Loch Builg to Ballater
Sunday 18th May
Start 8:30, finish 4:00, 25.3km
I was awake early again. It was not very encouraging to hear the sound of rain on the flysheet. However, after a while it abated. I had a relatively early breakfast and we were away by 8:30am. The clouds were low and threatening, but there was no rain.
It was easy to pick up the LRT that follows the River Gairn. In places the wind was strong, yet in others it was quite calm. There weren’t any decent spots to camp before we got to Corndavon Lodge, validating our decision to stop early the previous day.
Nonetheless, Corndavon looked a good place to camp. While one of the buildings is derelict and the other was locked, there’s plenty of grass to camp on. By the time we arrived at Corndavon, any Challengers who had used it the previous night had left.
We ploughed on down the track. It wasn’t particularly interesting or scenic. At the bridge at Daldownie, we found a sheltered bank to stop for a rest. Not long after, we were joined by Paul Atkinson, who had camped the previous night a bit further down Glen Builg.
Although comparatively sheltered, we didn’t tarry too long. After about half a mile, Paul left us to walk another route into Ballater. We passed through the ruins of Tullochmacarrick, where a few sheep were grazing.
After a minor navigational cock up, we followed a footpath, then a LRT down to the river. It was surprisingly wet in places. There was supposed to be a path which cut off a bend in the river. After trying to follow it for a bit, we cut back to the river to follow a farm track.
Every so often, we heard the roar of motorbikes as they climbed the road in the hillside opposite. Just past some farm buildings, we joined the road briefly. In the space of about five minutes, about ten motor bikes roared past us. Luckily, we were soon back on a farm track.
A little further on we decided to sit on a nice grassy verge to have some lunch. On the other side of a wire fence some sheep appeared imploring us to share our food with them. Eventually they twigged that we weren’t going to feed them and they lost interest and wandered off. By now the weather had cheered up and we were getting glimpses of sun.
After lunch, we picked up the farm track again. The way ahead wasn’t entirely clear so we went a bit off piste, cutting across a field to pick up another track. This one was way marked as a historic trail, so we were more confident of our right of way.
Just past Inverenzie, we met another couple of Challengers (Bob and Marlyn Simpson?). We walked with them for a while, but Bob stopped to sort out a blister, so we pushed on ahead. Despite now being on a minor road, there was no traffic. We made rapid progress and were soon in Ballater.
I rather liked Ballater. In the centre, Dave found a cashpoint, while I had a look at the outdoor shop. Outside, I met Lawrence and Leslie Dark and Frank Row. I had booked a room at the Alexandra Hotel, so that was the next destination. Seated outside were some more Challengers, including Bert and Suus. Inside I checked in and booked dinner for Dave and myself. Dave went off to the camp site and I went up to my room.
The room was very nice. I had a shower and did some washing. I rigged up a clothes line in the shower to dry my bits and pieces. After calling home and Challenge Control, I deleted 240 emails on my phone, then I wandered down to find Dave for dinner. We had a good meal, during which Bert and Suus popped over for a chat. Dave was planning to get to Tarfside on Tuesday but via a different route, so we parted company, hopefully to meet again in two days time.
I decided not to go to the bar but to return to my room to get an early night. Tomorrow was going to be a relatively short day to Glen Tanar, but I also had to resupply at the Co-op.