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Saturday, 31 May 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 3: All the way to Ardgour (5)

After lunch, I decided it was time to walk in my sandals for a bit; even though it was raining heavily now, and I would end up with wet socks. Wet socks I can live with - and they can also be changed, of course. So I changed into my sandals, put on my waterproofs, shouldered my pack and stepped out into the car park. It was 1.30 in the afternoon. Another couple of diners were just leaving, and it dawned on me that the road down into Kingairloch had been a diversion from my route. If some kind person were to offer me a lift back to the road junction, I should still have carried my pack all the way across. And on a 40km day, which had just become a 41.5 km day by virtue of the diversion to the Boathouse restaurant, I could do without it becoming a 43km day by virtue of the need to walk back the way I had come. So I sweet talked my way into their car, and was soon back at the road junction.

I was, to be honest, sorry to have to leave their company so soon. They were a charming couple, a little older than me, and he had spent his entire life in outdoor education. I told him the story of my ML assessment, and finding myself assessed as #4 in mountain fitness, making me the least fit in the fitter of two assessment groups. He in turn replied with the tale of his own winter ML assessment, where he had been in a group of 3, the other two of whom were Olympic athletes. It was a similar story. He was hopelessly outclassed. They all failed on navigation, after the other two hadn't a clue where they were, and he was too exhausted from trying to keep up with them to be able to figure it out. He passed second time, though ...

Bidding them fairwell at the road junction, I pressed on along the road. I didn't take a 1.55 - 2 pm rest break; and my 2.55 - 3 pm rest break was taken at the Outdoor Centre at Kilmalieu. I was making good progress now - with only 17km still to go. In part this is because the Loch Linnhe shore road is little different from any other shore road, and didn't really offer all that much in the way of distraction. In part, too, it was due to the fact that the steady rain provided encouragement to keep up a good steady pace and make progress. As I walked I was able to look across Loch Linnhe and survey the tops of the Appin and Etive mountains. They all looked reassuringly clear of high-level snow. That was reassuring ... because the following day, I was due to head up into the Mamores.

I passed by Lochan na Criche (pictured, with Loch Linnhe in the background), and my 3.55 - 4 pm rest break was taken by Lochan Doire a' Bhragaid. This is an interesting wee lochan, and at its South West end there is a broad expanse of flat grass which would, I suspect, make an excellent wild pitch. The water, if taken from the stream on the North side of the road, will probably be fine and safe too, as it is a short run-off stream from the Meall a' Bhragaid. By the time I took this rest stop, the rain had cleared again, and my waterproofs were back in my pack. There was only 12 km or so still to go, and I was feeling in good shape. Above all, I was feeling confident that I should be at Ardgour by about 7, in time to enjoy a bath, a really good supper, and get a good night's sleep before my two big days in the Mamores.

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