Picking a good spot to camp is fundamental to good Challenging. If you wake to water lapping on a beach a few feet away and to bird song, your day is sure to go well. And so it was this morning. The video is a very shaky pan of our camp on the north shore of Loch Affric. You'll also hear Phil's waking up noises. He has going to sleep noises too. Click on the 'full screen' icon to see this at a decent size and in a wider format.
And this is what it looks like standing still, with just the usual hand-held shakiness:
|CAMP 2: LOCH AFFRIC|
Readers of a nervous disposition should look away now. It is a picture of Phil's Hurty Leg. He has no idea where the bruises came from, but they started appearing the morning after the night before on the Caledonian Sleeper. It was as well for me that his leg was all hurty, as it slowed the bugger down to my pace.
|PHIL'S MYSTERIOUS INJURIES|
Clambering back up the hill to the track seemed to go far better than the previous evening's walk down as we picked our way up just fifty yards further to the east. I stopped at the top to take a photograph across Glen Affric. It really is a wonderful spot. Go there. Please. It's fabulous.
|LOOKING ACROSS LOCH AFFRIC TOWARDS GLEANN NA CICHE & MULLACH FRAOCH-CHOIRE (IN CLOUD)|
The next couple of days took us via a pretty standard route to Drumnadrochit, via Dog Falls and Cannich. I'll let the pictures tell the story for a while.
|CATERING APOSTROPHES BUT NOT A CAFE TO BE SEEN FOR MILES|
|TAKING A REST AT THE TOP OF A LONG HILL ON THE TRACK IN THE FOREST.|
|DOG FALLS - WORTH A LOOK.|
As we are walking to Cannich, just after Fasnakyle Power Station, when we are close to that "I'm fed up with this walking lark, and just want to be there" moment, a rather smart motorhome passes us, hits the brakes, (causing a traffic jam!) and a head pops out, saying "Mr Sloman, I presume!"
It is Chrissie & Geoff Crowther with their two gorgeous hounds. We sit in their plumptious comfy chairs (with backrests! Ooh - you'd kill for a soft chair with a backrest in the middle of sod all) drink tea and scoff so much cake I think I might burst. We sit there for ages, as we are both wonderfully happy to be in a warm, comfy place with lovely people. (Let's face it, by now the novelty of each other's company is wearing thin and conversation has dropped to monosyllabic grunts...) Eventually they kick us out as they still have a way to travel to Drumnadrochit, and so we plod the last few hundred yards into Cannich, the lovely Slaters Arms (and the gentle giant of a proprietor who is anxious to look after everyone and I think, a trifle shy) and the shop, to buy real food for tomorrow - pasties, pork pies, lard. Man food.
We stay at the campsite for a very peaceful night after the Slaters and an excellent breakfast is provided by a magnificent lady who copes single-handedly in the campsite's cafe, rustling up breakfasts for hordes of hungry Challengers.
|DENIS & LORD ELPUS, THE SLATERS ARMS, CANNICH|
This next picture is important. We meet this lovely young couple as we are slumped, gentlemen of the road-like, against a large gate (back-rests, again) at the entrance to the forest near Corrimony. They are clean, well presented and very smiley. We discover they have been living together for eight years. Being an expert on marriage (having had two wives so far) I wonder why on earth they are not. I suggest that he should not waste a second and marry this gorgeous girl forthwith!
Well, blow me down, but in the Challenge Final Report it says that Matt actually proposed to Lindley in the Chapel in Dunnottar Castle at the end of their Challenge! That is, if this is in fact Matt & Lindley... I do hope it is! Anyway. Congratulations to you both!
Now, having said that I would like to add a disclaimer. Any advice about marriage coming from me should be taken with an extremely large pinch of salt. Ho hum...
|MATT & LINDLEY (I HOPE)|
The walk into Drum was all very pleasant, but I won't wear out my welcome with your time describing it.
|COLOURFUL SPRING BLOSSOM|
And now, just for the ladies, here is the annual semi-naked picture of Phil, doing our first load of Challenge washing in the hotel at Drumnadrochit. Steady now.
Here's a recipe you'll enjoy. Challenge Bakes: Throw all your stinky clothes into the bathroom hand basin. Swill them about a bit for a few seconds in a soapy slurry, and then shower them to rinse. Next, trample the wet rags between two hand towels until they reach a cardboard-like texture, and cook for 480 minutes on top of the bedroom radiator at 200 degrees. NB: The aroma produced during the cooking process has been described as deeply offensive.
Here's a tip: Before heading off to dinner, open all the windows or you'll come back to a room resembling a low-budget Turkish Steam Room.
|WISHY WASHY LAUNDERETTE|