Huge congratulations to our Education Volunteer Kate O’Shea, who last month successfully completed the amazing Great Outdoors Challenge, raising a total of over £1,000 towards our Lenten appeal!
It has definitely been an adventure, and to give you a flavour of it, below are some extracts from Kate’s own diary of the challenge!
“The walk certainly was a challenge, but there was so much more to the whole experience than expected:
– More bad weather, particularly the driving torrential rain on day 3
– More difficult terrain, more rivers to cross, more boggy ground and stoney paths
– More friendly, helpful walking companions. The only day completely alone was the stormy one!
– More friendly B&B owners willing to be helpful
– More celebrations at the final diner than expected, with a rousing chorus of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ ”
Below are some extracts from individual days…
“Day 3: I started at 6:45am, and with heavy rain by 8am I was pleased to find a shelter in the Glengary forest for a short break. When the forest track ended , the path was very muddy, crossed a fast burn in crocs, had difficulty deciding which muddy path to take upwards. I was pleased to see some of the few pathmarkers in Scotland confirm my choice. Then out into open country, buffeted by strong winds making the rain feel like hail in my face. It was slow progress and I was too keen to go down, and crossed over the Alt Lochan Fudan too soon. A tall deer fence prevented me from moving up the mountainside and I had to wade through streams and make my way over boggy land in torrential driving rain (according to a later weather report). At last there was a stile over the deer fence and on to Fedden ruin. Fedden was a driving stance, and it is amazing to think that somebody actually lived here. I thought the worst was over. My rucksack cover had blown off so my rucksack was very wet and heavy. I went down Glen Lia Aig to the road. I was utterly dismayed to find the path down was closed and a diversion was posted at the bridge – across the country- no paths. There was no choice, I scrambled along Glen Tar Sui and found the river difficult to cross. This meant a considerable climb up the hillside to find a suitable crossing point. Then down the Alt Dubh, sometimes on a sort of path, with some of the bridges completely under water. I usually dislike road walking, but my relief at seeing a road was enormous and I looked forward to a warm B&B in Spean Bridge.”
“Day 7: It was still not an easy day, with lots of up across the heather then down to a river and a climb over a deer fence, and round a forest as the forest route was tricky. When we eventually reached a path, after a short up it was a long, steep down and as my boots were wet they seemed very heavy. It strained my right ankle a little. When we reached the river Feshie it was flowing fast, but no one wanted to walk 4 miles upstream to the bridge. We struggled across, after unfastening our rucksacks (in case we fell in) and felt relieved to make it to the other bank. We walked upsteam to a bothy. Walkers earlier had built a fire in the wood burner and we tried to dry our boots a little. We had a friendly chat around the fireplace- about routes and problems overcome. Walkers were still arriving after we had settled down for the night and they just crashed out on the floor.”
“Day 9. The weather improved. Lots of people heading for Braemar. I was surprised to get a message from my daughter Cath – she is coming to Braemar with a friend , arriving in the evening . I went to Mass at 5:30pm, a very small elderly congregation. We went to a pub with music and a marquee, lots of walkers were there. Cath got the atmosphere and heard the horrendous stories of the stormy day. Jane (one of my walking companions from the previous days) was at the pub and we agreed to walk together over Joch’s Road, as it was a high route and might have been tricky”.
“Day 10. A beautiful sunny day and another short walk to Callater Lodge with Cath – great to have some family support. Callater Lodge was run by two brothers to provide refreshment to TGO walkers and now that only one brother is left, he continues with the tradition. A lovely social evening, a beautiful camp site near the loch. I went to sleep feeling on holiday.”
“Day 14: The final day dawned fine. I finished in a sea hurr (mist) at Lunan Bay and met William from Barbados. I heard his famous story of falling in the river and caught the bus with him to Montrose and the Park Hotel to register our arrival. I received a tea shirt and a certificate, together with tea and biscuits. In the evening a big dinner was held at the hotel with cheers for all: for 1st timers, for 2nd timers, for those from abroad, for William the first from Barbados (he invited people to walk over his island in 2 days with one 300 ft climb). Plaques were presented to 10th timers and to 20th timers. It felt like I had joined a society of fanatical hill walkers in Scotland with everyone saying “See you next year”! (Facts: 53 people did not complete the challenge. 2 were air lifted out with broken ankles)”
Reading Kate’s diary, you can definitely get a sense of how adventurous those two weeks must have been! Good to hear that among all the dangers and the stormy weather, there were also good walking companions and some beautiful sunny days!
Very well done to Kate for completing the challenge,it is a real achievement!!! And thanks so much for raising so much money for our appeal! 🙂