Saturday, 2 June 2012

TGO Challenge 2012: DAY 6: C&W party to Bridge of Gaur

It was Wednesday today and Andy’s internet search for Thursday’s weather was for more heavy rain and stiff, cold northerlies. We had mulled this over and quite frankly we didn’t fancy our planned route for Thursday in the predicted conditions. It would be a twenty mile day, a lot of it pathless heather-bashing, two thousand feet up through the Talla Bheith Forest. The weather for today also promised some hefty showers and cold winds too.

This meant a bit of a rethink for today’s route, as currently our destination for the end of the day was to set us up for Thursday’s yomp.

I have been carrying O.S. A4 print-outs for years and had learned, some ten years earlier, of the importance of carrying overview maps, for just such an occasion as this. My overview maps were the normal 1:50’s but printed out at approximately 1:250,000 scale, so showing a very large area either side of the intended route. To avoid the intended remote route, we could cut down SE on the ‘Road to the Isles’ to then head east along the north shore road of Loch Rannoch.

I had walked this route in the opposite direction with Phil, Bob Butler and my son Oli many years ago on a PreWalkDaunder and knew it to be a splendid traverse along the side of the hill with wonderful views over the Blackwater Reservoir and Rannoch Moor.

First away, Wilky strode off to catch his train from Corrour. It was sad to see him go but we were glad he had made it to the cheese & wine party. So now he had done the first four and the last five days of a Challenge. Perhaps he would be back to do the middle section?

And so with our own plan firm in our minds, Andy & I set off, thanking Val & Dave again for a wonderful job. Val tied balloons to our packs, which I am pleased to report made their way safely all the way to the east coast,

(Just as a reminder, you can click on each pictures in these reports to make them larger. Some, my favourites, should get really quite big!)

Andy, with Party Balloons & Mamores

It’s a good track over to Loch Ossian where we caught up with Ken & Norma again, who put us on the right track for Peter’s Rock, which I am sure we would have missed as we were too busy nattering and taking pictures of the fabulous scenery. Whoops!

"Interesting" skies catching up with us...

Loch Ossian YH & Bealach Dubh

Mamores, Grey Corries & Loch Ossian

Every year at about this time, dozens of ignorant bastards descend upon this part of the Highlands to tear the life out the delicate peaty soils with their trail bikes. Unfortunately this year it seems they had chosen the Road to the Isles  as their race track. They have totally destroyed a good 5km section of this fine Highland track from just before Peter’s Rock to well past Corrour Old Lodge. All the old drainage channels and the path itself are now a complete area of devastation. This makes the walking quite dispiriting, as you find yourself up to your shins in slippery peaty gloop. We averaged about 1km/hr on this section.

We had lunch amongst the ruins of Corrour Old Lodge: A once grand affair on the old road. Sunny but still freezing cold.

Ignoring the misery of the destroyed old road, if you look up and about you, it is magnificent scenery, with stunning views over Rannoch Moor, down to the Blackwater, and over to the Grey Corries and far beyond.

Andrew, Road to the Isles, & Grey Corries

The vastness of the place is overwhelming. The cold blustery day had frequent snow flurries but this just added to the experience and made the everything even more elemental. It is fabulous country.

Blackwater & Rannoch Moor

After a while the track improves markedly; A lot of work has been done to improve it, with the drainage ditches cleared and the track improved by the landowner. It makes for a wonderful yomp, and at last you’re able to concentrate on the scenery rather than where not to drown in the morass.

At the bridge over the Allt Eigheach, we came upon a fine place for an afternoon rest stop, with a classic view of Schiehallion.


We soon found ourselves at the road, about a mile or so east of Rannoch Station and so stopped to remove gaiters and over trousers and ready ourselves for the gentle trudge eastwards along the road. We had no particular plan as to how far we should walk but I had in my mind that we should get as far as possible, as the forecast for tomorrow was pretty ghastly, and it would be better to get the miles done in reasonable weather rather than rain. We had however, been held up a lot longer than anticipated by the conditions of the path from Peter’s Rock, and it was getting to the time of the day when I seem to just run out of steam again.

Still, it was pleasant walking and downhill at that too, so we set off in good spirits. We had a little rest at a road side river flow monitoring hut opposite Invercomrie, for chocolate and an airing of steamy tootsies. By now it was getting really chilly again with more snow flurries, and so I felt the need to start looking for a place to pitch the tents. No more than 600 yards later we came upon a sign advertising B&B at Camusericht. This rang bells. Could this be Mrs Robertson’s old place? I seemed to recall the new owners popping up on the Message Board saying that they had taken it over…

No harm in asking.

Within a few moments we were being asked “Would you like tea or coffee and shortbread? Perhaps a beer?” We plumped for all three and were soon ensconced in a comfy sitting room in soft settees watching CBeebies in front of the wood burner. Heather & Eddie, the owners of the newly refurbished Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse, looked after us handsomely. We were the only ones in tonight, but last night they had had a full house, with a couple of cyclists sleeping in the sitting room too.

Being told there was “Lashings of hot water” makes such a wonderful change to the usual rickety, Spartan, measly, drippy drizzle of the average Highland B&B shower. I lay up to my eyeballs in a deep foam filled tub, soaking away the miles of mud and sweat that had accumulated.

Our room was lovely, with mint-fresh white bath robes and fluffy slippers (which I didn’t use as I had an age faff with un-openable plastic wrap…) It was bloody heaven – more so as we had not been expecting it.

Dinner was lovely; I had venison curry and sticky toffee pudding, all washed down with another excellent beer. We watched crap telly (Cast Away) propped up in our beds until the small hours, warm & dry and luxuriating in soft pillows and being pampered.

I cannot recommend the Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse strongly enough! A wonderful end to a magnificent day.

Today’s route: (23.6km with 400m ascent)



  1. Bookmarked that accommodation for future plans. Nice day that one. Views always makes for a nice day in the hills.

    1. When that path gets repaired (they should make the motorcyclists pay!) it must rank as one of the finest walks that most folk could manage easily in a day in Europe.
      The views far exceed the effort required to see them. It is absolutely splendid.

  2. That's a good idea carrying overview maps!

    Hope Dave has recovered from his savaging from sandpaper underpants.

    Great to find good accommodation at the end of the day.

    You're now ahead of Mr Walker. Better change your name to Fastman!

    1. Printing out 1:50's at 1:250 does mean that you have to squint a bit, but it's mad not to take them. It meant we were confident in changing our route without having to carry all the adjacent 1:50 sheet maps.
      It's also incredibly important to know where your nearest road is, in case of having to bale out because of injury to a team member to get help.

  3. Great post, those views are just staggering, I can't believe I've not been up to Scotland yet for some serious walking.

    1. "some serious walking"

      Most of my walking in Scotland is all about having a good laugh and a giggle. You are right though; The views are staggering!

  4. It's a dangerous game tempting yourself with the faintest possibility of a cosy B&B. How gutted would you have been if that B&B had been full up and you had to trudge on further into the wild and set up your tents? Lucky you - sounds great :-)

    1. I would have slept in the porch. I would have kicked the dog from its kennel, just to be able to sit in their settees and watch children's telly.

      The Venison curry was gorgeous. Heather knows how to look after her guests.

  5. I’ll second your recommendation for the Bridge of Gaur guesthouse.
    I became in urgent need of a dentist while staying at their place last year. I was actually pitched in their garden near Dutchman Koos because the house was full of Challengers. The following morning Heather and Eddie sorted everything for me and arranged an emergency appointment with a fine dentist in Pitlochry. There was a bus stop outside their gate.
    Incidentally, Chris at infinityblu dental care so impressed me that I recently travelled up from London for him to perform a root canal procedure. Which he did splendidly!
    Heather and Eddie Linsell are wonderful hosts and perhaps next time they’ll have a bed free so that I can fully luxuriate.

    1. It would be a fine idea for Challengers to have a slot on the Challenge Message Board for recommendations of eating places and places to stay on the Challenge.

      I shall have a chat with the Deppity to see if he can arrange such a page.

  6. Instead of hunting deer, they could hunt off road motor cyclists.

    My Day 6 is now up on line HERE

    1. Now there's a blood sport I would approve of!
      Stinger missiles for the 4x4 brigade as well?

  7. Lovely piece Alan, nice photos I must go to that area again - another night train job from London!

    This business about the 1:250000 mapping - I had heard rumours about 'Sloman's amazing eyesight' on the trip over and how you had printed the whole journey on 4 or 5 pieces of A4! How do print this and what from? I use the OS site getamap but I can't imagine how this could serve up the necessary.

    I really wanted to change route at one point but because of no general map I kept to the plan. Fortunately a goodenough plan despite my condition but I could have been worse.

    1. I was using Anquet Mapping. It gives you the option to print the 1:50's out at all sorts of scales. (If it's a tricky area and you have dodgy eyesight you can actually print it out at 1:25,000 scale if you wish.)
      It's the one useful feature of Anquet that I *do* like.
      With "Bargain Berths" available at £29, a trip to Scotland on the sleeper comes out at £58 including two nights accommodation on the train. It's a steal!

  8. i like the idea of hunting off roaders , perhaps it could be sideline to the challenge to see hopw many you could whack , abit like munro bagging

    1. There's a thought... little stencil's of trail bikers with big crosses through them stencilled to your rucksack...

      Ten and you're an ACE


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