May 20, 2008. 14:04.

This shot, pulled from a video clip, was taken just above Burn of Bradymicks I think.I have gotten over the worst of my travels by this point and am enjoying the stroll down the broad two-track at this point. The lamb sure is cute! May 20, 2008. 17:15.

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