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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The 2010 Challenge, day 11: Spittal of Glenshee to Mayar Burn (8)

At the North East corner of the 900 metre ring contour that is the top of Finalty Hill, the map shows a little building.

When I booked my accommodation at the Royal Jubilee Hotel in Dykehead (when it was still open!!) the gentleman who took my booking assured me that he was familiar with these hills, and that that building was intact and provided a viable emergency shelter - so my route card said that, in the event of bad weather, I would overnight in this building. It is as well, therefore, that the weather was not too bad - for as this photograph shows, it takes something rather more extreme than a seasoned optimist to describe this pile of rubble as a viable overnight shelter!!

Having concluded that not all local intelligence is accurate, I continued on my way, in accordance with my "good weather plan" - which was to continue to Dun Hillocks and then head South East, and find a camping spot near the headwaters of the Mayar Burn, at or about Grid Reference NO 234739.

There is in fact a good Landrover track which runs South East from Dun Hillocks along the crest of the spur; however, choosing the right moment to head off East across the blasted peat bog that lies between Dun Hillocks and Mayar is far from the easiest of navigational tasks even in fair weather (and I'm just thankful I wasn't doing this when the cloud was down). I fancy I turned off a little earlier than I ought; but with clear visibility, the major landmarks were pretty obvious ("Is this a Munro I see before me?") and so I quickly found my way to the headwaters of the Mayar Burn.

I had hoped that, once I dropped down to the stream, I would find a good sheltered camping spot which was out of the wind. I nearly managed it. I found a more or less level pitch in a sheltered location - which meant that there was less wind. But I was not out of the wind altogether.

The gale howled all night long, and I woke up many times. Partly because I needed a pee - but it was so cold that I didn't fancy leaving the comfort of my down sleeping bag, struggling into my clothes and venturing out into that vicious, biting wind.

As a measure of just how cold it was that night, camped up at 820 metres with the wind whipping around my tent, I woke up next morning to find my fly sheet completely iced over. BUT my gear had kept me warm and dry. And I wouldn't have missed that wild camp for anything!!

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