Glen Tanar to Tarfside
Tuesday 20th May
Start 8:30, finish1:30,16.4km
When I got up at 6:30am, it looked like it was going to be a fine day. Although there was some hill fog, the sky was mainly clear. As I was eating breakfast, Andy Gerrard swung by. He was making an early start and heading for Tarfside. My start was rather more leisurely.
I was packed by around 8:15, by which time Ant and Sean could be seen climbing up the path to Mount Keen having camped a bit further down the glen. I stopped for a chat with Rob, who explained a bit more about his Challenge.
It was warm enough to wear just a base layer and fleece, without a windproof. The path up from Glen Tanar is well graded, so I made good progress. The views behind were glorious, so I took a number of photos. Near the end of the first section of the climb, I caught Ant and Sean.
I was feeling good, so I surged ahead. After a flat section, I stormed up the steeper rocky section to the top. Not far from the top, the views disappeared as I climbed into the cloud. By this time I had put on my windproof top as it had become windy and somewhat chilly.
It took me an hour and ten minutes to reach the summit from Glen Tanar, which I thought was a good effort with a full pack. Unfortunately, there were no views, so I had a quick bite to eat, sheltered by a rock outcrop and started my descent.
The path down was excellent, although I was walking into the full force of the wind. Part way down, I phoned Challenge Control to let them know that all was well. I emerged below the cloud where the path meets the LRT that goes down to Glen Mark. The rougher LRT made for slower going. I winced as I thought of Rob Leech coming down here with his 34kg pack.
The descent into Glen Mark was lovely, especially in the lower reaches. By the time I made the building, the sun was shining. I diverted to look at the Queen’s Well, where the water was covered in weed.
A little further on, I met a farmer releasing his sheep onto the hillside. We had a chat for about ten minutes, then I was on my way again.
The lower part of Glen Mark is less interesting, although still pleasant. The track made for good progress. At the junction with the road, I bumped into Norman Reeves (or Stormin’ Norman as he is known). He was suffering a bit, so after a quick chat, I stepped on the accelerator and pushed on ahead.
The distinctive monument on the Hill of Rowen, suggested that I didn’t have far to go. I overtook some other Challengers and soon I was in Tarfside. I decided to pitch my tent before visiting St Drostan’s.
I was surprised how few tents were on the field, but it was quite early. I pitched my tent down near the river, as I though it was bit more secluded and I was less likely to be disturbed any any snoring.
After pitching, I spotted Andy Walker. So much for Alan and team not visiting Tarfside this year! I went to the hostel and pigged on two bacon buns, cake and tea. I chatted to several other Challengers including David and Margaret Brocklehurst. The Tarfside team did us proud. Outside, I had a chat to Vicky and Toby Grace who I “knew” through Twitter.
Back at the camp site, I saw David Hale and Ray Disson. I caught up with their news. By now the field was filling with tents and I was glad that I had chosen a more secluded spot. Back at my tent, Peter Dixon and Lee Taylor wandered over to introduce themselves. They too were people I had been in contact with through Twitter.
At around six o’clock, a car pulled up and someone from The Retreat arrived to take food orders for delivery to the camp site. This was an opportunity not to be missed! I ordered a burger (!) and chips. About half an hour later it arrived and I sat down with Dave and Ray on the grassy bank next to Dave’s tent for a scoff.
After a brief respite, it was on to the Mason’s for a drink with Ray, Vicky & Toby, Dave and John & Sue Tattersall. Then Alan Sloman walked in with some half baked excuse about hurting his knee and having to change his route. After a while, Ray and I left the hardened drinkers to it and retired to our respective tents.
I really enjoyed Mount Keen. It was a shame there were no views at the very the top. I wasn’t sure what to expect at Tarfside. I’m not one for crowds. However, I enjoyed the atmosphere and the camaraderie. St. Drostan’s and the Mason’s were good fun. As with all the Challenge, everyone I met was very friendly. It was a really good day, perhaps tinged with a little sadness as the end was drawing near.