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Friday, 1 June 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 5: ARC AGM etc.

The sleeper arrived in Euston a little before 8 in the morning. I strolled along the Euston Road to the storage depot opposite King's Cross where I had left my resupply and other gear, and switched my unused food from the first four days for the carefully calculated supplies that I would need to get me from Corrour to Braemar. Then I switched the laundry from the first few days for the clean clothes I would need to get me from Corrour to Braemar. And finally, I changed out of my walking clothes and into a suit which I had left at the storage depot. Then I took my petrol bottles out of my rucksack and put them into a little 15 litre sack which I had left at the storage depot for this purpose (because the storage people wouldn't allow me to leave petrol in the locker, for some strange reason), locked everything else in the locker, and headed off.

Next stop was a mobile phone shop. I'd used a lot of battery and I needed to recharge my phone ... but I hadn't packed a charger. But £5 bought me a new charger, so I would be able to leave my phone charging somewhere during the course of the union AGM. And then, once I'd sorted that out, I turned my attention to the vital matter of breakfast.

You can't get much in the way of breakfast on the sleeper. Well, maybe you can .. but I can't. Because all the things they do revolve around the concept of "something in a bun" ... and of course, the bun is a deal-breaker for me! But just opposite St Pancras there is an O'Neils Irish pub, which serves very good breakfasts. So I went in and enjoyed two freshly fried eggs, three rashers of bacon, mushroom and orange juice, and that set me up for the day. Then I wandered round the corner into Mabledon Place and the NUT, which is where my union (ARC, the Association of Revenue & Customs) holds its AGM.

I won't bore you with details of the AGM. There were several very important motions and I made a number of speeches. At lunch the Irish delegates thanked me for my speech in favour of retaining the reserved seat on Committee for a member from Northern Ireland. I assured them it was almost exactly the same speech I'd given on the same subject six years ago; and we'd managed to save the reserved seat then, as well.

After the AGM I paid a flying visit to Stanfords map shop and bought the maps I'd need for the route revisions I had in mind to make up for the day I'd lost sitting at Oban; then I went back to the storage place (which only stays open to 6 ... meaning I couldn't really attend the Union dinner in any event) and changed back into my walking clothes. I then went to St Pancras and texted my route revisions to Challenge Control while I waited for Kathy to arrive. The route revisions were easy enough. I was restarting from Spean Bridge not Corrour, so I'd go the same way as I had in 2000 through the Lairig Leacach and round the south shore of Loch Treig. I would then be back on route but 24 hours behind schedule. My planned route took 5 days from Corrour to Braemar, and I needed to do it in 4. There wasn't much I could do about the first two days. It was going to take me two days to Struan pretty much whatever I did. But in my desire to find a way to get up onto the ridge from An Socach to Morrone, I'd plotted a somewhat meandering route which took me three days from Struan to Braemar. All I needed to do was to straighten it out, and just head up Glen Tilt, over to Chest of Dee, across White Bridge, down to Linn of Dee and into Braemar by road.If the Geldie Burn proved uncrossable, I said I would retreat to Bynack Lodge, ascend Buchaille Breige, and take the track down the Allt Cristie Beag to Inverey.

What I didn't tell Challenge Control was that I had also figured out that even if I failed to make up my lost 24 hours by the time I reached Braemar, I could still finish my Challenge. The route on my card would take 4 days to get me from Braemar to the coast at St Cyrus ... but if I really had to, I could do it in 3 (albeit probably not finishing at St Cyrus). Braemar to Ballater is a well-trodden route; and the Deeside Way means that if you have to you CAN get from Ballater to the coast in 2 days (hell, in 2009 I even did it with my feet absolutely shot to pieces ... and this year my feet were holding up just fine!) I didn't really relish the thought of doing this ... but I kept it up my sleeve, just in case events conspired against me again and there really was no other way of saving my Challenge.

Soon after I had texted these route revisions to Challenge Control, Kathy arrived. We walked to a delightful little restaurant I know not far from Euston, and enjoyed a delightful dinner together - during the course of which I told her that if, after the events of the past few days, she wanted to ask me not to do another Challenge I would quite understand. but she said no - I was to continue doing the Challenge if that was what I wanted to do.

After dinner I walked Kathy back to St Pancras before returning to Euston and boarding the sleeper for the journey back North. The same stewardess was on duty, and she slipped me another first class hospitality pack so I was able to shave once again before continuing on my way. I told them that my ticket was only to Corrour but that I needed to travel on as far as Spean Bridge, and again, they told me that there was no excess fare to pay.

Once more to the day car for a wee dram, and then back to my cabin and my cosy bunk to sleep my way back to Scotland.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I did Mar Lodge to Johnshaven in three days. I had planned on four, but by then you're fit and the walking's easy.