Pages

Thursday, 31 May 2012

TGO Challenge 2012: DAY 4: Invermallie to Spean Bridge

Sleep calms things down. Well, sleep should calm things down but I woke still slightly miffed that all the emails, long chats and kit discussions with Dave over the past six months or so seemed to have been largely ignored, or worse to my mind, deliberately ignored.

His sodden passport was a perfect case in point. I had emailed him specifically telling him that he should have a waterproof document bag. I had even attached a link to such a bag, and where it could be bought and at a decent price. As it was, Dave now had a passport that resembled papier-mâché

The boots were another. New leather boots bought within a week of setting off.

The rucksack liner that could not be sealed.

The walking trousers that held water like blotting paper.

I can’t remember exactly what did it, but I snapped at him about the document bag before we set off. This was not a good move. But at this point neither Andy nor I knew the extent of Dave’s other problems with his undercarriage.

Whilst we were waiting for Dave to finish packing upstairs in the bothy, we noticed a sign prominently displayed bang opposite the front door of the bothy:

Fooding Notice (Thanks to Gordon for the picture)

Ho hum!

We were all ready to go at the allotted hour, with everyone packed and ready. But not Dave. He faffed & farted about as we stood about getting cold outside. When he finally seemed to be ready for the off, Gordon, Andy & I set off up the hill through the bog. However, he didn’t re-appear for a good five minutes by which time we were almost at the top track, mercifully on dry ground. This was not good for team morale, really.

Gordon Green & Andy

Still, we were finally on our way, and it wasn’t raining, well, not so as you would notice. We strolled along the track we had walked along in the storm yesterday afternoon in an altogether different frame of mind. Gordon was heading off to the splendours of the Eagle Barge and a slap up feed at Laggan Locks and we were set on a gentle stroll over to Gairlochy for tea rooms and then onto Spean Bridge for our B&B and the pub. All was well with the world.

It was actually becoming warm & sunny. Slowly the mood eased as we took nice long snack stops on bridge parapets and the team re-bonded. The promise of the Tea Room was like a beacon of hope.

At this point we bumped into a chap who was doing his own version of LEJOG, from Land’s End to Cape Wrath. We had bumped into him previously in A Chuil bothy and so I was quite surprised to see him on the outskirts of Gairlochy. He seemed like a nice enough bloke and was obviously pretty competent, to have got this far. It was just before this point that it started to rain. Quite heavily. I was not in my waterproofs and did not really want to dig them out from my rucksack with the tea-rooms only a matter of moments away. Our LEJOG friend was however fully kitted out head to toe in Gore-Tex and started asking me all manner of route questions about the route he was about to take himself and the advisability of one route over another.

Now, call me an old curmudgeon if you like, but after eliciting a polite, accurate response from me about his choice of route and what i would do in his circumstances and a “Must dash! Getting soaked here!” you would have thought he would have taken the hint and left it at that! But no! His eyes had the grip of the Ancient Mariner & I was was held there, transfixed, answering more and more bloody detailed questions about this idiot’s own route as i was getting steadily drenched.

I was not in a good mood and to cap it all, I could not see sight nor sound of the blessed tea-rooms I had promised Dave & Andy.

I bowled into the nearest shelter, a telephone kiosk, and very awkwardly climbed into my anorak in the steamy confines. Dave & Andy, suitably clad in their coats for some time by now, were very patient with me as I struggled half blind from the condensation on my specs back out into the rain to join them. So, with no hot tea or any buttered scones, and rattled by the LEJOG man and my own stupidity of not just ignoring him, we trudged onwards. The sun came out again.

It’s a pleasant amble up the road to the Commando Memorial and I remembered a nice hotel immediately before it, and so in an effort to re-lash together the frayed team morale, I suggested we nip in and have the missing coffee and cakes.

There were carpets. There were settees and tables. There was a pretty young thing who served us excellent filter coffee, scones and fruit cake. It was bloody lovely. There was a warm comfy loo with hot air hand driers. I was never going to leave.

Spean Bridge Commando Memorial

The views over to the Grey Corries were wonderful, if a bit hazy. We would be walking around them tomorrow.

The Grey Corries

I loped downhill to the village in a brighter mood and signed into the B&B (not brilliant, i wouldn’t recommend it, really) and as fast as we could we set off for the Spar shop to stock up with bread, cheese, wine & Glayva for tomorrow night’s cheese & wine party. It was then a short hop to the pub, the Commando Bar, where the rest of the evening was whiled away with beer and food and Pool.

It was later, back at the B&B that Dave let us know that he was not going to be with us for the rest of the walk. I’ve never been particularly pre-disposed to watch as a guy drops his trousers to show me his undercarriage, but this was truly a one-off. You would not have wanted to witness the sight that met Andy & my eyes. It was a horror story. Cotton shreddies and Dave’s groin were not a good match. How on earth he had walked as far as he had was beyond my imaginations. I could not have done it. It was like a scene from Passchendaele down there.

Today’s route is in purple: (15.2km with 420m ascent)

TGO CHALLENGE 2012- DAY 4 MAP

31 comments:

  1. It was a day of many things.

    But Daves crutch.

    My mental scars may never heal :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe you bore the full force of the view. Mine was just a sneaked sidelong glance, yet the image seared my soul.
      You could ask Challenge Control for their counselling services?

      Delete
  2. Yuck, a nasty end to Dave and his TGOC then. So two left. The tale has many days to go.

    Well done Dave, Good effort and hope you heal and go again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to call Dave up and enquire about his health. I shall not be too specific, lest it opens the wounds.

      Delete
  3. Didja know there's a path from Laggan to Spean Bridge? Very nice it is too, all newly surfaced and everything. It misses the lovely hotel, though.

    Why no picture of the groin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a splendid path and if we had been coming from Laggan it would have been splendid to know of.
      In fact, going by Laggan would have provided slap-up opportunities that were somehow missed at Gairlochy.
      I shall file this vital information in the "Good Scoff Routes" section.

      Delete
  4. Why no picture of the groin?

    A sight like that should never be seen by a man in your condition Mike.
    Actually it should never be seen.
    I wish I had never seen it.

    You remember the scene in Apocalypse Now where Brando says

    "The Shock, The Horror....." Nuff Said

    My Day 5 is now live.
    Come on mate, keep up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alas, you are way ahead of me like a mountain racer. I am eating your dust...

      Delete
  5. Well done to Dave for making it so far. Next time with the right gear...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said, Sir!

      Anyone who could walk as far as Dave did with a groin that looked like that deserves deep respect!

      (However, I had told him about the dangers of cotton drawers...)

      Delete
  6. I met your LEJOG friend once near Loch Ossian while walking with Peter Skipp. He mithered us both incessantly about this Munro and that Munro, all of which he’d climbed and wondered if we had too. Peter held back to adjust his boot laces and I got the full deal from the guy. I tried telling him that I wasn’t that interested in Munros and that apart from Ben Nevis the names are all incomprehensible and meaningless to me and that if I see one I prefer to walk around it rather than over it. But that didn’t stop him. I think my brain glazed over and we lost him eventually. Somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Des.
      We are obviously cast from the same mould. I suggest that you too should read Norma's comment below...
      :-)

      Delete
  7. Al, you are an old curmudgeon! (You said I could!) Would love to hear Dave's take on all this - is he going to write an account as well?

    Really enjoying it so far - it's turning into the perils of Pauline!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Beautiful!
      Dave hardly ever replies to emails. When he does it's a one word affair. A monosyllabic blog would be interesting. Besides, you get the whole unvarnished TRUTH on this blog, don't ya know? (Well, my version, anyway!)
      :-)
      You can read Andy's account for the mind hallucinogenic stuff...

      Delete
  8. This is starting to read like a Christopher Brookmyre Scottish horror story.

    If you drop out of TGOC, do you have specify a reason? I dread to think what was said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the "Final Report" that gets sent out the reasons for withdrawals are usually stated.
      "Groin Rot" would be a new one...
      :-)

      Delete
  9. Just caught up with your previous 3 days of Highland capers. You seem to have had an eventful start to the TGO at any rate!

    Keep up the entertainment. It's better than TV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!
      :-)
      Well, I take the view that anything is better than the TV. There will be more!

      Delete
  10. this is just a sheer joy to read

    ReplyDelete
  11. Alan, I'm hanging on your every word; keep it up. Between you and Mike Knipe this year's TGO Challenge reporting has reahced new levels of whimsy and delight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you want whimsy, you really should read Andy Walker's account of our walk. The man must be on drugs, I tell you!
      You can find Andy's account HERE

      :-)

      Delete
  12. In 2008 I was lured to Gairlochy by tales of a tea shop from the other Mrs O. I have a weakness for tea and cakes and could smell the fresh bread and chocolate cakes from a mile off. Alas it was an olfactory hallucination and I had to make do with a bag of squashed Bombay mix while the lock keeper told me of it's demise.
    Ali O xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Gorgeous - And THANK YOU for your lovely cakes and biscuits for the cheese & wine party!

      What makes the missing tea shop all the more galling is that you can still find references to it on the web as if it's still open! Doh!

      Delete
  13. Alan, I know I'm a week behind everyone else [bit like my crossing, really], but I'm really enjoying your write-up. I'm reading Andy's in parallel and trying to pick out the true bits! I'm sure a psychologist could write a fascinating book based on the strained relationships in such trying circumstances. Maybe the same psychologist could help Dave with his therapy! Judith

    ReplyDelete
  14. (Once more, either Wordpress or Blogger has eaten my comment. Grr!)
    I know I'm a week behind every one else, Alan, but I'm really enjoying your write-up. I'm reading Andy's version in parallel and, between the two of you, I think I'm getting a pretty good idea of the truth! I reckon a psychologist could write a fascinating book on the strained relationships in such trying circumstances. Maybe the same psychologist could help Dave with his therapy?!
    I'll have to take a break from reading now, as I need to write up my report before it all becomes a distant memory. Judith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Judith
      It's lovely to see you here.
      :-)
      I think what's happening is after you have entered all the security mumbo jumbo your comment gets sent to me for approval, by email. I am really crap at email and it can often be a good hour or so before I realise I haven't checked for a while. I will try to do better.
      Sorry about that!

      Interestingly, Dave came by the other day and returned all the gear I had loaned him for the Challenge (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove, pans, waterproof...)

      I got the distinct impression that he probably won't be asking to borrow them again, which is a bit of a shame. He had a rough four days. I am sure with better underpants and a bit more preparation he would enjoy it far better. A bit better weather would help, too, it has to be said.

      Andy & I actually got on very well. He's been around the block enough times to know how to cope with my ghastly punctuality thing (just best to ignore it). I had a boss once who was always punctual. His favourite moan was "Punctuality: It's the loneliness I can't stand."

      Come on now woman! Get writing - I'm really enjoying your account. Solo walks in these conditions make for fascinating reading!
      :-)

      Delete
  15. Ah, so the comments are reaching you. From this end, I have to put the funny code thing in twice then the comments just disappear. I don't think an hour's wait for moderation is TOO unreasonable!
    I hope this is not too much information, but I find cotton undies perfect in wet conditions. Cotton with a bit of lycra doesn't seem to chafe - but maybe it's something to do with boys being a different shape to girls?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it must be the anatomical difference thing, J.

      Cotton absorbs water and doesn't let go. A tender set of undercarriage thrashing about inside sweaty cotton shreddies acts like a cheese grater on the soft male parts.
      Not good.
      :-)

      Delete
  16. I am very behind on all these blog posts Alan. Although I have to say that the first four I read just before bed last night have got to be the most entertaining that I have ever read on the bloggosphere. I love a bit of suffering if I am not involved.

    Poor old Dave though. Having had a good bit of chaffing myself down there on backpacks I know that it is bloody painful.

    Cotton panties though?...........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Before the walk, the entire Challenge community was giggling over Jeremy's choice of ladies' knickers...

      Perhaps I should put Dave in touch with Jeremy. I would imagine that they would have an interesting chat.
      :-)

      Delete

Hi.
Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!