I set off today with the “dreaded” (by some) Fetteresso Forest ahead. My only concern is not getting tripped up by the tendency of forest tracks to not quite match what the map says. First on the agenda is Kerloch, which I decide to tackle using forest tracks for as much as possible rather than the original plan of a direct assault. This works well and I just have the last couple of hundred metres to struggle through heather to claim the summit.
It’s very breezy on top and I seek a more sheltered spot just off the summit for a sit and a re-connection with the outside world. I’ve not really had a signal for 48 hours, and there’s various news and updates to digest. As I’m sat there Scott and Liz, fellow Challengers, turn up and we chat briefly.
I head down from Kerloch, my aim being to take the longer but more straightforward approach of following tracks rather than more direct routes over rougher terrain. This gives me a momentary issue at the bottom of the track where my right turn doesn’t appear to be available. I have to follow an unmarked path instead that parallels the track that the local farmer clearly doesn’t want me to use. This works fine though, and I’m soon back where I want to be. A lunch stop by the Burn of Sheeoch is taken.
It takes a bit of effort to force myself to get going again, mainly because I’ve started to nod off. Soon I wish I had deferred it further as the track is blocked with fallen trees, and there’s much clambering and crawling and detouring. It’s just hard work with a full pack.
Soon though Cowie Water is on my right and I simply have to keep going until I spot the planned camp spot. Several vehicles fly past me leaving me choking in clouds of dust. This is just what I need in my condition.
I approach the crossing point and spy a tent tucked discreetly among the trees on the opposite side. I give the chap a bit of distance and go for the open tussocky grass, leaving a stand of trees between us. This proves to be fine as a pitch, albeit with the occasional disturbance as more vehicles fly down the track nearby. At some point a fellow Challenger parks nearby, but makes no attempt at introduction. I simply sit there in the (frankly too hot) sun and just chill out. The Fetteresso hasn’t been that bad at all really.