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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (3)

The chimney at Kinbreak draws very well, and in the time it took me to heat up and enjoy a mug of soup and eat my lunch, the roaring fire I had built had burned itself out completely. There was no need to damp it down or anything. So I made my entry in the bothy book, remarking as I did so that there were no previous Challenge entries. What had happened to teh folk who had been planning to stay overnight? Had they made it? Or would I be lone when I reached Tomdoun - IF I reached Tomdoun, that is! Then I dressed in my waterproofs again, hefted my pack and headed out to find out if the river Kingie was crossable or not.

Now according to the map, there is a path from the bothy to the Kingie. But according to the ground, there ain't. So I just made a bee-line for the river, splashing through bog and tussock as I went, and looked to see if a crossing looked viable.

Well, it was flowing fairly swiftly, but it wasn't in spate. And it didn't look all that deep. In fact, it looked significantly shallower than the river we had used for river crossings on my ML training course, and scarcely any swifter. Now of course, on the ML training course there was a group of us, and an instructor seeing that we didn't come to any harm, whereas I was on my own. But I was confident it was viable. It did not, however, strike me as a river for crossing in sandals. This was definitely a waterproof trousers, keep your shoes on, and walk it all off on the other side sort of a crossing.

So I unfastened all my rucksack straps, took my hands out of the wrist loops on my walking poles, and plunged into the river. I crossed, as I had been taught to do, facing upstream and stepping sideways. The river was scarcely knee deep at its deepest point, and I was soon scrambling out on the far side; where, once again, the map said there was a path but the ground said there wasn't.

Now, my route vetter had told me not to be tempted to take a short cut to the main path down Glen Kingie, but to follow the path along the bank until it turned up to meet the main path. Good advice, I'm sure, if you have a path along the bank to follow; but I didn't. I could see the line of the main path, so I just headed straight for it, bog-hopping and tussock-jumping as I went, not really caring what I splashed through as my shoes were completely sodden in any event. It didn't take long. Ten minutes, perhaps. And then I was on the main path, with nothing between me and Tomdoun except for a few kilometres of walking.

I wish I could offer you some photographs of my river crossing point; but there was a steady drizzle, and with my camera malfunctioning from the dampness of it all (not a serious malfunction - just a problem with the zoom and with shutting itself down properly) I wanted to keep it safely wrapped up in its plastic bag inside my rucksack as much as possible. Besides which, the cloud base was so low and it was so dull that there weren't really any good photo opportunities.

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