Fancy us choosing Friday the thirteenth to set the kids off on their expedition! At least we gave them a good send-off, with Handsome reigning in the youth hostel kitchen this morning, cooking breakfast for sixteen (twelve kids, four staff). Then all we had to do was get them moving out of the hostel and into the great outdoors – organising fifteen-year-olds is not the easiest job in the world… The other residents looked a little bemused as we tried to check that everyone had everything they needed. There were rather a lot of rucksacks, tents, sleeping bags etc spread across the youth hostel foyer.
Finally we set out with our mini-bus and car convoy again. The two groups were walking the same route in opposite directions, so our colleagues dropped Group 2 off with us, and Drove off with group 1, to their starting point. One of the kids managed to fall over before she started – in fact, she didn't even have her rucksack on, she just toppled over backwards for no apparent reason. For her (H) this is quite normal… We took a group photo, and waved goodbye. Now all I have to do for the next three days is worry.
Handsome and myself headed up the road a way, to where there is a path through the forest that meets up with the kid's route (just so we could check they'd gone the right way). We saw deer as we walked through, and they didn't see us until we were nearly on top of them. And the most incredible thing I've ever seen – there was a little lochan, and we stood at one end of it and watched the rain falling on the far end, but it wasn't falling where we were. It was only about thirty feet long, so it was raining about fifteen feet away! We waited in the woods, out of sight, for the kids to go past us – the midges were unbelievable. I was wearing a midge net (possibly the most unglamorous garment known to mankind), and I swear the midges were working out how to get inside… We didn't actually see the kids, but we certainly heard them, and they sounded as if they were having fun, so we headed back.
Another of our colleagues phoned from Crieff, so we met up with him at Amulree, and showed him where group 2 would come down to camp in the evening. He waited there to see if he could see them (he'd just come up for the afternoon), and we headed up the Garrow to Kenmore road to do a geocache. Whilst up in the middle of nowhere, we were overflown by low-flying helicopters (one ordinary size one and one big one with two sets of rotors). They were very low, and came up fast and unexpectedly – Handsome suggested that they should be preceded by a man with a red flag to warn other road users!
Coming back down to Garrow, we met a family of oyster catchers – mum, dad, and two teenagers – all over the road. Mum and dad were chiding and chasing the youngsters, but they would not get off the (single track) road. Although Handsome tried to inch down with the car and persuade them into the verge, they just kept on doing their own thing and running in opposite directions. In the end he stopped the car, and I got out and shooed them into the verge. the parents flew off (not very far, they were having a good loud nag at me by now), and the babies hunkered down in the grass completely still. Obviously this technique would work much better on the shore line where they would be camouflaged!
We saw group 2 in the distance at Turrerich, so we knew they were nearly in to camp safely, so we headed off to the little track up to Auchnafree to check up on group 1. They were already camped – tents up, and all happy.
Dinner in Aberfeldy, at a strange little restaurant called Chechek – Aberfeldy is not exactly the haute cuisine centre of the universe, you really do have to take what you can get, which in this case appeared to be Greek/Iranian food with a few other bits and pieces thrown in. An interesting experience if nothing else.
PS – just found a note in my note-book – Handsome saw a wheatear – he was very chuffed.