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Friday, 1 January 2010

The 2000 Challenge, Day 8: on to Inverey

According to my route card, day 8 would see me follow the path past Lochan an t-Sluic and Glenfeshie Lodge to the memorial bridge. However, I woke up to wonderful clear skies, took one look at Carn Dearg, and thought "Why not?"

So I did the ridge walk Carn Dearg - Carn Dearg Mor - Carn Dearg Beag and descended the north north east ridge to join the track round to the memorial bridge. The day was wonderfully clear, and it was the most amazing feeling up on the ridge - alone on top of the world! I rather think that these little hills do tend to get overlooked a bit by walkers who are dazzled by the Cairngorm massif just off to the east - although Carn Dearg Mor is a Corbett, so it will inevitably attract its fair share of list-tickers. But if you're ever hillwalking in these parts, do go and have a look at this ridge. It really does repay the effort.

When planning my route, I'd decided that this should be a short day, with a camp on the north bank of the Feshie somewhere in the vicinity of Creag Bheag. But this isn't a good place to camp, besides which I was there by lunch time and it was by then pissing it down with rain. I really didn't feel in the mood to stop and put up a tent in the rain, then sit in it while my fellow Challengers passed by in a steady procession. So I looked at the maps and weighed up the alternatives. The following day was supposed to be another short day, continuing up the Feshie then down the Geldie Burn to White Bridge and Linn of Dee and finishing with a short stretch of road walking to Muir Cottage Youth Hostel. That would be the Saturday night, when everybody else would be partying in Braemar; but I had thought that the final stretch of road into Braemar might prove to be just that bit too much. Now, however, standing in the pouring rain beside the Feshie at lunchtime on Friday, it occurred to me that if I were prepared to put my head down and just press on, I could "double up" and make it to Muir Cottage by Friday evening. Then I could be in Braemar for the Saturday night party AND add a second rest day into my schedule, spending Sunday in Braemar to recover from the party.

At the time it seemed to make perfect sense, and I have to say that the landscape I walked through with scarcely a second glance as I followed the Feshie up and the Geldie back down was scarcely memorable. Sure, the waterfalls at NN 914887 are pretty stunning; but otherwise, it was just one vast expanse of soggy peat which I was glad to leave behind me.

The day I had made for myself, though, added up to nearly 40 km, and by the end of it I was hurting. The weather had cleared by the time I crossed the White Bridge, and I did briefly consider stopping and putting my tent up there. But the promise of a bed at Muir Cottage lured me on, and I had found a good walking rhythm; so I just gritted my teeth and pounded out the remaining few kilometres to Linn of Dee, and then to Muir Cottage. Arriving late that evening, footsore and weary, I don't for one moment think that I can have looked remotely like a superior being!

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