TGO Challenge 2017: Day 13

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Distance: 30km, ascent: 1,180m

I knew today would be a tough day and I wasn’t wrong! We weren’t disturbed in the night by an irate farmer, so our stealth camping strategy appeared to have worked. We were up and away by 8:30 and ascending Cock Hill number one by a convenient track.

It was surprisingly hard work in quite humid weather. There were  some good views back to Birse Castle.

From the top, we looked down to the Water of Aven. The way down involved quite a lot of heather bashing but wasn’t too bad, if a little slow.

Once at the bottom the ground was quite hummocky. I had considered this as a place to camp, but glad we didn’t. We found a convenient place to cross the burn and then stopped for some refreshment and filled our water bottles.

Over the other side we were confronted with a tall deer fence. However, there was a sort of ladder, which made climbing over reasonably easy. Then it was more heather bashing to the summit of Cock Hill number two.

When we reached the summit there was a clearing and a track leading to the foot of Mount Battock. Near one of the rocks, Dave found a cork screw and placed it on a rock so it could be removed by the next group of shootists.

After a short climb, the track levelled out and we could see most of the track to rocky outcrop that is Clachnaben. Beyond that we could see the wind farm, below which was our destination.

Near the Hill of Badymicks, we spotted a shooting hut slightly off the track so we descended to have a look and see whether it was open. Sitting against the back of the hut was Colin, one of the TGOC vetters (who I had met in 2014) and John (who walked part way to Ballater with me). Not surprisingly, given the plushness of the interior, the hut was locked, so after a quick rest we continued.

It was an easy walk to Clachnaben. We didn’t bother to climb to the top as we knew we still had a long way to go.

Descending the steep eastern slope we met a family and their dog on a day walk. Reaching a wood lot, we decided that a late lunch was in order, so we stopped to eat and fill our water bottles from a stream.

We took the track through Miller’s Bog to Glendye Lodge where we took the lodge road down to the bridge (which we probably shouldn’t have, oops!).

Along the track to Heatheryhaugh, it started to spot with rain, so up with the umbrella! It didn’t amount too much and after a few minutes it stopped. We managed to find the track across to the other side of the valley, where it met a broad forestry track.

We found a small stream to fill up our water bottles yet again and trudged along a series of uninspiring forestry tracks.

We turned off the main track to ascend Cairn Kerloch instead of going through the hideous wind farm. It was tough work and Dave was beginning to lag a bit.

By now the weather was clearing . Looking to the north, we were tempted to go off route to find a camping spot as in the distance there were swathes of tempting looking grass, but decided it would be too much of a detour.

The track down from Cairn Kerloch to Glenskinnan was badly eroded and took a bit of a toll on my knee, which became evident on the following day.

At Glenskinnan, the track marked on the map to the north of the forest proved to be badly overgrown, so we followed the path inside the forest, trusting that a link path shown on the newer maps did exist. Fortunately, it did and we were saved some forest bashing. When I originally planned the route, I had in mind to possibly carry on to Hill of Hobseat, but it was getting late in the day and Dave was visibly tiring. So when we reached the burn below Hill of Roughbank, it was time to call it a day.

There were two Challengers already there (Kate and yet another Challenger whose name I’ve forgotten) but there was enough room for us, albeit on quite hummocky ground. The wind turbines of the wind farm could be seen above the trees, but, mercifully, there was no wind so they were stationary. It had been quite a tough day and we were both glad to do our chores and get something eat.

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