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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The 2006 Challenge, day 10: Up Mount Keen and Down to Tarfside

Leaving Ballater I crossed the Dee and turned right (yes, I know that's back the way I'd come ... but I didn't have to go too far in a Westerly direction!!). Then at Bridge of Muick I turned South, and took the track up past Craig Vallich. It was here that I encountered a first time Challenger who was beginning to struggle, and as we were both heading for Mount Keen I fell in beside him and settled us into a manageable pace of 25 minutes walking followed by 5 mintues' rest.

The path over Lach na Gualainn turned out to be a figment of the cartographer's imagination; but the weather was clear and the landforms unmistakeable, and before long we had dropped down onto the Mounth Road. We stopped for lunch at the Water of Tanar and then began the long slog that was the ascent of Mount Keen, adjusting the pace to 15 minutes and 5 as the gradient began to take its toll.

I am glad to report that we both made it to the summit of the most easterly Munro, and were able to enjoy spectacular views clear to the coast. Now that it was downhill all the way my companion invited me to press ahead at my own pace and I did so, taking the track down to the Queen's Well and along Glen Mark. At Queen's Well it started to rain, so I upped the pace and barrelled along Glen Mark, then along the path between Cairn Robie and Hill of Rowan and so into Tarfside.

Tarfside Challengers' Hostel was already full by the time I arrived, so I pitched my tent on the green and heated up a Wayfarer Meal. Then I made my way to the Masonic Club where, having been signed in as a guest, I enjoyed a convivial evening with a number of other challengers who were not averse to a glass or three to drink.

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