Friday, 23 May 2014

Stage 1: Monifieth Sands to the Cairnwell Pass (almost!)

What began as a sunny stroll through glorious Angus countryside ended fighting wind chill and freezing rain on the Mounth and bailing out on the slopes of Glas Maol. Inbetween I've camped deep in the woods under huge ancient beeches, crawled under an electric fence, got sunburned, climbed infinite gates and fences, waded through a marsh through reed beds over head height, and pulled out a tick or two.

Perhaps what has surprised me most is just how much I enjoyed walking through lowland Angus. Not just the wildlife, lush woods, and many wild corners, but the people too. Even in the deepest countryside I frequently met people on the road or in the woods, dog walkers, farmers, people who don't drive and get from A to B the old-fashioned way. Reaching the solitude and bareness of the Mounth was almost an anticlimax, though my first hill camp a few miles north of Cat Law was a cracker, as darkness fell, moorland birds called and a mantle of mist settled over the round hills. Later in the night, rain hammered the tarp but I was snug, smug and warm.

I can't finish this post however without mentioning hill tracks and wind farms. There is some appalling vandalism taking place high on the plateau west of Mayar, where I saw a JCB digger gouging a track out of the peat. And on the ridge north of Cat Law, an ominous-looking mast.

After some R&R in Braemar I'll be off again on Sunday, to deal with unfinished business on Glas Maol then head west from the Cairnwell. The next stage to Dalwhinnie is very remote and exposed. Whilst I'll try to keep to the watershed as much as possible, I've got a low level alternative worked out in case of foul weather. The fact it's late May means nothing round here, and yesterday's walk over the plateau, straight into a tearing north wind, rain mixed with sleet, was... unnerving!

AND FINALLY... a reminder this walk is for two fine charities. Please visit the fundraising page on the blog and give what you can!

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