Sponsored Walk 2002
30 July, Pannanich Hill, Ballater. 

Each year, the Tibet Support Group organise a sponsored walk. In 2002 the venue was Pannanich Hill, South of Ballater, on Royal Deeside.

Starting out from Ballater, the group enjoyed fine weather for the first mile or so, on the road section of the walk. Shortly after leaving the road at Bridge of Muick, a red squirrel was sighted - a rare event, even here in Scotland. Pressing on up the hillside, although hot weather, it wasn't long before the drizzle started. As we neared the first summit, cloudbase was lowering ominously, threatening us with fog. After a short stop outside a hut, we continued along the ridge to Pannanich Hill. By this time the rain was continuous and the teperature had dropped the point where gloves would have been useful. We elected not to stop on the summit because of its exposed conditions, but to continue in search a of a sheltered spot for our lunch break. We eventually found a small quarry, the best shelter we could find in  the cirumstances, and sat down to lunch. Before we could fiinish, however, the rain became torrential, and we decided to pack-up and move on.

Up to this point I'd been photographing the route as per usual, however taking the digicam in and out of its waterproof pocket was inevitably transferring a small amout of water each time, and I began to worry that a short could cause the loss of the pics I'd already taken, not to mention damage the camera. Therefore the pictures stop at this point, the camera going into my rucksack for safety.

Descending back into the glen, the weather continued foul, and we were glad to take shelter for a short stop at a convenient buidling with an overhanging roof. It was then back to the road, over the bridge, and to the Silver Teapot at at Ballater for a well-earned cuppa and jam scone!

At the cafe, I found that my fears about the camera had been justified - although the elecronics were holding-up remarkably well, the lens was totally misted-over behind the protective filter, and any further shots would have been useless anyway. It needed some ten or fifteen minutes of drying-out time before   taking a final pic or two in the cafe.

The old hands reckon this was probably the wettest Tibet Walk since the event's inception. Not excactly a picnic, but we all completed the route. If anything the weather we experienced (at the height of summer) underlines the need for adequate protective clothing in the Scottish hills, regardless fo the time of year.

The purpose of the walk is primarily as a fundraising event, with sponsors contributing donations based on either the number of miles walked, or simply a fixed amount for completing the course.
The walk could also be said to symbolise, and remind us of, the much more arduous walk undertaken by many Tibetan refugees who, due to persecution or simply to seek a better life, cross the mighty Himalayan range, skirting the very peak of Everest, to reach Dharamsala in northern India. Because of the risk of being stopped by Chinese forces if seen heading for the hills with any kind of climbing gear, this much greater trek is often perforce done by Tibetans in ordinary working clothes -Equipment totally unsuited to the high-altitude Himalayan passes.  It's a tribute to the hardiness of the Tibetan people that most, though sadly not all, of the trekkers make it through alive. At least here in Scotland we have the advantage of  boots, waterproofs if needed, a packed lunch and flask of tea, and - No Chinese border-guards to shoot at us!


Here are a few more images. Apologies if they're not up to the usual standard, in the circumstances they were the best that could be achieved without a sub-aqua kit for the camera!

Other Walks:  Forvie  Pressendye ~Baudy Meg ~Scolty Hill ~ Pannanich Hill ~ Linn of Dee ~ Glenbuchat



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