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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The 2013 Challenge, day 2: Out Of (Rough) Bounds (4)

I followed the road to Lochailort, taking a break at Beasdale Station for a little snack and a big glug; and I arrived at the Lochailort Inn (pictured, but not from the side that I approached it) at 1.30. I had already been walking for 7 hours, so I didn't feel too bad about stopping here for the night. After all, they had a room. So I booked in, had some lunch, and started to settle in. But then ... I had a recurrence of some medical symptoms which have troubled me on and off for many years now. I will not trouble you with the specifics; but suffice it to say that if the symptoms persisted then I would not be able to complete the crossing.

I telephone Challenge Control, and told them that I was at Lochailort but that I had a medical issue which might force a retirement if it did not resolve itself in the next day or two. I was not too keen on spending another night under canvas until I knew the symptoms had abated, so I asked about the building shown on the map at Glensulaig, NN 029833. They told me that it was a non-MBA bothy, although they said they didn't know whether it would be open or not (it is actually marked as a bothy on the 1997 version of Landranger sheet 41 - edition C - but not on the 2007 version - edition D1) so I made up my mind and told them that on Day 3 I would stay on the road all the way to Glenfinnan and then continue on to Fassfern if there had been no recurrence of my symptoms, or pull out at Glenfinnan and take a train to Fort William if there had. From Fassfern I could head up to the Glensulaig Bothy for the night, and on day 4 (if I was still walking) I would head up Glen Sulaig and down Glen Loy, then follow the Caledonian Canal to Gairlochy and on to my planned overnight stop at the Old Pines hotel. Again, this was a place from which I could withdraw without difficulty if needs be.

I was, I have to admit, pretty downcast at this point. I did not expect the symptoms to abate sufficiently to enable me to carry on. So I had spent two days getting from Morar to Lochailort, and that looked like being the end of my Challenge! Still, it might not be, and there was work to be done. So I took all my sodden kit and hung it up to dry in the hotel drying room. I then went through my rucksack identifying all surplus food that could be jettisoned (offering what I sensibly could to the hotel to give to any other walkers who might have a use for it) and made a few running repairs. Then I had a bath, and spent a relaxing afternoon and evening in the bar, having a very pleasant meal and perhaps a glass or three of Scotland's finest; and I went to bed not knowing what the next day would bring. The one thing I could say for certain, though, was that my route card for Day 3 said (for the third year running!) that I was going to go up Sgurr nan Coireachan ... and for the third year running, that was NOT going to happen!

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