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Friday, 1 June 2012

TGO Challenge 2012: DAY 5: Spean Bridge to C&W Party

Dave looked less stressed this morning, having decided to ditch the continuing masochistic torture to his groin. However, the trooper that he is, he wasn’t giving up completely and had decided to meet with us at the Cheese & Wine Party at Allt Luib Ruairidh on the West Highland Railway line in the evening, a simple train ride away.

Today’s route was blessed with sunshine and cold northerly winds which fortunately were largely behind us, our route heading mostly south and east. As we swing out of the village we collected up Sandy Millar as he was leaving his B&B.

Sandy & Andy had already become known to each other as Sandy had taken Andy’s old tent on the Challenge. Fortunately it was a successful transaction as both parties were delighted with the outcome: Sandy had a lovely new red lightweight tent and Andy now had a Trailstar, funded partly by his old tent.

The two chaps got on like a house on fire and we all toddled off up the Lairig Leacach up a good Landrover track. We were actually making good progress laden down as we were with five days of food plus the wine, bread & cheese & Glayva for the party later that night. The packs certainly felt very heavy.

The Grey Corries over to our right were plastered in the white stuff but luckily our path was snow-free and firm underfoot.

Howard & Hilda in the Lairig Leacach

We sheltered in the bothy for lunch. Even though it was sunny, it was perishingly cold in the wind outside. Sandy did something clever with a self-timer with his camera and produced a picture of three smiley Challengers.

Me, Sandy & Andy: Lairig Leacach Bothy

Just as we were about to leave Ken & Norma Proudler arrived, a very fit couple in their sixties and Ken on his tenth Challenge. It always seems slightly rude to shove off just as someone else arrives and it’s tempting to linger and have a chat. However, I was conscious that this year i was finding myself increasingly tired at the end of each day. It always seemed to kick in at about the same time, regardless of the effort expended during the day, and so I was keen to get on and carry on walking while I still felt okay. This seems to be a side effect of having completely knackered kidneys, so it’s just a question of adjusting to suit their needs.

Sandy & Andy: Lairig Leacach bothy

From here down to Loch Treig, the lovely old stalkers path has been butchered by a new quad-bike track, destroying the drainage and turning it into a bit of a quagmire. However if you put that from your mind, the views all around are stunning.

Looking back up the Lairig Leacach

A highlight of the day is the section of the walk between the Allt Feith a’ Ghleannain and Creaguaineach Lodge. It’s a beautifully pastoral section followed by a fascinating glacial outwash channel that runs parallel to the river. It would make a wonderful camping spot.

Sandy's Picture of Andy

Glacial outwash channel?

As we slowly gained height, climbing up to the West Highland Railway I noticed the first pair of red balloons fluttering alongside the track. There followed more and more balloons! Just under the railway bridge Val & Dave Machin gave me a big cuddle (I remember struggling a bit here) and I noticed a Scottish flag fluttering in the breeze, stuck on the old ruin.

IMG_3141A

It was lovely. Before too long we were joined by Ken & Norma as well and Val produced a bottle of pink champagne complete with plastic flutes and all manner of wonderful grub: Olives, various spreads, pretzels, crisps plus all sorts of cheeses. Val & Dave had also called in to the Newtonmore Bunkhouse to collect some cakes made for us by the wonderful Ali Ogden! We were spoiled rotten!

We each added our own cheeses and wines. Then Dave arrived to a hearty welcome, having walked down the line from Corrour Station. As we toasted “Absent Friends” a healthy dose of soft hail topped up our glasses. Champagne on ice. It doesn’t get much better, does it?

Val Machin

Sandy's Cheese & Winers Picture

It was well below freezing by the time we turned in, with the rain on the tents having turned to puddles of ice. The scenery around here is stunning.

Mamores, Sunset

Today’s route is in purple: (25.8km with 650m of ascent)

TGO CHALLENGE 2012- DAY 5 MAP

18 comments:

  1. It was a fine day with a fabulous end.
    Val. What a star. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Val & Dave certainly went the "extra mile" on this one! And many thanks to Ali for her cakes as well! In true Chally Cheese & Wine tradition, the mercury plummeted to well below freezing.
      Cheese & Winers: 'ARD!
      :-)

      Delete
  2. Was it cold? You all look a bit, er, blue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was just the pallor cast by the light reflecting off the Cashel Blue and Stilton cheeses.
      The Glayva and Leapfrog warmed us up though.
      :-)

      Delete
    2. Louise, Don't listen to Alan. The white wine was chilled the red at room temperature the same. It was Baltic

      Delete
    3. Okay, I admit it. I was wearing every stitch of clothing I possessed, apart from the spare shreddies and socks. Thinking about it, I suppose I could have worn the spare socks over my ears?

      Delete
  3. From the look of the second last photo it appears that the colour of clothing for TGO walkers is blue and the colour of their shelters is red or green, am I correct? If so I need to by the appropriate colours before applying to complete the TGO.

    Enjoying the tale, looking forward to the next instalment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooh! The anoraks are all a bit 'samey' aren't they? Andy's Treeza is a delightful Gold and my Wanda a very pretty blue...

      It makes campsite pictures so much more interesting than dull ol' green nylon shelters.

      Delete
  4. Nielsen, when the FightClubHikers did it we wore mainly black with chainmail underwear. That's coz we are hard bastards and Alan and his metrosexual friends are poltroons. Keep reading.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used to wear chain mail underwear and found that WD40 helped stopped the squeaking. Andy, on the other hand, uses Cocoa-butter flavoured Vaseline.

      I mean, WHY would you put flavouring into Vaseline? Perhaps Peter could help us with an answer here?
      ;-)

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    2. I have it on good authority that a late and dearly missed legendary Challenger who may or may not have been distinguished for his robust snoring kept a tin of Vaseline handy for his intimate abrasions. He would scoop a dollop with his fingers then rub it into the affected parts. At least once he was seen offering that same tin to another walker who proceeded to use the same contents as lip balm.

      Delete
    3. That sounds uncannily like a Peter Hirst tale...

      Did you ever hear about Phil Lambert's brother-in-law with Phil's lip balm? Phil didn't want it back afterwards...

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  5. It pleases the midges. If you are part of an ecosystem, and unfortunately we are, it pays to keep the midges sweet.

    Therefore the cocoa butter. Simple.

    I'll tell you the capital of Surinam if you want....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You see, these days we no longer need the Encyclopaedia Britannica: We have my blog.

      All the answers are here.

      Delete
  6. Blog to end all blogs Alan and that was the way to end a day in the hills. Splendid spread of wine and cheese, with fine views, and most importantly, good friends to share it with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Martin,
      It made for a lovely day; All great fun, which is how it should be.

      Delete
  7. Cheese and wine! Bloody luxury! When I were lad we lived in a rolled up newspaper at the bottom of a cesspit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were obviously hanging out with the wrong people.
      All walks should involve a little libation and nourishment of the body & soul.
      :-)

      Delete

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