Desmond Tutu is supposed to have once said "There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time." Strictly speaking, he wasn't necessarily thinking about my current predicament, but I'm pretty sure that if was sat by my side right now, that is the advice he would volunteer. You see, my previous two days had been a struggle and the second of the two really shouldn't have been. The first - the walk from Glen Affric over to Glen Moriston - had knocked me for six, and so I had struggled badly the next day.
Whilst working my way through my monster haddock last night I decided to follow my Foul Weather Alternative route today instead of scaling the ridge of the Monadh Liath and camping high. The high route had about a hundred extra metres of ascent and was two miles shorter than my FWA. However it committed me to a high route the following day, and if I wasn't going to feel too clever at the end of today's walk, I could see myself really struggling tomorrow.
I opted for the slightly lesser climb but longer day today, knowing that if I did feel rough I had only to walk out on easy terrain to a bit of civilisation the next day. However, the Corrieyairack Pass was still a pretty big undertaking for me as I'm obviously not at my best. To put this into context for readers who are not avid hill-walkers, you will probably have heard of the mountain 'Helvellyn' in the Lake District. You may indeed have scaled the beast in your youth, either with the Scouts or on a Duke of Edinburgh jaunt. It's a very long way up for anyone, being 950m above sea level. Today's climb is also an ascent of 970m, and I'll be carrying a rucksack full to the brim, with the newly added food parcel, and walking fifteen miles to boot.
Clearly, our Desmond's advice was the answer. Take it step by step, one bite at a time.
|CLICK TO ENLARGE: TODAY'S ROUTE IN GREEN|
I left Rose Cottage at a sensible 8:30am and headed into town to buy some food for today - chiefly things that I would look forward to, like cheese and onion pasties and steak pies.
|09:25 - LEAVING THE VILLAGE|
|LOOKING BACK TO LOCH NESS|
|AN ORIGINAL WADE BRIDGE, NOW FORTUNATELY BYPASSED BY THE TRACK|
|CONCRETE HUT ON THE FLANK OF MEALLAN ODHAR|
|CLICK TO ENLARGE: WIND TURBINES AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE|
|A WELCOME SIGHT - THE TOP OF THE CORRIEYAIRACK PASS|
|AND OVER THE TOP TO SPEYSIDE. CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|SPEY VALLEY: CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|VIEW DOWN THE SPEY FROM MELGARVE; CLICK TO ENLARGE|
|BEHIND THE NEAR HILL ON THE LEFT IS ANOTHER OF THE SPEY DIRCS - DIRC CREAG CHATHALAIN|
Perhaps I've regained a little fitness? Either way, I tucked into my food with relish that evening, having regained my Challenge legs at long last.
I slept early, knowing that tomorrow should hold no terrors and slipped into sleep very happy indeed.