Friday, 29 May 2015

TGO Challenge 2015 Day 7 Thurs 14th May

Baileguish to Aviemore  19.9km - 253m ascent - 344m descent

I woke to cloudless skies, any other day I would have relished the day ahead. But I knew I had in the region of 20k to reach Aviemore, my planned overnight stop. A hefty dose of Ibuprofen with breakfast and off I hobbled!...

I passed the mainly demolished farmstead of Corarnstilbeg, where Daffodils were still in full bloom

My vetter had advised me to walk the path/track from Ballintean to Feshiebridge, it was a beautiful section of my Challenge!
Thank you John Donohue!!

Splendid views beside the Feshie of the Western Cairngorms.

I took a break at Feshiebridge. I knew that from here the rest of my day was likely to be on tarmac and hard forest tracks...

I was able to connect together forest tracks. (Some of which like this one were in use)

With some really nice paths.

These brought me to Loch an Eilein, which was like a mirror! Wonderful. I took a few pictures and then sat on a handy seat..... have a proper look at my ankle. I was surprised to see just how swollen and inflamed it had become during the morning. It was burning hot....I knew I had to seek medical advice:-(

I had a welcome ice cream at the visitor centre at Loch an Eilein then set off on the last leg to Aviemore, on the old "Logging Road"
Once into Aviemore I wasted no time in finding the pharmacy (Boots). The pharmacist had a look at the offending ankle and listening to what I thought it might be quickly dismissed my thoughts and said it looked infected and should visit a medical practitioner ASAP.
I was given the address of Aviemore Health Centre, a quick phone call and I had an appointment within half an hour.

This was the first time I had visited a doctor for 27 years!
The doctor was very through, asking me if I had been bitten by anything. I explained I had got a couple of tick bites, (one on my wrist and one on the thigh) but as far as I was aware nothing on my ankle!
I explained that I was walking across Scotland....he said " Your leg needs rest, keep your weight off it, and elevated for at least 48hrs" A further examination followed, he said otherwise I seemed fine...I certainly felt good other than the ankle! He then prescribed a course of antibiotics.
So that was it, my Challenge for 2015 was over:-((

I walked slowly back into Aviemore, sat on a bench in the sun with my leg up. I took the first antibiotic and started to make the phone calls.
Firstly to Challenge Control, I spoke to Alvar who actually seemed more disappointed than me I thought! I don't think it had sunk in with me really. I cancelled my accommodation in Ballater on the Sat night.
Then having purchased some comfort food at the supermarket I went to the station to buy some tickets for my journey home. Tickets purchased it was off to the SYHA for a shower and a feed before putting my leg up...this would be a recurring theme for the next 3 days!
So how did I get the infection?..............The doctor said it only takes a tiny nick in the skin, perhaps something had got in whilst wading a burn? After 3 days or so when the redness was fading somewhat I noticed a tiny red mark. A bite? I never felt anything before the was it a tick? I guess I'll never know 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

TGO Challenge 2015 Day 6 Wed 13th May

Falls of Pattack to Baileguish  41.2km - 1048m ascent - 1074m descent

It had been a bit blowy during the night, it was quite an exposed spot! Generally I'd slept well, no doubt due to the exertions of yesterday. Today was a new day...I had a quick look at my ankle, still swollen :-( It was dry and I knew the forecast was good for today, Thursday and Friday.  I was mulling over my options as I had my breakfast, and thought I'd see what I thought when I reached Dalwhinnie...

This is the view looking back to the Creag Meagaidh range.This track which leads from the River Pattack to the River Mashie has recently been extended, indeed goes all the way to NN575865. I had expected some of this to be hard going so this was a bonus. 

The Mashie was easy to cross dryshod, and the burn followed up Lochan na Doire-uaine. Clearly there has been a wood here in the past! Things were going well my ankle felt ok'ish

..and then I saw the way forward. There's no path here, not even animal tracks that I could find.
Hard graft.

My route entered this narrow defile, pathless, loose boulders and holes covered by vegetation.
There were a number of rotting deer carcasses, two of them in the Lochan

The way forward was much of the same, the slowest 500m of my walk.

Things improved as I reached the Allt an t-sluic (which had to be forded twice) and eventually I reached the A889. Which I followed into Dalwhinnie

I was ready for a second breakfast/brunch when I reached the cafe. I noticed here that I was walking "flatfooted" on my left leg :-( More thinking required, I rang Challenge Control. I spoke to Alvar and said I was suffering from "Shinsplints" but that other than that felt good and would press on with my route.
Inwardly I was thinking possibly FWA when I got to Loch Cuaich

I followed the aquaduct which helps to feed Loch Ericht with water from Loch Cuaich and the Gaick.
By seeking out grass on the edges of the track walking wasn't to painful

Once past the turbine house Meall Chuaich looked relatively close and easy going. It was a needed Munro so I decided to crack on and get it done.

Climbing felt good, the weather was excellent and the views in all directions superb. The Ben Alder group seen to great effect down the length of Loch Ericht beyond the Fara

Over to the west the Monadh Laith....I knew it would be teeming with Challengers. Yet today I would see only 1, and that was in the cafe! 

Meall Chuaich has a magnificent cairn, the Western Cairngorms looked close at last.I sat down had a snack and drank in the view.

There was a pleasant surprise as I started my descent down the broad NE ridge towards Glen Tromie. The track extended much further up the ridge.

There was a large snowfield to cross though. Someone else had been this way prob the day before I thought.

The long ridge had been a painful descent. Eventually I reached Bhran Cottage. Things now didn't feel good. For some reason I didn't like the idea of camping here, don't know just had a bad feeling to me. Can't explain any better than that!

I'd never been in upper Glen tromie before and thought it a grand walk down towards Tromie Bridge. I'd decided to get the miles in during the cool of the evening and pressed on to.....

.....Baileguish. This was a great pitch, even though I arrived late at 9.15pm! The setting sun lighting up the hills above Glen Feshie

Just time to get sorted and have a good feed. I then had a proper look at my ankle, it was huge. I'd been taking Ibuprofen all day, the swelling was bad, Bright red and burning like hell.
This couldn't be "Shinsplints" or a "Sprain" surely? I was ahead of schedule and knew I'd be in Aviemore tomorrow. As I'd done extra miles this evening I only had about 12 miles tomorrow

Monday, 25 May 2015

An Afternoon Stroll to Gaping Gill

Like yesterday I only had half a day to play with. I chose to stay away from the Lakes (a good job, there was a huge queue on the A65 trying to get to the Lakes!). Instead I drove over to the dales, Clapham in fact....

I took Clapdale Lane to avoid the crowds heading for Ingleborough Cave through Clapdale Woods.
Lots of Wild Garlic (Ramsons) along here

and some excellent examples of Bugle

I dropped down to Clapdale and walked past the resurgence at Ingleborough Cave

Further on I walked up Trow Gill, which gives access to the open fell

The winch meet was on at Gaping Gill, folk were queuing up to be lowered into the darkness

I considered going up Ingleborough, but my ankle was grumbling a bit...and anyway the cloud was down.

Instead I varied my outward route by dropping into Clapdale Bottoms, there is a slight ascent to pick up Long Lane....which is very long!

Then I turned onto Thwaite Lane which took me back into Clapham through the two tunnels.
The weather improved as I was out, in fact it was even better when I got home less than 20 miles away

TGO Challenge 2015 Day 5 Tues 12th May

Fort Augustus to South of Falls of Pattack  43.7km - 1253m ascent - 964m descent

I woke knowing I had a long day ahead to get back on my original route. The first part of today's revised walk would take me over the Corrieyairaick Pass, which I'd trekked over last year. As I ate breakfast in Morag's Hostel the rain was coming down steadily and was backed by a Westerly least it would be on my back!

I made good progress up the Corrieyairaick, and stopped for a snack at Blackburn Bothy (As I did last year!) The rain was now showers rather than persistant

The rain had been horrendous over the summit of the pass. However after another break at Melgarve Bothy in the company of Ken Proudler, Angus and Andrew McKinnon and Gerard, the weather started to improve. As I was walking down the road towards Garva Bridge I felt as though I had developed "shin splints" in my left leg....pushing to hard over the Corrieyairaick I thought. I knew from experience that this would pass off after a few hours if I eased off the pace.

Garva Bridge, and entry into the Cairngorm National Park. Just over the bridge was Steve...offering free hot chocolate to TGOC'ers! I spent a pleasant 45mins or so chatting with Steve and Russ Mannion.

Then it was back out into the breezy wind and passing showers (a lot lighter now) 

The weather was improving all the time, I was on new ground as I took the track over and down Glen Shirra. This has been overlaid by a "motorway" of a track further on as part of the Beauly/Denny powerline

This was a point at which I should have made a different decision, my ankle was now really rather painful...perhaps a sprain I thought? The road would have taken me out to Newtonmore eventually...but I chose to enter the Ardverikie Estate and thence back onto my original route. 

Creag Meagaidh was shrouded in cloud as I looked West down Loch was time to start looking for somewhere to camp.

The track beside the River Pattack was great, I made the detour to see the Falls of Pattack. The scenery took my mind off my grumbling ankle, which seemed better now I was off road and going uphill.

This was exactly where I had planned to camp! I was back on my original route, I love it when a plan comes together. It had been a 12 hour day but other than the ankle, which upon inspection was very swollen things were going well.
As I drifted off to sleep I wondered if my ankle would feel a bit better in the morning......

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Few Kentmere and Longsleddle Bridleways on the Fat Bike

Just half a day on the Fat Bike today, and as Kentmere is so handy that's where I headed off to. A great ride  although it was only 16 miles although it felt like 60! and another injury to my left leg :-(

Elf Howe and the start of the offroad

Still lots of Bluebells out

I took the bridleway that runs South of Skeggles Water

This is what happens when a silly old fool tries to bunny hop a drainage ditch...those flat pedals sure are sharp!! Still stinging now! :-((

I rode the bridleways up to Sadgill, and just a short diversion up the Gatesgarth track opened up a grand view of the head of the valley

Stile End then the lesser used bridleway over Cocklaw Fell. I stopped on here for a brew and snack

Skeggles Water from just below the highpoint of the Cocklaw fell track 

The descent is great with the distraction on the view to the North. All the Kentmere fells!

I had a bit of time left so climbed up to Kentmere Park, which enabled me to look back across the valley to Cocklaw Fell (Green Quarter Fell)
Considering it was a Bank Holiday Sunday, I only saw 2 walkers and 4 mountain bikes....great!