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Monday, 3 May 2010

The 2006 Challenge, Day 7: Over The Cromdale Hills

I followed the Speyside Way out of Grantown, through the woods to Mains of Cromdale and crossed the bridge over the Spey. Then I took the road through Cromdale and the track up the Haughs of Cromdale and round behind Claggersnitch Wood. There was a battle here. It is not marked on the map as a battle site, but there are information boards which tell you a bit about it. But I shan't ruin the surprise for you: you can read them for yourself when you go there!

According to my route card, I was going to follow this track all the way around and up to the ridge, then down to Knock. But as I reached the highest point of the track, and contemplated the 130 metres of height loss before it began to climb again, I reflected on Wainwright's Rule and decided that maybe I should do something different. I was only 150 metres below the ridge. The hill was not all that steep. I could climb the heathery hillside and follow the ridge until I reached the path; and this seemed a much more sensible idea.

I paused for lunch at a grouse butt, then pressed on as the rain began to fall. The ridge line was not good walking, and I decided to start on down the far side and aim off for the track. Easier said than done, I fear! The descent through the heather was not particularly enjoyable, but eventually I had my path and I followed it down to Knock and on to the bridge over the river Avon. There is a car park by the bridge, and a fishing hut which could certainly provide acceptable overnight accommodation in an emergency. But this was no emergency, and I had plenty of daylight left, so I pressed on.

My route followed the path from Ballenlish to Glenconglass, with the option to divert via Carn Daimh if the weather was fine. The weather was not fine, however: the cloud was low and a steady rain was falling, so I pressed on as hard as I could. There is a car park at Glenconglass. It does not appear on the OS map, but it is there - at just about the point indicated by the arrow and the words "Forest Walk". I noted this for future reference, and pressed on by way of the road and the Speyside Way and into Tomintoul.

I spent the night at Tomintoul Youth Hostel - as fair a Youth Hostel as I have ever stayed in, albeit very basic (as are all the Scottish hostels, apart from those in flagship locations such as Inverness). I did not feel like cooking for myself, however, so I went out into the town, braving the rain, and found myself a wonderful hotel whose restaurant served me a superb meal. Its bar served me plentiful amounts of uisge beatha too, and so I retired to bed that night a happy man.

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