Saturday, 14 July 2007

A walk on the wild side

It's sometimes difficult, when planning an expedition, to find something interesting and challenging without overstretching anybody. Unfortunately, today's trip to Invermark at the head of Glen Esk was probably a bit too much. It was a bad sign when both boys were car sick and we had to stop at The Retreat in Tarfside on the way there for them to be sick.

We set off following the route on the map below, a 7(ish) mile route with a bit of a hill that didn't look too bad and would mainly be on a fairly decent track.

It started off well enough with a walk down the road, past a dead snake, and we found the bridge where I expected it to be. The gate at the end of the bridge looked locked so we climbed over, at which point the gate swung open under my weight. At this point we also acquired another travelling companion, a white collie who followed us for a mile and a bit, over three cattle grids, past a bunch of horses who tried to scare us away from a foal (and chased the dog off), through a farm with heaps of other dogs barking, and only deserted us after we stopped for some lunch and didn't give it any.

The walk up to Cairn Caidloch dragged a bit and the boys were both moaning before we reached the top, despite some nice views (none of Loch Lee which was slightly disappointing). You can imagine their reaction when they learned we had another summit to climb before the final descent.

Family relationships were being stretched near breaking point but we continued along the track over Burnt Hill until it turned into a thin path with a stream running down it. Calum could hardly keep his feet so he ended up on my shoulders as we made our way down the bank of a stream which was getting steep and boggy. By the time the path started again, we all had dirty, soggy boots and trousers and were tired and fed up. The tramp along the banks of the loch back to the car was uneventful but seemed to take longer than expected. The whole walk took 5hrs 45min after my initial estimate of 3-4 hours.

Next time, if there is a next time, we'll be trying to find a shorter walk, with a maximum of one hill, with a toilet near the start/end, with a guarantee that there'll be a really good path all the way. Wish us luck. I love walking in the hills, and really want the family to be part of that but it's difficult to meet everybody's needs all the time.
Despite everything, the day ended really well when we stopped at The Reatreat on the way back for our dinner which was very nice and cheered everybody up.

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