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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.

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