Allt an Tudair to Coylumbridge
Thursday 15th May
Start 9:20, finish 6:00, 18.7km
One drawback of my idyllic camp site was that the grouse were very noisy throughout the night, making strange cackling sounds. Even so, I had a reasonable night’s sleep. Mark left earlier than me to meet Ray. I was packed and off at 9:20. My aim for the day was to get to Aviemore for lunch and to resupply at Tesco’s. After lunch, I would walk along the cycle track to Glenmore camp site.
The weather was overcast with a stiff breeze, but it was an easy walk down to the Red Bothy. By the time I arrived, there was no sign of other Challengers. I carried on to the bridge over the Dulnain where I spotted a tent, but there was no sign of life.
From the Red Bothy to Aviemore was a section of the walk that I had done in early April, so everything was still quite familiar. Approaching the second bridge, I spotted two figures in the distance. It didn’t take too long to catch them; it was Ray and Mark.
They were going to Aviemore as well, where Ray was staying at the Youth Hostel. Their company was welcome, making the Burma Road more interesting. We bimbled along and in no time we were at the top.
After a pause for breath, we continued on our way. Below we spotted a a runner coming towards us in a blue top. It was Val Machin, well known to many Challengers, and someone I had met on my trip in April. She asked us whether we had seen Denis Pidgeon. None of us had seen him for a few days. We had a quick chat about the famous cheese and wine party. Then Val left us to search for the elusive Mr Pidgeon.
It is an easy walk down to Aviemore. Mark and I walked down rather more quickly than Ray, but, considerately, we waited at the gate where the track turns off to Aviemore. We walked down to the road, where we found time for a comedy photo opportunity.
Beyond Lynwilg, we crossed the main road and took the minor road into Aviemore. Ray and I chatted about family histories as we trudged along the road. Soon we reached the outskirts of Aviemore and the hostel. Ray went in to dump his pack and register. Outside, I phoned Challenge Control and home to let them know that I was OK. I also told Control that I was going to modify my route to go to the Fords of Avon and then down Glen Avon.
Ray came out again to ask if it was OK for Heather (Elston) to join us for lunch. Mais oui, I answered. I suggested that we go to Roo’s Leap at the station as it did reasonable food and was handy for the supermarket.
Roo’s Leap was virtually empty making it ideal for four smelly backpackers (well, maybe Heather wasn’t smelly!). Another burger! Ideal for a hungry backpacker. We had a good laugh. Ray’s nickname of “flatland Ray” somehow transmogrified into “flatline Ray”. Heather showed us a picture of a disastrous pitch of her tent.
Part way through our meal, Ray spotted Dave Hale walking by. Ray knocked vigorously on the window and waved a pint of beer. This proved irresistible to Dave who joined our happy group. It was such good fun that I spent rather too long over lunch. Dave was going to Glenmore as well, so we decided to walk together.
We said goodbye to Ray, Mark and Heather and went to Nevisport so I could get a replacement waterproof case for my camera and a small gas canister. Next it was Tesco’s to stock up on food.
By now it was late afternoon. We started our walk to Glenmore. Then Dave dropped a bombshell. He said that the cafe didn’t serve food in the evening. I had been relying on getting a meal at Glenmore. I left Dave with the packs and scuttled back to Tesco’s to get some pork pies and fruit for an evening meal.
When I got back to Dave, he was talking to Jonathan Smith, who was going our way. Finally, we were on our way. After about ten minutes walking, we all decided that we would arrive at Glenmore quite late, so it would be better to camp at Coylumbridge.
It was less than half an hour to Coylumbridge and we arrived before reception closed so we could get the all important key card for the shower block. There were already a few Challengers camped at the rear of the site. We soon selected places to camp among the trees. Shap was also there and we had a chat while I pitched my tent and unpacked. Soon I was in the shower block for a welcome hot shower.
It had been a slightly odd day. I hadn’t gone quite as far as I had intended, but it had been a good social day. It also marked the half way point for my Challenge. I was quite pleased that I would have Dave for some company through the Cairngorms. I had done the route from Glenmore to Loch Builg before, so I knew what to expect and I was looking forward to it.