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, 30 May 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 4: Off Map and On Road (1)

It was raining when I woke up on the morning of Tuesday 15 May, and I was on the road by 8.30, hoping to find a house with a working phone. At 9 I came to a house which showed hopeful signs of occupation, and I knocked at the door. When it was answered, I explained my need to make a phone call to Challenge Control in order to try to prevent an unnecessary Mountain Rescue callout, and they said that they had a satellite phone and would try to get through for me. Why is it, in such circumstances, that the owner of the phone always insists on saying a few words before passing the phone to you? Challenge Control was obviously busy, because the call "bounced" to the Park reception desk, and the kind telephone owners started by saying "We have an emergency call for you from Jeremy Burrows". That was actually most unhelpful ... because the one thing it was not was an "emergency call". In fact, it was the very antithesis of an emergency call ... it was a call to say "Don't panic ... there is no emergency." Unfortunately, by the time they passed the phone to me, the signal was breaking up. I tried to pass the message that I was safe and well on the shores of Loch Arkaig ... but I wasn't sure whether or not this message was going to get through to Challenge Control. Still ... I had tried; and the elderly couple were very kind, boiling a kettle and making me a mug of hot Bovril, and refilling my water bottles for me and allowing me to use their toilet before I left.

Shortly before I left, two walkers passed by on the road, and I soon caught up with them. They were not Challengers. Their names were Colin and Terry, and they had been trying to walk from Fort William to Ullapool; but Sunday's storm had destroyed their tent, and with it their plans. They had been making their way from bothy to bothy since then and were now trying to make their very bedraggled way back to Fort William. They, too, were off map - but I reassured them that we were now on roads that I knew and they would have no trouble getting back to civilisation. We walked together for a while, and as Colin and Terry had been walking since about 7 a.m. we stopped for lunch a little before 12 in a lovely sunny interval. As we sat enjoying our lunch, a helicopter flew overhead, then returned back up the other side of the loch. I had an uneasy feeling that it might just be out looking for me ... and Colin and Terry thought that it might be looking for them, as they too had missed a number of calls to their wives and presumed that their wives had also placed an emergency call by now. However, they also suggested that the storm had probably left quite a few stranded walkers in remote parts of the West Coast, and quite possibly they had a long list of people they were looking for ...

1 comment:

  1. Great to read the real story after hearing the summary from Roger at the Challenge dinner. I think there were several exciting stories this year and this is one of the best!