Cateran Trail | Day 3

Cateran Trail | Day 3

Third day on the Cateran Trail and it’s been an epic challenging day.

Last night was rough. Eve and I shared a bed last night and because of her cold she had a very unsettled night.

Eve spent the whole night trashing around and kicking me, coupled with her coughing all made for a very restless night. I however got no sleep at all due to being kicked constantly and because I was keeping an eye on Eve.

For me, not sleeping at all is a regular occurrence. Insomnia is another trait that can come with autism, because my mind never, ever, ever stops, ever! But that discussion is for another time.

We ‘woke’ at 6 am, but just sat in bed talking until about 6.30 when I went and put the kettle on and started to get sorted.

We stayed in a airbnb last night that we were kindly gifted for the night. The flat is perfect. It’s small, cosy and has everything you would need. It has the biggest bathroom and shower I think we have ever seen. The flat is in the middle of Kirkmichael opposite the bridge, 1 minute walk from the shop/cafe that sells everything. Audrey the owner of the airbnb couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. If you would like to take a look this is the link, you will not be disappointed! Thank you Audrey for your kindness

Eve… Eve has a cold. She feels rough, has a cough and a runny noise. But it is just a cold. We had a discussion about walking this morning and she wanted to carry on. Eve loves being outside, whether hiking or any other outdoor activity. The whole outdoor and adventure thing, is more than a lifestyle, it is our life and hopefully how we will prepare her to become a strong, kind and brave adult who can work with her Autism to become anything she wants. I, as her father do not want her to think that the moment something becomes hard, or requires her to dig a bit deeper than normal, that she should just stop. After all achieving anything worthwhile in life requires work. But please rest assured, if Sarah or I thought for one second Eve was in any danger or ‘ill’ we would stop and take some timeout!

The weather was predicted to be wet today. In reality the day was interchangeable but never ‘bad’. We did have a torrential downpour but we missed it as we were sat in the Lunch Stop Hut. If anything Eve struggled more with that than the cold, as the rain was so noisy in the hut, Eve covered her ears and buried her head into my chest until it was over.

So back to the start of todays walk. We started by walking out of Kirkmichael through some open land that was covered with frogs. Hundreds if not thousands of frogs. We could barely walk in a straight line without treading on a frog or two. I will apologize as I tried to get some photographs of the frogs but the only ones I could photograph were the ones having sex! I don’t shy away from honest frank conversations with Eve, so she knows exactly what they were doing. I used the correct words and she knows exactly how she was ‘made’ albeit in a child friendly format!!!

We walked through a wooded area of total devastation with fallen trees everywhere and then a commercial forest area that had been felled. The first section was epic and felt like we were walking in an area of bomb damage. I know that’s a bad metaphor with the catastrophe that’s happening in Ukraine and other parts of world, so please don’t read too deeply into that.

There was a small diversion that we found easily. Mainly as we saw a dog walker walking up it. There was a map that had been blown over but we also knew to look out for the red sticks marking the trail. It was a hard diversion following tracks left by the heavy machinery used to fell the trees. It was slippy with lots of ditches filled with water.

We had spoken to Sarah a while ago who was on her way up to us in the campervan. Sarah had hoped to reach us by the time we got to Enochdhu. I had told Eve I don’t think Sarah would make it, and I was confident she wouldn’t until we got there and Sarah was parked up waiting for us! She had only been there a few seconds, but Eve took great pleasure in telling Sarah that I told her she would not be there. In my defence I was trying to limit damage as Eve was super excited to see Sarah! One again I was proven very wrong by Sarah’s awesomeness!

We sat for a while in the van, having a warm drink and discussing with Eve if she wanted to carry on and if we thought she should carry on. We all agreed yes and Eve wanted to continue on. Eve had the final say but as I said we didn’t tell there was any reason not to. We are pleased Eve made the decision to dig deep and continue and we are proud of her for that.

After stocking up on tissues, Olbas oil sticks and cough mixture Eve and I set off.

We knew this section was going to be the hardest section of the whole Cateran Trail, and it was a challenge but it was not that hard.

The weather for a while improved dramatically and we had a clear blue sky, warm sun and we felt so hot we took all our waterproofs off. It didn’t last for long, but it felt nice!

We walked uphill slowly plodding and gaining height along a farmers road, passing farms and some houses. It was pleasant especially as we had seen Sarah and had a hot drink. We moved in a wooded area that protected us from some of the rain and sun. We stopped and had a cheese roll on a bridge over a burn.

The rain soon came back on, then off, on, off… you get the idea. It couldn’t make up its mind. Sometimes we would rather it just rained so we could get into a rhythm. Eve was slower walking than usual, but she still set a good pace.

Once we reached the open hills and moors the trail turned wet underfoot. Not boggy, just wet. We jumped over a few small burns with Eve leading the way.

We spend the whole time looking out for the Lunch Hut. The lunch hut is basically a wooden booth. If that’s wrong I’m sorry, that’s just my interpretation. We thought we had missed it until all of a sudden we were there, right beside it.

We decided to have our third break of the day there and have our other cheese roll. Eve also had an apple! We spend about 45 minutes sat inside as the worst of the days rain came over. We timed our arrival perfectly as the rain was bouncing off the ground.

When we carried on walking the trail was so wet I slipped over about 4 times landing on my knees. My trainers are very worn and I think it’s definitely time to get some new ones with more tread! Eve was fine and didn’t slip at all. I think this gave Eve a second wind as she was winding me up, telling me to stop being so slow.

We had spent the whole day listening to classical music of Harry Potter. It’s the perfect music and I much prefer it to 90s or 00s pop music that we normally listen to if we have music on. Eve normally has audiobooks. My favourite genre is classical but Sarah’s is stuff from a decade or two ago. Eve listens to both!

We jumped over another huge fast flowing burn and then... we saw Sarah!!!

Sarah has parked up in Spittal of Glenshee and walked to meet us. She had been caught out in the worst of the rain whilst we were sat in the lunch hut.

We met Sarah and walked up the last hill to An Lairig. This was the steepest and wettest part of the whole day. Eve got a third wind and a new lease of life and flew! We couldn’t keep up with her and you would never have known that she had a cold at all.

The views from the summit were breathtaking. Looking back to where we had walked, seeing the trail wind through the hills and the red roof of the lunch hut. We could have stood there all day in silence and just stared. The effort to get there was definitely worth it and to share it with Sarah was the best feeling in the world! We took loads of pictures.

As soon as we were over the summit we could see Spittal of Glenshee with the hills and munros beyond. It was magnificent and an absolute privilege to be there. Eve found a small lump in the grass and sat down on her own just looking out over the horizon and beyond. Sarah and I stood holding hands and took a moment to be together and relish the moment. It’s one I will never forget.

We walked downhill towards Spittal of Glenshee slowly so as not to slip looking at the burned out remains of the ski centre with our little campervan parked up infront.

We read our last information board about the battle of Glenshee and then took our bags off and settled into the van to have a discussion about what the plan was for this evening and tomorrow.

The plan for this evening was to wild camp in the van to complete another 6 miles tomorrow before popping home for the night as Eve doesn’t want to miss Brownies. We’re not having a day off, she just loves Brownies and does not want to miss her weekly meet.

Eve wants to walk again tomorrow and currently we see no reason to stop her.

However… we are not wild camping this evening. We are in a wooden lodge!!!

We had an email from a lovely man called Kim who has gifted us a log cabin for the night! Thank you so much Jim!!! It’s so lovely and warm and perfect for us all to dry out and get our strength back for tomorrow. It’s our ideal home. We would LOVE to live in a wooden cabin. Not a big one but a remote wooden cabin is our pipe dream!

Cateran Rest

Right we’re off to bed, Eve is already fast asleep. We have snow predicted over night! Eve is super excited!

Sleep well

Ian, Sarah and Eve

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