What does our VeryVeryNiceMan Mr Williams and the Leaderene have in common? (I do like Leaderene. The term was invented by Norman Singeing Sideburns) As I can hear David choking on his kedgeree, I'll supply the answer immediately. Both enjoy/enjoyed perishingly few hours of nighttime sleep.
With this valuable knowledge stored away, just before lights out last night, I asked David to call me at a quarter to six so that we can be away by eight. This routine is normally performed by Lord Elpus who is also an early riser but now the blighter has absconded this duty has transferred to my remaining companion, along with opening plastic packaging and letting me know the name of the present incumbent of Number Ten, just in case of accidents. I wouldn't want them to think I had lost my marbles.
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David is no slouch in matters mathematical and within a split-second came back with 'That's two and a quarter hours!' and 'David Cameron.'
But this is a holiday! I enjoy a lazy stretch, two or three drinks and a decent breakfast by the pool in the sunshine. I suppose the morning routine could be performed at a slicker pace, and on occasion it has, but that way the day gets off to a poor start.
However, this morning doesn't start well. I wake to rain spattering on Trinnie's flanks and a decidedly cool brisk breeze. Of our yesterday evening's sparklingly clear blue pool, barely twenty yards away, there is no sign. We are in the clouds.
The weather forecast of a couple of days ago has turned out to be correct. This morning is supposed to be 'Cloudy, Windy and Heavy Showers' and we have a very steep descent from Sgurr na Feartaig to contend with on a very long wet grassy slope to Bealach Bhearnais. A few years back, a very experienced Challenger had taken a life-flashing-before-his-eyes hurtle down such a grassy slope, resulting in substantial injury. He was wearing trail shoes. His experience has lodged in my grey matter. David's in shoes. You can't dig your heels in to get bite in grass, wearing shoes.
David and I talk today's route through and happily we agree quickly to continue on our lower Foul Weather Alternative. Same distance, less ascent, no steep descents on wet grass but a lot more off-piste rambling up to Bealach Bhearnais. Our Fine Weather Route, over the top of Sgurr na Feartaig would actually be a far less demanding day. Choosing our FWA today also means the next day's route is a less onerous walk. But you'll gather this from the maps when you take a look.
We start the day heading west, not the natural bearing for Challengers, before dropping down to the bothy to have a nose-about. Then it's a delightful stroll following the Abhainn Bhearnais upstream to the bealach. Occasional rest stops are taken where food bags are nibbled, to no apparent reduction in their size.
|VIEW FROM BEALACH BHEARNAIS, BACK TO YESTERDAY'S CREAG A' CHACRAINN|
The bealach arrives in surprisingly good time and we pause in the decidedly nippy wind to look back and congratulate ourselves on progress to date. On the climb up we had spotted a couple of backpackers in the distance. We amble over the top for some shelter and come across them - a young couple from Austria. They are flying a small drone with a camera to record their walk. It is very light and with the charger they also carry it has enough juice for over an hour's flight - plenty enough between stops where it can be recharged, It isn't noisy and folds away to a small size. The whole caboodle weighs a couple of pounds at most.
|AUSTRIAN COUPLE ON THE CAPE WRATH TRAIL|
The rivers are very low so we follow the path all the way down to the wire bridge as it looks considerably easier walking than the route we had mapped out for ourselves. We watch as the first, and then the second Austrian attempts the wires, Both now have wet backsides. We rock-hop across the very low water, dryshod and wave goodbye as they are heading west.
It's a dull four km on a track to Glenuiag Lodge (a holiday home) and the hut, but a milestone is reached as we cross Scotland's East-West watershed. This means, surely, it's all downhill from here?
|HUGE RUFTY-TUFTY DAVID AT THE TINY GLENUIAG HUT|
More inroads are made into the still gargantuan food bags, still to no apparent effect. Ahead of us is a distant lone walker, in pale blue strolling at a leisurely pace. The walk down Gleann Fhiodhaig is a delight, following the River Meig. Occasional smartish showers sweep through to keep us on our toes.
|VIEW EAST FROM THE GLENUAIG HUT DOWN GLEANN FHIODHAIG|
The path, sketchy at times, is a delight and we are overhauling the pale blue lone walker remarkably quickly.
|TWO RUINS: BORED WITH POSING FOR PHOTOS, THE BOUNDER ATTEMPTS TO ESCAPE FROM THE PICTURE|
It's Humphrey in his pale blue cashmere sweater, of course. He tells us of a 'difficult' morning on the tops in tricky crosswinds, very little visibility, heavy rain and alarming drops. He gave it up as a bad job and dropped down to the glens. I'm sure he won't mind me saying this, but he looks about done in. So, with true Challenge Camaraderie, we leave him for dust when he makes the mistake of telling us that Emma can only be a few steps ahead. Emma or Humphrey? Humphrey or Emma? I mean... Come on!
A few steps? We bump into Wonderful Emma. Her tent is pitched, she's finishing a brew and yes, she's been here ages. She is a darling and in the matter of a moment she's made us cups of tea before we even start putting up our shelters.
|RUFTY-TUFTY BOUNDER NOW HAPPY TO POSE WITH A PERFECT MODEL AT OUR CAMP SPOT|
And now, a few campsite pictures.
|HMP3, SETTLING INTO HIS OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATION|
|TWO IDLERS WITH NOTHING TO DO WHILST EMMA DINES|
|HMP3 TALKS PROUST. EMMA POLITELY FEIGNS INTEREST|
We're here at a very reasonable hour. I feel in great shape and it's been a cracking day. That's two bloody good days on the trot. Some showers rake the glen as I drift off to sleep, a happy chap.
|THE VIEW BACK WEST|