The Mar Lodge breakfast was sociable and set me up nicely for what should have been a fairly short day but with a huge ascent. The plan was to scale Morrone (also called Morven on the maps) then head to Lochcallater Lodge for a cup of tea then find somewhere to camp on the way to Lochnagar. However, I wasn’t in the mood for extra hills so missed out Morrone/Morven and had a pleasant walk through the Morrone Birkwood instead.
Shortly after passing through the golf course, Alan and Andrew caught me up and we walked together to the Lodge. At first I insisted that they should go on without me, as I did not want to slow them down, but we seemed to settle into a pace that suited everyone and it was good to have some company. There were lots of people, many of them Sunday day-walkers, at the Lodge and the tea and cake was in full flow.
As the wind was already strong, andpredicted to be even worse in the morning, I resisted the temptation to stay at the Lodge for a night of drunken debauchery socialising and, after seeking advice from people who knew the area better than I did, decided to follow my Foul Weather Alternative to Loch Dubh and stay in Glas Allt Shiel Bothy.
It got windier and windier as I climbed up to, and skirted around, Carn an Sagairt Mor. There was absolutely no way I could have camped here and I was thankful that I’d made some extra notes on this FWA before I left home. The old fence posts were where they should have been and Dubh Loch came into sight at the right time. The visibility wasn’t too bad, apart from the fact I could barely see through my streaming eyes and I had my hood fastened tight around my face.
The going was quite rough along the North Side of Dubh Loch. At the West end there was no path, or I didn’t find it, so I spent a lot of time tripping and sliding and climbing over boulders. At least it was a lot more sheltered from the wind down here.
I arrived at Glas Allt Shiel just after two Challengers who were putting up their tents on a lovely patch of grass in the lee of the building. I had a quick look inside the bothy and decided that, although it would have been a great shelter in foul weather, it was not as nice as the sun-soaked soft grass, so I went back outside and put my tent up. Within ten minutes, the place was swarming with Challengers.This is another bothy with a toilet, although this one is of the “hole in the ground, flush with a bucket” variety.