After a night in the swamp, I was keen not to find any lovely flat, green swards of soft, short, green grass – but 15 minutes round the corner into Glen Builg I found this ……
As you can see in the photo, the weather was sunny and dry – although still a little breezy – so I decided that I would stick to my main route staying on trackless high ground for most of the day on my way to Ballater.
I spent most of the day picking my way across Meikle Geal Charn, Cairn Sawvie, Brown Cow Hill, Camock Hill and Carn a Bhacain before dropping off Cairndoor Hill to the road at Shenval. It was great walking; easy underfoot and with the occasional unmapped track to tease and tempt me.
A boundary stone NW of Camock Hill:-
Of course, it couldn’t all be easy walking and I had a fair bit of peat hag mountaineering near Camock Hill.
It was after 4pm when I reached the road and I had at least 12km to Ballater. I was already tired and was a little anxious that I didn’t have anywhere planned to stay. I fancied a little bit of comfort – like a bath and soft fluffy towels, and a bottle of wine.
At 6:30pm I passed the Welcome to Ballater sign…..
I tried a couple of hotels but there were no beds. In one bar I saw a group of merry Challengers but I was too tired to feel like socialising.
It was sad to see the effects of the recent fire at the old station.
At the campsite, the warden had just cashed up but said there was no problem with me finding a pitch and settling up in the morning.
I pitched amongst a group of one-man tents comfortable in my assumption that I’d know many of the owners; although I guessed that many would be eating and drinking in town. It was about 7:30 but it felt much later than that to me.
After pitching my tent I walked back to the Co-op and was delighted to find that they had Tiger Bread rolls at half-price! I bought loads of food and a bottle of beer and spent the evening in my tent refueling.
Just before 9pm I remembered this was a phone-in day so I called Control from my tent. Sue advised me that around half of the Challenge was passing through Ballater and that quite a few were only going as far as Shiel of Glentanar in the morning. I suppose that with the Fife Arms being refurbished, Ballater-Shiel of Glentanar was taking the place of Braemar-Lochcallater Lodge for many people (although why anyone would want to go to the Fife is beyond me.)
My planned warm bath and fluffy towels were more than adequately replaced with a shower and a quick rub-down with a pack towel and I was soon tucked up and fast asleep.