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Sunday, 8 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 13: Glen Lethnot (1)

I woke up early, and went out to have a look at the weather. The cloud base was low - very low. I had a suspicion that what I was actually looking at was the underside of an inversion; but I could not be sure. Today was supposed to be the day that I made good my failure to get up by way of Loch Brandy on my very first TGO Challenge. My route card read "Path up past Loch Brandy to Green Hill & White Hill - THE GOET OF BEN TIRRAN (C#4) - Black Shank - Descend to Shieling of Saughs" (well, actually, it said Shieling of Saught ... but we'll ignore that, shall we?). However, if the cloud was down, I wasn't too keen on this route. My FWA was designed for just such an eventuality: Rottal - White Hill - Gibs Knowe - Shank of Donald Young. Fewer navigation issues in poor weather; no isses about getting over into Glen Lethnot. Reluctantly, I decided to walk the FWA.

Alan and Lucy would have no such choice. Lucy had been musing the night before on the fact that they had started two days after me, had caught up with me in Glen Feshie, had been keeping pace with me ever since, and were going to finish a day after me. The answer, of course, is that the Glan Clova Hotel is two days from the coast if you want it to be, and I wanted it to be. Most Challengers spend two days getting from Tarfside to the coast. And Alan and Lucy were planning on taking a day to get from the Glen Clova Hotel to Tarfside, then another two getting to the coast. If you spend a day walking essentially parallel to the coast, you should not be too surprised if you end up a day behind those who make a beeline for their finish point!

At breakfast, we discovered why the other couple of Challengers had not wished to dine with us the night before. She had started to suffer with shin splints on the descent of Jock's Road, and knew from bitter past experience that the moment she started to suffer she needed to stop, absolutely. Taking it easy, and spending three days ambling to the coast was not an option. Having come this far, she was retiring from the event. How terrible that must be! And in a place with no transport out, either. Fortunately, they had a friend in Perth, who was going to drive over and fetch her out. But not a nice way to end a Challenge. As for him, well, he was going to carry on if he could ... but his feet, heels and ankles were very badly blistered (he showed us: it was not nice). If he could get his boots on then he planned, somehow, to hobble on. But could he get his boots on? That was the question - and I was away from the hotel before we found the answer to that one. What WAS certain, though, was that if he hobbled on, it would be down Glen Clova and not on to Edzell. He had cancelled his hotel room in Edzell, which meant if I decided I wanted to push on into Edzell rather than stopping short and camping, there was a hotel room going spare which I may be able to take. This was worth knowing.

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