TGO Challenge – Day 10

in Outdoors

It was another long day in terms of distance, 17-18 miles from Ballater to Tarfside and walked over Mount Keen (a Munro). The day started with Bacon Sandwiches which Phil cooked in the hostel, we left at about 8:15.

Shortly after starting to climb out of Ballater, the rain started. The weather wasn't sure what to do, this is the worst kind when walking. Constantly putting jackets on and off.

The walk was over moorland today and parts of it where signposted, but later heather bashing before joining the big track over Mount Keen. I struggled a bit up Mount Keen with my feet and Phil wasn't stopping, so was slightly worried about my heart. Eventually Phil stopped and I caught up, he said he wasn't going to the top but around the side.

There was no way I was going to miss the summit, we agreed to meet at the Queens well a few miles further on. It took me a while to get to top, it's one of those where you keep thinking you are there but there's more climbing. Eventually I made it and took some pictures and video but they're all on the camera.

The path down was well maintained and appears to be the main way people climb it. I kept leep frogging some guys on mountain bikes who had taken the same route as Phil, I wished I was on a bike going down.

My feet were taking a real punishing descending, I'd bought some liner socks yesterday to try as main socks as my feet had been so hot. Today they were soaked from heather bashing. I realised I still had over a mile to meet up with Phil, so picked up the pace and sort of ended up doing a sort of jog. Stopping a couple of timed for a drink of water from streams in the Kuksa.

I saw the well come into view, which has a large stone crown over it. Phil was sat waiting, I was pleased of the rest. He asked how my feet were as he was thinking about walking to the end, another 30 miles. We had already done 12 or 13 by then. I said there was no way I could walk that far today, my feet were battered. I said go for it if he wanted.

So we parted ways. I sat for another 20 minutes before setting off on the 5.5 miles to Tarfside where we had planned to go to. Tarfside is a sort of tradition on the challenge, the people of the village allow challengers to camp in a field not far from the toilets.

As I entered the village I started to see the signs directing challengers to St Droisdens another tradition. A few older ladies run the place for challengers so they can get a bed, drink or meal. I decided to pitch first.

When I got to the field there were 2 tents but not challengers. It was only 3pm but I would of expected others. After pitching I headed to St Droisdens and had a bacon sandwich and some tea. I was the only challenger there, the ladies said Phil had left an hour earlier and a couple of others had passed through. I spent about an hour there and rang Challenge control to let them know where I was.

It's now 8pm and I'm still the only challenger on the field, strange. I know the main day is Tuesday not Sunday. I've been thinking about tomorrow, my planned target is North Water Bridge campsite. Passing through Edzell on the way (17 miles). This leaves me with 8 miles to St Cyrus, planned the following day. I'm wondering if I can walk the 8 miles tomorrow too and finish 2 days ahead of the original schedule. I really don't know. I struggled to walk 200 yards to the toilet before.

I don't have many Compeed left, will sort feet in the morning. Will also take the 2 Ibuprofen and cross my fingers I make it. I'm going to set off at 6, which should get me to North Water for around lunch time if I can keep an average pace. That's it for today...