Scottish Megarak Meet

Pitlochry Area, November 10th, 2002

Ah, well, another Megarak outing is over. And this one turned into a bit of an epic... Martin, Andy, Irene, Ian, Scotty, new recruit Paul and myself mustered in the car park at Pitlochry around 10:30, and spent a while discussing the best way to tackle Clachan an Diridh. It was decided to leave the cars here and hike all the way up, on the grounds that this would improve our appetites. Martin programmed the co-ordinates into his whizzo blue GPS thingie and announced it was about a mile and three quarters away (as the crow flies). Leaving the car park we were pleased to see that the town had laid on a pipe band especially to welcome us! Ooops... Remembrance Sunday, the band wasn't for us, so we sneaked quietly away...

I want my puddings - now!Irene with her new pal

Andy makes a friend - and so does Irene

We dragged Andy away from a giant ice-cream cone, and then bounced across an amazingly springy bridge before heading up by the Festival Theatre. We wandered along a path beside the A9 for a while, and spotted the first spaniel of the day before crossing and heading up towards the hill. Irene found some horses to pet whilst we decided on which route to take - the OS maps were a little vague on the starting points of these. Having picked a likely looking one, we all traipsed off uphill and after a couple of false starts discovered ourselves at a spot Irene confidently announced was a DMV - deserted medieval village. Certainly there was no-one home... so we poked around a bit and then Martin consulted the GPS - about a mile to go. This was where things took a slight downward turn. The weather was fresh and pleasant, so we decided sod the paths, we'll take the direct route, straight up the hill... This turned out to be pretty rough going, and near the top by the wood, we encountered a six-foot deer fence - and no stile... Improvising our passage over this provided some small amusements, as the fitter members of the party cleared it with a single bound, and others had to be 'assisted'...

shorter-legged people bringing up the rearNo, definitely no-one at home today

L - heading up the hill R - Looking round the DMV

L-R Paul,Scotty, Andy, Irene and Ian following

struggling megaraks in the far distanceIan clears the fence with a single bound... not!

L - heading further up the hill (dots in distance) R - Ian negotiates the fence

Further up, we encountered a path and figured out which one it was on the map. Martin consulted his trusty GPS - half a mile away, over here. We looked at the path and said - sod that, we're going this way, the path leads round eventually... A little later, we were still half a mile away according to the GPS, and Scotty and Paul had had enough. Back to the direct route they decided, and off they went. We waved them out of sight (despite the presence of 'No Waving' notices nearby) and continued on round the path. Negotiating a couple of junctions, we found ourselves on the run in with even the GPS now agreeing we were close. As the sun burst out, we turned off into the clearing and there it was - three upright stones and a few small stones embedded in a line across the front of the main stone. The GPS admitted that we were accurate to within 47 feet, we could see that and back in the bag it went. A bonny little place, very peaceful, and we settled down to photograph it, then eat all of Ian's chocolate and help him drink his tea. But no sign of Scotty or Paul...

GPS loses the vote - we'll take the path, thank you...Martin attempts a photograph

L - The GPS loses out on the vote R - Chocolate teapot time...

After half an hour and they still hadn't shown up, we thought we'd better head off and find them. Returning to the first junction, it was clear they'd beaten us to it, as evinced by some bizarre ogham signs scrawled in the pine needles covering the path. We trundled on down, stopping only to observe a strange quartz pig-shaped rock and discuss whether wolves would eat foxes... We were running on empty now and it was still a long way to the pudding venue. Another outbreak of ogham on the trail proved we were on the right track, and at the foot of the hill, there indeed were Paul and Scotty waiting on a large boulder. We exchanged notes. They'd found a 3 stone site. So had we. But not the same ones... We're still working out exact positions, but Scotty photographed it, and it's definitely there, though not on the OS maps. A bit of checking to be done in Canmore, I expect. Another strike for the Megaraks! (even if entirely unintentional...) The second spaniel sighting of the day was made around here. We were now more than 4 hours into this particular trek, so back across the bouncy bridge, into the cars, and off to the Moulin!

Ian tries to decipher the messageHmmm, perhaps they're ahead of us

L - A cryptic message R - And another one...

Paul at the second siteAnother view of the second site

L - One view of the second site R - And another one...

I shall pass over most of what went on here in silence. Regulars know the score - main courses were devoured, pints were quaffed, a fair amount of ritual abuse went on, along with reminiscences of past outings. And then it was time for... PUDDINGS! Shock! Horror! They'd run out of Highland Honey Sponge Pudding! Whilst we were gallivanting all over the landscape, some greedy "persons probably without known fathers" had scoffed the lot! Heartbroken, we made second choices. Just to be on the safe side, Andy ordered two of everything they had left. And ate them. In record time. Using both spoons.

in action at the Moulin, coming to an eatery near you soon...

And more evidence... Ta Scotty!

Andy 'Two Spoons' Sweet in a traditional pose

After the pudding frenzy...

Then there was just time to nip out the back and up the road to peruse the Dane's Stone. The light was failing, and the cows were mightily baffled at this invasion of their privacy. A few quick photos then back to the cars and off for home. All in all, a great day out, a bit more exercise than we had counted on, but good fun just the same. We even visited a site we had on the list. And that doesn't happen often!

Martin McCarthy's pictures of this outing are featured here.

This was Martin's take on the day...
Continuing to demonstrate our piss-up planning skills with reference to the inside of a brewery... and the general lack thereof... we had arranged to meet in a church car park between 10:30 and 11 on Remembrance Sunday. So by the time we were ready to go we had to fight our way through a stream of what seemed like several thousand pipers heading away from the war memorial and towards the nearby pubs. You could have someone's eye out with a mis-wielded drone pipe from a set of bagpipes!

But with eyes mostly intact we crossed the River Tummel and climbed An Suidhe and Carra Beag. I feel that I should leave the description of the finding of 2 stone circles to someone who could better explain the wild and crazy happenings (we only knew there was 1 circle - the second was a surprise in many, many ways). Along with Deserted Mediaeval Villages, dehydration, and the consumption of Ian's entire stock of tea and chocolate, we had almost 5 hours of Serious Hill Action (TM) before retiring to the comforts of the Dug and Custard with its open fire, many (many!) pints of Old Remedial, and puddings on tap.

I usually try to be a little light hearted in the Scottish Megarak Trip Reports, but in all seriousness I have *NEVER* seen Andy Sweet eat as much pudding as he did today. Honestly. And I believe Nick and Scotty have surreptitious photographs to prove it! Sorry Andy, but the only way to pull you from this addiction is to shame you, I feel.

Sadly Cath and Debs were too sensible to join us, but happily Paul has now joined the jolly band of fools who rush in where seals fear to bark. You can't get away now Paul... we know where you live!

We had stones and hills and fog and sunshine and deserted villages and giant messages from aliens carved in the track and beer and puddings and tea and chocolate and beer and puddings and more spaniels than you would believe and puddings and beer and....

....and you thought *YOU* had had a good day? You have no idea what you missed!

More about this day out by Andy Sweet can be found here.

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