|This, my second outing with the Scottish Megaraks, was even more enjoyable than the last one I attended with Scotty and BigSweetie. This time - after a few weather-related call-offs - there was myself, Nick Brand, BigSweetie and George Logan, although Irene did make it later on for puddings at the Moulin.
I was staying at the Moulin Inn - a treat to myself after a particularly good year selling my broomsticks, the windy weather of the autumn obviously encouraging people to buy - and met up with Nick, Andy and George in the car park down on Pitlochry High Street. After waiting for half an hour to see if anyone else was coming - and observing the curious local phenomenon of driving in a circle around anyone standing in the car park - Andy got a message from Martin to say he'd turned right out of Glasgow as his GPS told him, but somehow had ended up in Lancashire.
So we all piled into Nick's Big Red Beast (TM) and headed out past Faskally Cottages up to the Garry Bridge, turning off along Loch Tummel to the Allean Forest car park. We were planning on parking here and walking the long trek up to Na Clachan Aoraidh but some kind forestry person had left the gate unlocked so we drove all the way up. Sub-zero temperatures made us feel less guilty, but cheating is cheating.
When we got to the stones, we found that some idiot had started a fire in the centre of the circle, in the hole that was left by a 19th century "gentleman archaeologist". Why do people do this? I climbed in for a closer look, but the frozen ground prevented me from seeing how deep the ashes were. It had the appearance of a megalithic pothole.
We stopped for a rest (despite having driven up!) by the Ondy Burn. Ham sandwiches and a flask of tea were produced, then overcome with pangs of guilt we decided we should really make an effort to see some other sites before heading to the pub, since we were hours ahead of schedule. Andy told us about a fort in the same forest, a bit further down the hill, so we got back in the Big Red Beast and followed our tyre tracks in the snow back down, turning off to stop at the fort known as the Queen's View.
This fort is a mightily-impressive place, with a great view out the "door" down Loch Tummel. If the trees of the forest weren't there, the views would be even more spectacular and would show off even better the supreme defensive position it occupies. After slipping and sliding our way around the fort for a while, Andy suggested heading down to Blair Atholl to look for a stone he'd failed to locate once before.
So on it was to the Bridge of Tilt caravan park to find the Clach na h' Iobairt, which we did, next to caravan 12. It's a bit sad-looking, hemmed in by a caravan and a tree, but at least it's afforded plenty of protection.
By now we were really feeling the cold, so we decided to head for the Moulin Inn - the real reason for coming out on the first really cold day of the winter! Settled into one of the snug booths, log fire roaring, we soon warmed ourselves up, helped in no small part by the pints of Old Leatherhead that were going down a treat. This was followed by the inevitable Scotsman's Bonnet, a delicacy I was introduced to not long after my move north from Surrey. Even more inevitable was the honey sponge and custard which followed soon after, and as the darkness fell quickly outside, I settled in for a night of fending off spaniels and quaffing ale, while the rest of the Megaraks headed out into the cold to make their way down the icy A9.
Posted by ActionMan
7th December 2004ce