Monday, 17 September 2012

A new day a new dawn.

A new day a new dawn.

Today I have to apologize for not having written in almost a week. It was not my initial intention but things have changed somewhat over the weeks and now I am finding it almost impossible to have time and light in the evenings to write consistently and do daily accounts about the experiences. It is my sole aim to keep everyone reading up to date with stories about new and truly wonderfully kind people and their supportive gestures, but I will have to condense my entries into shorter and combined headings rather than do daily, at least for the forseeable future. I hope this is acceptable to everyone, if not, sorry... it is the best one can do right now.

Lynn had to be up and off early as she had booked a bus out of Dundee to Edinburgh and later Nottingham via train. She understood that I needed to do a bit of catching up with the previous entries and so made her way out of the hotel alone to the bus stop at the bottom of the drive. I made use of the room for a further few hours until it was time for me to check out. I trashed the room and threw the T. V out of the window in true showbiz rock and roll fashion, after all I wasn't picking up the bill......(Joke Lynn)
The staff gave me the laundry that they had had cleaned in quick time, from their laundry company and I was charged a modest sum for the facility. Well they have a business to run don't they? Only some of the companies that I have come across take pity on a poor, homeless man walking around Great Britain for charity, some rather keep the coffers full. And after all I try not to expect service for free, that way I am not disappointed. They thanked me for Lynn's custom and I set off for the huge walk I had intended to Blairegowrie, as I had not pushed myself much over the past few days. Yesterday Lynn and myself had been to the Botanical gardens which were a nice treat, but very expensive for what you get. Now I was on the open road again my spirits soared and the views came to fill me with passion.

I passed through the small and sleepy village of Invergowrie and then other small villages towards the Loch hailed as the Piperdam.

I found my way across country via a strawberry farm and came to the golf course of the same name, at the Piperdam Resort hotel. I had a modest time of drinking tea and waiting out the rains in the comfort of their lounges writing poetry and enjoying the views across the loch.

Getting prepared to move again was a bit of a challenge but I was soon scooting off across open field towards the road to Blairegowrie. It was a narrow and windy walk for most of the day and I had to negotiate many people not paying attention to a walker on their road. Don't these people read the highway codes? People animals and bicycles get precedence.....

The walk had been constantly up hill at least until the impressive views over the valley in which Coupar Angus sat nestled amidst the trees. There didn't seem to be much going on here as I sailed in and out the other side and crossed a rather ancient looking arched bridge.

Here the road was very tight, I almost got squashed a couple of times because the drivers coming towards me hadn't factored me into their right foot activity. At last the road became long, straight and a pavement all the way into Blairegowrie. I arrived at about 10pm and only the supermarkets in the town center were open for supplies. I found a spot along the upper river path to hunker down for the night and got my head down after midnight.
The next day I was woken to the sound of rain and the river below swelling as it cascaded along the bed of the Ericht. I had a very nice chat with a gentleman up from Nottingham of all places, who was surprised that I had chosen his fair city as my start point. Brian a retired man was out walking two dogs for his friends daughter, who lived in the small Scottish town. Trinity and Morpheus the dogs were lively and keen to stroll, so after an age they encouraged their walker to set them free again. I had enjoyed chatting to Brian but I fear that I may have unintentionally upset him with my rhetoric about the old conspiracy theories of the 911 attempts and the tower 7 debacle. Oops....

I had a mooch about town and found some information about the walk ahead. The girls at the tourist information shop were very accommodating to my requests for clues as to how to reach Aviemore by the mountain route. It would appear the previous idea about going from Blaire Athol would be less conducive to good practice, as I have no great experience of the open mountain walking. But if I could walk across the ciarns towards Spittal of Glenshee and then up to Braemar I could take a well walked route called the Lairig Ghru all the way to Aviemore, 26 miles of extraordinary views and terrain to glorify the eyes and expand the lungs...
With Blairegowrie a blur in the distance I started along what is known locally as the Cataran trail. It was the route a group of blood thirsty murderers and cattle thieves used to drove their cattle. I could follow this as far as Spittal and then take the highway up the Glen towards Braemar.

I had my first night in the woods at Bridge of Cally. I frequented the public house to write and met a man and his grandfather who were doing a bit of fishing. John from Birmingham was here to support his grandfather and they bought me several drinks for my time in their company, supporting me too. Later I camped by a cabin smelling richly of creosote, argh...

Along the way several hours into the following day as I stopped to do yet more writing in the hope of catching up, I met a man out walking called Phil from Kent. Phil from Kent was having a week away from the ordinary life and trying to relax into walking, but complained of not being totally at one yet, and he had a groin strain to deal with. I suggested that we walk together for a while, which he seemed keen to accept. After about 200 meters of walking I guess I got him lost. Well we walked along nattering and soon had no signs to follow as we had walked up a steep hill nearly both having a stroke in the process. He said that he wanted to backtrack to find the way, which I joined him in, though in reality I would have just cut across the hill side and made a detour. But to be fair, on these moors that can be absolutely the wrong choice, as it can be very boggy and difficult to navigate safely. We returned almost to the point where we had begun our walk and then found our error had been slight but never the less off course. After a while he needed to rest and have his lunch and I carried on alone. He said that he might see me later as I would be going through Kirkmichael where he planned to stay the night in the Hotel.

Indeed after I had sat writing yet more poetry and arrived in time to buy provisions at the local and only shop for miles, I found him at the bar of the hotel. The local shop come post office come cafe was indeed a delight to see, in so many ways. Because it was the last vestiges of civilization until Spittal and also because of the array of things you could buy. I stocked up for a few days travel and made my way out of the village after a drink at the pub and found a very scenic spot overlooking a loch to camp. Through the night nothing moved and no sound came to awaken me. The first I knew of the new day was the sunshine on my forehead coming strongly through the tent fabric.

I had chosen a really quaint place. A man walking his dog came to throw sticks for it to swim after and I wrote a few morning poems to get me off to a good start. The tranquility was second to none. I wish one day I could buy the house overlooking this loch, it has a very conducive feel to it.
Along the path I met the man walking the dog again and his wife and spoke briefly with them before opening a gate for a sheep dog who couldn't climb the stile. The dog whizzed through and disappeared into the forest.
Across the other side of the field a party of college students were doing some biology study and they had the place taped like a crime scene.

After another couple of hours I found the hut talked about by everyone, up in the hills towards Spittal, that had once been supposedly used by queen Victoria back in the 1900's. It didn't look like it had been cleaned

Seriously it was a nice place and thankfully had arrived just as I could go on no further without sustenance. It made good food for thought with my poetry, one for my friend John L. I thanked the Universe for supplying me with good things and asked for something nice for this evening. A place to camp that would be able to lift my spirits yet further.

An hour later I was just getting to the top of the cairn and hoped for a respite from the steep climb. The views were awesome of course but my temperature had risen several degrees in the ascent. The sign at the top said 20 minutes to the bottom and the Spittal of Glenshee.

I couldn't stop laughing... they surely meant by phone...... it was miles away.... Several.

After a good look around and appreciating of the views in every direction I began this fabled 20 minute, (nearly 40 minute) descent. The poles had saved my life several times as I hit pot holes rocks and animal hoof tracks the whole way down. It was a welcome sight to see lights burning at the windows of the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel and the possible end to my day, with a warm drink and meal.

I got into conversation again with Phil who had arrived much earlier, and then the manageress Nicole. She offered me first the chance to camp in the grounds of the hotel then later the use of the pool games room to bunk down, instead of putting up my tent in the rain. This was such kindness and the use of the shower and bathroom facilities was a god send. I felt like a new man, literally. Later as I caught up with writing the staff bought me drinks and entertained me with every kindness. Nicole was one of a set of triplets, the first ever to be born from I.V.F. (test tube babies) and one of her brothers Sean was also working here. Steven the third was not yet at work here, but Aaron Nicole's husband was the chef on duty and I thanked him for my lovely meal. They also paid for my breakfast and sent me away with a packed lunch, so strong was their support of my mission and so true was the proof of their genuine kindness. If I could only meet these kinds of people I should be able to reach my target without fail.
The route up was long towards the head of Glenshee, though shorter than had been told to me by one or two folk. I reckon it was about 6 miles of climbing until the summit of the road where I met the beautiful sight of the Glenshee ski resort about two and a half hours later.

I was seriously in need of a hot drink and yet the company was far warmer than the drinks. Firstly a man called Harry came over and congratulated me on my ascent, he had passed me in his car earlier. I thanked him for not offering me a lift...(joke) and accepted his gracious contribution to the coffers of the charity collections. Next the staff Hazel and the manageress Aileen were keen to congratulate me on not only the mountain climb, but also the wider project aims of raising huge sums for worthy causes, especially children's charities. The BBC Children in need and N.S.P.C.C. are going to be receiving their support henceforth. They made a fuss of me and supplied me warm soup and tea and hospitality and a welcome place to sit and watch the world go by for an hour, before the gruelling 9 miles ahead, sadly all downhill......Yahoooooo......

Braemar was a long time coming, but the views and the terrain bore out my love of this land and its diversity. I saw a herd of red deer out on the hillside, at least a hundred in the group. They watched me carefully from their lofty position as I watched the road and the oncoming cars and buses. At a quick stop for a bite to eat I was the one getting eaten, overlooking a river the midges were in their element, tasting Englishman for a change not sheep and goats.

As I entered Braemar I could see why the queen loved this place and had her home very close. The mountains are so exquisitely appealing and the forests of Pine, and Rowan are magical.
Down at the foot of the valley where the Dee river swept through I sought accommodation, but knew my hopes of similar to last evening were going to be quite hard to match. Angela the receptionist at the Youth hostel, though she couldn't allow me a discount or an affordable bed for the night, did allow me however to use the showers and bathroom facilities. I say affordable, in the terms that I cannot afford to pay this amount every time I need accommodation rather than it being expensive per-say. I thanked her for the thoughtfulness and set out to find a place to park my clean and warm dry personage for the evening. I found a most amazing spot along the edges of the Dee where no-one could bother my views and peace. I had a walk to the Braemar castle which was really not very castle like at all, built by a Disney enthusiast I presumed, though it clearly pre-dated that theory by several generations.

And so bed finally took me to the land of delightful respite from walking, and a day off tomorrow as my knee was in need of a chance to heal.

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