Saturday, 2 June 2012
The 2012 Challenge, Day 7: On to Kinloch Rannoch (6)
As I took my 6.30 glug stop, a Land Rover pulled up so the driver could have a chat. He wore a dark green sweatshirt which said Kinloch Rannoch Primary School on it, and he was interested to know a bit about the Challenge and challengers. He said he'd seen quite a few walking, but he'd never chanced upon one who had stopped. I did wonder whether he thought us incapable of walking and talking at the same time ... but I said nothing. Instead, I asked him how far it was to Kinloch Rannoch, and he confidently said it was another 3 and a half miles. Hmmmmmm
The end of Loch Rannoch is an awful long time in coming. It keeps looking as if you're almost there when you're not. But, eventually, I found myself passing the hotel; and at just after 7.30 I was checking in to the Dunalastair hotel. I had a lovely, deep, luxurious bath, and then I went down for supper. The menu was a DREAM. They had had no advance notice of my dietary requirements, and yet I was able to order a full three courses. BLISS! And what courses they were, too! Smoked salmon and crab platter, followed by rump of lamb, followed by a poached pear with pink grapefruit soup. And, joy of joys and the perfect antidote to Acharacle in 2011, the lamb was cooked to absolute perfection - restoring my faith in the ability of Scottish chefs to cook the little bleaters. After supper I asked for a quick word with the chef and told him as much, and how much I had enjoyed the menu. He, in turn, told me that he and his sous chef had only been there for four months. Well, let's hope that they stay there for a good long time ...
I asked about drying facilities, and they found me a spare function room with electric heaters which they put on, and I laid out all my wet kit and my tent to dry. They said I could leave them there overnight, which was just perfect. Then I rang Challenge Control. I wasn't suppose to ... but I'd missed a call earlier in the crossing, so I thought I'd better give them an extra call to make up for it. I told them that I was at kinloch Rannoch and was looking good to be back on schedule by the time I got to Braemar, provided the Geldie Burn proved to be in a fordable state. They told me that they had already had a couple of reports of successful crossings of the Geldie - albeit that it had been about waist deep. I asked if the Challengers who had found it waist deep had been 7 foot giants or 5 foot midgets; but, alas, they had not thought to ask for the vital statistics of the Challengers involved!
As I turned in, I reflected on the fact that - in terms of time, at any rate - I was now half way through my Challenge. However, I had only been walking for 5 days (the other two being taken up with attending my Union AGM and sitting round in Oban bothy), and I had 7 more walking days ahead of me. So, in terms of walking, I should not be half way through the challenge until the following afternoon, when I reached my pitch beside the Garry behind Old Struan kirk.