Glen Markie to Dulnain Bothy No 1
Overnight the wind calmed down and in the morning I was treated to a bit of sunshine. However, it soon clouded over for a dull start to the day. I spotted several Challengers picking their way along the path up Glen Markie before I’d packed and left.
Although the weather had clouded over, the walk up Glen Markie was lovely. In places it was a little slow going but not difficult. There were loads of good places to camp almost to the top of the glen. Near the top, I caught up with Dave and Graham.
At the head of Glen Markie there’s a small lochan. The wet ground is largely bypassed the path, although some care was required over some rough ground. On the other side of the watershed, the headwaters of the River Eskin had an entirely different character, reminding me of a Dartmoor mire. However, were soon on a track above a narrowing valley. There were a couple of good waterfalls on the opposite bank from side streams.
About a kilometre before Dalbeg, we spotted a sheltered grassy bank and took the opportunity for some lunch. This was the first time in four days that I’d actually had a proper lunch stop. Even the sun came out! We didn’t dally too long and pushed on to Dalbeg, where a number of Challengers had stopped for lunch.
After a quick chat, Dave, Graham and I pushed on down the Findhorn. Just before Coignafearn Lodge, it was time for our paths to part. I was headed up the Ellrick Burn, while Dave and Graham were headed further down the Findhorn. Over the bridge and a little way up the track, I spotted Bob and Rose crossing over so I decided to wait for them. We walked together up the Ellrick and over to the Dulnain.
Ellrick Burn and across to the Dulnain
Although we had a track part of the way up the Ellrick Burn, it was surprisingly tough going. However, at the top and over to the Dulnain it got even trickier with snow banks and peat hags to negotiate. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but you just have to be patient, take your time and enjoy the experience.
It was just after five o’clock when we reached the bothy. At the bothy were Paul and Wayne, whom I’d met briefly at the B&B in Ft Augustus. They had decided to stay the night at the bothy. I decided to do likewise, while Bob and Rose elected to push on and camp.
After lighting the fire, we had a convivial evening. It’s amazing how you become instant best friends on the Challenge. It seemed like we had been pals all our lives. We had a good laugh and the evening was one of the highlights of the Challenge for me. We even managed to dry our socks!