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Sunday, 3 June 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 11: Braemar to Shielin of Mark (6)

We stopped for a short break at Gelder Shiel bothy, and checked the bothy book to see who had passed through recently. Jim regaled me with the story of the near-incineration of the bothy on last year's Challenge, for he had been one of the unfortunates taking shelter there when the incident occurred. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, this was during the really bad storms of 2011. The bothy was packed full. It was late at night. Everyone had had their supper and was trying to settle down for a good night's sleep, when a late arrival burst in and set up a petrol stove. What he was doing wrong is anybody's guess, but the bothy rapidly filled with petrol fumes and he had to be forcibly restrained from striking a match by those who feared that if he did, they would quickly be engulfed in a fireball! Well, that's how the story has come to my ears, in any event. Doubtless those who were actually there will put me right on the odd detail or two.

After a short rest, during which we didn't burn the bothy down or even come anywhere close, we were on our way again. As Jim had predicted, there was no real onward path and we were soon heather-bashing our way to the Land Rover Track. Once we reached it, progress was good, and I began to debate what I should do when we reached Clais Rathadan. If I had been going over Lochnagar, I would have descended to Glas-allt-Shiel and spent the night in the bothy there; and my Foul Weather Alternative Route therefore aimed to finish at Glas-allt-Shiel too. But then the following day's route took me through Spittal of Glenmuick and up to Shielin of Mark bothy, and I began to think that maybe I should just aim for Shielin of Mark tonight. There was plenty of time, and that was where Jim was headed, too.

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