Woohoo! I've discovered how to add a few little tick boxes at the bottom of each post, to enable readers to record their reactions. Do please use them. I think I've identified the four most likely responses ...

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Another interesting e-mail exchange

Well, I decided that I hadn't done enough Munros this year, what with all my Challenge opt-outs and everything, and that I REALLY wanted to get back to Scotland one more time before the winter weather set in. So I picked a weekend in mid-October, planned a route, and booked my rail tickets. And then THIS e-mail dropped into my in box:

From: Valerie.vlasenko@gmail.com


I'm part of a team developing and selling Ambronite, a drinkable supermeal that helps people to make the most out of their travel. Ambronite is the ultimate hack as it fuels your body with the most powerful whole food ingredients and takes on 2 minutes to prepare. By far it's the best travel food out there - it's light, easy and nutritious. I’m reaching out to you, since Two Routes Across Scotland seems to share a similar audience and the same values with Ambronite, and I see partnership potential here.

5 quick facts about Ambronite:

•It is real, nutritious whole food that satisfies hunger for 4-5 hours.
•Ambronite contains 100% of all daily nutrients, fulfils US and EU nutritional guidelines for all nutrients: healthy fats, carbs, protein, and all 24 vitamins and minerals + fiber
•The product is Vegan, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Non-GMO, Additive-Free, Complete Protein Source. See our ingredients here: http://ambronite.com/pages/ingredients
•Used by competitors in world series like Volvo Ocean Race, Adventure Racing World Series and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. Also recommended by outdoor & world travellers: http://bit.ly/1G2HOOy
•We became most crowd-funded food product ever on Indiegogo http://bit.ly/1iP1Mj6

Let me know if you'd be interested to try it out, and I'll send you our sample to test.

Valerie / Ambronite


Notice how different Valerie's e-mail was from the previous e-mail I had had from Craig Hall at Mediaworks, asking me to puff a product or products on my blog: Craig was offering me nothing in return; whereas Valerie was offering a trial sample to test. And you know what? The offer really sounded worth exploring. The only thing was, that list of qualities did not say whether or not it is gluten-free; and if it is not, then it should be of no use to me. So I replied as follows:

I would certainly be interested in trying out a sample - especially if it can be here by Friday as I shall be going on a solo expedition to the Scottish mountains this weekend.

I am gluten-intolerant, though, and you don't say whether it is gluten-free or not.

Valerie Replied as follows:


none of the ingredients naturally contain gluten. However the organic oats we use in Ambronite are not currently controlled for gluten cross-contamination and thus there might be trace amounts of gluten containing grains in the product. I apologize for any inconvenience regarding mis-communication of this fact. About 40% of Ambronite consists of oats and we tested the amount of gluten to be 40ppm. Is this ok?

Let me know

- Valerie

This sounded OK to me. I am not coeliac, and a little trace of gluten will not kill me. So I e-mailed and said yes, that would be fine; and I gave her a shipping address. Unfortunately, however, the sample did not arrive in time for me to take it with me to Scotland; but it DID arrive shortly after I got back, so I will tell you all a bit about it after I have written up my final foray North of the border in 2015.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

September Cairngorms (16)

I spent some time looking round the exhibition, and then I wandered down to the observation platform. One of the Cairngorm reindeer herd was grazing peacefully nearby, and was quite unconcerned when I took his photograph.

I rode down the mountain on the last train of the day. Mrs B was still returning from the paint drying competition, but there was a bus which carried me back down to the camp site for a very modest fare. And then, the next morning, we headed back to England.

September Cairngorms (15)

The Ptarmigan itself is not my favourite piece of architecture, by any means. Its design and construction are nowhere near as sympathetic to the mountain environment as the Eyrie at the top of Snowdon. But ... it is a restaurant, and they make a really nice soup there. So I went in through the special door by which people who did not arrive by train are admitted (and out through which only those who did not arrive by train are subsequently allowed to pass) and I bought myself some refreshment. I allowed the penultimate train to depart without me, and I bought a ticket for the last train down the mountain that day.

September Cairngorms (14)

I then descended to the Ptarmigan restaurant. The path between the summit cairn and the Ptarmigan is well laid, with steps the whole way, and rope guides either side. Those who come to the Ptarmigan on the furnicular railway rather than by their own efforts are not allowed out onto the plateau, although there are occasional guided walks to allow them to climb this last little bit to the summit.


I know this was done to meet the fears of the conservationists in order to get permission to build and operate the furnicular at all; but it does strike me as rather silly, to be quite frank. The vision of hoards of un-environmentally aware yahoos arriving by furnicular and running amok on the fragile Cairngorm plateau never struck me as particularly plausible. Few who come by train would want to do more than walk up to the summit cairn and back in any event; and fewer still would both want to and have the physical ability to do so. Those that did - well, they would probably be fit enough to get up here without using the railway in any event.

Do any of those that climb up here now run amok and ruin the fragile ecology of the Cairngorm plateau? Not that I can see. And compare it with Yr Wyddfa (that's Snowdon to the vast majority of English speakers). You can catch the train to the summit of Snowdon, and there is nothing to confine you to the restaurant when you get there. All the yahoos in the world are welcome to take the train to the top of Snowdon and run amok all they like. And how many of them actually do? Well ... um ... none, actually. Most of them are content to sit in the restaurant, have something to eat and drink, and look at the views (if they can see them at all). Those that venture outside mostly just go to the summit cairn and back. And all of them treat the mountain with respect.

So as I say, I really do think all of this "Oh, you're not allowed out of the Ptarmigan if you arrived by train" is all more than a little bit ridiculous.

September Cairngorms (13)

I made my way across to the summit cairn - the second time I had been on this particular mountain top.

September Cairngorms (12)

The wind did not disappoint; and by the time I reached the transmitter mast at the top of Cairn Gorm (which a couple of men were climbing up and down for some reason), the summit was completely clear of cloud.

September Cairngorms (11)

The path from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda runs very close to a very steep edge; and a fairly strong wind was blowing towards that edge. So I allowed caution to be my watchword, and stated off the path, a little way from the edge. As I began to descend the North ridge of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda I was able to see Cairn Gorm ahead of me, and the wind was blowing all the cloud away so that the summit was nearly clear. I was hopeful that, by the time I got there, this summit at least would afford completely clear views all around.

September Cairngorms (10)

From the summit cairn of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, I could once again see Loch Morlich and Meall a' Bhuachaille in the background. How small and insignificant that Corbett looked from up here!

September Cairngorms (9)

The path up here was well-worn, and I made good progress.

September Cairngorms (8)

Beyond Lochan Buidhe, the path heads North East across the South East flank of Cairn Lochan, and looking off to my right I could see where the waters of the Fiethe Buidhe ran down towards, and then plunged over, the cliffs at the South West end of Loch Avon. It is a LONG way down to the loch ...

September Cairngorms (7)

Lochan Buidhe is a really charming little lochan; and I noted this location as a possible high level wild pitch. I bet it gets cold up here of a night, even at the height of summer; but if you should get up here on a clear day with a high pressure system keeping the clouds at bay for you, it must be an incredible place to watch the sun set and the moon and the stars come out; and then to retire into your tent, to be awakened next morning by the sun's early rays.

September Cairngorms (6)

And before long I found myself dropping into the little valley of the Feith Buidhe, with the charming little Lochan Buidhe coming into view, and the great bulk of Cairn Lochan rising up behind it.

September Cairngorms (5)

Now I was out of the cloud, the cairns marking the path were much easier to spot.

September Cairngorms (4)

The cloud had continued lifting while I was walking and having my lunch, and on my return journey I dropped out of it at about 1200 metres, enabling me to look across the Lairig Ghru towards Braeriach, Scotland's (and Britain's) third highest mountain. The mighty mountain's summit was still swathed in cloud, of course, but only the top 100 metres or so. And the dramatic cliffs of Coire Bhrochain, falling away for about 300 metres below the 1296 metre summit, and its hanging valley on the northern flank of the Garhb Coire, show up well in the picture.

September Cairngorms (3)

Ben Macdui, 1309 metres tall, is Scotland's (and Britain's) second highest mountain - although due to the compounding effect of triangulation errors as you move inland and away from the coast, it was for a long time thought to be the highest. I reached the summit cairn in thick clag, and found a charming young German couple sitting there eating their lunch. I joined them and ate my lunch (some delicious gluten-free wraps with smoked salmon in one, and venison salami in the other, both with salad and mayonnaise. Yum yum!). I then turned and headed back the way I came, as I had to back track by a couple of kilometres to find the Cairn Gorm path.

September Cairngorms (2)

As I gained height, I could see away off to my right the Corbett Mrs B and I had climbed two days previously - Meall a' Bhuachaille, with the lower peak of Creagan Gorm off to its left, and Loch Morlich just visible just in front of it.

I didn't take any more photographs on the way up, because the cloud was down and the views unphotogenic. When I set off, the cloud base was at about 800 metres, but it was slowly lifting as I walked. I, however, was lifting myself up the mountain faster than the cloud was lifting, and I entered the cloud at about 950 metres. The path was well marked by cairns, however, and I was at all times able to see where to head next despite the swirling mists all around me. The ascent is steady and none too taxing; and on a clear day it must be truly magical. But this was not, alas, a clear day!

September Cairngorms (1)

The timing of our holiday had been forced on us by the date of Mrs B's colleague's wedding. And this was a little unfortunate, as it meant that we would be driving back to England on the weekend of the Blair International Horse Trials - and this year the Blair International Horse Trials were also the European Eventing Championships and therefore ideally not to be missed. However, as the name implies, a Three Day Event occupies four days (don't ask!), and we could, if we wanted, go to Blair for the first day of the European Championships, if nothing else.

Well, the first day of a Three Day Event is dressage day, and what can I say about dressage as a spectator sport? Not all that much, really, besides that it is slightly less exciting than watching paint dry. However, Mrs B and I have very different ideas about riding. For me it is about getting out into the countryside (hunting, TREC, endurance, sponsored rides, hunter trials, and just hacking around the pleasant green lanes of England) whereas for her it is all about riding little circles in enclosed spaces (why????) - so, would you believe it, she actually WANTED to go and watch the European Paint-Drying Championships. Which was fine by me, as it gave me a free day to myself and I decided that I would go up Ben Macdui, then cross the plateau to Cairn Gorm, have something nice at the Ptarmigan and catch the furnicular back down off the mountainside.

So that was the plan. Mrs B drove me to the car park at the foot of the furnicular railway and the ski tows, and then scooted off to get over-excited watching the proceedings in Blair, and I set off on the Ben Macdui Path. In its lower reaches, this is a very well-made path with stone cobbles all the way, as this photo of the crossing of the Allt Coire an t-Sneachda shows.

Friday, 20 November 2015

A Corbett for Mrs B (6)

When we had finished posing for photos, we began our descent to Ryvoan. Again there is a good path all the way, and this picture of Ryvoan bothy and its neighbouring little Lochans, with Mrs B in descent, really does show rather well what a wonderful clear day it was.

We rested a while at Ryvoan, then headed back past An Lochan Uaine to Glenmore Lodge. Here we paid the bar a courtesy visit, as one must, and then we headed back to the campsite. A very pleasant little afternnon walk it was, and a delightful Corbett crossed off the list (metaphorically speaking, of course - I'm not actually crossing Corbetts off any list. Not even the list of Corbetts.)

A Corbett for Mrs B (5)

Then some random hillwalker who just happened to be at the summit cairn as well took a photo of both of us, the principal interest of which for regular followers of this blog will probably lie in my walking pole, which is just visible at the right-hand side of the frame. The previous day, in Aviemore, I had taken the decision to retire my battered old mis-matched pair of surviving walking poles, and splash out on a brand new pair in the outdoor shop's sale. This walk was their first outing. Maybe I should have been holding them proudly in front of me for the picture but actually, you know what?? That's just not my style, is it??

A Corbett for Mrs B (4)

Before long we were at the summit cairn - 810 metres, an ascent of about 500 metres from the pitch where we were camped. Mrs B was delighted to have made the ascent, and I took a photo of her at the cairn to prove she had been there.

A Corbett for Mrs B (3)

As we gained height, Loch Morlich sparkled in the bright autumn sunshine way down below us; and the distant Cairngorms were all but obscured by the haze.

A Corbett for Mrs B (2)

As we ascended, the trees gradually started thinning out, a bit like my hair (pictured). And then we were out on the open hillside, with a good path leading us ever upwards.

A Corbett for Mrs B (1)

In September 2015, Mrs B and I took the camper van North (well, we took it West first, because one of her colleagues was having a wedding, and we were invited, so we spent a week in Wales followed by a week in Scotland) and spent some time at the Glen More camp site on the shores of Loch Morlich. It is a wonderful place to spend a holiday: we had our supper al fresco on the beach most evenings. But being surrounded by mountains, well, the urge to get out and get up one or two of them was just too great. So on the afternoon of 8 September, we set out for a little romp up Meall a' Bhuachaille, followed by a descent to Ryvoan Bothy, and then a gentle amble back past Glenmore Lodge (pausing, naturally, to check that the bar was still serving alcoholic beverages ...)

We headed up past the Reindeer Centre and through the Queen's Forest, where the track makes a steady but none too taxing ascent (pictured).

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The 2015 Challenge, post script (5)

Where better, then, to end this account of my 2015 Challenge, than a photo which Mr Sloman took of me with Mrs B at the Challenge dinner?

Looking back, it was a good Challenge. I set out to achieve seven things: a Torridon start, a High Level crossing, the boat crossing of Loch Ness, a traverse of the Monadhliath, the Lairig Ghru, the ridge walk from Morrone to An Socach, and a Lunan Bay finish. I didn't manage the Torridon start, or the High Level crossing, or the ridge from Morrone to An Socach. But I managed the other Four. And as for the rest? Well ... there'll always be other Challenges.

The 2015 Challenge, post script (4)

The award that REALLY matters, however ... the one which PROVES that you are, in fact, a Leg End ... is the plaque which the event organisers present you with. It's been a long time coming, and there have been a lot of ups and downs along the way ... but BOY does it feel good finally to have THIS little baby in my possession.

Better than when I first ran sub-1 minute for the 400 metres? Yes, certainly.

Better than scoring a try in my first game for the school 1st XV, against arch-rivals Netherhall? Absolutely!

Better than winning my first County athletics title? Indeed.

Better than making my first AAA national championships final? I think so.

Better than narrowly failing to lift the Southern Counties under 17 title in 1984? Without a doubt.

Better than receiving my A level results, and realising that I had secured my place at Cambridge? Unquestionably.

Better than coxing the Cantabs gentlemen's VIII to an overbump on the first day of the Town May Bumps (or is is the May Town Bumps??) in 1991? I should say so!

Better than being admitted to the Roll of Solicitors of the Supreme Court of England and Wales (as the correct title was, back when I was admitted)? Yes, that as well.

Better than passing my ML assessment at the first attempt? No contest!

Better than lifting the Pony Riders' Association rosette for the highest placed under 15hh at the British TREC championships in 2004? Again, yes.

Really and truly, of all the personal achievements I can point to in my life, I think this one ranks above all the others. And hopefully, if you have read this blog all the way through to this point, you won't need me to explain why. You'll have been with me through the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, and you'll have at least an insight, an inkling of an idea, as to just what it is that makes an otherwise normal, well adjusted individual (don't say it, Sloman ... just don't say it!!) go out year after year into the wilds of Scotland and battle the terrain, the weather, the solitude, and keep going no matter what until he runs out of land. And if you have, then you'll understand what it means to be a Challenger, and just why it means so much to me that, after all I have endured, I am, finally, a Leg End of the Challenge.

The 2015 Challenge, post script (3)

My fellow ten-timers clubbed together and bought me something that they thought I might like. Hmmmmm. I'm not sure if they realize or not, but this is not the sort of thing I actually wear when I'm walking. Cotton midis, guys. Cotton midis. But they seemed to get a lot of pleasure out of choosing them, and that's what really matters, isn't it?

The 2015 Challenge, post script (2)

Hanwag, the event sponsors, presented me with a rather fine personalized flask to mark my 10th crossing. Thanks, guys ... and it's a really nice thought. Unfortunately, since I cannot take anything with caffeine in it, I don't tend to drink hot drinks, and don't have all that much use for it. That having been said, I am NOT going to let Mrs B use it as a convenient vessel to carry hot water to the fields for the purposes of equine first aid ...

The 2015 Challenge, post script (1)

That evening, I attended the Challenge dinner. (So did Mrs B - it's one of the privileges of 10, 20, 30 and other multiples-of-ten timers, to be allowed a guest at the Thursday night Challenge dinner). Somebody took this rather nice photo of the 10 and 20 timers (there were no 30 or higher multiples of 10 this time). No idea why it's in black & white not colour ... but there you go.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (19)

And so, my 1,000th post on this blog (you can count 'em if you don't believe me) records the moment when I strode out to the water's edge and, by dipping my pole in the sea, completed my 10th Great Outdoors Challenge - thereby becoming a Leg End. I had done it!

It was not a day for swimming in the sea, or even paddling in the shallows, so we didn't. We merely took a couple of photographs, and then returned to the car to try to figure out how to fit my rucksack in along with all the other stuff Mrs B had packed for coming to Scotland. Eventually we found a way, and drove back as far as the café, where we took some refreshment. Then we headed for the Park where, having arrived in grand style, I went up to the Kinnaird Room and signed in.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (18)

I walked through Lunan, and to the car park. It was nearly empty; but Mrs B was waiting for me with our MG, as I had known she would be. We walked the final part of my route, down to the beach, together.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (17)

Beyond the old A92, the road dropped down to a bridge under the railway line. This is the old North British Railway route, and is the route that is still in use. During the Races to the North of 1895, the East Coast trains would have come thundering across this bridge; and a little later, on days when the finish was close, the passengers and crew of the North British train would be able to see the Caledonian train across Montrose basin.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (16)

On the other side of the mound, it became clear what was going on. The A 92 had been improved, to cut out the S bend to the North East of Hawkhill; and they had decided as part of the process of improvement to cut off the side road access too. So now, instead of having a dog-leg to make at the A92, I simply had to cross straight over and take the road facing me. (There would still be a dog-leg at the "old A92", of course; but now this would have hardly any traffic on it.) The road sign told me all I really needed to know: I was on the verge of becoming a Leg End. I texted Mrs B and told her that I should be with her very, very soon.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (15)

At the far end of the road, all became clear. Somebody had dumped a mount of earth in the way, and most forms of vehicular traffic would indeed find this difficult, if not impossible, to pass. For a walker, though, it was small matter to continue up and over this mound of earth and so, as I had surmised, the rock did not apply to me.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (14)

From Easter Braikie I took the road (little more than a track, really) headed East North East, crossed the Gighty Burn, and then at the road junction I turned left. I passed the road to Cothill on my right, and then turned right onto the road to Hawkhill. At the junction there was a dirty great rock with "No Through Road" painted on it in big, unfriendly red letters (pictured) - and this seemed a little odd given that the map showed quite clearly that this road connected to the A92 at its far end. It was, moreover, my route to the coast: I was going to cross the A92 at Hawkhill and head down to Lunan. My route vetter had said nothing about this being a no through road and so, nothing daunted, I assumed that the rock didn't apply to me, and turned right.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (13)

From Kinnel I followed the road North East, then turned right, and then left onto the track to Wester Brakie. This took me past the impressive ruins of Braikie Castle (pictured). I then followed the paths round to Easter Braikie.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (12)

At Kinnel, I ate my lunch sitting on the verge overlooking the bridge over the Lunan Water (pictured).

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (11)

At Heugh-Head, I crossed the main A933 and took to the paths and tracks once more. There are two tracks shown on the map, one slightly to the North of the junction with the road from East Mains of Guthrie, and the other slightly to the South. You need to take the North one, which is a farm track leading round behind the steading. I then turned left, took the path Eastwards, and forked right onto the track to Kinnel (pictured).

THe 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (10)

Another interesting little surprise was waiting for me at East Mains of Guthrie. There is a bird of prey centre of some sorts here, and several birds of prey were sitting, tethered, on their perches in the grounds.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (9)

Having left Letham behind, I headed North East until I joined the main A932. I had to follow this for about half a kilometer as the road twisted its way through the woods, and then I turned off to the left on a little road which took me through Mildens (where I crossed the course of the old Caledonian main line), and then I turned right for Cotton of Guthrie. Now, once again, I was walking on quiet back roads with little or no traffic; but the weather was not all that I would have wished for the final day of my tenth crossing!

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (8)

As I headed out of Letham, I passed an outstanding example of the woodcarver's craft in one of the gardens there.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (7)

Beyond the battle site, the path continued much as before, all the way into Letham. Even as you enter Letham itself, it continues as a green track running between the backs of people's gardens, and very pleasant it is too.

In Letham itself I paused for a little refreshment, and then I headed out of town on the road running in a North Easterly direction past East Trumperton.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (6)

This is the supposed site of the Battle of Nechtansmere; and the "mere" itself is the low lying ground which would have been a lot wetter back then than it is today.

Is it the site of the battle, though? When I got home from the Challenge, I looked it up; and apparently, although this is the "traditional" site of the battle, that attribution is now hotly contested. Some folk think it was somewhere else. So there you have it: this MIGHT be where the Picts routed the Northumbrians 1,330 years age ... but then again, it might not. I'll leave you to read up the sources, if you are interested, and decide for yourself ...

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (5)

A short way out of Dunnichen, I turned onto the path to Letham. This is a beautiful track, well used, and good going. A little way along it, I came to an interpretation plaque, identifying the land in front of it as the actual site of the battle, and explaining the course of the battle as described in contemporary sources.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (4)

At the bottom of the hill I turned left through Dunnichen. As the road swings to the right, there is a memorial cairn on the left. It is marked on the map as "Meml", but I almost didn't go and take a closer look, assuming that it would be just another village war memorial. It didn't look like a war memorial, though ... and there was something intrigueing about it. So I went to have a closer look.

It was a simple cairn, with a cast bronze plaque on it. And this is what the plaque says: To Commemorate the 1300th anniversary of the battle of Nechtansmere 20 May 685 AD when the Picts, under King Brudei, decisively defeated the Northumbrians under King Ecgfrith.


My immediate reaction was actually one of profound disappointment. Today was the 21st of May, one day after the anniversary of the battle. One day earlier, and I could have been here on the actual anniversary. Moreover, my original plan bad BEEN to be here one day earlier - when I submitted my route, I said that the previous day's walk would take me to the outskirts of Letham, where I had spied a nice nettle place to pitch last time I came through here. It was only later I noticed the Foresterseat camp site and, on looking it up, discovered it had a licensed restaurant, and thought to myself "Hmmmmm ... a nice steak and a good red wine might go down very nicely indeed; why don't I stop short?". So I stopped short for the sake of a restaurant which in the event wasn't there, and in doing so missed passing the site of the Battle of Nechtansmere on the very anniversary (the 1,330th anniversary!!!) of the battle itself.

Only, of course, 20 May 2015 is NOT the 1,330th anniversary of 20 May 685, because once you unravel all the fiddling around that was done by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 to correct for the incorrect computation of leap years, you'll find that it's a day or two out. But even so ...

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (3)

As I descended Dunnichen Hill into Dunnichen, I could see Letham away off to my left (pictured).

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (2)

After a while the track came to an end, and I continued on the road down off Green Hill and up Dunnichen Hill. The last time I had come this way I had taken the track to Finnieston; this time, I plannedto follow the road down to Dunnichen, and then take the path that approaches Letham from the West.

The 2015 Challenge, day 14: Becoming a Leg End (1)

I had a reasonably lengthy day, today; but I knew two things for sure. First, I knew that I would benefit from "final day turbo-charge"; and second, I knew that when I got to Lunan Bay, there would be a beautiful lady waiting for me with an MG, ready to whisk me off to the Park. so I headed away from Foresterseat and up the hill on a beautiful green track, and even the dismal overcast weather couldn't dampen my spirits on this, the day that I was destined to become a Leg End.

The 2015 Challenge, day 13: Glenprosen to Foresterseat (20)

Well, my tent stood up just fine with the new tent pole, fashioned using the "no longer relevant" skill of whittling. So then I heated up some supper, washed everything up, and then settled down in my sleeping bag for the very last time of this Challenge.

The 2015 Challenge, day 13: Glenprosen to Foresterseat (19)

Now, way back on my first Challenge in 2000, I had found an impressive little multitool by the track I was walking. I had picked it up, and carried it with me on every Challenge since; but until now, although I had lent it to others for their use, I had never actually had cause to make use of it myself. All that now changed. Using the saw blade, I cut the stick to the same length as my one remaining official Terra Nova end pole; and then using the knife blade, I carefully whittled both ends until they were the same thickness as the Terra Nova pole, and would therefore fit snugly into the little pockets in the webbing which are designed to hold them in place.

As I did this, I reflected on the fact that there had recently been considerable correspondence in the Times on the subject of whittling, brought about by the fact that the Scouts had removed whittling from their syllabus as being a skill which was "no longer relevant". No longer relevant, indeed? As I sat whittling away, I chuckled to think how wrong they were, and just how relevant it was.

When I had finished whittling, I took this photo to show the Terra Nova pole, my improvised pole, and the tool with which I had fashioned it. Then I went and pitched my tent.

The 2015 Challenge, day 13: Glenprosen to Forresterseat (18)

The track turned right, and became even more rustic in nature (pictured); but before too long I arrived at the main A932. My destination for the day was Foresterseat camp site, which was just across the road and a couple of hundred metres of easy walking. I had been looking forward to having a really nice meal, as the camp site has a restaurant; but I was disappointed to find on arrival that it had closed at Easter, and the owners were looking for another tenant. So I would be heating up my own meal tonight; but never mind. These things happen. The site was nevertheless exceptional value at just £10 for the night; and the warden even gave me three deliciously juicy apples, which went some way to making up for the lack of a restaurant, I suppose. And then I went to pitch my tent.

Now, the thing about my tent is this. I had used it several times already this crossing, and every time, it had all been there. By which I mean, all the component parts which are necessary to make it stand up to the elements had been there. And when I struck camp the following morning, I had always put all of the component parts away in their bag again. And yet now, when I came to pitch my tent for the very last night of my Challenge ... one of the end poles wasn't there!!! I searched high and low, but there was no sign of it. It had definitely been there when I had camped up by Loch Vrotachen three nights previously. But now ... there it was ... gone.

Well, a pole is just a pole, right? Any pole will do, as long as it is the right length, and the right thickness, and sufficiently stout. So I went to find the warned again, and asked her where I might look for a stick that I could fashion into a tent pole. And she pointed me to a belt of trees at the far side of the campsite, and I went over there and found one which looked like it would do the job, and then I set about the task of turning it into an end pole for a Terra Nova Laser Photon.

The 2015 Challenge, day 13: Glenprosen to Foresterseat (17)

As I walked this track, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a young deer in the new planting off to my right, and I managed to snatch a picture before it took fright and ran off.