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Friday, 1 January 2010

The 2000 Challenge, day 11: Braemar to Glendoll

After a short stretch of road walking south from Braemar, I turned left at Auchallater onto the track up Callater Burn to Lochallater Lodge, which is on the shores of Loch Callater. After a short stop for coffee at the Lodge I was on my way again up Jock's Road - an old drove road whcih leads up Glen Callater, past the Knaps of Fafernie and Crow Craigies, and down into Glen Doll.

The going is easy enough as you pass along the shores of the loch; but then the climb gets rather stiff and the country pretty wild. Nowadays, they inist that Challengers have a Foul Weather Alternative if they are planning to use Jock's Road. But back in 2000 they didn't, and I had no alternative route up my sleeve in case the road proved impassable. It's interesting to speculate whether, if I had had an alternative, I would have made it to the top. Knowing that I had no alternative helped to ensure that I did. But if I had had an alternative? Well ... who knows!

As I began the really stiff ascent, I found some deer antlers. Rather nice ones they were, too, and I picked them up and tied them to the top of my rucksack with my spare boot laces.

At the top of Jock's road it is but a minor diversion to Crow Craigies - a Munro of 920 metres - so naturally I made the diversion, in order to be able to add another tick to my list. There was snow here. Not a complete ground covering, but plenty enough in the hollows to allow me to have a brief snowball fight with some other Challengers who just happened to be passing. They then carried on down the road, whilst I decided to go for a little jaunt around the plateau and collect the other two easily accessible Munros up there - Tolmount (958 metres) and Tom Buidhe (957). Then, rather than descend Jock's road as planned, I decided to treat my route card as a mere "serving suggestion" once again and took the path down by Lock Esk and the Glittering Skellies to Bachnagairn, and followed the track down past Moulzie before finally turning right to get to Glendoll Lodge youth hostel. It was a pretty tough descent, but I'm glad I did it - because that glen has now been acquired by the Balmoral estate, and does not feature on the list of routes which the estate requests that Challengers use.

Glendoll Lodge Youth Hostel was really rather impressive; and it is a sad loss to the SYHA estate. The campsite has also gone now, making Glen Doll a most inhospitable place for Challengers. This is a shame, because it is a beautiful place with amazing scenery - but truly remote and very wild. If ever there was a place which needed plenty of accommodation options, then this is it!

1 comment:

  1. Just one minor point ... Crow Craigies ISN'T a Munro at all.

    Tolmount and Tom Buidhe are, though ...