The last two days walking had seen considerable progress in a southerly direction. However, this is not the direction that most Challengers would be taking, their destinations generally being east of their start points. So, we needed a route that would take us in the correct direction, one that would see us in Braemar for Saturday night. Today was Thursday, so we had a bit to do. You cannot miss Saturday night in Braemar, see, as that is a Challenge Law.
This would entail quite a bit of walking the roads today. It has to be said that the roads around these parts are not exactly heaving with traffic. In fact they are quiet lanes with lovely views of the lochs and surrounding hillsides, except that today we wouldn’t be able to see too much of the hills as the clouds were down low and it was raining.
Suitably fortified by one of Heather’s excellent breakfasts, we said thank-you to our lovely hosts and set off for our plod down the road to Kinloch Rannoch, about 11 miles distant.
I hadn’t walked the north shore of Loch Rannoch before now. It was actually quite charming. The builders around these parts have been and still are, very busy with new homes and interesting extensions popping up quite regularly along the route to keep interest from flagging.
There were roadside flowers and all manner of birdsong. It was actually quite a pleasant morning, despite the weather. I spotted a stoat dashing across the road with a baby rabbit clenched in its jaws.
We made Kinloch Rannoch in time for a spot of lunch in the excellent cafe. Hot soup and crusty bread & butter. We bumped into Bert & Suus, Geoff, Frank & Bert and a few others. Andy decided that our food bags weren’t heavy enough and so we visited the shop to stock up on even more food. Why???
Then it was back out into the drizzle to see how far we could get. This road becomes surprisingly hilly soon afterwards; quite a shock to the system, but the afternoon passed peacefully enough, admiring the colossal civils works of the Tummel Valley HEP schemes off to our right.
It was somewhere along this stretch that I first became aware that all was not well with the world inside my right shoe. Somehow, I had developed a small blister nestled in front of the ball of my foot between my big and first toes. This was terrible! I haven’t suffered from blisters for over fifteen years and I had forgotten how every part of one’s anatomy is connected to a blister! Looking back, I put it down to wearing the medium weight socks which had become very baggy and had bunched under my foot. Ho hum!
In all we walked about 18 miles on roads today, before turning off onto a forestry track for another three miles or so, The road walking probably didn’t help.
The forestry track’s surface layer had the consistency of thick muddy gravy and we slopped our way along, looking for a spot to flip up the tents. These spots were few and far between, as we wanted a water supply as well. We’re quite picky.
Eventually I found a bend in the track over a stream and declared that I was going no further as I was shagged! Andy looked and prodded about disconsolately, declaring that this was a shit place. He muttered something about not letting his dog sleep here. I was having none of it though and promptly bagged a boggy spot just above the track in a little cleft in the trees that I was certain would flood if it really chucked it down. Andy gave in and so we soon had our shelters up in the rain.
At this point we were joined by the lovely ‘Man of the Mountains’ Roger Boston, who was quite willing and able to walk hundreds of miles further but decided to be sociable and stop with us. There was just room for a little one and so once more we were back up to three.
Today’s route: 33.0km with about 450m of ascent.