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Sunday, 3 June 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 11: Braemar to Shielin of Mark (5)

We crossed the bridge over the Gelder Burn and paused for a glug and to refill our water bottles (well, my water bottles and Jim's plastic bag thingy that he uses to carry his drinking water ... and which he never seems to fill more than about a quarter full). It was a lovely spot, and the sun was smiling down on us. So I recalled the Twin Towers telling me, on my first Challenge, that I should slow down and not be in such a hurry to get to the end of my day's walking. What was the point, they asked me, of walking THROUGH all this beauty if I was in too much of a hurry to ENJOY it? If memory serves me correctly, that was on the Lairig path heading up to Leacain bothy ... The views were magnificent, looking back across the woods to the snow-capped mountains north of the Dee. It was probably right to have stayed low, rather than attempt Lochnagar ...

Well, I reckoned that this was the time and place to sit back and just enjoy the beauty. I told Jim to feel free to continue if he wished (this being one of the advantages of walking together because you just happen to be heading the same way rather than because you have entered as an official pair - you can stick together or split up as you please). Jim decided to stick with me, however, so we just lay there in the sunshine, soaking up the rays, for perhaps half an hour. Then we decided it was time to continue - and another choice had to be made.

The official "preferred route" from here is via Gelder Shiel, and then the path up the stream which joins the made up track just below Little Conachcraig. However Jim, who has been this way before, told me that beyond Gelder Shiel there isn't really a path, and you just end up beating your own way through the heather until you reach the Land Rover track. The alternative, it seemed to me, was to take the left fork at NO 255906 and then turn right at NO 258908, which would avoid the heather-bashing altogether. However, it would also bypass Gelder Shiel; and as I had never been to Gelder Shiel we decided to stick to the "official" route.

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