The Cough did it again – another sleep-starved night. I’m looking forward to getting to Braemar and the pharmacy there, not to mention the other manifold “attractions” of the village. I must be keen as I’m away for 8:30 – on a day when there really is no need to hurry. I set off down the well-traveled trade route, the mob of last night’s camp mates ebbing and flowing around me.
There’s not a huge amount to say about the walk. It’s a pleasant track down to Linn of Dee, every one takes their time, as no one needs to hurry today. I’m just happy for a short day and some undemanding walking. And the intermittent company is welcome too.
We arrive at Mar Lodge and assemble in the room given over to Challenge “refreshments”, which at this point are down to the last tea bag, and biscuits are a distant memory. The suggested donation of £2 seems a bit steep in these circumstances. Eventually, we make a move as and when each of us summons up the motivation to surrender our chairs. Chairs are a novelty to us. I find myself doing the last bit of road walking with Lynsey Pooler, who introduced herself to me just as I was setting off from camp earlier, having just crossed the Bynack Burn to join us. We chat and the distance is covered – although I’m sure it was shorter last year!
Gordon’s Tea Room is heaving and I only get a place outside by the simple expedient of forcing myself on Mike and Amy. The default meal of fish and chips is consumed, washed down by a most welcome pint of cider. Lunch done, I set off to secure supplies. First stop is Braemar Mountain Sports for meths. None. So then it’s the filling station. None. Finally, the pharmacy. None. But at least I pick up some postcards and cough medicine. I retrace my steps to Braemar Mountain Sports to buy gas, thankful that I took the precaution of packing my Pocket Rocket for precisely this scenario.
I walk out to the camp site to claim my pod, finding myself between Mike and Amy, and as it later turns out, Louise on the other side. It’s welcome to have a shower again, and I celebrate by doing my laundry simultaneously. The Pod is soon festooned with drying gear.
I head out for dinner with Mike and Amy, and due to both timing and food allegedly running out, we end up grabbing something from the chip shop, before hitting the Invercauld Arms. This is much more congenial than last year, when it was all a bit overwhelming. I know more people for a start. On the way out, I bump into Paul and Karen, friends from our Lake District Christmas parties, and we chat for a while. Then it’s back to the pod, hopeful of a better night’s sleep, now I’m sleeping in a bed rather than on the floor.