Distance: 14km, ascent: 179m
Early morning sunshine disappointingly turned to cloud but this would be an easy day with a stroll into Braemar. I’d never been to Baemar, so I was curious to see what it was like.
The track along the Dee made for easy, if not very exciting walking.
Just after the Linn of Dee, I stopped behind a woodpile for a call of nature and an underwear faff. As I emerged, another walker hoved into view. It was Dave W, who I had met a couple of years ago. We walked and nattered away like old friends, even though we barely knew each other. It transpired that it was his Akto at Whitebridge the previous day. He had got fed up with the rain and decided to halt early.
As usual, company and conversation made the time pass quickly and soon we were at Mar Lodge. There were no signs inviting us for tea and biscuits, indeed there were no signs of life at all, so we pressed on and crossed the bridge over to the road to Baemar.
Without Dave, the walk along the road to Braemar would’ve been pretty boring, but instead, the time flew by.
We kept on seeing signs advertising a welcome to TGOC’ers at Gordon’s Tearoom, so not surprisingly when we reached it, we had to go inside. There were quite a few Challengers at the tables, but we found a table for two.
While I had a shepherd’s pie, Dave just had a coffee and decided to go off to the shops and the campsite. Also in the tearoom where Ian and Jennie, who I’d met a couple of years ago at Drumnadrochit. Jen had to drop out of the Challenge with a bad foot, while Ian had been following her in their camper van. They were going to stay at the campsite so we arranged to meet later if possible.
When I had finished pigging out, it was time to resupply. First off I needed a small gas canister, then some food. Braemar Sports provided the former. Unfortunately, the Braemar Co-op was as disappointing as the one in Kingussie. However, this was not crucial as I only needed food for the evening and the next day as there is a much larger Co-op in Ballater.
Unlike the previous night (as I was told later), there weren’t many Challengers using the campsite. I paid my money and pitched my tent on a lush lawn and then had a wonderful shower. I felt human again! Later in the evening I spent a very convivial time in Ian and Jen’s camper van. Luxury! It was really lovely to sit down and have a good old chin wag with them. It’s typical of the Challenge that people you barely know become instant friends. It really is the charm of the Challenge. After boring the pants off them about gear and my camper van, it was off to the land of nod.