Friday, November 25, 2011

Glen Tilt

Glen Tilt is in the Cairngorms National Park, just outside the village of Blair Atholl (pronounced like asshole not A-hole), the village surrounding Blair Castle.  This is a five hour hike and, with our shorter days, we needed to get an early start if we were to avoid being stuck in the Cairngorms after dark and perhaps dying of exposure.  Thus, we grabbed the 6:52am train to Blair Atholl (via Perth) this past Saturday morning in order to experience the ramble at its most ideal (with autumn colours) whilst simultaneously living to tell about it.  As it turned out, starting at 9:15am did not provide us with enough time and we wound up having to abort the mission in order to make it home alive.

We arrived in Blair Atholl before 9am but wandered around a bit in order to see what the village had to offer.  For your information, the village has nothing more to offer than what is visible from the train platform.  There is one inn with a restaurant and bar left unstaffed, a staffed pub around the back of the inn, a convenience store around the corner, a working mill (only open April-October), and a post office.  The castle is a bit outside of town (the town being those four buildings and outside being a few steps beyond them) and where our walk began.

After grabbing some picnic supplies and coffee from the convenience store, we headed towards the castle.  Although the beginning of our walk takes us down the castle's driveway, we actually never glimpsed the castle.  There was a part of the walk which supposedly overlooks the castle and Blair Atholl but we never got to that part.

Our first missed turn happened almost immediately after the trailhead and we didn't become aware of it until we got to the bottom of the hill.  Realising we shouldn't be crossing a river, we backtracked all the way back up the hill to where we should've turned.  For your information, the trail was well marked with yellow arrows on posts which we, for some reason, were incapable of finding.  This pattern of missing turns and having to backtrack for quite a distance would repeat itself at least two more times throughout our day and is the reason we weren't able to finish the walk.  What was supposed to be a five hour walk turned into a six hour walk because of our poor navigation skills.  But, the scenery was beautiful and we had a great time, minus the last bit where we were so confused we gave up and just followed a road back into town.

Six hours later, with sore feet and bruised egos, we wandered into the only pub in town to wait the two hours for our train back home.  Happily, this was just what we needed in order to lift our spirits.  We had a great time sitting next to the fire with our pints, warming up, and reliving the ramble which beat us.  Although resigned to defeat for now, we'll definitely be back.  We can't allow Glen Tilt to stand undefeated.  Hear that, Glen Tilt?  We'll be back and next time we're bringing friends.

For more pictures, please visit my Facebook album here.

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