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26 June 2022

TGO Challenge 2022, Day 5: Corrour to Bridge of Gaur

 

When I decide, finally, that it's time to get out of bed and start to pack things away, I know I'm in for a wrestling match with my beautiful bag. It's a monster and it has to pack down into its little stuff sack.

Three rounds with Mick McManus later, I start the fourth with Jackie Pallo, sorting out my mattress. By now the tent seems cavernous with just an assortment of dry-bags, map cases, wallets, food bags and all manner of stuff that I don't recall ever having seen before.

Before long I'm dressed, booted and picking up the pack. It's a quarter past seven so probably a little early for breakfast at the Station House and I stroll away, mightily relieved that this place has in effect put me back together again. I had slept the sleep of the dead and now I felt pretty damn good. 

LOOKING BACK TO CORROUR STATION HOUSE. RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW

As was usual on this year's Challenge I was walking into the teeth of a keen wind that nipped at my nose, so battening down the hatches I escaped from my waking up stumble back into my long walk lope. There really is a profound difference in gait when you hit your stride; walking becomes a natural act with seemingly far less effort expended. Your mind escapes the mundane footfall forecast and frees itself up for flights of fancy. 

The skull cinema plays clips from past Challenges: Mad'n'Bad decked out in party balloons bouncing from muddy wheel rut to muddy wheel rut, cursing the bastards of the Scottish Six Day Trials, followed by Lord Elpus plunging bollock deep into a bog, or Michael from Norn Iron passing round the poteen, celebrating the slowest three miles he had ever walked in his life. He had obviously never walked with Phil and me before, masters of the slow and easy plod.

Here's today's route. Let's be honest; today is an absolute gem. 

DAY 5: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW
Distance 22 km
Ascent: 300 m

Leaving the main track alongside the Loch to take the much improved path up to Peter's Rock, the scenery shifters suddenly burst into action. Whole new backdrops are hoisted skywards; looking forward Bealach Dubh bursts out from beneath a blanket of cloud, backwards and the Ben is seen, summit shrouded.

LOOKING TOWARDS BEALACH DUBH

BACK DOWN THE TRACK TO THE STATION HOUSE, WITH LOCH OSSIAN AND THE BEN, IN CLOUD

Still climbing gently after resting at Peter's Rock the fabulous Rannoch Moor is hoisted - a massive feat for the guys with the ropes. Every time I pass this way this view catches me almost by surprise. It's an intense feeling, suddenly catching a vast space. And today I'm on my own and it's very personal.  

PANORAMA  - MAGNIFICENT OPEN COUNTRY 

The next stretch is quite simply the best enjoyed miles in Scotland. For me, walked in either direction, it's an almost religious experience. If you've not been this way, make a plan for it right now. Find your closest friend and share the experience with them. I promise that you will never forget it. 

WHO COULD NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS? [RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN NEW WINDOW]

RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW


RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW


And here's a gratuitous extra picture I took ten years ago when I walked this section with Mad'n'Bad Walker:

TAKEN ON THE TGO CHALLENGE 2012: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW


LOOKING TOWARDS RANNOCH STATION

As I was taking this picture - which is a little tricky using a phone in heavy gusts of wind as it's nowhere near as stable as using an SLR - there was an almighty noise and I looked up to see an RAF Typhoon screaming overhead in a tight turn. Amazingly, I caught it dead centre in the frame. 


On the track down to the road I met a convoy of very smart off road vehicles climbing gently towards me. I chatted to a smart chap in the passenger seat and he explained that they were heading up for a photo shoot for a very well known outdoor brand. Everyone seemed to be decked out in Barbour. Keep your eyes peeled for a couple of gorgeous women and men in sporting poses carefully arranged in front of our scenery shifters' finest efforts in fashionable magazines the world over.

ROADSIDE FURNITURE

THE GOOD PEOPLE AT SCOTWAYS STILL HARD AT IT

Even taking loads of snaps and a great many rest stops I was still running early, so I decided to have a break alongside the B846. If you were to have a break sat alongside a B road where I live in the south east of England you would choke on diesel and petrol fumes and be at risk of being crushed to death by HGVs and boy racers. Today, sitting here for about half an hour I think two cars passed me, and that was really the one car, heading up to Rannoch Station, a dead end, and back again after picking up some passengers. 

I dined on peanut M&Ms washed down with Waitrose No. 1 Tawny Port: The snack of champions.

I have to say, today was the first day of the Challenge that I can look back on and honestly say I absolutely loved every minute.

A VERY HAPPY GENTLEMAN OF THE ROAD

The minor road walk to one of the best Dinner, Bed and Breakfast establishments in Scotland, the Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse, is gently downhill all the way until a fierce little kick at the very end. I was met with kindness, friendliness and efficiency. Heather and Eddie are magnificent hosts. Heather is also incredibly brave, taking my very stinky clothes and returning them in the morning beautifully clean and fluffy. This was only my second visit but each time it has been quite perfect. 



TODAY'S STEP COUNT - RESTS VIRTUALLY EVERY HOUR

Again, the food parcel proved to be an embarrassment as I still had so much food uneaten. I left more than half of the parcel with Heather to give away to hungry hikers or cyclists. I'm still not eating anywhere near enough.
GIANT FOOD BAG OD UNEATEN FOOD AND NEW FOOD PARCEL

Finally, my TGO Challenge mojo was back but even though walking a comparatively social route I had not met another Challenger apart from Graeme, who I walked with for barely a mile. That was pretty miserable.



RAW, AND HEARTFELT.

18 June 2022

TGO Challenge 2022, Day 4: Mamore Lodge to Corrour

 

Not all of last night's titting about on the internet was a waste of time. Before sliding sideways into sleep I had thought to look at the weather forecast for Kinlochleven for tomorrow. That's today now - that's the today in the blog, not today, the day you're reading this. You understand.

It wasn't pretty. In fact it looked, well, it looked bloody horrible. Heavy rain to move in from around 8:30 am, to persist for most of the day, with heavy gusty winds from the north east, veering east later.

LOOKING BACK TO THE MAMORE LODGE HOTEL AND LOCH LEVEN. TAKEN AT 07:36

The caption beneath the above photo tells us that it was taken at just gone 7:30 in the morning. Yes. I woke up before the sparrows had had their first fag and were still coughing, and set off at the ungodly hour of a quarter to seven to get the climb up to Loch Eilde Mor out of the way before the heavens were to open. There's nothing more dispiriting than climbing up in torrential rain, so I chose to climb up and then look forward to a good soaking on the flat with the wind directly in my face. Then after lunch, and heading eastwards once again, it would throw itself once more in my face, changing direction to do so. 

If memory serves, which it increasingly does not these days, I took that photo from a rather handily placed bench at the top of the worst of the climb. What it doesn't show is the horrendous wind that was blasting me from behind. I had to race to retrieve my hat, and one of my walking poles which lifted off the bench and took off!

DAY 4: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW
Distance: 24 km
Ascent:  610 m

I cannot even begin to describe how awful the next ten klicks were, for the body and the soul. The rain arrived bang on time. I had walked this track before, with Mad'n'Bad and Lord Elpus on a previous Challenge - Phil's tenth - in similar weather, except on that occasion the wind was behind us. This time the driving rain was smack in the face. To add to the misery it was a particularly cold wind. The track switched from stream to lake and back again continuously, making picking a line quite tiresome.

At the far end of Loch Eilde Mor there's a stone built ruin which I knew would provide some shelter for elevenses. I found a comfortable rock next to an equally comfortable ruined wall for my chair. Actually the seat had protuberances that dug into my delicate bum and the wall similarly drilled into either my shoulder blade or neck, depending upon which agony I was trying to avoid to my derriere. It was bliss to be out of the weather. Before too long the cold seeped through my clothes, and so a snatched elevenses was over far too soon. 

After the misery of the lochs, the track climbs gently to its highpoint and offers a view of my lunchtime shelter, Meanach Bothy. 

LUIBEILT (IN THE TREES) AND MEANACH BOTHY THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ABHAINN RATH

I changed into my water shoes in the comparative shelter of the ruins of Luibeilt, and with my boots strung around my neck, waded into the Abhainn Rath - a fearsome crossing when in spate, and not too clever right at this moment either. I'd picked my exit on the far bank as doable for a bloke with dodgy knees - it should only involve an undignified knees and elbows clamber up the mud - and I was soon close to the goolies in very cold, heavy, moving water. I was incredibly careful here and took a painfully cold time picking each step of the crossing as I didn't fancy being bowled down the river. 

The far bank's mud didn't disappoint and my Fjallraven trouser/tights legwear were soon caked in the stuff. I couldn't possibly get any wetter or muddier so simply took a straight line to the bothy through the swamp. Days later I was washing hardened, very fine mud from the inside of the shoes and all the little holes in the insoles.
MEANACH INTERIOR. A PALACE.

I spent almost an hour and a half here, tucking in to Ritter chocolate, honey roasted cashew nuts and a couple of tuna wraps. I couldn't be fussed getting the stove out, so for warmth tucked in to the Tawny Port. Jelly babies for pudding with a baked bar. I washed the whole caboodle down with fizzy orange Vitamin C tablet squash. I know what you're thinking; this guy's a gastronome!

SLEEPING PLATFORM, GARGANTUAN FOOD BAG & DRAINING WATER SHOES

At the end of this phenomenal repast the food bag was no smaller and weighed just the same.

Whilst being incredibly busy in the bothy I had not noticed the change in the weather in the outside world. As I shut the bothy's front door there was an incredible moment when I realised it wasn't raining! Granted, there was still a very cold strong wind and I was grateful for my anorak to cut out the chill but now my only concern was to find a way through the marsh to collect the path alongside the Abhainn Rath. There was a faint trod on the ground and so I trusted life and limb to it and successfully negotiated a route without drowning.

ABHAINN RATH BETWEEN MEANACH AND STAOINEAG

It was a pleasant walk following the river downstream to Staoineag, though the mud meant that slips were cruel on knackered knees. You pass through some delightful river meadows but after my torrid morning my heart wasn't in it and I was overwhelmed with fatigue. 

With hindsight I had not been drinking anywhere near enough fluids and eating far too little. Prior to the walk when I had calculated what food I would need each day, my food bag barely covered the calories required. However, looking at the size of it in the bothy it was barely troubled, which could only mean that I was eating far too little.

Rather than stop in a sunny spell I decided to carry on down to Creaguaineach Lodge and have a rest there in the shelter of the pines. Consequently I didn't enjoy the gloriously scenery I was moving through. What a dreadful waste!

THE PATH DOWNSTREAM FROM STAOINEAG

It was as I was resting against a tree at the ruined lodge, scuffing through the bottom of my food bag looking for tasty delights, that I noticed a chap in similar apparel to my own, bearing a similar sized pack and taking a long look at his map. He had to be another Challenger but before I had the wit to get up and say hello he had walked off across the bridge, probably never to be seen again!

Bugger! My first Challenger actually on the walk and I missed him.

I managed another Ritter chocolate bar and a handful of cashews and a long drink of orange, pulled on my beautiful boots and set off once more. However, this time there was a bit of life in the legs. It's amazing what some warm sunshine, a good rest and some high calorie snacks can do to a chap.

AN INTERESTING ESTABLISHMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF LOCH TREIG

At the bottom right hand corner of Loch Treig the map shows a building. It's one of the small hydro buildings that the Ossian Estate have built over the last few years. However it was also the spot that the mystery Challenger had earmarked for good camping. I found him strolling back up to the main track, having scouted about unsuccessfully for a spot for the night. He was Graeme, a first timer and thoroughly lovely bloke. I explained that I was heading up to Corrour Station for a slap up dinner and would probably move on afterwards to camp further along my route. I recall that he had walked a very long way today and was rather hoping to camp as soon as possible.

I suggested the spot immediately after the track passed under the railway, as I had had a Cheese & Wine Party there around a dozen years ago. We walked together up the gruntily steep track from the loch for all of a mile, before he headed off to his camp and I headed up the incredibly boggy path to the station.


CORROUR STATION

Just as I was falling into the warm fug of Corrour Station House I noticed a tent pitched off to the right. Ordering a couple of pints of cider and a plate of fish and chips I asked if they allowed camping and of the fee. 

"Anywhere you like if you can find a flat spot. It'll be windy, mind." And "Oh, there's no charge and we leave the door to the loos open so you can have access to them overnight."

CORROUR STATION RESTAURANT

I thought I had died and gone to heaven with a Gold Card. I was definitely going no further tonight and was going to enjoy a table, and a chair, and good food, and good drink, and kindness!  This was blissful.

Putting the tent up was reasonably tricky as the pegs only managed about a couple of inches each but that was good enough as I was absolutely knackered once more, and fell into my sleeping bag not to be shifted until the next morning. As I lay there, I realised the the Caledonian Sleeper would be coming through later on that evening.

For the first time, ever, on a Challenge, for the first time in twenty six years, I imagined myself climbing aboard and waking up in Euston, and all this mad nonsense could stop. Thankfully I  was fast asleep when the old girl trundled through Corrour. Had I been awake it would have been a close call.

TODAY'S STEPS - A BIG BREAK AT MEANACH!






11 June 2022

TGO Challenge 2022: Day 3: Corran to Mamore Lodge


The west of Scotland is magnificent - steep sided mountains soaring straight from the sea to dizzying heights. The weather changes from warm sunshine to horizontal sluicing rain in minutes with a dazzling array of lighting effects. 

For a Challenger walking from the west coast this magnificent scenery has its downsides. Starting from sea level means you're exerting considerably more energy climbing, whether you're sliding on your belly over the bealachs or stretching for the summits. The changeable weather means you've to carry all manner of clothing to suit every whim of Heather the Weather or young Mr McCaskill.

Today, to keep you anchored in reality I'll mention that it is a Sunday - a day of rest - and I'm the last foot passenger to board the Corran Ferry at 8:30am, having breakfasted well at the Inn just a few steps away. I'll be starting at sea level then. All that height gained so far on the walk is now history. 

DAY 3: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW
Distance: 24 km
Ascent:  670 m
 

So let's cross the Corran Narrows and I'll meet you on the other side: It's no more than a five minute journey.

    THE 8:30am FERRY LEAVING THE INN AT ARDGOUR

LOOKING ACROSS THE NARROWS TO INCHREE

LOOKING NORTH EAST UP LOCH LINNHE


I couldn't take the footpath from the carpark to the waterfalls viewpoint as it was closed as trees had been blown over in a storm and had yet to be cleared. It was a simple walk up the track and then continuing to the head of Glen Righ - a pleasant undemanding five mile walk.

 LOOKING BACK TO THE CORRAN NARROWS WITH COIRE DUBH ABOVE

Looking back to the Corran Narrows had me thinking about how they were formed. After a bit of Googling it seems the accepted theory is as follows: [which I've copied from this source, as it's written in a more accessible voice than that of the British Geological Society's explanation:  https://kilchoan.blogspot.com/2010/05/corran-ferry.html ]

The narrows were formed by the glacier which gouged out the Great Glen and the trough now occupied by Loch Linnhe. At the end of the last ice age, when the glacier was retreating up its valley, its snout - the point where it melted - stopped for a time at Corran. At this point the ice, being lighter than the sea water into which it was flowing, lifted off the bottom, leaving an underwater ridge. There are many other examples of this feature, the other well-known local one being at the Connel Bridge near Oban, where the outgoing tide flows over the ridge to form the Falls of Lara.

That's all well and good as far as it goes but it doesn't explain why the Loch Linnhe retreating glacier stopped, or paused, here. Looking at the above picture in combination with the map that you've opened and blown up in a new window, you'll see that above the narrows is Coire Dubh and from the map you'll see its glacier dumped a massive end moraine between Ardgour House and Keil House. On the opposite side of the narrows there would have been a substantial glacier in Gleann Righ, flowing away from the ice cap that incorporated the Ben Nevis group and the Mamores. This would have supplied both lateral moraines and an end moraine to add to those from Coire Dubh. These two sources would have grabbed at the retreating Loch Linnhe ice and piled up and added to its lateral moraines as well as the retreating terminal moraine. Subsequent tidal forces produced the spit that forms Salachan Point. 

A quick look at the map suggests that the narrows at Ballachulish have been formed in the same way, provided this time from the massive resource of the huge corries of Beinn a Bheithir to the south.

It's these little problems that keep me going; it stops me thinking about my tired legs and lack of a decent engine. It was my old geography teacher, an inspirational man, John Earp, who encouraged my interest in geomorphology. I still have and treasure one of his textbooks he gave to me, published in 1959, from his time at Durham:


RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE.

In the next picture you'll see that I'm standing slightly above the surrounding ground. I was following the moraines that you can see on the map as it's drier and easier underfoot than following the stream which has awkward bluffs to negotiate.

LUNDAVRA WITH BEN NEVIS

Lundavra sits in a gorgeous spot and guards its privacy, so don't disturb the residents as they used to be quite prickly about Challengers passing through their ground. I've never experienced it myself, as I'm a smiley chap when walking through this beautiful spot. It's hard to be rough with someone who smiles.

There's no charge for this sage advice handed down by a generally grumpy bloke.

LUNDAVRA

The public road starts immediately after Lundavra and takes you to the junction with the West Highland Way. The wind was still very strong and very cold, and at this point, sheltering under the small canopy of a West Highland Way information board that I made my mind up that I would change my route. Phil had me following the WHW towards Fort William for five klicks and then cutting across and down to the forestry track that heads up Glen Nevis, to eventually camp across from Steall. This was a fair old schlep, and committed me to the entire distance, as I couldn't see a viable place to stop if I was feeling knackered beforehand. 

LAIRIGE MOIRE WITH THE MASSIVELY IMPRESSIVE STOB BAN

So I decided to follow the WHW in the opposite direction - towards Kinlochleven. To give myself a similar distance to that planned for the next day, I could finish at the south end of Loch Eilde Mor and cut up along Loch Eilde Mor the next day to rejoin the route at Meanach Bothy. However, if I wanted to finish before then there were a few options open to me with good camping and water. This route also had the advantage of slightly less ascent and descent. Given my condition it seemed like a no-brainer. 

For the next couple of hours I was walking against the masses all doing the WH Way. They were fortunate in that they had the wind at their backs whereas I was - for the third day in a row - walking into the teeth of a very cold quite strong wind, with the occasional rain shower thrown in for luck.

I had a good rest at the transmitter above Kinlochleven as there was a bench. I also had a phone signal, so I phoned Challenge Control for the first time and caught Sue moving Control from Newtonmore to the Park Hotel. The weather was now cheering up a little - no rain but still a very blustery wind.

LOCH LEVEN, FROM THE TRANSMITTER BENCH

I called it a day around five, when I reached the sad remains of the once wonderful Mamore Lodge Hotel, perched directly above Kinlochleven. The pegs went in readily, which was as well, as it was quite an exposed spot. I've fond memories of the hotel, once meeting Mick Daniels and Diane Woofenden and having a few too many drinks with them (I blame Phil) before continuing on up to Loch Eilde Mor to camp quite late. Another time, on a PreWalkDaunder after the Foot & Mouth Outbreak, there was a shoe dip that Phil stepped into, not realising that it was a couple of feet deep and watching his leg disappear into a bath of chemicals. Well, I laughed.

There had been talk of the old place being refurbished, but then the pandemic came along and scuppered them. I do hope it can be saved.
 
CAMPED AT THE SAD REMAINS OF THE MAMORE LODGE HOTEL



THE VIEW FROM MY WINDOW

Being within eyeshot of the transmitter my phone had a 4G signal and so I managed to waste a considerable part of the evening on FaceBook, sharing pictures to the TGO Challenge FaceBook group. There's one particular share that I'll reproduce here. My phone records how many steps I make each day. The last 30 days were illuminating as there were precious few steps each day from 15th April to the 12th May, and then a stratospheric change for the first three days of the walk.

DAILY STEP COUNT FOR THE MONTH

The next shot shows the steps taken today, together with an estimated distance walked which seems to be surprisingly accurate. Each column represents half an hour's walking, so you can see clearly when I took rests.

TODAY'S STEPS

I was fast asleep reasonably early. The last I remember was the wind getting up with a few stiff showers, which sound like gravel being hurled against a Cuben fibre flysheet. Natalie Notch was given a good shake but happily she didn't flinch in the slightest. She's a keeper.


Here's a blast from the past. It's still a favourite of mine.


08 June 2022

TGO Challenge 2022, Day 2: Glen Hurich to Corran


DAY 2: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW
Distance: 23 km
Ascent:    330 m 

Any reasonable person looking at that map, along with the distance and the ascent figures, would think to themselves that they would knock this off fairly comfortably and be in the Inn at Ardgour in time for a couple of pints before heading upstairs to sort out the washing and still be in plenty of time for dinner. 

There are occasions where I consider myself that reasonable man, and setting off before eight o'clock with a pale blue sky and sight of the ragged ridges, all was well with the world. 

FLATTENED GRASSES AND SOARING RIDGELINES

For the first half mile I picked my way along the side of the stream and noted that there were one or two absolutely delightful camp spots in the broader section of the glen as the plantation thins out. It's lovely soft walking and the sun shone, which helped a lot as the wind was cold. There's something of a stile at the deer fence. I remember an undignified clamber after I had first dropped my pack over the fence and it landing with a very deep 'spludge.' The ground, after a week or so of constant rain was saturated and for every step I was mightily relieved I had given the boots a decent dosing of Nikwax as the watery mud mix came over the forefoot.

There's a little climb up to the outflow of Lochan Dubh - I wonder how many Lochan Dubhs there are in Scotland - and the wind hits me full on.

LOCHAN DUBH OUTFLOW

LOCHAN DUBH OUTFLOW

LOCHAN DUBH

At this point the work starts. Now then: The reasonable man had not taken into account that he had done no training walks whatsoever since emptying his pack after last year's TGO Challenge, that he had had three bouts of surgery in the last seven weeks - one with a major abdominal slash over a foot long - and that his perfectly formed ever so slightly muscled legs (things of beauty!) had virtually wasted away. The blood count - the stuff that takes the oxygen around to feed your non-existent muscles - was also a tad on the low side. The upshot of this tale of medical woe is that I am running on a 50cc moped engine rather than my beautiful three litre Mercedes diesel, that normally grinds out the miles with the rev counter barely troubled.

PERHAPS THE START OF THE FICTITIOUS PATH DRAWN BY A WORK EXPERIENCE STUDENT AFTER A GOOD LUNCH IN THE PUB?

I can tell prospective walkers of this lonely route that there are occasional traces of a path over the next four kilometres. The Ordnance Survey, who I'm sure have not visited this glen in the last fifty years, would have you believe in one. When you do believe you have found this mythical trod it lasts no longer than a hundred yards, and then the bad fairies steal it away again. In an attempt to follow the route I push my lifeless legs up the saturated hillside with slippery cobbles and boot-sucking peaty gloop. This is warm work. My body is running hot and my hands gripping my poles are numb with cold. My nose seems to be dripping continuously. I'm not happy, but somewhere deep inside this rabid old frame there's still that little flame of resolve, not yet completely extinguished.

LOOKING BACK TO GLEN HURICH

Finally I'm on a downward trajectory heading into Gleann an Lochain Duibh. Quite how the Ordnance Survey have constructed 'Lochain Duibh' from Lochan Dubh I do not know. Perhaps there was a fight over it down in Southampton and they agreed to a score draw, each of the protagonists having their own version put into print. This shit happens constantly on O.S. Scottish mapping. I shall volunteer my dispute resolution service to them free of charge. On second thoughts, all they need do is supply a good lunch with a decent bottle. 

LOOKING DOWN GLEANN AN LOCHAIN DUIBH

HALLELUJAH! A PATH APPEARS JUST BEFORE THE BRIDGE TO GLEANN NA CLOICHE SGOILTE

By the time I arrive at the start of the actual path on the ground that does not disappear, I'm pretty well shot through. It dawns on me that the sleepless night spent in my B&B at Salen before the start of the Challenge, worrying about how I'd cope, was pretty much accurate. Of course, I did cope, but there were times, I can tell you.

THE SHAPELY HILLS TO THE SOUTH OF GLEANN NA CLOICHE SGOILTE

THE BRIDGE OVER THE ABHAINN GHLEANN LOCHAN DUIBH

Just for fun, those boys at Ordnance Survey have chucked in a third spelling variation: 'Lochan Duibh', this one found on the 1:25k mapping. There were obviously three in the lively discussion, plus of course the drunk work experience student who drafted the path. 

GLEN SCADDLE

At the confluence of the Abhainn Ghleann Lochan Duibh - whichever spelling you prefer - and the Allt Gleann na Cloiche Sgoilte which merges with the Abhainn Ghleann Mhic Phail, you enter Glen Scaddle. There's no mucking about with Glen Scaddle; whichever map you peruse, that's how it's spelt. Glen Scaddle has to be one hard bastard, as not even the lads at Southampton fool with it.

At this confluence the path actually becomes a track, another point missed by the post pub lunch lads. It is delightful walking on grassy soft earth with quite a few flooded bits where the Estate has given up any form of track maintenance - as they've gloriously overspent the budget further down the glen.

LOOKING BACK TO UNFRIENDLY TIGHNACOMAIRE AND ALL THE WAY TO GLEN HURICH

I had a lazy rest on the front step of Tighnacomaire under the covered porch - if you blow the above picture up you'll see the porch (Right Click on each picture to open them in a new blow-upable- window) - to try and eat and drink to restore some sort of energy level; I'd take any level going!

Just a quick observation; That last sentence has *way* too much punctuation for any sane reader to make head nor tail of it. This blog badly needs an editor wot is good with Her Madge's Inglish. 

I mentioned that Tighnacomaire is unfriendly. They have a large sign discouraging any loitering in its whereabouts and directing rain soaked wind bashed walkers to a bit of a parlous ruin just ten minutes up the glen. There was no one at home, and from the its appearance no one had stayed there for some time.

A PRETTY LITTLE GUSHY GORGE TO DELIGHT THE SOUL.

THE BRIDGE AT EASTING 945, LOOKING BACK UP THE GLEN

If you now look at the map at the start of this piece (You'll have it opened already in a new window at a super size, no doubt, as I suggested) you'll see that at this bridge a footpath is shown on the north side of the River Scaddle, and that is the path that Lord Elpus had decided upon. Of course, it does not exist as unsurprisingly any driver with any sense will have taken the very well made forestry track which goes up quite a way into the planted forest to rejoin the river four klicks down the glen rather than the boggy unmaintained affair with over a dozen side streams to negotiate. So that's the way I went too, which added a not inconsiderate amount of staggering uphill and down dale, and then back up again, which is the way of a track used by vehicles with large engines and grippy off-road tyres.

You should also note that the path shown south of the river does not exist either, I would imagine for the same reason as already suggested.

THE GORGEOUS VIEW BACK ALL THE WAY TO GLEN HURICH, AFTER LEAVING THE FORESTRY

Having taken the forestry track I was pretty pleased to be presented with the view all the way back to Glen Hurich as I left the confines of the trees to drop back down to the river. It's an ill wind.

THE FOOTBRIDGE OPPOSITE CREAGBHEITHEACHAIN

Resting to try and eat some snacks and take on some water, I had a poke about at the footbridge. I'd suggest one at a time. The picture below shows the next stage of the walk down Glen Scaddle. Someone has spent the entire road building budget for the Estate for the next few years on this section. It's two vehicles wide, and built almost to highways specification, the only thing missing is the blacktop. It's as good as any wind farm highway. Of course, there's a reason for it: Timber extraction. 

THE NORTH SIDE OF THE TRACK

THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE TRACK, SHOWING TIMBER EXTRACTION

Here's a thing. I've never seen so much timber extraction as I did this year across the whole of Scotland. Other Challengers have mentioned it in their reports as well. I can't fathom out why, unless Drax Power Station's insatiable appetite for biomass is now harvesting commercial timber forests? Green energy? My arse!

This very rough track is very hard on the soles of my feet after the graunching they suffered along Lochan Dubh and beyond.

A WELL CONSTRUCTED ESTATE BRIDGE LEADING APPARENTLY TO NOWHERE

Finally I make the public road, the A861, which is a gloriously quiet single track strip of tarmac that heads for the Corran Ferry and my hotel for the night, the Inn at Ardgour. I slump at the roadside and try some honey roasted peanuts and jelly babies with the last of the filtered water - around 250 ml, which is nowhere near enough as I'm really thirsty.  Its half four when I set off to walk the 6km to the pub. 
BEN NEVIS, AND SALT MARSH ALONGSIDE THE A861 AND LOCH LINNHE

SALT MARSH MUTTON AND LAMB: 1

I'm distracted by an unfolding incident. There's a mother and baby lamb on the salt marsh and the tide is creeping in, ever so slowly, fractions even, and the daft pair don't appear to notice their predicament.

SALT MARSH MUTTON AND LAMB: 2

SALT MARSH MUTTON AND LAMB: 3

SALT MARSH MUTTON AND LAMB: 4

SALT MARSH MUTTON AND LAMB: 5

I'm afraid I didn't leap in to Loch Linnhe to rescue them as I was pretty sure that even sheep have a survival mechanism that would force them to wade or swim to the shore. Heartless? I was pretty thirsty and did wonder if salt marsh lamb would be on the menu this evening.

THE INN (THE BUILDING FAR LEFT) FROM RUBHA DEARG

Those six kilometres seemed to take forever, but I made the Inn bang on six o'clock. Just time for a quick one and then nip upstairs to wash the smalls, shirt and socks before a really good dinner. The service in the Inn was superb. Highly recommended. 

This day had been a whole heap harder than I had imagined it to be at the outset but I had managed it. Just. Would I do it again? A resounding 'yes' as I could not possibly be in a worse condition than I was today and I would normally eat days like this for breakfast. Thankfully the weather had been kind if a bit bloody cold, walking into the wind all day, but the scenery was top drawer. 

All in all, highly recommended.


And now, a small piece of genius.