.............not all those that wander are lost..............

Tuesday 1 July 2014

A gentle stroll.........

The plan to walk up to Pressendye and along the ridge was again abandoned today.  This time not because the cloud was too low, the rain too wet or the wind too strong - this time because I reasoned that if I'm going to enjoy the weekend to come without a painful knee, I'd better not push it too much; however good the weather!
So with a glance across to those beckoning hills I contented myself with a stroll to investigate the Tomnaverie Stone Circle.
The walk is pleasantly green and rural with a very short climb up to the stones themselves.
After that I completed a circle of my own by walking back through the woods - glad of the shade but not of the accompanying flying insects.
The whole thing took not quite an hour and a half. 
There was one detour across a field as I mislaid the signposted route. I found it again after climbing a gate! Must pay more attention when walking and not day-dream so much!
And the weekend? A trip to Yorkshire to spectate some of the 'Grand Depart'.....very exciting!

Thursday 26 June 2014

Morrone Birkwood: a short exploration....

Killing two birds with one stone, I decided to explore the paths through the Birkwood by Braemar.  This seemed an excellent opportunity to test my wonky knee and to find an alternative to walking the road into Braemar if I should follow a TGO Challenge route that way in the future.

As I was starting from Braemar this time the first half of the way I was checking out backwards. If you see what I'm getting at.

I wandered up Chapel Brae to the Duck pond. "Looks as though it could do with a clean out" - not my words but those of a visitor sitting with his wife on the bench beside the water. He was probably right.

The Morrone Birkwood Circular is signposted just after the pond. I took the right hand track and followed it as it undulated through the trees. Soon I came to a new metal gate onto a forest track and left the circular route behind - having completed the outward section.

There was a bit of mud hopping and dithering then as the tracks through the forest look as though they've recently been renewed.  I expected to pass beside a lochan but the track here was blocked by branches. Since my broken shoulder accident I'm much more reluctant to explore such loose ground but I very gingerly climbed over it until I reached the water's edge where the mapped track vanished. There were footprints leading back up beside a small stream. So not that way then!

Returning to the original point I continued along the rough landrover track which passed above the lochan eventually dropping down to the road.

In the layby opposite I sat and watched one or possibly two eagles hunting along beside the river - too far away for photos.

Then I retraced my steps - this time upwards to the metal gate. Taking the early right turn after leaving the road, then a left, and straight ahead above the lochan just visible through the trees. After crossing the stream the track bends right to the gate.

I chose to return to Braemar by the right hand path which took me higher and just below the crags under Morrone. This wasn't the other half of the circular so I must have missed a turning. It took me eventually to a hard track which descended sharply back to the Duck Pond where now the only visitors were two herons.  At this point there was a sharp reminder of the wonky knee!

Conclusions?  The wonky knee is still a bit delicate and it would be possible to cut out some of the road walking to Braemar - IF you take the left hand side of the Circular route and don't mind the initial climb from the road.....

Saturday 21 June 2014

Failing the 5 day challenge

I was going quite well - the only person to attempt the Moray Way 5 day challenge on the backpacking/wild camping option.

Admittedly the 95 miles in 5 days with a heavy rucksack meant 20 mile days and fairly slow progress. 

Day 1 was Cromdale to Dunphail. It was warm and periodically sunny. My modest 2.5 mph could not keep pace with others on the park & ride option. So I passed the day in the company of the two backmarkers. We enjoyed a cup of coffee in Grantown on Spey courtesy of some sponsorship from Mcleans Highland Bakery.

Overnight I camped just behind the Dunphail Breathing Space. It was hard to find a pitch without waist high plants or stony ground. Eventually I decided on a spot and had a good night albeit with a crowd of midges attracted to my tent by the bright yellow colour. None got through inner mesh though.

Day 2 - Dunphail to Burghead.  Even though I started at 7.30 am the rest of the walkers beat me to the end point. Most of the day I walked on my own. It was warm but there was no sunshine and quite windy on the coastal section.

It was a walk of three distinct parts.
The Dava Way to its end point at Forres, the road/cycle path to Findhorn and then the Moray Coastal Trail on to Burghead. I find sand a difficult walking surface so even though I didn't go on the beach the Coastal Trail is largely sand and stones.

Just before the end in the Roseisle forest my right knee began to be painful. I stopped and took some Ibuprofen and Paracetamol - without much success.

Camping at the now 'exclusively caravans' campsite was not possible. A lift back to base the only option.

This morning the painful knee was still er - painful - so I had to withdraw. 

I had deliberately packed less stuff - particularly warm clothes and food. Plenty of buying opportunities meant no need for those extra  emergency measures. Even so I might have to reconsider some of the rest of my kit.....