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Saturday, 14 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, Postscript (4)

I had an easy time of it on Saturday morning, enjoying an Arbroath Smokie for breakfast and taking my time over clearing my room and settling my bill. This was because, having got in late off the Standby List, I had been unable to obtain a sensible price for tickets on the 10.33 to King's Cross. So instead, I had tickets for the 12.15, which meant changing at Inverkeithing, Edinburgh and Peterborough, and finally arriving at Sandy at 7.50 in the evening. A long day's travelling ... but the trains ran perfectly to time, and it was as smooth a journey as you could ever wish for.

Looking back on the 2014 Challenge, we had without a doubt the most benevolent weather I have ever experienced on a Challenge. It was largely overcast rather than sunny; but the cloud base was generally high (with a few notable exceptions); the air was generally still; and there was no really heavy rain. In short, just about ideal walking weather. In view of this, it is perhaps disappointing that I only managed two Munros (out of the 17 on my route card; and none of my 4 Corbetts) and this needs some explaining. I think there are four things here. First, there was the snow on Stob Ban, which meant I had to miss out 8 of my Munros in the Mamores. Then there was the descent of Beinn na Lap, when I twisted my left knee in a couple of slithering falls. This made me cautious of going high again until I was sure my knee would take it. Thirdly, there was the news of Dave Albon's fall on Streap. I don't mind admitting that this spooked me. And finally, there was the fact that, as a solo walker, it is necessary to put caution first in all cases of doubt. I think the decisions I took at all stages were the responsible ones ... and the bottom line is, I got across again, in yet another year when the attrition rate was high.

Well, that's nine crossings under my belt, and guaranteed acceptance for next year as I make my bid to become a Leg End. Andy Desmond said he was confident I would ... and now I am just one crossing away from it. I booked my room at the Park before I left Montrose, and I already have a working route planned and ready to go. It has 9 Munros on it. So not a High Level route ... but I might just end up doing more high level stuff than on any of my other Challenges to date. It will also take me through the Lairig Ghru ... unless foul weather keeps me low, and forces me into Feshie - Geldie yet again! And it's got a few other nice surprises and unusual twists and turns, which I'll tell you about in a future post.

So that's it. 2014 done and dusted ... and 2015, here I come!! It's less than 11 months away now, and will come about sooner than you might think.

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