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Saturday, 7 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 9: Dalwhinnie to Ruigh-aiteachain (17)

It was about 6.30 when I arrived at Ruigh-aiteachain bothy, which seemed just about perfect for me. There were a number of tents pitched in the woods to the South West of the bothy, and one on the lawn immediately to the South of it. I didn't know whether these were people who chose to camp, or whether the bothy was full. Whatever, I thought, I would never choose to pitch under trees when there was a nice open expanse of flat grass to camp on. Half a ton of bough falling on your tent can spoil an otherwise perfect night's camping out.

I entered the bothy. The first room was filled with a family party of some sort. Children appeared to be installed in every available space on the triple-deck sleeping platform-cum-bunkbed, and adults milled around, lighting stoves by the window, and generally doing adulty-bothy type things, while trying to keep the children in order (although to be fair, these children didn't appear to need all that much keeping in order). I went through to the second room, and found it occupied by four ladies and Lindsey. Now, if you know Ruigh-aiteachain bothy, you'll know all about Lindsey. If you don't then I'm not going to try to explain him. You'll just have to go there some day and find out for yourself.

It was clear that I wasn't going to be sleeping in the bothy tonight. So I cooked my supper, then went out and pitched my tent on the lawn to the south of the bothy. Then, having sorted out my gear, I returned to the inner room of the bothy where I spent a very convivial evening with Lindsay and the ladies. I passed my flask of Jura round. The ladies had a big plate of cheese and grapes, and one of the cheeses turned out to be a hard ewe's milk cheese which I could (and did) eat with relish! And the grapes, of course. And Lindsay passed around a bottle of port. All in all a wonderful evening. And, as darkness fell, I thanked the ladies for their company and retired outside to my tent.

At some point in the evening two other challengers - Alan and Lucy Wormald - arrived and installed themselves in the first room of the bothy. I did not notice their arrival; and when I retired for the night, I did not remark that they had not been their previously. If I saw them at all, I suppose I probably just assumed they were part of the family group. However, over the next few days I was probably to see more of these two Challengers than I have ever seen of any other Challengers on any other Challenge, as our routes now criss-crossed each other all the way to the coast.

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