Woohoo! I've discovered how to add a few little tick boxes at the bottom of each post, to enable readers to record their reactions. Do please use them. I think I've identified the four most likely responses ...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, day 9: Cairngorm Lodge to Tomintoul (3)

As I headed North from Ryvoan, I was particularly struck by the amount of cotton grass on either side of the track. A walker I once met in the Peak District confessed that when he was little, he had thought that cotton grass eventually grew up into sheep. You can see why he might have thought that ...

Anyway, as I sat at breakfast in the Youth Hostel, I had been struck by the speed with which the clouds were scudding by overhead. This meant thaty there were strong winds up above, suggesting that "going high" might not be all that wise. The weather forecast at Glenmore Lodge had suggested much the same. And finally, as I headed through the woods, a broken limb of a tree which had been dislodged by the winds of the past few days came crashing down not so very far away from me. Put together, these three things convinced me that today was not a day to go high. Today was a day for my Foul Weather Alternative route ... again!

My main planned route had been to cross the River Nethy at the ford, take the track up Bile Buidhe, and ridge walk Geal Charn to Carn Ruadh-bhreac, down to Ca-du Ford and follow the path down the Water of Ailnack into Tomintoul. My FWA was to continue to Forest Lodge (where there is a bridge over the River Nethy - making this my preferred route if the Nethy should be in spate also), then by Loch an Spioraid and over the Dorback Burn, by road to Dorback Lodge, track past Letteraiten and Stronchavie to Kylnadrochit Lodge and by road into Tomintoul.

In the event, I didn't exactly walk this route, either ... but more of this anon.

The 2011 Challenge, day 9: Cairngorm Lodge to Tomintoul (2)

I took a short break at Ryvoan, reading the bothy book (which was a new book since my last visit) and recording my passing. Then I continued on my way, northwards - continuing with my policy of traversing the same ground in opposite directions when possible. I had previously come this way in 2004, heading South out of Nethy Bridge.

The 2011 Challenge, day 9: Cairngorm Lodge to Tomintoul (1)

Saturday 21 May 2011. I had originally planned to send my next resupply parcel to Tomintoul Youth Hostel to be collected when I arrived there this evening; but the parcels had to be posted before I set off, and this hostel did not in fact open for the season until Friday 20 May ... which meant that there would be nobody there to receive it. I therefore made alternative arrangements ... which involved asking Glenmore Lodge to hold the parcel for me (which they were happy to do). Now I could have collected it the night before, but I'd told them that it would be collected on the morning of 21 May so I thought it better that I should do what I had said I would do. Accordingly, I called in at Glenmore Lodge again this morning and collected my parcel.

As I left Glenmore Lodge, I met a group of four Challengers who were heading the same way as me, and we walked together for a while, stopping to take photographs of An Lochan Uaine (pictured). We separated soon after, however, as they forked right - taking the track past the site of Bynack Stable - while I forked left towards Ryvoan Bothy.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (11)

Shortly before Loch Morlich, there is a small lochan just off the track called Lochan nan Geadas. I had not noticed it when passing through in 2009 - when my principal if not only concern was my battered feet - but this year I spotted it through the trees and wet to take a look. It was beautiful, lonely and serene; and I sat for a while enjoying just being there, and took a couple of pictures of which this is one. Then, needing to get on, I headed on to Loch Morlich.

In 2009 I had gone around Loch Morlich in a clockwise direction; so this year I went anti-clockwise. I may have found a little shoreside path which branches off the main track slightly earlier than the one shown on the map (I'm still not entirely sure about that) and as I followed it I encountered a couple called Gavin and Rebecca, who were touring Scotland by bicycle, and had made their camp for the night on the shores of the loch. They were just cooking their supper, and invited me to share their wine while they ate. In the end I sat and chatted with them for the best part of an hour, before taking my leave to finish my day's walking.

I rounded the end of the loch, crossed the footbridge and followed the path to the beach. After walking along the shore for a way, I cut through the caravan site and to the youth hostel. As I cooked my supper, I shared the youth hostel kitchen with a school party who were just washing up their supper things. They still had a large amount of food which they offered to share, but as it was not gluten-free I had to decline their kind offer. They told me that they had been high the previous day, and that the wind had been so strong that one of their teachers had been blown off her feet and broken her wrist. I decided to pay close attention to the weather forecast the next morning at Glenmore Lodge, and think long and hard before going high if any sort of strong winds were forecast.

After supper I strolled up to Glenmore Lodge to enjoy a pint or two of cider in the bar, before returning to the Youth Hostel and bed.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (10)

The track through the Rothiemurchus Woods is well made and easy going, and although it had been raining for much of the day, the sky finally began to clear in the late afternoon making this a particularly pleasant place to walk.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (9)

Shortly before the bridge, I encountered another Challenger - David Wishart. We walked together for a while, taking photographs of one another on the bridge (I turned down his offer of a photograph of me taken on my own camera, as I do not care to have too many photographs of myself; but I took a photograph of him using his camera). The bridge will celbrate its centenary next year!

After we had crossed the bridge, we only walked a little further in company as David was stopping for the night at the Camping Ground. I, on the other hand, still had a few kilometres to go.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (8)

Leaving Feshiebridge behind, I followed familiar tracks over Moor of Feshie (for I had come this way before, in 2009) and took a short break at Drake's Bothy. I read the bothy book, and looked up my entry from 2009. The entry two before it had been written by Nan Lyle, who was having a wonderful crossing that year; and I was delighted to read her words, so fresh and immediate. It was all the more distressing, therefore, to see that the rest of the book had been desecrated (I don't think that is too strong a word for it) by immature DofE groups who had scrawled entries across entire pages, written on any page they pleased rather than using the first blank lines in the conventional manner, and written a variety of lewd and obscene comments, as well as treating us to the occasional (not particularly biologically accurate) drawing of the human phallus. So I made a written note of the e-mail address to which any reports of problems at the bothy ought to be reported, and made a mental note to send a report when next connected to the internet ... which I have now done.

From Drake's Bothy I walked on past Loch an Eilein (pictured ... some time I am going to have to go and have a look at that visitor centre) and headed for the Cairngorm Club footbridge.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (7)

I stopped at Feshiebridge - during a brief break in the rain - and took a bite of lunch. I took photos from the bridge looking both upstream and downstream. Upstream was fierce and frothing. Downstream was calm and serene. I'll leave you to guess which one this is!

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (6)

The path beside the Feshie takes you through some beautiful woodland. I had been this way before, of course, in 2009 following my overnight stop in the barn at Corarnstilbeg. From here to Loch Morlich my route would be the same, although this time I was intending to go the other way around the loch (anticlockwise).

The rain came and went; but I kept my waterproofs on the whole time, rather than stopping and starting all the time to take them off and put them back on again.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (5)

At the end of the track I turned right onto the back road from Insh House, and then left to Ballintean where I encountered this wonderful example of the wood-carver's art. Then I followed the path beside the River Feshie to Feshiebridge. The Feshie seemed remarkably low. It had been very dry in April, of course, but it must have had plenty of rain feeding its tributaries over the past few days so I was surprised to see it with so little water in it. There were several places where the wide, pebbly bed was almost dry save for a couple of small channels, and I imagined that if it had been necessary to make a river crossing this would not have presented any great difficulty.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (4)

The track through the Inshriach Forest was easy going but not particularly inspiring. I was walking without waterproofs now, but the weather threatened to turn at any time.

I paused at the Uath Lochan to take this photograph, and while I was taking it a light rain started falling. The rain quickly turned into a heavy fall of hail, and I was back into full waterproofs.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (3)

I crossed Tromie Bridge and followed the road round to the left, then turned right onto the little back road through the woods to Drumguish, where I encountered this sign (pictured). Now, it's all very well telling them to drive slowly, I thought ... but should children actually be driving at all??

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (2)

Leaving Ruthven Barracks behind, I passed Torcroy farm. The road surface was wet, and the sun glinted off it giving it the appearance of a river. Ahead of me the Cairngorms were blanketed with snow, and I took this picture.

I had mobile reception, so I sent a text to Challenge Control with a weather report, advising that there had been an overnight snowfall in both the Monadhliath and Cairngorm mountains, and that the snow was lying to a surprisingly low altitude. Not long after I received a text back from Roger, thanking me for the report and saying that it was useful to know these things.

The 2011 Challenge, day 8: Kingussie to Cairngorm Lodge (1)

As I headed out by road past the impressive ruins of Ruthven barracks (burned by the Jacobites who had rallied there after Culloden, when Prince Charles Edward Stuart gave the famous order which effectively ended the Jacobite cause - "Let every man look to his own safety as best he may") the thing which struck me was that there had been an overnight snow in the Monadhliath behind me, and on the Cairngorm ahead of me, and that the snow was lying on the hills. I met an elderly lady walking her dogs who thought that it ought to melt off fairly quickly; but I wasn't so sure about that.

I wondered if any Challengers had been caught by the snow, wild camping up in the hills. They must have had a pretty rough night if they had been ...

The 2011 Challenge, day 7: Newtonmore to Kingussie (4)

Being in Kingussie also gave me a chance to look to necessary kit repairs. I was finally able to fix the slipping rucksack straps which had been bugging me so much. The solution - four large safety pins for each strap - was hardly elegant, but it was effective!

I took supper in the Tipsy Laird, and finally had that steak. It was as good as I'd been hoping! The Italians also turned up for supper, having been up in the hills somewhere. We chatted for a while before I headed back to my bed; and that was the last time I saw them this Challenge.

The 2011 Challenge, day 7: Newtonmore to Kingussie (3)

After lunch, I wandered around Kingussie. There is a nice little nature reserve around the lochan at NH 765008, and a clock tower (pictured) up on the hill overlooking the Allt Gynack. There are interpretation boards telling you about the history of Kingussie as a planned "mill town" depending on the Gynack for its power. All in all a most interesting little town, if you have the time to poke around.

Returning to my guest house to have a nice, long bath and generally relax before supper, I met Colin Tock strolling through town. We stopped and chatted, and the news he had was quite stunning. Alan Hardy had withdrawn, and when Colin last heard Bernie Marshall was in difficulties but struggling on. The weather was certainly taking its toll: these are not the sort of names you expect to hear on the withdrawals list!!!

The 2011 Challenge, day 7: Newtonmore to Kingussie (2)

I strolled from Newtonmore to Kingussie along the cycleway, stopping for a chat with an elderly couple just as I headed out of town. As we talked, Nicole came by. She had a full day's walking ahead of her and so pressed on after a brief chat. But I had all the time in the world.

Arriving in Kingussie an hour or so later I found the laundry, who were happy to do a service wash for me at a very reasonable price. I then took a wander round town before looking for some lunch.

Down by the station there is this really impressive fountain. The picture shows the inscription slab, which really got me to wondering ... how exactly does a chap from Kingussie called MacKenzie end up as Count of Serra Largo?

Having wondered this, I went in search of lunch and wound up at the Tipsy Laird. What I really wanted was a steak. A nice, big, succulent, juicy, very rare steak. Alas! Although the Tipsy Laird do steaks, they only have them on the supper menu, not the lunch menu.

No worries. My guest house didn't offer evening meals, so I reckoned I'd be back for supper as well.

The 2011 Challenge, day 7: Newtonmore to Kingussie (1)

Well, day 7 had always been intended as a short day - to give me time to do some laundry in Kingussie (the guest house I'd booked into didn't offer a laundry service, but there was a laundry more or less opposite them) and attend to any kit repairs / replacement issues which might have arisen. From Loch Dubh (where my route card said I was going to be camped) down to Kingussie is only about 15 km. But Newtonmore to Kingussie? Just a little over 3km!

So I took a good look around Newtonmore, and saw a little sign pointing to a circular walk around Loch Imrich, which I decided to go and see. I was a bit intrigued by this Loch Imrich, truth to tell. You see, I couldn't recall seeing any lochs on the map near Newtonmore. But then, when I took a really close squint at the map - there it was! A tiny little blue egg-shape at NN 720993, which is in fact a kettle hole, and has an interpretation board telling you all about kettle holes and their formation and everything.

As a walked around it, I met an old gentleman walking his dog, who counted the ducklings and lamented the numbers which had fallen to gulls, and who told me a bit about it. Apparently, Loch Imrich had been the local curling pond, until people started getting all H&S about the whole thing ... although he said the most recent unofficial curling match on the pond was not all that long ago.

There is an old curling hut there, too, which is the prototype for the reconstructed one at the Kingussie folk museum, and dates back to 1930 or thereabouts.

Apparently, even the curling pond at the Kingussie folk museum suffers from this H&S nonsense. It is artifical, only 18" deep, yet still they're not allowed to use it unless there is 8" of ice on it. I ask you! The Swedes and the Finns and the Norwegians would laugh their socks off at that one!!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, day 6: Melgarve to Newtonmore (6)

There isn't really all that much to say about the road walking from the Spey Dam to Laggan. I grabbed this photograph as we passed the Spey Dam just to prove, I said, that we had actually seen some blue sky during the crossing. I didn't care that it has little or no photographic merit ... all I cared about at that particular moment was the blue sky!

Soon, however, it started raining again, and quickly got heavier and heavier. My camera went back into the rucksack, and all my waterproofs came out (including, for the first time this crossing, my mittens) just as we turned north towards Blairgie.

What kept us going was the prospect of hot soup at Laggan Stores ... and Laggan Stores didn't disappoint! They were even able to provide me with a gluten-free soup, which was welcome indeed. As I sat eating and drinking (more Irn Bru!) I rang forward to Newtonmore, as I now had a mobile signal. Nicole was headed for the Glen Hotel, but they were full. However, they made a recommendation, who made a recommendation, who made a recommendation ... who had a room! So I booked myself into a B&B at the North end of Newtonmore, by the Waltzing Waters.

The decision to go to Newtonmore had been made ever so easily after a conversation I had had with a Dutch walker whom I met near Garvamore. He had been in the bothy in Glen Banchor overnight, and he said that Glen Banchor was an absolute bog. Well, I'd had plenty of bogs-trotting so far this Challenge, and I really wasn't in the mood for any more. So that was that, then, my mind was made up.

We had also met the Italians again at Laggan Stores, and sat chatting with them a while. But then we each had to head off our different ways.

The walk by road from Laggan to Newtonmore was punctuated by alternate rain and sunshine. At times we sat by the roadside and enjoyed the pleasure of simply being there. At other times we strode grimly on, glad of our full waterproof outer shells. We had to turn down a kind offer of a lift from a passing bus driver, who said he'd be happy to run us into Newtonmore. And then - joy oh joy - we were in Newtonmore!

Nicole headed for the Glen Hotel, and I headed for my B&B. They didn't do evening meals, and they suggested that the best place in Newtonmore to get a meal was the Glen ... so after showering, and haging as much stuff to dry as I possibly could, I headed back to the Glen.

The Glen was doing good business that night. There were plenty of Challengers there, including a group from Dalwhinnie who had shared a taxi into Newtonmore for the sake of a good meal, and would be heading back by taxi in due course. I'm sure the partying carried on until quite late that night ... but I was just about all in, and so I headed back to by B&B soon after I finished my meal.

I was glad that I wasn't up by Loch Dubh in my tent that night; and I was just as glad that I wasn't in a bothy in the middle of a bog. And my toes seemed to be less angry when I went to bed that night than they had been the previous evening. So, all in all, I think I made the right choice in heading for Newtonmore.

The 2011 Challenge, day 6: Melgarve to Newtonmore (5)

Finally, I managed to catch Nicole unawares, and grabbed a photo of her for the blog ...

The 2011 Challenge, day 6: Melgarve to Newtonmore (4)

This photo shows the lochan above the Spey Dam, taken from just East of Sherrabeg and looking East. This was all new to me, of course, as I had turned South past Glenshero Lodge in 2009, when I had come over the Corrieyairack Pass and camped at Garva Bridge.

The 2011 Challenge, day 6: Melgarve to Newtonmore (3)

We both agreed that there was nothing much worth photographing along this stretch of the walk, although I kept the camera out while the rain held off as I wanted to have a few photographs to show for this Challenge.

Also, I'd established that Nicole, like me, is not a great fan of having her photograph taken ... and if I was to get a photograph of her for the blog, I should need to have my camera ever to hand!

The 2011 Challenge, day 6: Melgarve to Newtonmore (2)

I made steady progress, and reached Garva Bridge in good time. I took this photograph after crossing Garva Bridge, looking back the way I had come.

I had not yet caught up with Nicole, but it wasn't long before I sighted her, and I finally fell in beside her between Garvamore and Sherramore. She was anxious that I shouldn't be slowed down by her pace - but I said that was a decision for me, and I was happy to walk at this pace. So we walked together and chatted, and took a break for refreshment by the dykes that control the River Shira as it flows into the lochan above the Spey Dam.

The 2011 Challenge, day 6: Melgarve to Newtonmore (1)

This was the day when I opted out of even my Foul Weather Alternative. There were various reasons for this, and I'll try to explain them as best I can.

The route shown on my route card for this day was to follow the road to Garva Bridge, then foollow the track up the Feith Talagain, ascend Geal Charn, do a bit of ridge walking in the Southern Monadhliath, and then drop down to make a wild camp on the shores of Loch Dubh. Or, alternatively, if the weather wasn't up to that, my FWA was to follow the road past Laggan to Cluny Castle, then follow the track North to the bothy in Glen Banchor. Either way, day 7 would then be a short day into Kingussie, where my second resupply parcel was waiting for me.

BUT, I was concerned for Nicole. I had persuaded her to stop 6 km short of Garva Bridge, where she had planned to camp for the night (I'd told her it was 5 ... but on looking at my map it measures up at 6) and she now had a very long day into Newtonmore ahead of her. I wanted to keep an eye out for her and be sure that she was OK.

Also, my own toes were not looking all that great. The soles of me feet were just fine, no blisters or anything to worry about. But the tops of my toes were a different matter. They were red and angry and itchy, and I wanted to give them a day with nothing rubbing against the top of my foot at the front if I possibly could. A day of road walking - spent entirely in my Teva sandals - would be ideal. And a day spent walking to Newtonmore with Nicole would be just that.

In any event, it was clear that the weather wasn't up to going high, so I should be going via Laggan in any event. I would keep an open mind to begin with - the decision didn't need to be taken until Cluny Castle - but I was getting it into my head that the day would end at Newtonmore, and once that sort of an idea has taken hold it's very difficult to displace it!

I took my time getting started in the morning, and Nicole had left some time before me (this, in itself, was something of a first - as she says she is always the last to set out!). So as I started out along the road to Garva Bridge (pictured) I had it all to myself.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (9)

Eventually Melgarve bothy came into sight. The rain was falling steadily and quite a wind was getting up, and we were glad to have shelter. We also had it entirely to ourselves!

I claimed the small downstairs room at the back, called "General Wade's Office", for my overnight accommodation and set about getting a fire going, while the Italians and Nicole looked at the upstairs accommodation and decided who would sleep where.

We all had plenty of wet clothes to hang in front of the fire, and we put our shoes and boots to dry as well, and then it was time for supper. After supper, nicole decided that she would indeed stay the night in the bothy; and I think that was a very wise decision. The storm was getting up outside, and I am not at all sure it would have been fun camping out that night.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (8)

After leaving Luib Chonnal, the path climbs through the woods and then up to the watershed between the rivers Roy and Spey. Soon after the watershed, Loch Spey came into view down below to the right.

At Shesgnanan, two and a half kilometres beyond Loch Spey, I changed back into my Teva sandals for the final two and a half kilometres to Melgarve. Nicole had plans to press on to Garva Bridge, but it was looking set to be a wild night and I tried to persuade her that she should maybe stop at Melgarve with us, and add the five kilometres to Garva Bridge to the next day's walk.

She was not too keen on that idea: the next day she was planning on making it all the way through to Newtonmore, and the extra five kilometres would make it into a big day. Stopping short wasn't such a problem for me, however, as I was planning on takign two days from Melgarve to Kingussie.

Eventually, I persuaded her that she shoudl at least take a break at Melgarve and have supper; and that she could then decide whether or not to press on to Garva Bridge.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (7)

After walking for a while, we came to a path which left the main track to the left; and, taking it for the path to Luib Chonnal bothy (but without taking a bearing to confirm this impression) we followed it.

Perhaps if we'd looked more closely at the map, we'd have noticed that there is a little path which cuts up through the parallel roads to the Allt Chonnal ... and this, I take it, is the path we followed. We could soon see the Bothy (to delighted whoops of "Botty! Botty!" from the Italians), but it was clear that the path wasn't takign us there. However, it was realtively easy to follow the form line round and then drop down to the bothy from the North West (as shown in the photograph) and I think it is probably as well that we did, because this kept us on the high ground and out of the boggy lowland.

We stopped for a while at Luib-chonnal bothy. I had a drink and shared some of my trail mix (dried apple, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, raisins and pine kernels) with the Italians. They brewed some coffee. Before we left, I spent ten minutes or so with the axe, splitting logs and taking the split firewood upstairs. I hope the next people to overnight appreciated my efforts.

As we left the bothy, the Italians spotted a figure in a green waterproof picking her way through the low lying bog where the correct path. They surmised - correctly - that it was Nicole; and when she reached us, she told us how miserable a time she had had crossing that bog! So maybe we did better, after all, by veering off on the wrong path!

I had concluded that the next section of the path, to Shesgnan, was going to be too wet for walking in sandals, so had reverted to my approach shoes. They were still sodden, of course, but I find that when wearign good quality wollen socks (such as the Tekos I was wearing) it is not the end of the world to put a wet shoe on a dry foot.

We decided to wait a while longer, to let Nicole catch her breath a bit, and then walk in company with her. So while she rested, I took a good look at the Allt Chonnal and the way across. I concluded that there WAS a viable rock-hopping route that would get you all the way across with dry feet, and when Nicole was ready I led the way. And I'm glad to say that soon all four of us were safely across, and that nobody had slipped off the rocks and into the water.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (6)

The track up the Roy is easy going, and walking in the company of the Italians was most enjoyable - even if one of them didn't speak a word of English! (Nor French ... which left me completely unable to converse with him.)

Before long we came to Falls of Roy, where the Burn of Agie flows into the River Roy and we stopped to take a few photos.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (5)

We walked down to the confluence of the Roy and the Turret (shown in the picture) and then turned left and headed up Glen Roy. Soon the Italians became quite animated, and pointed to a deer on the far side of the river which seemed to be completely unconcerned by our approach. I studied it carefully for a moment or two ... and then advised them that it was a rifle target!

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (4)

The four Challengers who soon joined me were the Italians (pictured) in company with Rolf and A. N. Other. It seems that, despite startign an hour and a half ahead of me, they had assumed that there would be a crossing point somewhere along the deer fence and so had spent ages wandering up and down looking for it! Eventually, when they concluded that there wasn't, they had just climbed over as I had done. The Italians were heading for Melgarve, as was I; but Rolf and his temporary companion were both aiming to go through the hills from Annat, with an eventual objective of Dalwhinnie. So I said that I'd accompany the Italians up Glen Roy, which enabled the other two (who had a long day's walking ahead of them) to press on.

I finished my lunch, changed into dry socks and my Teva sandals, and the Italians and I headed down Glen Turret towards Turret Bridge. Our walking paces were well matched, and we made good progress on the well-made track.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (3)

The descent into Glen Turret revealed some breathtaking views. It was also quite steep, and I had to make a long, angled descent down to the valley floor. As I approached the River Turret, I heard some voices on the other side of the river. Looking across, I saw four Challengers making their way down the far side having presumably crossed the bridge over the Allt Eachan at NN332941 which isn't marked on the map, but which my route vetter assured me is there.

I was aiming to cross the bridge over the River Turret at NN333931 which IS shown on the map ... but from a vantage point which enabled me to view the entire run of the river down to the confluence with the Allt a Chomhlain, I was unable to see any evidence whatever of a bridge. Still, the river looked shallow and easily forded, so I just plunged in and squelched my way across the boggy ground on the far side to reach the path. Here I sat down to remove my wet shoes and socks, and have a bite of lunch while waiting for the other Challengers to reach me.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (2)

After the track petered out on the open hillside, the ascent became steeper and steeper, until a final really steep little ridge brought me up to the level peaty col - where I was almost immediately confronted with a smart new deer fence. I took a quick look up and down it, but it was pretty obvious that there were no crossing points and I should have to climb it.

It was not all that difficult to climb - although maybe I should have put some gloves on, as the wire gave me a little cut in the palm of my right hand - and once over it was simply a case of heading broadly SE through the col between Teanga Bheag and Meall a Chomhlain - both of which were easy enough to identify. It was a typical peaty col, and I had to pick my way through the hags, but before long I had found the Allt Teanga Bige and was following it down towards Glen Turret.

The 2011 Challenge, day 5: Laggan to Melgarve (1)

The news in the morning was that Mike didn't think he could continue; which meant that Marian had to withdraw as well, because she did not think she could manage the extra weight of taking the tent by hrself. This was a great shame - it's always a great shame when Challengers have to withdraw from the event. It also meant that the Italians were looking for new walking companions to accompany them up Glen Roy. I offered - but they wanted to be away as soon as possible whereas I was in no hurry to get going. So they left at about 8 o'clock, whilst I didn't finally leave the hostel until about 9.30

My route took me up the Allt an Sidhein, and the Challenge organisers had helpfully left a written route description and large-scale map at the hostel reception for teh benefit of CHallengers going this way. Furthermore, the hostel receptionist kindly agreed to make photocopies so that we could take a copy with us.

I have my copy in front of me as I write this entry. The route description is as follows:

"Cross the field opposite the hostel and turn right on the forest track (old railway line) on the other side.

"Take the first forest road turning to the left (heading steeply back to the NE). Turn R at the next junction. Follow the "zig" and "zag" and turn R at the next juntion. The next long "zig" goes through a newly cleared area with great views of Loch Lochy & the Munros.

"The track turns SE and enters another large cleared area of forest. Just before the track doubles-back around the stream take the last turning off to the L. This track goes through a cleared area for a short while and then reenters the forest. Turn off the track before the forest and head R along the margin between the forested and felled areas on a faint path. At the corner of the felled area turn R (now heading S) and you'll quickly find a much more distinct path between the felled area and forest.

"This track contours SSE above the forestry land and peters out on open hillside."

The photograph accompanying this post shows the "great views of Loch Lochy & the Munros" - which definitely justified digging the camera out of the rucksack.

The written description was very good, and it was easy to find the way - although when it said "this path contours SSE" what it actually meant was that the path climbs at an oblique angle across the face of the hillside. That apart, however, the route description was spot on and very helpful.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, day 4: Tomdoun to Laggan (6)

The forestry track is easy walking, and I changed out of my sodden shoes and into my sandals. Just before Kilfinnan I joined the Great Glen Way; then followed the road down to Laggan Locks. I crossed the lock gates and turned left onto the main road for the final kilometre to the Great Glen hostel. This was once a SYHA hostel, but a few years ago when they were "rationalising the estate" some numpty decided to sell it off. Fortunately it was snapped up by a private hostel operator, and continues to offer welcome accommodation to weary travellers.

The drying room was pretty full, but I found a few odd corners to hang up my wet gear; and the tent went out to the tent drying area in one of the sheds. Then I set about supper. I had collected my first resupply parcel of the crossing on signing in, and so I selected the best out of what I had provided to prepare myself a really enjoyable three courses ("Look What We Found" wild mushroom soup; "Look What We Found" rose veal stroganof; and dehydrated apple and custard. All accompanied by two cans of Irn Bru which I'd bought at the hostel shop, and of which for some reason I always have a great yearning when I'm walking in Scotland.)

The hostel was well stocked with Challengers, including Mike and Marion Parsons, the Italians (Biagio Pellegrini and Pierro Saibene), and a German first-time Challenger from Inverness called Nicole. Mike was in a bad way, suffering with some utterly unpronounceable condition which was clearly very painful. He wasn't sure if he could carry on, but said he'd sleep on it and take a view in the morning.

Several Challengers headed off to the pub on the barge at the locks. But after the previous night's heavy drinking, I decided that tonight I should just crawl into bed and have an early night. After all, the next morning I had to climb up and out of the Great Glen. I reckoned I was going to need a clear head for that!

The 2011 Challenge, day 4: Tomdoun to Laggan (5)

At the foot of the Cam Bhealach, where the path down from the hills meets the forestry track through the South Laggan forest, there is a boulder. And on the boulder, there was a boot. It had been there for quite some time, I would say, from the amount of rust on the cleats. And it had the appearance of an article which somebody had dropped, and which a subsequent passer-by had placed where it would be easily spotted if its rightful owner should come back looking for it. And this got me to thinking: how on earth does one lose a single boot???

It also reminded me of the story of Ghandi, climbing up onto the roof of a railway carriage just as the train was leaving. One of his shoes fell off as he did so, and fell onto the track. So he immediately removed the other shoe, and threw it down to join its companion. "Why did you do that?" asked a fellow passenger. "Well," replied Ghandi, "think of the poor beggar walking along the tracks. If he finds a single shoe, it is of no use to him. And a single shoe is no use to me either. But the beggar will be very grateful to find a pair of shoes."

The 2011 Challenge, day 4: Tomdoun to Laggan (4)

As I descended towards the woods, the clouds began to lift a little, and I could finally see the Great Glen ahead of me.

I was passed by a group of three walkers coming down from - well, who knows? We walked together for a little way, and they asked whether they could give me a lift anywhere when we got down to Kilfinnan, where they were parked. I thinked them for the offer, but explained that the challenge was to walk the whole way across, and that hitching a lift wasn't really in the spirit of the thing.

They had to press on and so they wished me well and sped off into teh distance. I went cautiously as the descent was actually pretty steep and I was in no mood for losing my footing.

The 2011 Challenge, day 4: Tomdoun to Laggan (3)

It was a long, hard slog up to that bealach, with the semblance of a path coming and going all teh way; but eventually I reached it and then, finally, I was descending beside the Allt Ghlas Doire. The path became clear, the views amazing, and the rain let up enough that I thought I'd take a chance and get the camera out again.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, day 4: Tomdoun to Laggan (2)

My route card said that I was going to ascend Meall a' Choire Ghlais and walk the horseshoe ridge over Sron a' Choire Ghairbh and Sean Mheall. The walking had cleared my hangover; but nevertheless, the weather said otherwise. The cloud was low, and a steady rain was falling. Not the weather to go high.

My Foul Weather Alternative was to follow the path to the West of the horseshoe, past Lochan Fhudair. My route vetter had warned that it woudl be pretty wet. But it was the way I decided I should have to go.

Interestingly, when I reached the path junction at NN226983 there was a Scottish Rights of Way Society sign indicating that there was a right of way - and suggesting that there was actually a track as well - through the bealach between Meall a'Choire Ghlais and Ben Tee, and down to Laggan. My map showed no path all the way through; but it did show a big bog round the upper Allt na Feadaige. If my designated FWA was going to be wet, then that was going to be wetter. It might be shorter, but I didn't think I wanted to go there. Not when it had been raining steadily for a week. So I turned onto the track through the woods, which was my designated FWA.

My route vetter was right. It was wet. But it was waymarked and the path was readily apparent; and let's face it, my feet were already sodden and I was used to walking in wet shoes and socks. The path only finally gave out when I was about 100 metres from the edge of the woods, and I had to push my way through the low branches of two or three rows of confiers (no fun!) to get out onto the open hillside.

Once out on the open hillside, there was no sign of a path. But the beauty of this route was that there could be no doubt where I needed to go. The macro-navigational features were totally unmistakable, even in foul weather and poor visibility. So I just pushed on up the valley in the general direction of Lochan Fhudair.

After a while I came to a deer fence; and I was just preparing to climb it when it dawned on me that in all probability either it stopped short of the path, or else it would have a crossing point (a gate or a stile) where the path passed through it. So I turned left and followed it up the hill in search of the path. The occasional boot print and deer track told me I was not the first one to follow this fence line.

Well, the fence turned through a right-angle, so there was no need to cross it. Following it up the valley there was after a while a good strong path, which I followed until it faded; and then I followed the fence. most of the way there was a discernible path, made all the more discernible by the tracks of many trail bikes which had also been this way. All the way I got the impression that maybe, just mayne, I was two or three contour lines below the path line shown on the map; an impression which increased as I approached the Allt Cam Bhealiach, and found myself bog hopping through peat and heather. And then I was clear, and ascending the Allt Cam Bhealaich, and I stopped for some refreshment. A good drink, and the last slice of the fruit cake I had bought at Glenfinnan. The weather was grim, but nonetheless this place had a magnificence about it born of soiltude. With clear blue skies and dry ground underfoot, it must be truly incredible. This, I thought, is what the Challenge is all about. And, it dawned on me, that hard wet slog though it had been, I had foudn today really and truly enjoyable. Not that it was over yet, of course ... I still had a good way to go. I still had to get up to the bealach, and descend into the Great Glen.

The 2011 Challenge, day 4: Tomdoun to Laggan (1)

I woke up on the fourth day with something that might be described, by some, as the mother of all hangovers. I really couldn't understand why, either, until I went to pay my bill and found that my bar bill was scarcely less than the price of my room!

Others were packed and away almost as soon as breakfast was served. I wasn't. I took my time. Of necessity. But eventually I'd collected my laundry, packed my rucksack, had a very aceptable breakfast of smoked haddock and poached egg, and was ready to go.

As I set off, Richard Baker and his walking companion (whose name I don't remember, I'm afraid) were also heading off in the same direction, so we walked in company for a while. Along the road to the bridge over Loch Garry, and through the woods to Greenfield, my camera still firmly tucked away in my rucksack.

There are more tracks around Greenfield than are shown on the map; but I had come this way in 2007 and knew which was the right way to go. Which just happened to be the path that had three Highland cattle blocking the route. Richard took photographs of them; but I didn't want to take time digging out my camera. We approached cautiously, and they ambled aside. We breathed a sigh of relief and continued.

After a while we encountered a young Belgian walker coming the other way. Late teens or early twenties. He had the most extraordinary Heath-Robinson contraption attached to his belt and rucksack harness, which held a GPS unit about 18 inches in front of him at waist height, where he could refer to it constantly. He told us of the terrible time he'd had in the woods, as the GPS told him that the track was about 100 metres from its true location. We struggled to suppress the guffaws which so wanted to come out. Rule number 1 of navigation: if the map (or GPS unit) and the ground tell different stories, believe the ground - it knows what it's talking about! He wanted our views on whether he'd be able to make it to Kinloch Hourn in a day. We said we doubted it. I didn't think to ask whether he was intending to go via Garrygualach - but I imagine he was. I guess he ended up getting pretty wet.

Our paths diverged at NN 230003, where I turned South and Richard and his companion continued in an Easterly direction. There is a little open-fronted timber shelter there (which I did't recall from 2009, but it's obviously not new) with a table and benches. We sat a while and I had some lunch, and then I bade them farewell and turned south.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (6)

The track through the woods brings you to a substantial bridge across the Kingie at NN 090998, and this is the view from the bridge looking back up the river.

Certainly uncrossable this far down - but who needs to do a river crossing when you've got a bridge?

Once over the bridge it was another six kilometres on the forest track to Poulary, and then a little over two kilometres by road to Tomdoun. I was there before 7, but not by all that much. I took off my waterproofs and left them outside in the porch with my pack, took my shoes and socks off and changed into my sandals, and wandered into the bar. There were a good number of Challengers there, a friendly welcome, and a roaring fire. I put my shoes down by the fender to dry - alongside all the other sodden footwear, and checked in. I arranged for the hotel to do some laundry for me, then I enjoyed a dram in the bar and a chat with Humphrey Weightman.

Eventually, dinner was served. I will not try to describe dinner at the Tomdoun. Either you have dined there, in which case it needs no description; or you have not, in which case the experience defies description. The food was good though - very good - and there was a great bunch of Challengers all anxious to share stories of their struggles through the wind and the rain, their river crossings and miserable camps. And With it all we drank - and we drank - and we drank.

And when I went to bed that night, oh how I slept!

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (5)

Looking back up the glen, through the trees, I caught the occasional view like this. But cloud and rain were never that far away, and my waterproofs stayed on the whole way.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (4)

Well, there were a few occasions when the rain stopped and the cloud lifted enough that I thought maybe I'd take the odd photograph - so here is the main path down Glen Kingie, taken from somewhere round about NN 020981, looking more or less due East. It's a wide, flat-bottomed, U-shape glacial valley which is, I am sure, beautiful on a bright sunny day when you have time on your hands.

I didn't.

It had taken me a LOT longer to get here than I had originally recokoned, and I needed to press on. So I put my head down and yomped, soon finding myself in the pine woods.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (3)

The chimney at Kinbreak draws very well, and in the time it took me to heat up and enjoy a mug of soup and eat my lunch, the roaring fire I had built had burned itself out completely. There was no need to damp it down or anything. So I made my entry in the bothy book, remarking as I did so that there were no previous Challenge entries. What had happened to teh folk who had been planning to stay overnight? Had they made it? Or would I be lone when I reached Tomdoun - IF I reached Tomdoun, that is! Then I dressed in my waterproofs again, hefted my pack and headed out to find out if the river Kingie was crossable or not.

Now according to the map, there is a path from the bothy to the Kingie. But according to the ground, there ain't. So I just made a bee-line for the river, splashing through bog and tussock as I went, and looked to see if a crossing looked viable.

Well, it was flowing fairly swiftly, but it wasn't in spate. And it didn't look all that deep. In fact, it looked significantly shallower than the river we had used for river crossings on my ML training course, and scarcely any swifter. Now of course, on the ML training course there was a group of us, and an instructor seeing that we didn't come to any harm, whereas I was on my own. But I was confident it was viable. It did not, however, strike me as a river for crossing in sandals. This was definitely a waterproof trousers, keep your shoes on, and walk it all off on the other side sort of a crossing.

So I unfastened all my rucksack straps, took my hands out of the wrist loops on my walking poles, and plunged into the river. I crossed, as I had been taught to do, facing upstream and stepping sideways. The river was scarcely knee deep at its deepest point, and I was soon scrambling out on the far side; where, once again, the map said there was a path but the ground said there wasn't.

Now, my route vetter had told me not to be tempted to take a short cut to the main path down Glen Kingie, but to follow the path along the bank until it turned up to meet the main path. Good advice, I'm sure, if you have a path along the bank to follow; but I didn't. I could see the line of the main path, so I just headed straight for it, bog-hopping and tussock-jumping as I went, not really caring what I splashed through as my shoes were completely sodden in any event. It didn't take long. Ten minutes, perhaps. And then I was on the main path, with nothing between me and Tomdoun except for a few kilometres of walking.

I wish I could offer you some photographs of my river crossing point; but there was a steady drizzle, and with my camera malfunctioning from the dampness of it all (not a serious malfunction - just a problem with the zoom and with shutting itself down properly) I wanted to keep it safely wrapped up in its plastic bag inside my rucksack as much as possible. Besides which, the cloud base was so low and it was so dull that there weren't really any good photo opportunities.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (2)

Kinbreak bothy, when it finally came into view, was a welcome sight indeed! I had never found the place where the map says the path crosses to the left bank of the Allt Chinn Bhric, which did at least mean that I did not have to re-cross the allt to reach the bothy. The bothy is the building on the left, the one on the right being a ruin.

I stopped at the bothy and had my lunch. There was plenty of firewood, so I lit a small fire which cheered the place up and did wonders for my morale. The chimney at Kinbreak draws exceedingly well, and the fire burned itself out in the time it took me to settle in and to cook and eat my lunch. Oddly, I could find no entries in the bothy book from other Challengers, yet I had understood that quite a few had been staying there the night before. This had been discussed on the Challenge message board. I had said that I thought trying to get to Kinbreak myself would be too long a day - and so it had proved. However, what had happened to the others? They had booked a Challengers' table in the restaurant at the Tomdoun Hotel for 7.30 - but again, I had been unsure whether I would be able to make it in time, so I had not added my name to the list.

When I had finnished lunch I made my entry in the bothy book, made certain that the fire was safe to leave, and headed down to the River Kingie to find out whether it was in a crossable state or not. If not, I was going to be in severe difficulty.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 3: Glen Pean to Tomdoun (1)

Sunday 15 May. Overcast. Steady drizzle falling. I struck camp and packed my tent away as quickly as I could, anxious to get going.

The path went into the woods, as the map said it would; and then it forked, as the map said it wouldn't. I chose the right fork, because it was going the way I wanted to go, but this may actually have been the wrong fork. It did eventually connect with the well made up track through the woods, but not before I'd had to struggle through all manner of unspeakable bogs masquerading as a path.

Once on the track, though, I made good time and was soon at the bridge over the Dessary river. I took this photo looking upstream. Without the bridge, I thought, this would be impossible to cross ... which begged the question, of course, whether the Kingie was going to be any more fordable.

There was only one way to find out, of course, so I struck on up the path between the Meallan Dubh and the Dearg Allt. Like so many Scottish hill paths, this soon becomes a mere suggestion of a path, and then degenerates into do-it-yourself route finding. Or not finding. As I struggled on up the hill, the valley below me was swathed in mist. When it parted momentarily, I could clearly see the waters of Loch Arkaig below me. Clearly I had drifted too far to the right above the Meallan Dubh; so I altered course and soo picked up the Dearg Allt again and a semblance of a path.

I took no photographs as I slogged over to Kinbreak. The camera stayed in my rucksack. It was hard going. Little in teh way of discernnible paths for much of the way, and on the descent I took a couple of tumbles when I slipped on the wet grass. It was nearly 1 pm by the time I reached Kinbreak bothy! Lunchtime, and I had managed less then seven kilometres! This was not good.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 2: Scamodale to Glean Pean (8)

Looking back up the Allt Cuirnean, it had some impressive falls. But the descent of the glen was long, slow and difficult. The track came and went and it was often just a case of picking the best path you could through the wet turf underfoot. For much of the way it looked as though there was a far superior path on the opposite bank; however, I don't think that the opposite bank would have been viable in the upper reaches, and I never saw anything which looked like a good crossing of the Allt Cuirnean.

By its lower reaches the Allt Cuirnean is quite a serious river ... which was a problem because of course I had to cross it in order to get to the bridge over the River Pean.

Since there is no obvious path, there is no obvious fording place, either. I eventually picked a spot just above the confluence where the crossing looked viable, but I wasn't enthusiastic. There was also the question of footwear. My shoes were already sodden; and I normally changed into my sandals as soon as I made camp. But if I'd just used my sandals for a river crossing, they'd be sodden too. So I decided that on this occasion it was a roll-up-trousers-and-plune-in-in-my-approach-shoes crossing. This also meant less time spent sitting in the rain before and after the crossing messing about with clothing, and greater preservation of modesty should any of the people camped on the other bank a little further up stick their heads out of their tents (I'd spotted two tents).

So I crossed the Allt Cuirnean, and then the bridge over the River Pean, and I looked for a good pitch for my tent. The ground on the far bank was neither flat nor dry; but I enentually found a little knoll where the top was almost level and not too sodden; and this is where I pitched my tent in the rain. The second day had not been quite so long as the first day; but it had taken me 11 hours to get from Scamodale to Glen Pean.

I waited until the rain seemed to have let up a little to cook myself supper, then collapsed into my tent and slept as best I could while the storm raged outside.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 2: Scamodale to Glen Pean (7)

There was no mistaking the top of the bealach, as it was marked by an impressive cairn - seen here with Leac na Carnaich in the far distance (I think another year I may try to walk that ridge - take the track up Gleann Dubh Lighe, ascend Streap Comhlaidh, omit Streap itself because we're not here to tick mountains off lists, and follow the ridge to Monadh Ceann Lochairceig ... only then you seem to be stuffed for a continuation! Still, there is a bridge shown at NN 018913 which must be there for a reason ... but how to make use of it? Answers on a postcard please!)

I took myself to the cairn, and looked for signs of an onward path. According to the map, there was one. But as we all know, cartographers have a peculiar sense of humour all their own. No path was apparent on the ground, so I noted that the path was supposed to descend the left bank of the Allt Cuirnean, and so kept the watercourse to my right. As I descended a track gradually began to appear; and then after a while it would fade away again.

It was about this point that my camera began to malfunction, too. I had been carrying it in a protective pouch on the waist strap of my rucksack. But the pouch was designed to protect it against bumps and blows, not to keep it dry. And we it must have been getting pretty wet with all the rain I'd been walking through. So I decided to relocate the camera to the inside of the rucksack where it might stay dry ... but it would be far less accessible, and so for a while I would only be taking photographs that justified stopping, dropping the rucksack, extracting the camera, takign the photograph, repacking the rucksack, and hefting it again.

Alternatively, if I had stopped for a breather and a glug, any photo opportunity which presented itself remained likely to be snapped ...

The 2011 Challenge, Day 2: Scamodale to Glen Pean (6)

As I approached the bealach, and the gradient eased off, I came upon a gate. Now, I know that fences (especially deer fences) with no gates can be a bit of a pain in the bum ... but gates with no fences???

Anyway, me being me, I decided that I should pass through the gate rather than around it; and I was pleased to find that both the bolt and the hinges were still in good order. It opened with no difficulty. And of course, remembering that one shoudl always leave gates as one found them, I closed and bolted it behind me ...

The 2011 Challenge, Day 2: Scamodale to Glen Pean (5)

On the way up to the Bealach I came to two fords where there was no practical way of crossing with dry feet. This was the first of them. Fine in a Land Rover, no doubt; but on foot you're going to get wet!

I carry Teva walking sandals at the top of my pack for just such circumstances, and on both occasions it was a case of approach shoes, socks and trousers off; sandals on; and just plunge in! I have considered rolling up my trouser legs; but if you misjudge the depth of the water and don't roll them far enough you then have to choose between stopping mid-crossing and trying to roll them further, or getting your trousers wet. Neither is ideal. Far easier just to whip 'em off, keep them dry, and put 'em back on again at the far side. For the first time this year I was carrying a micro-fibre towel, which enabled me to dry my feet at the far side before putting my socks back on, and I was most grateful for this!

The 2011 Challenge, Day 2: Scamodale to Geln Pean (4)

Beyond Corryhully, the quality of the track gradually deteriorates; and as I climbed steadily upwards I had to make a decision. My route card said that I should simply ascend Glen Finnan, pass through the bealach between Sgurr Thuilm and Streap, and descend through Gleann Cuirnean. However, I had also supplied a "Fine Fettle Alternative" which I should follow if the weather were good and I was feeling up to it, which involved walking the ridge Sgurr a Choire Riabhaich - Sgurr nan Coireachan - Meall an Tarmachain - Beinn Garbh - Sgurr Thuilm - Meall an Fhir-eoin and then descending by the North-East ridge to the confluence of the River Pean and the Allt Cuirnean.

As I ascended towards the bealach (seen in the distance in the photo) I watched the clouds. Sometimes they cleared the tops; but most of the time they did not. I had had a long day yesterday; my lower back, whilst slowly improving, was still troubling me a little; and my shoulder was giving me a lot more gyp than it had last year. The shoulder was not helped by the fact that I had a new (lighter) rucksack, and there was insufficient friction in the shoulder strap fastenings to keep them where I had set them. They kept slowly working loose, taking the weight away from my hips and putting it onto my shoulders, and I had to keep re-adjusting. Most frustrating!

Anyway, the long and the short of all this was that when I reached the (well-signposted!) path junction and had to make a final decision whether to go high or stay low, I decided that the day was going to be long enough and hard enough for a second day if I stayed low. So I stayed in the glen, and headed for that distant bealach.

The 2011 Challenge, Day 2: Scamodale to Glen Pean (3)

OK - so I seem to have worked out how to put more than one photo in a post ... but I'm not sure how many should be grouped together. I'll have a bit of an experiment and find out what looks best. At the moment it's taking me for ever to get the text and photos to work properly together ... and I'm still not managing to get it to do exactly what I want. Ho hum ...

Anyway, the track up Glen Finnan to Corryhully and a little way beyond is well made and easy walking - doubtless due to the construction of a new hydro-electricity generation facility on teh far side of the river. As I walked up the glen I was struck by the beauty of a little apple tree in blossom to the side of the path, and I took a couple of photos. If the beauty doesn't strike you, that is probably the fault of my photography. Please don't blame the tree!

I found a stack of old concrete railway sleepers by the side of the path, which doubtless were waiting for some re-cycled use in the construction scheme. For me, however, they were a perfect place to sit and have lunch; and since the sun came out briefly I stayed there for a while just enjoying the solitude and the river flowing by.

When I was ready to continue I walked on up to Corryhully bothy, where I ducked inside to record my passing in the bothy book. It had started to rain again by now, and it struck me that whilst there was a lot of usable firewood strewn around outside the bothy, it would all be getting wet. So I dragged a fair amount of it into the bothy and left it where it would begin to dry and so be of some use to the bothy's next users.