The day started quite hot but I was in my waterproofs again by the early afternoon. The previous evening’s thunder never really came to anything but there was a lot of moisture in the air and the showers were long and wet. I relied on my compass at various times as the paths shown on the map were faint or non-existent.
I can’t remember where this simple gate was but I think it was somewhere coming off Clach Sgorach on the approach to the A93. It took AGES to secure the gate again once I’d been through. For such a simple concept, it nearly had me completely beaten and I took its photograph out of respect.
Until a couple of years ago (when I found my first Fundamental Bench Mark near Spean Bridge) I’d assumed that hill-top Trig Pillars were the only visible evidence of the Ordnance Survey’s work, but now I know that there are all sorts of pillars, marks, rivets and plates. If were ever to become a bagger then I think these would be my obsession.
I knew that the Glenisla Hotel, at Kirkton of Glenisla, served food – although I didn’t know what hours they kept – and I opted for a diversion off my main route. The map suggested that I should be able to get through Auchenleish Farm and walk along the River Isla to a footbridge.
Maps often look so clear but it’s a different matter when you’re on the ground and can’t tell if the track you’re about to walk up will become a dead-end. The Auchenleish farmer was working in the farmyard and I decided it was best to ask for his help now rather than have to backtrack 20 minutes later and then ask for directions. It turned out he was a Kiwi but had lived here for over 10 years. He said “most people go that way” gesturing to the East…. which was good. He asked if I wanted to use the bridge ….which confused me a bit, as I wondered what the alternative could be? Swim? I’m rubbish at following directions and there were so many trees and boggy bits I couldn’t work out just how far it would be or even whether I was going the right way. Had I passed it already? Was the farmer talking about the same bridge? And could he see me in the distance wandering around aimlessly?
Luckily I did find it….
I liked the pub. The barmaid was friendly, there was a roaring fire, they had Real Ale and I ate for England: Egg mayo ciabatta sandwich, a thick broth, scone & jam, and coffee…. oh, and beer, of course. (I’ve noticed that I do seem to mention food quite a lot on this “walking” blog.)
Near the bridge I had seen waymarks for the Cateran Trail and I decided that this would be a much better route than the road-walking I’d planned so, feeling full and ever so slightly tipsy, I crossed back over the bridge and climbed the hill…. slowly.
I don’t really understand how I got lost but I think it happened when one of the waymark arrows pointed one way which was obviously wrong so I ignored it and went the way it should have pointed. Then, for some reason, there were no more arrows in that direction! I couldn’t understand it. I could see roughly where I ought to be but I was determined to get back onto the waymarked trail, so I spent far too much time faffing about when I should have just gone back to where the wrong (ahem!) sign was and picked up the route from there.
At one point I was the wrong side of a wibbly-wobbly wire fence up to my knees in water and mud. Usually I could have easily climbed over a fence of this height but with water lapping round my thighs I didn’t fancy taking my chances with the top strand of barbed wire, so I waded back to dry land and took the long way round.
It was about 7pm when I reached Nether Craig campsite and there was nobody in reception so I phoned the mobile number in the window and they said they’d see me in the morning. I had a lovely hot shower and spent ages trying (and failing) to wash the peat out of my socks. I also scoured the site for a socket where I could charge my phone having completely forgotten to do so whilst sitting in the pub. There was no accessible socket and my phone was running very low and I’d completely drained my spare battery. Power was now even more important than food!
Today’s beer: Inveralmond Inkie Pinkie