Saturday, 31 May 2008


Bags packed and ready for the the off. Again. A return to Glen Derry or thereabouts. That'll be twice in the space of a week. Unreal.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The long walk in, and out again - Part 2

It was only when I'd thrown my arms out a few times, searching in vain for The Future Mrs D', that I remembered where I was and how narrow the Laserlite is. (Note to self: Research wider tentage) TFMD and I have only spent a handful of nights apart in the last 5 years and her warm, wee bod' was sorely missed. I made a half-hearted attempt to snuggle down in the bag but the day was brightening and the thought of coffee finally got me moving.

I'd no sooner packed up the tent when the sun broke through the low cloud and I was able to finish off my brew, with my back against an old Scot's Pine, taking in some rays. Magic.

I'd no clear plan for the day but I knew that both Duncan and George would be in the vicinity of White Bridge around lunchtime and, after a quick look at the map, opted for a wander up Glen Luibeg towards Corrour and then out to White Bridge via Glen Dee.

I don't know who built the path up Luibeg but they deserve a hearty clap on the back cos' it's a cracker. The path, sunshine, trees, water and wildlife had me beaming like a madman by the time I reached the Luibeg bridge. Seriously. My face was aching. Everybody that passed by was happy with not an Ignorant Bastard among them. I think that might be a first.

Following the path round, The Devil's Boabie* hoaves into view and stays there. Every ounce of energy spent getting there is repaid a thousand fold. I felt immediately sorry for the many thousands of folk who must have passed by here in the clag and no' seen it.

Fertile imaginations, the Gaels had.

I loitered a bit, taking it all in while having “Elevenses” (Beef Jerky) and slurping from the Aquagear Filter Bottle. It took a supreme effort of will to get up and tear myself away, heading directly downhill to pick up the Glen Dee track.

It was at this point that I noticed how warm the day was getting. Higher up, there'd been a cool breeze but that died away as I got lower. The path was lot rougher as well which made for hard-going. My enthusiasm had got the better of me and I was moving quite quickly which is probably why my left knee, which I've had bother with over the last few years, decided it was time to complain. The low grumble built to a throb and on to a steady scream. Not to be left out, my head started to pound, a million sweat glands went on strike and every alarm light went to red. Bugger! Skipping breakfast and no' drinking enough had caught up wi' me, big time. (5 hours+ since my last pee. “Well, hello there Mr Dehydration”) I'd “bonked”, and not in a good way.

So it was down to the river and some handy slabs where the next hour was passed eating and drinking like the proverbial horse; Jerky, Honey Stingers, oatcakes and Primula all washed down with copious quantities of Nuun-infused Highland water. A Buff, soaked in the Dee and wrapped around the offending joint sealed the deal. Sweet, blessed relief.

I was a new man by the time I set off, water bottles topped up and snacks to hand in the OMM chest pouch, and it seemed like no time when I arrived at the Chest Of Dee.

A quick photie and then the camera died. Again.

I could see a few figures milling about at White Bridge and, by the time I'd finished swearing at the camera, 2 of them had broken away and were heading towards me. My eyes were streaming a bit on account of the wind but I could just make out that one of them was wearing a light-coloured Tilley and sporting shades. “'allo. You Big Kev? Big Galloot?”. It was George, aka The London Backpacker, and his walking buddy Keith looking fresh and cheery after their long walk up from Blair Atholl. We passed a good few minutes blethering about the scenery, weather, the path conditions ahead and likely bothy population before exchanging “Cheerio's”, “All the best”'s and me promising to look out for Duncan and let him know they were just up ahead. Nice blokes, both.

George and Keith, heading North and barely visible as a wee, dark speck. Seriously.

Almost exactly half an hour later, I was on the landrover track back to Linn of Dee, texting an ETA to TFMD when I noticed a familiar figure approaching; Duncan aka Aktoman. More handshakes and an impromtu Scottish Outdoors Bloggers mini-meet was in full-swing. More blethering about this and that and the next thing. I could've stood there all day, really I could but I was acutely aware that I was a) holding Duncan back when he still had a long way to go and b) stalling for time on account of an aching knee, the weather, and the track which looked like it went on forever. And so we went our separate ways; me heading for the car and Duncan to Corrour and what looked like a fantastic Sunday. (Full write-up here.) He's a good lad btw and every bit as tall as he looks on his blog :o)

Less than an hour later, I was in the car and heading for the Hungry Highlander and a portion of Whale** and Chips, washed down by a cold can of Irn Bru. Champing at the bit to get home to my honey, I only ate half, saving the rest for later. (Sorry dugs, way too nice to be classed as “leftovers”)

Heading back to Braemar

The old Mojo was there. I could feel it and F**k me if it didn't feel good.


Coming soon: Gear – the Good and the, well....Good, really.


**Calm it, Hippy. It was Haddock.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The long walk in, and out again - Part 1

Friday's trip up to the Cairngorms NP wasn't going to be an exercise in peak-bagging but rather a recce mission. I asked The Boy a couple of weeks ago if he'd like to come "camping" with his old man and, to my surprise, he said "Aye". To my further delight, he insisted that it not be on an organised campsite but out in the hills somewhere.

Derry Lodge was the first thought that popped into my head but it's been a long time since I've been up that way so I decided to nip up and check it out.

Packing for an overnighter took a while (out of practice, you see?) but I got there in the end; packing and re-packing, refining and rejecting. I should point out that one of the other things I wanted to do this weekend was try out some newish kit, chief among them the OMM Mountain Mover. It wasn't until I was unpacking yesterday that I realised I'd taken the OMM Villain instead. Och well, the MM can come along next time.

A couple of things, namely the Berghaus Sac Liner and the Big Agnes Air Core Pad, didn't make the final cut. The Frosts Mora Knife came along for "whittling" purposes :o)

So, with bag packed it was off to Braemar and a quick mootch around Braemar Mountain Sports. Some nice stuff in there and definitely worth a re-visit.

Eventually got to Linn of Dee at around 5pm and, after buying a ticket (£2 (coins only), thanks to Duncan for the heads-up) hoisted the pack, took a quick photie or 2 and then set off up the signposted path for Glen Lui.
Self-portrait, with partial bonnet of my motor

The track up Glen Lui is a good one, speeding you away from the car park and on towards the hills. Loads of really good spots in the glen for a tent if you don't fancy walking very far.

In nae time, I'd reached Bob Scott's, but as bothies give me the "heebies", I moved quickly on.

Pure Evil. "Aaaargh! Run away! Run away!"

Passing Derry Lodge, I could see there was a big group of kids at the bridge so, after exchanging cheery "Hiya"'s, I decided to seek out a relatively secluded wee spot away from any likely looking "D of E Here" pitches. At this point, my natural "I wonder what's up here" curiosity got the better of me and I started up the path on the left side of the river. Before I knew where I was, I was out of the trees and looking up a big, wide, empty glen. I knew there was a wee flat bit of grass near the bridge but, right on cue, some kids appeared. Sure enough, there were 3 tents there already. I walked up the glen a bit but it didn't look promising.

The world's best wild-camp is probably just around the corner

The wind was picking up and it was getting late so I turned round and headed back, passing the same group I'd seen at Derry so no prizes for guessing where they were going.

Half an hour later, I'd selected and cleared a pitch, set up the tent and had water on for a brew.

A sight I don't often see. Note use of TN Carbon Nails as windshield supports.

As I was sitting waiting for the water to boil, 2 young stags appeared about 50m away. It was, of course, at this point that the camera packed in.

10 seconds after I took this, 2 deer walked out of the trees in the middle foreground. Honest.

The rest of the evening passed quickly; brews were drunk, tea was eaten (Expedition Foods Chicken Tikka which I turned into soup by adding too much water. Still tasty tho'), wandering about was done and entertainment provided by the 4 yahoos on the other side of the river with their big fire, a saw and copious amounts of alcohol. Idiots.

I slept well considering this was my first night in a tent in long, long time. I woke up at one point to what I thought was thunder but sounded to my sleepy brain like lots of hooves going past at the run. Could've been deer or just a dream. I went back out like a light regardless.

Coming up in Part 2; a day of happiness, deep joy, pain, exhuastion and a meeting of the real and virtual worlds.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned

When you're outnumbered 2 to 1, superior firepower is the key. A chain-gun, weilded in a Blain (Predator) style, is a great leveller. Quite literally.

Me, resplendent in Red, laying down some fire

And when the ammo runs out or the enemy grow weary of the carnage, it's time to bring out the long gun, find a quiet spot and seek victory, one carefully placed round at a time.

Evening up the score

Halo 3 iz teh shiz. Taht is true. As the young people might say.

Oh, and we won.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Forward Planning?

Sometimes I surprise even myself. I've been mentally inventorying everything I'll need for this weekend but there were a couple of things that I didn't exactly know where they were. I knew roughly but "roughly" was the big pile of gear up in the loft.

I knew the Laserlite was tucked in at the bottom of my gear cupboard and I could feel the poles in the bag but of the pegs there was no sign. "Must be in the loft", I thought. "Balls!", I thought again.

So up I went. Tucked in at the side of the pile were 3 big storage boxes. The top one contained 2 Pro Action Tiger Paws. No pegs in there.

The middle box sounded more promising. It rattled for one thing. Opening the lid, it was a bit like the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark; it was like peering into a wee bit of Heaven but without the scary ghosties. The pegs were there. All of them. Carbon, Titan and Alu. So was the MSR Titan Kettle, the Vargo Jet Ti, folding titan spork, gas, fire steel and indeed everything I needed for the upcoming (and perfectly legal) adventure. Such organisation. I can scarcely believe it was me that did it. The grin near split my face in twa.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Ne'er cast a cloot, 'til May is oot

I've often wondered what that meant. I thought it was something to do with spring cleaning and perhaps it is. An alternative was suggested today; Don't cast off your Winter clothing until June.

This was proferred as I chittered away in shorts and t-shirt. The sun was out right enough but that North Easterly blowing through knew that this was Scotland and that Summer was last week.

Fine walking weather, though I elected to stay home, cut the grass and start pulling stuff together for next weekend's first wild camp of the year.

I know. I can't believe it either.

Update: Jerky, snacks and hydration stuff ordered. Dehydrated meals selected.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

3 Strikes

3 times in the last few months. That's how many times I've walked into an actual gear shop and made enquiries about specific bits of kit.

3 times I've had the "No, we don't have it but we can get it in for you. Leave your name and number and we'll call you when it comes in."

3 times I've heard nothing. Nada. F**k all.

3 times they could've had a sale but, for whatever reason, chose not to.

The Arab people have a saying; "Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me." To that I'd add, "Trick me three times, then F**k you, pal. I'll do my shopping somewhere else."

Much has been said about the rise in internet retail and its' ability to kill off "bricks & mortar" outfits but sometimes the B&M boys do themselves no favours.