Unfortunately, yesterday’s sunshine didn’t continue and it was misty as I set off this morning. The bit up to the plateau was easy on an estate road with views down Glen Muick.
The mist was still down as I came to the end of the road to be faced with a featureless landscape. I’d never been up here before but my vetter Colin had warned me about the bogs and peat hags. I should have paid more attention to this. The mist was clearing but everything looked the same and there was no way to navigate without a map and compass. I headed east for the estate road on Hare Cairn – it wasn’t far, about 3.5k, but it took more than 2 hours ploughing through bogs and peat hags. I don’t think I’ll be back.
Eventually, I reached the estate road then it was pretty quick down to the head of Glen Tanar where I had lunch on the bridge looking down the glen.
While I wouldn’t recommend the plateau, I do recommend Glen Tanar which changes in character from a highland to wooded lowland glen. There were lots of Butterwort – insect-eating plants – at the head of the glen. I met Peter from Holland who had come over from Ballater (a far more sensible route) and we walked together for a while and checked out the unusually but accurately named Halfway Hut before he headed off for the Forest of Birse.
I had originally planned to camp in the glen but my new plan meant that I needed to get to the Bridge of Ess then to Potarch. The path by the river to the Bridge of Ess was delightful but the road walk to Potarch was awful. I was fed up with tarmac, tired, hungry, it was getting late and I really wanted just to get there. Thankfully, the last mile or so is through the forest rather than on the road and at 7.45 I eventually arrived at Potarch.
This was my chosen destination as it has a pub and I had fantasised about fish and chips and Guinness for most of the long road walk. The portions in the Potarch are Challenger-sized and it was fantastic after such a long day. Three other Challengers came in – Roger, Peter and David, who I had met on the train on Day 0. We chatted for a while and then I set up my tent with theirs on the green just outside the pub. An ideal site.