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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 3: Oban to Loch Arkaig (10)

I left Glenpean bothy at 4, and headed into the woods. The old path is pretty badly mired, and they have opened up a new path a little higher up: follow the tape, it said, so I did. This path soon put me on the main track through the woods, and I made stonking progress - arriving at Strathan at a quarter past 5. That's 5 kilometres covered in an hour and a quarter. I guess that not having a map on which to measure progress must have helped!

At Strathan I had my first human interaction in practically three days: a young pair of walkers, not Challengers, who were on their way up to A' Chuil bothy. We exchanged a few words and they went on their way. I tried my mobile again, but still no signal. I knocked on the door of the one inhabited house at Strathan, in the hope that they might have a working telephone, but there was no answer. So I pressed on, and soon came to the start of the metalled road. Here there was a parked BMW, and I wrote a note asking that if they were returning tonight to anywhere with a phone, they phone Challenge Control and give the message that Challenger number 34 is safe and well and camped by Loch Arkaig. I put the note under a windscreen wiper (without setting off the car alarm in the process, which I thought was pretty good going!) and changed from my boots to my sandals.

I also changed into a dry pair of socks (I was only going to walk a short distance further tonight, and they'd be fine for walking in again tomorrow) and made myself a cup of hot Bovril before setting out along the loch looking for the first good camping pitch. I soon found one - and the photo shows the view from my tent looking back west up the loch. It was 6.30 pm, and my GPS said that the grid reference was NM 99352 91788 (that's NM 993917 to any sensible mortal like you and me!) - so in the first three days of the Challenge, I had managed to progress no more than 30 kilometres from my start point!!! No sooner had I pitched my tent than the rain started falling again. So I collapsed into my tent, settled for a few handfuls of trail mix by way of supper (thereby saving the necessity to go and sit out in the rain to cook an evening meal) and quickly fell into a deep, satisfying sleep.

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