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