Marhofn 196.11 - May 2009

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Strangely strange yet oddly normal

Donald Irvine

The day started badly. Instead of pedalling towards Cook's Cairn I found myself at the foot of The Bochel, having crossed a bridge in error. This was partly due to my not wanting to lose hill cred by opening maps in front of a party of youngsters. But I prefer to think it is mainly the fault of the OS for not providing any overlap of sheets 36 and 37. Anyway, with The Bochel now on the list I gathered it before taking the correct track. With the bike parked at Suie, continuation on foot was pleasant enough to the summit. The atmosphere was clammy, and in my earlier haste not to be seen fussing in front of the youngsters I had forgotten to pack the water bottle, so when I reached the burn to the north I was parched. I had come off that way in order to visit the Elf House. Drinking the fresh water in gulps was heavenly, the sweetest I had ever tasted. Eventually I found the cave, which is worth the diversion as long as you can get past the gatekeeper - a rake-wielding garden gnome. And so on up Corryhabbie Hill and down towards the bike. Without water I was wilting fast until I came to another gurgling burn. If anything, this might have been even sweeter than the previous scoop. It certainly vitalised me sufficiently to retrieve the bike and pedal back to the car. The day may have started badly but it was satisfactorily rounded off back at Tomintoul, where I was lucky enough to sample the products of the two burns I had drunk from earlier. But I still can't decide which is better; the Glen Fiddich or Glen Livet.

The gnome of Cook's Cairn (photo: Donald Irvine)

The gnome of Cook's Cairn (photo: Donald Irvine)

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