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Monday, 3 May 2010

The 2006 Challenge, Day 5: Culloden to the Allt an t-Slugain Mhoir

The first part of day 5 consisted of pleasant if unmemorable back roads through Dalgrambich to the bridge over the River Nairn at GR 800480, then through the Assich Forest and past Cawdor Wood to Glengeouille, where I paused to eat my lunch. I then followed the track beside the Riereach Burn, noting as I did a rather smart estate lunch hut at GR 842436. This hut is kept locked, but it has a good verandah where shelter from the rain can be had in an emergency.

I then continued on the track, joining the road just south of Shearleat, and followed the road down its steep descent to Drynachan Lodge and its bridge over the Findhorn. Here I paused a while to watch a tractor at work, topping the meadow beside the river, and exchanged a few words with the driver who asked me to stay on the tracks on the other side to avoid disturbing the grouse. I assured him I would.

The last five kilometres of the day were all on ground I had travelled before, on my last crossing. They took me to the lunch hut beside the Allt an t-Slugain Mhoir at GR888362. It had been unlocked last year, and I hoped it would still be so this year. If not, I planned to press on to the bothy. However, this was unnecessary as the hut was indeed unlocked, and after a pleasant evening meal I settled down for the night.

And what a night it was! The wind howled and the rain beat down on the roof all night, and I really felt for anyone who was out in their tents that night.

In the morning, after breakfast and before departing I made sure that the hut showed no sign of my having been there and was left securely shut up. These huts are a valuable resource for Challengers, providing shelter that can be most welcome. But they are not bothies, and if we use them then we use them as trespassers. So we must take the greatest of care to ensure that nobody ever has cause to complain of our stopping there in passing.

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