Day 40 Weds 08-06-2005
Blair Atholl to Inverey
Last night I slept well - a rare occasion in my tent. It must have been because it was quite warm. I packed everything away and was walking by 7:15. A steep climb was followed by Glen Tilt, a remote valley through high hills. The weather was bright, dry, and cloudy.
I met two women leading horses, and had a chat. Later, two cyclists came along, and we also chatted. This area is quite remote, but at this time of year relatively busy. Ahead, I could see the snow capped peaks I would be passing tomorrow, if all went well. I had to cross streams, sometimes by stepping stones. Eventually, I came to a place where the only option to cross the water seemed to be to take my boots and socks off and walk through. The stones were very slippery, and the water icy cold, but somehow I made it, with a few dodgy moments along the way. On reflection, I would have been better off getting wet boots, rather than risk a broken ankle.
I was headed for Inverey, where there was a Youth Hostel. As I got nearer the bridge at Linn of Dee, I caught up with a party of walkers from Aberdeen. I chatted to Rita and Lyn, and found out that they took a coach to a picturesque spot every other Tuesday. We walked together to the bridge, and then parted. I was now back from the wilderness, and walked up the first road of the day to the Youth Hostel.
John welcomed me to the hostel, and booked me in. I asked about shops, John said the nearest was at Braemar, about five miles down the road. I wasn't going to walk that far, but John offered me a lift! It was weird travelling five miles so quickly, I hadn't been in a car for weeks. I got something to cook for my dinner, and some food to pack away for the next day. John had volunteered to be warden for two weeks. He was a teacher from Newcastle, and as well as running the hostel, got to walk and explore the area. A really nice guy.
Back at the hostel I settled in. It was a small, charming place, and, as always, totally different from every other hostel I had stayed in. A woman came into the room as I was preparing my beans on toast, I was sure I had seen her before.
"We've met!" I said, trying to remember where.
"I don't think so" she said. About half an hour later, she introduced herself - Moira - and said that she remembered that we had indeed met. It was on the road near Peebles, when she was cycling in the opposite direction to me. It's a small world. Moira, who lives near Peebles, was staying in the hostel with her husband Tony, walking in the hills.
Two other people came in, Joyce, and Alan. They were Munro bagging. I didn't know what this was, so they gently explained that Sir Hugh Munro was the first person to catalogue Scottish hills over 3000 feet - there are 284. Many people spent years of their lives climbing them all, or as many as they can. Joyce has climbed over two hundred, and Alan nearly completed them all. When a bagger climbs his or her final mountain, they have a party at the top, complete with cake and bubbly. Sounds great! Ever since Munro completed his list in 1891, it has been changing, as the measuring techniques improved, and in walking and climbing circles there is constant debate on the subject.
Later in the evening, Alan told me he had completed a lejog cycle ride, in the 80's, north to south, with six lads from an approved school. I was pleased to have met another successful end to ender!