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!)
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!
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.
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.
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)