Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Jocks Road

To give myself a challenge and get out walking again I thought I would give Jocks road a go this Easter weekend. It does look like my attempts to get back to running have come to and end so have reverted back to wondering the hills of Scotland.
Scott had offered to drop me off some where as he is on the injured bench and our Upland way saga is on hold. It was Scott who mentioned Jocks road and it is a walk I had thought of doing in the past but never got round to it so that was to be the target this time.The weather which had been great for the last few days was looking a bit dodgy for the Saturday but then if I was going to get out there now was the time.
We had gone to the caravan in Blairgowrie on the Friday so we could get an early start in the morning as I had no idea how long it would take me to do the 15 miles to Braemar in fact I did not know if I would manage the whole way!. I had thoughts would I be capable of doing the whole walk ? would I run out of daylight, would my legs hold out ?
We got up to Saturdays weather damp and misty when we headed off hoping it would improve as the day went on. Scott dropped me off at Glen Doll and wished me luck and drove off so with a little apprehension I set off to the start of my walk.
start of track
 The first couple of miles are along a well established path up through the forest which form part of a circular walk in Glen Doll. It was a nice introduction to my "adventure" and I headed off up the track glancing up at the low clouds. I had only been walking about 45 minutes when the rain started to get heavy and so I took off my fleece and put my water proof on as it was not cold at all in the shelter of the trees.After about one hour plus I came out of the trees and into the open which meant I could at least see some of the way I was heading. Took the chance to have a short break and a took a couple of photographs looking up the glen into the distant hills which i could not make out for the mist.
looking up the valley
It was at this point that I met a couple of walkers heading the same way who after exchanging greetings and commenting about the poor visibility ahead left me behind as they set off at twice my speed.I did a slow steady climb up the track for the next hour feeling a little sad about the lack of views available but took a couple more photographs looking back down the way I had came as ahead was just mist.
the way ahead
looking back down the Glen
I was heading for the top of the Glen and the start of the plateau and had targeted the shelter as my next rest stop and  get more to eat.The old legs had complained a bit as the steepness increased but finally I came across the shelter and had a break.
shelter entrance
 The shelter is very misleading it is built like a dry stone wall with a tin roof covered in soil heather etc but the walls are thick and although the roof is low it goes back at least 20 feet so a few people could squeeze in if required. There is a plaque near here commemorating the five walkers that lost there lives walking Jocks road when the weather turned against them and sadly they perished.
After a good rest and food I was about to set off again when the walkers I had met before came by heading back . They said they were not doing the full walk just came up the glen but were disappointed that the weather had not cleared up. (they said it was forecast to clear but obviously it was not going to ). They set off back down and I was left to myself on the hill.I was still feeling good and I knew that the main climb was over but had a few miles walking on the plateau . I do admit that when I looked round and could only see about 30 yards before the mist closed in I realised what a challenge I had set myself. I was very glad I had come prepared had map / compass and best of all my Garmin which I had set a few way points set to help me out. This was going to prove invaluable as I bit the bullet and headed off into the mist as after a few hundred yards the faint track disappeared into bog and heather.
No views but enjoying myself
I spent the next few hours dodging bog and peat hags rocks in heather and undulating terrain. I was so happy to have my GPS as to be honest i would have been completely lost without it. I was heading for the highest point which i had hoped to get some good photo's of the cairgorms but stood no chance. So had to settle for a few misty shots on my way .
The invisible man
heading to the highest point on the route

coming out of the mist

the way down no track
I waited for a while and had a snack while waiting for a clearer view and some sign of a track down the very rough moraine. The burn I needed to be on the right hand side of just showing up out of the mist. If I got it wrong it would be very wet feet time.
I can't say I walked down to the glen floor more like slid / stumbled and tripped my way for over a mile. On the way managed to see more of the wild life smooth back lizards and frogs both dark and light in colour. The best sight I had was when I scared up a mountain hare it still had most of it's white coat while the rest of it was turning to the summer brown .It was far to fast for me to try and get a picture but it did take my mind of the aching legs jarring my way off the hill.I finally got off the steep side and just had to contend with the tuffty boggy ground and many small burns to get across and at last I could see a reasonable distance.
the picture does not do the waterfall justice
A trail at last
 I picked up a trail which people have used to come to see the waterfall and enjoyed some easy walking for a change. The time was not bad either and I knew now that there was no danger of me running out of daylight so with Mp3 playing I headed off down to the Loch only 7 more miles to go.
Glen floor with loch in the distance 

Loch Callater

Making my way down the loch I arrived at the "lodge" where some of the estate workers had a fire going and a couple of people who were camping were gathered having a chat. I still had another 5 miles to walk before reaching Braemar but now it would be land rover tracks down to the main road.I was offered a lift from the main road to braemar by the couple who were wild camping if I would wait for them at their car at the end of the track as they would be down shortly. I must admit I was very tempted but after another three mile hike down to where the car was parked among a few others the heavens opened again so I went on.

the Glen in the distance is the start of the old road

I crossed the main road and picked up one of general Wades old roads on the other side of the glen to walk up to Braemar. I met up with Olga and Scott as they were walking out of Braemar to meet me and guess what the bloody sun came out and the sky was blue. They had booked a B&B for the night and had a change of clothes for me but first things first went to the pub and had a nice cold drink. On reflection I had walked my 15 miles in crap weather, been over 900 mtr, had not seen any good views,had sore feet and very tired legs but had I enjoyed myself You bet I had . I had laid a few ghosts to rest about being capable of doing solo walks and although had been well out of my comfort zone I was a happy 70+ year old bunny .