Not all of last night's titting about on the internet was a waste of time. Before sliding sideways into sleep I had thought to look at the weather forecast for Kinlochleven for tomorrow. That's today now - that's the today in the blog, not today, the day you're reading this. You understand.
It wasn't pretty. In fact it looked, well, it looked bloody horrible. Heavy rain to move in from around 8:30 am, to persist for most of the day, with heavy gusty winds from the north east, veering east later.
|LOOKING BACK TO THE MAMORE LODGE HOTEL AND LOCH LEVEN. TAKEN AT 07:36|
The caption beneath the above photo tells us that it was taken at just gone 7:30 in the morning. Yes. I woke up before the sparrows had had their first fag and were still coughing, and set off at the ungodly hour of a quarter to seven to get the climb up to Loch Eilde Mor out of the way before the heavens were to open. There's nothing more dispiriting than climbing up in torrential rain, so I chose to climb up and then look forward to a good soaking on the flat with the wind directly in my face. Then after lunch, and heading eastwards once again, it would throw itself once more in my face, changing direction to do so.
If memory serves, which it increasingly does not these days, I took that photo from a rather handily placed bench at the top of the worst of the climb. What it doesn't show is the horrendous wind that was blasting me from behind. I had to race to retrieve my hat, and one of my walking poles which lifted off the bench and took off!
|DAY 4: RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN A NEW WINDOW|
I cannot even begin to describe how awful the next ten klicks were, for the body and the soul. The rain arrived bang on time. I had walked this track before, with Mad'n'Bad and Lord Elpus on a previous Challenge - Phil's tenth - in similar weather, except on that occasion the wind was behind us. This time the driving rain was smack in the face. To add to the misery it was a particularly cold wind. The track switched from stream to lake and back again continuously, making picking a line quite tiresome.
At the far end of Loch Eilde Mor there's a stone built ruin which I knew would provide some shelter for elevenses. I found a comfortable rock next to an equally comfortable ruined wall for my chair. Actually the seat had protuberances that dug into my delicate bum and the wall similarly drilled into either my shoulder blade or neck, depending upon which agony I was trying to avoid to my derriere. It was bliss to be out of the weather. Before too long the cold seeped through my clothes, and so a snatched elevenses was over far too soon.
After the misery of the lochs, the track climbs gently to its highpoint and offers a view of my lunchtime shelter, Meanach Bothy.
|LUIBEILT (IN THE TREES) AND MEANACH BOTHY THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ABHAINN RATH|
|MEANACH INTERIOR. A PALACE.|
|SLEEPING PLATFORM, GARGANTUAN FOOD BAG & DRAINING WATER SHOES|
|ABHAINN RATH BETWEEN MEANACH AND STAOINEAG|
|THE PATH DOWNSTREAM FROM STAOINEAG|
|AN INTERESTING ESTABLISHMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF LOCH TREIG|
Just as I was falling into the warm fug of Corrour Station House I noticed a tent pitched off to the right. Ordering a couple of pints of cider and a plate of fish and chips I asked if they allowed camping and of the fee.
"Anywhere you like if you can find a flat spot. It'll be windy, mind." And "Oh, there's no charge and we leave the door to the loos open so you can have access to them overnight."
|CORROUR STATION RESTAURANT|
I thought I had died and gone to heaven with a Gold Card. I was definitely going no further tonight and was going to enjoy a table, and a chair, and good food, and good drink, and kindness! This was blissful.
Putting the tent up was reasonably tricky as the pegs only managed about a couple of inches each but that was good enough as I was absolutely knackered once more, and fell into my sleeping bag not to be shifted until the next morning. As I lay there, I realised the the Caledonian Sleeper would be coming through later on that evening.
For the first time, ever, on a Challenge, for the first time in twenty six years, I imagined myself climbing aboard and waking up in Euston, and all this mad nonsense could stop. Thankfully I was fast asleep when the old girl trundled through Corrour. Had I been awake it would have been a close call.
|TODAY'S STEPS - A BIG BREAK AT MEANACH!|