Glen Mazeran to Allt an Tudair
Wednesday 14th May
Start 9:30, finish 3:00, 14.9km
A clear night meant a cold night. I measured 1c in the tent. When I got out out of the tent, there was a light frost. I was slightly higher than the floor of the valley, where the frost was thicker. I was very glad I had moved my pitch as I had a good night’s sleep. There wasn’t a huge hurry as I had a relatively short day ahead.
I was packed by 9:15 and wandered over to Cafe Akto for a chat with Mike. I arrived just as Alan Rayner and John Jocys were leaving. I met Steve Crofts and we ended up walking for most of the day together. Again, I was fortunate with my walking companion.
We used the footbridge at Laggan to avoid Mazeran Lodge as requested in the Challenge notes. We passed some dogs in kennels and a JCB scooping out a drain. Soon we joined the road that led down the Findhorn. The Findhorn is a delightful valley of fields and woods.
Although I’m more than happy to walk solo, walking with a companion makes the time and miles go much quicker. Steve and I had a varied and interesting conversation. I later found out that he was on the Challenge as a result of winning the competition in the TGO magazine.
We stopped for a brief rest at the start of the track leading to Carn Dubh. It was a beautiful day. The sun was as getting strong, so I applied some sunscreen. The track was easy, but it was a steep pull up the first section.
We arrived at a hut with a veranda. John and Alan were having a rest, while Croydon (Mick Hopkins) was having a spot of lunch. I had a snack to boost my energy levels.
We didn’t stop long and decided to press on. The track made for easy walking. The only slight obstacle was a section where it was flooded. This was easily bypassed by walking on the raised side of the track.
We passed a cairn and then headed for the trig point at the summit of Carn Dubh, where the track stopped. We looked around for the best route to the Red Bothy.
A direct route to the Allt an Tudair to pick up the track to the Red Bothy entailed a section over peat hags. It seemed more sensible to head almost due south, to pick up the headwaters and then follow the burn.
We crossed the fence at the corner post. It seemed a bit daft that there appeared to be no provision of a stile anywhere in sight. I remember Alan Sloman telling me the best strategy in the Monadliath was to follow the streams rather than cutting cross country.
This strategy worked well as we had a minimal stretch of rough ground to cross before we picked up the burn, which made a relatively easy path with grassy banks. Indeed, we picked up a faint path part way down. This was a really lovely part of the walk.
Before the burn turned south we left it and contoured our way round to the LRT that we could see. From here, it would be tracks all the way to Aviemore on the next day. Crossing the Monadhliath was proving to be less difficult than I had imagined, but at the same time it was a lovely walk.
Not long after we joined the track, at a junction, I spotted a rather attractive place to camp (if you ignored the large plastic drainage pipes!). I made a mental note and we carried on a bit further to another lunch hut with a veranda. Inside we found Andy Howell and Kate Foley. We had a chat about how wonderful the Monadhliath is for backpacking. Kate very kindly shared her stash of Jelly Babies.
Suitably refreshed, I decided that I would backtrack and camp at the place I had spotted. This made it quite a short day, but I was only 2km short of the Red Bothy. I bade goodbye to Steve who was pressing on to Aviemore.
I returned to my little piece of Arcadia. As I was erecting my tent, I was hailed by Ray Disson and his friend, Mark. After a quick chat, they made for the lunch hut. I put up the tent and collected some water.
Mark returned to say that Ray was stopping in the hut, but he had decided to camp. There was plenty of room for two tents. After he had put up his Laser Comp, he asked to have a look around my Scarp. Perhaps Henry Shires should start giving me commission!
About half an hour later it started to rain. As I was filtering some water, there was a disembodied voice, “hello, are you with the TGO Challenge?”. I opened the tent door and a female Challenger (Heather Elston) appeared.
She wanted some guidance. She wasn’t sure whether the lunch hut was the Red Bothy. I said it wasn’t but all she had to do was to follow the track down to the Dulnain and she would see the Red Bothy. She was heading for Aviemore and I showed her the Burma Road, assuring her that the navigation was easy. I found out later that she made it safely to the Red Bothy but stayed there overnight.
Not long after she left, the rain stopped and there were glimpses of blue sky. All in all, it had been another enjoyable day. Steve was excellent company for most of the day. It had been good to catch up with Andy and Kate and with Ray and Mark. Best of all, I had a lovely camping spot in the middle of nowhere. Bliss.