During which, we meet many fine people, and you learn who your mates are.
Today we will mostly be listening to Move Over by Mad 'n Bad
Be warned, this is a 5 days Post, so it is to say the least
Lots of writing and lots of pictures
You have been warned!!!
The weather was not too bad after a night of intermittent pitter-patter.
And we knew, that we would NOT be doing the higher longer route.
That had total agreement.
The downside meant quite a lot of road work later on.
The destination was to be Tomdoun, and then we would see how we felt.
So, off we set......
Day 3 - Loch Quoich to Tomdoun
We rose quite early I guess.
The weather was not bad.
NOT GOOD, but not bad.
|Al's Picture of the camp|
It was still bleeding wet underfoot though as we headed along the loch.
And it was going to get wetter underfoot before we got to the road.
Al's hurty knee was obviously NOT hurting as much this morning,
OR maybe it was but he was in a mood to travel.
Anyway, he had headed off ahead.
We caught up and headed along for some time.
It was now early on day 3 and since day 1 of travel, I had not required the toilet stop. It is always like this for a couple of days.
Well, today was the day.
I dropped down to a suitable spot whilst Al and Phil headed on.
Carry on chaps, I will be some time, but I will catch up.
Just as they left, Al had another small tumble, and his hurty knee took another bash.
I will not dwell, on the joys of a good ablute after 2½ days, but deep joy and relief is all I am saying.
And soon, much lighter and swifter of foot I headed off, eventually catching up a distance up the track.
Phil and I at some point a few kms in stopped to look at the map.
"I think we are here says I".
"Nope", says Phil, "We are not that far we are still only here!"
"OH SHIT", "it's bloody 6 kms to the road still."
We caught up with Al.
We looked again.
It was about 2½-3 kms
Now, that was as I thought it was, but Phil is a LEGEND, and far be it for I to question a Legend, and I was not really awake, well not mentally anyway (yeah yeah I know same say ....)
BUT 3 kms! We can do that..
And then on yet another stream that is on the ground as a path.
Why are all the paths in the WEST built of MOSS and PEAT and WATER?
We had arrived at the inlet that heads up to meet the road.
There may or may not be anything that resembles a track there.
All I can say is that is it was bloody wet underfoot.
About half way along to the road, we stopped for lunch, which may have been eleven's. I have no idea, but we stopped and had a sit down and something
|Views across the loch inlet|
|Looking back along the loch|
|Phil's picture of Al and I|
|A typical path.|
Actually, this is pretty good. A lot of the time it was much wetter
No idea why I took no pictures of this bit.
A short steep climb up a grassy hill and TARMAC.
|A look up into hills we would now NOT be doing today|
To be honest, I bloody hate road walking.
I don't even like road running.
But we had tome to catch up.
LOTS of it, and the road was the only way.
Miles and Miles and bloody miles of it.
The only way to do road is in short easy sections, with soft knees and feet.
Yomping or Tabbing (depends on your military background) hard along it is just a way to trash feet.
They get MUCH hotter on roads and the same bits always take a pounding.
When they feel hot an bothered and sore, then STOP!.
We saw a lot of people with blistered and mangled feet this year, and a lot dropped out with blisters.
They did NOT respect their feet.
They did not listen to their bodies,
or they had bad footwear.
Gonna be one of those....
|Al and Phil having a sensible foot stop along the road|
So respectful of our feet, we made our way with intermittent stops towards Tomdoun. Stopping at the new Hydro building below for an extended lunch stop in the warm sun.
It was a day of sun and intermittent but not prolonged showers.
In fact the main shower was just a bit after the road.
Eventually just as we got towards Tomdoun, we saw a chap come up from the woods.
The track that comes over from Kinbreac
He was struggling a bit and slightly stooped over.
We stopped as we reached him to have a chat and check he was OK.
He told us a tale of slipping into a burn, getting soaked, banging his knee, and also then losing his rucksack cover.
He had also damaged a pole.
But he would be OK.
He looked about 70+.
A lovely man, he was on his 20th.
We had met the truly heroic Jim Taylor aged 91, the oldest Challenger ever.
A quite spoken gentleman of the hills, and a truly inspirational character.
Never say you can't, and never give up, and if you want to, or think you need to, then read this bit about Jim, and then say why give up??
I will say no more, but I will point you to David Brown's blog post on him.
Jim Taylor's Story.
David was another splendid chap we met intermittently, but more of David over the next few posts.
We headed off.
"We'll make you a brew Jim, we are stopping at Tomdoun"
In a soft and lilting accent Jim replied.
"Doon't worry, I don't bother with a stove, haven't carried one for a long time"
"What on earth do you eat and drink Jim?"
"Bread Oats and Water do me fine"
SO MUCH RESPECT for this chap!
And we headed off in the final leg to stop and Tomdoun, or the empty shell of it.
I had nurtured my feet, but by the time we got their, they were telling me to bloody well stop and look after us now.
before putting up tents, I removed shoes and boots, sat down, aired and dried them and added some extra padding tape to be taken off overnight.
Al and Phil went to get water, and I sorted out some stuff.
Set cooking stuff out, and then as you would, blagged the best pitch.
Ohhhh Come On????
|Pitched at Tomdoun|
|Phil's picture, Andy, Me and Al|
|Desolate interior of the Tomdoun Courtesy Al|
Such Party memories
Day 4 - Tomdoun to Fort Augustus
Oh dear me.
So bright and breezy we were soon up and packed.
"What shall we do today then boys"
"Not sure, s'ppose we could go for a walk, nothing else to do".
"Yep, that works for me",
and off we set along a bit more tarmac.
Not NICE tarmac, this was all and had been all bobbly tarmac.
It does not massage your feet this stiff.
It batters them into submission.
Luckily, we did not have a massive amount of road, but one hell of a lot of hard track today.
Soon, we had were crossing the bridge, where we caught up with Jim, who had left quite early, and also the lovely Emma.
I don't know how she can always be so smiley and happy, but she is, it is lovely.
Mind you, I do have to walk with Sloman and Lambert for days and days and days on end.
That can break down a chaps natural happiness you know.
I love em really. In a very manly way!
Anyway, I am going to MOST of today with PICTURES!
And they are not all mine OK.
If I am in em, then Al or Phil took em...
|Early on, the fingers are not too bad.|
And they are gonna get better..
No really they are :-)
|View up the loch from the bridge|
|And they were NOT lying|
|Emma and I amidst the Coos|
|Emma and I|
|Emma, Me and Phil|
And always smiling :-)
Makes you happy
|This is a recent addition, but it does make you smile!|
|I love the old graffiti in the hut|
Al was long gone by the time I got out.
But it wouldn't take long to catch up.
And onward and onward we plunged through the forest tracks heading for Invergarry.
Rumours of a pub apparently.
I pointed out a new bridge to Al.
I pointed with my walking pole.
Al can have anti human moments...
"Watch what you are doing with that walking pole grrrrrr...."
"I was just pointing out the new..."
And so, I walked with Emma because she is a rather nice and happy smiley person, and good company, and not a grumpy old git, for the next couple of Kilometres until we reached White Bridge.
Al and Phil were distant specs, and so Emma and I sat down by the bridge for a snack and to wait for them to catch up.
A 10 minute rest would be good anyway, so shoes off, and air the feet.
|View from the bridge|
|Emma on the bridge|
"Better go and see why they have stopped" I said to Emma.
So, I popped round the corner to look.
Went up the track to check, and then came back.
"They've Gone" I said, "Not a sign, None, Vanished"
"Gawn Orft they av ta be shore an all init"
"Really?" says Emma, "Would they? Just go and leave you?", incredulous!
"Oh Yes" says I. "Most Definitely, the proof is in the ..."
Now, normally this is not an issue, except that this was nowhere near our planned route, and I did NOT have the map for this bit.
Which they KNEW... Just sayin....
Luckily Emma had a map.
I had a good look at it, and devised a Cunning Plan..."
I have come up with a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.
More of this can be found HERE
And I said goodbye to the lovely Emma (so much nicer company than those other two bastards I was walking with), and struck off on a short cut along a small stretch of road.
As it happens, despite the 25 min stop, I was actually only 10 minutes behind them, because they had gone back up the track, over the NEW bridge that I had pointed out but been ignored and told off over, and then wandered aimlessly and lost for a while before happening eventually upon Invergarry.
And thus I arrived at the Invergarry Hotel, where guess who and his mate were having BEER.
"We knew you'd be alright" they said.
I sat down, texted Alistair Pooler where we were, and we had lunch, meaning I had a snack, and a diet coke, and they had several beers and full blown meal.
Before long, Alistair arrived, and then after a bit longer we headed off.
David Brown was having a brew up just opposite by the side of the road.
There will be more about David
I had been emailed by Roger Hoyle, who I have walked with in the past, to say look out for David. He was on the Challenge and if we saw him make him welcome.
Well, never one to say no to a friend we embraced David with open arms.
He was to be a bloody good chap.
|Alistair with David|
|Bridge of Oich|
|Boat passing through the swing bridge at Bridge of Oich|
About half way along, we stopped for a foot rest.
The continuous road was taking its toll on y aching feet, and I needed to rest them, air them and then add protective tape until we got to Fort Augustus.
Tomorrow there was hardly any road, and anyway they would be rested
|Prevention is better than cure!!!!|
|David catches us|
On route we bumped into Craig Gully in a car going back to look for his phone which he had left on a wall or loch.
Of course, it was there.
At Fort Aggie, we crossed over the first loch and quickly arrived in our B&B.
Soon our room was transformed into a laundry, and then hair dryers taken out to dry socks and stuff, before we popped down into town to buy the essential supplies for tomorrows Cheese & Wine party at Challybeate.
To be honest those two things may have happened the other way round.
I am getting old now and my memory is not what it used to be.
|It really is part of the bank|
|Before we unpack|
|Looking Up the Locks|
A bloody fine evening was spent great company.
Even though Al had a hurty knee, and sore feet.
Too many to mention, you know who you were.
And luckily there was NO quiz for us to win and piss off the natives.
Food was good, even if finding a table was hard.
And then it was time for sleep.
We had a long day coming up, and a lot of stuff to carry to it, and a party to go to.
We needed to look our best :-)
Day 5 - Onwards to the Cheese and Wine
Fort Augustus to Challybeate Springs via the Glen Doe Reservoir
We had a leisurely start that involved a cooked breakfast.
Then a pop down the road for Phil to buy supplies, wot with him being too tardy to do it the previous evening
We met up with Alistair again, and then headed off up the road to get to the new huge bulldozed access track that takes you over to the reservoir, and then after that all the way to Challybeate Springs.
Today is a day that you are NOT going to get lost.
But, it does start with an awful lot of UP. starting on the road, and then heading up the Glen Doe track by the Allt Doe
On the way up, we stopped at the small bothy hut by the tributary that heads up to Carn na Saobhaidhe where we met Jean Turner, who was carrying a silly amount of wine up for us.
|View from near the hut|
|Al and Phil on the track near the start|
Which the Wind based Renewable industry and the SNP would like to turn into a gigantic and pointless Wind Factory based on a flawed technology that can only be built on huge subsidies, because it is NOT economically viable.
|Well, I will let you decide which view you want.|
This one, or the views in the rest of the post.
Because this is coming.
And they are on their way out.
GREEN MY ****ING ARSE
|To be honest the road is bad enough.|
It is vast
|Zooming down to Al and Phil as we climbed up to the reservoir|
So much further up the hill, we dropped off down to a small stream for a lunch stop and to get water.
During that period, Al and Phil had caught up and overtaken, and we saw them go past just as we finished lunch
|Al's picture of the Eagle sculpture|
Yep, they'll not survive the bloody turbines either
|Al's Monadhliath View|
|Looking down to the damn at the reservoir|
|View along the reservoir|
|View from the track across a superb landscape (for now)|
|Toby and Vicky|
And just ahead, Dave and Val
|Melting ice by one of the controlled streams designed to fed the reservoir|
I don't have a problem with that as such.
But the fact that it will also be access potentially to Turbines would to say the least piss me off.
Add to that the no of tracks that will be built to access the Stronelairig Windfarm that has recently been granted,, so that the magnificent countryside over and up the Markie can be industrialised?
No, I am sorry, this is criminal damage.
The damage to the Peat bogs can never be undone.
The carbon foot print of these bastards being built is huge
The whole thing to my mind is an enormous scam perpetuated by the so called green, who are not.
But, this is about a wonderful journey across Scotland, not the desecration of its land by its government!
And then all of a sudden, the road had gone, wandering off to our left, and we were back on trackless grass and moorland, at Challybeate.
Folk were gathering, And it was time for a party!
|Tents are UP|
You can already see people building a HENGE
My TS just behind Alistair's Akto
|By the time I had finished Faffing about putting my tent up, the revelries|
had already started, and the platter laid out.
I don't believe anyone was drinking TEA
|And this is what you missed|
|Al and Vicky with Alistair in the background|
|Party in Full swing (as it were).|
I would name everyone if I could
|Al, Me and Alistair, trying to keep Jean Warm|
YEP... Another bloody excellent Cheese and Wine party
So, anyway, the next morning we eventually all got up, and wandered round, and picked up everything that we could see as much as we could...
BUT, you can never please everyone can you???
Quote from Phil Lamberts Blog Post... on Doodlecat
Consider this somewhat disingenuous post on the Challenge Message Board regarding our Cheese & Wine:
shame I was there day after had to see all mess..cheese slices strewn in heather and left over biscuits grapes...not forgetting the stone circle left on grass...don't worry I cleaned up and replaced stones to river bed ...
It just drips with sanctimonious disapproval doesn't it? And more than a touch of the primary school sneak "Please Miss, look, Miss, those naughty boys have dropped some grapes, Miss." And the piety is comically misplaced. Never mind that we removed no stones, this smug outdoors vigilante can't pass a conclusion without jumping to it. Oo-oh no, he delights in letting everyone know how he set about the pointless task of returning stones to the river bed that had not been removed in the first place.
But I must have had more than I thought, because I just never spotted this.
|Picture c/o Phil's Post|
Considering the distortion on the lens, that was pretty close up
Unfortunately there were 14 adults there, and we didn't look under every rock.
We didn't have a brush either.
Day 6 - Challybeate Springs to almost Glen Banchor - Allt Fionndrigh
(Not our original destination)
Actually, while I am here, is there any chance that Scottish hill and river names could bear any resemblance to a language known to man, because they are a bugger to spell, and even harder to pronounce.
Now, about today.
At some point (and I have witnesses), I distinctly heard Al say ..
"Leave tomorrow at 8.15-8.30"
So, I was up like most folk, and had a lot of my kit packed away by 7.45.
I wandered over to see Phil, and then for a necessary MUCH longer walk.
I wandered back, but there was NO SIGN of Mr Sloman.
I meandered to the other end of the camp to his tent.
NOT much sign of life.
I poked my head in, and asked if we were still on for an 8.30 departure, knowing exactly what the answer would be.
Some sort of incoherent mumbling came from the dark bowels, and that is NOT necessarily metaphorical, and a time which started out as 9.30, but then immediately became 10.00 was uttered in a voice that had aged about 100 years overnight.
I didn't stay to look, in case he opened his eyes, because I had no desire to stare into those dreadful bloodshot orbs. Oh no sir.
So I wandered over to Phil to say, don't pack your stuff, but put the kettle on.
Ahhhh... I hear you say, "and what time did you leave?"
Mr Hurty Knee, Hurty Head and Phil and I finally departed at 10.22 am.
We debated the route out, and finally headed after a quick look at a map, in the correct direction.
Yes, even though for some, vision may have been slightly impaired.
And what an excellent day this was going to be as we ascended up through non existent track to the ridge line.
A ridge-line I can say that it is well worth walking.
I would do it very very soon though, before the Wind Renewables Energy Companies and the Scottish Government complete the
GREEN MY ARSE!
And if you are FOR then and a Raging Green, don't even bother to comment.
I have no interest at all in your fucking opinion ok.
Sorry about that.
Here are a few pictures of the day and the route...
I am not going to add captions, you can look at the map
|Heading Up the Caochan UchDach|
|Not sure what these are for|
|Phil and Al|
|Up on the Ridge|
|Al's Bog Picture|
It was here that a chap carrying a huge rucksack arrived, nodded, and sat near us.
He did not speak much if at all to us, just ate his sandwiches or whatever.
It was a tad cooler now up high so we had donned some warmer clothing.
As he headed off I made the comment that ...
"They need to work on some Civil Engineering Programs in Scotland"
"They have left big gaps between the tops of the hills"
"It should be level"
With a straight face, I am not sure he knew I was making a joke, he said
"But they are Mountains"
then he said
"Anyway, I must go",
and very proudly "I AM WALKING ACROSS SCOTLAND"
"Nice One " says I, "So are We"
"You have very small Rucksacks" he says "Are you Camping????"
"YEP!" Like err where the ***K did he think we stayed last night?
Did he assume we had parachuted in?
"Oh.." he says , " I must be getting it wrong, I have this big pack"
"Could be fella" says I.
and with that he sped off saying "Oh well, I am sure you will catch me up"
And that was the last we ever saw of him, apart from a distant spec, until I caught a brief glimpse as he sped through the Tarfside camping area many days later.
So eventually we headed down and then over the ridge again to Carn Odhar
|I was a bit ahead of the other two by now.|
No surprises there then.
And on route came across this gate.
No fence, just this gate.
Bizarrely, we ALL went through the gate.
Near Carn Ban, we bumped into Toby and Vicky (younger), who were just on their way back having bagged Carn Dearg
We looked at it as well, said NO and then carried on with them towards
Dropping down slightly, we found Humphrey have a snooze behind a rock
|Me, Vicky and Toby (c/o) Phil|
|Walker Bounding Off again|
As we got to Carn Ballach, we looked at the weather that was closing in fast as the wind picked up.
Carry on to the high camp or drop down.
Not really a discussion, Al had decided to go down Gleann Ballach, and follow the Allt Ballach down to the glen.
So we did
|Phil's Photo of the descent.|
Al and then far far down a small orange dot that is me
At the bottom I met Alistair Pooler, Chris Townsend and Tony Hobbs.
They had been along Carn Dearg, but also made the decision to drop down because of the weather.
They carried on over the hill to the Allt Fionndrigh
We carried on down, until I pointed out to Al that I actually had a map, and that we needed to cut over the same way a bit further down.
After consultation it was agreed, and I charged off again (no wonder I have bad knees) , staying higher up rather than the river all the way.
Anyway, eventually after I had stopped a few times they caught up.
|Old Tree on way down|
|A sign A sign Lord!|
So of course having found the track (err... track???)
I scurried straight over the hill to wait the other side by the small bridge.
At which point for about 10 minutes, it hosed down with rain.
Luckily it stopped shortly after.
Just down from here along Allt Fionndrigh we pitched up for the night by the river
Not a bad spot after kicking over a dozen mole hills to get a flat bit
Food was soon on, and maybe a whisky or three
|Looking Out of My tent to Al and Phil's|
|Treeza Pitched Up|
|The river by my tent|
Day 7 - Allt Fionndrigh to Kincraig (Via Newtonmore)
It had rained a bit last night, but we woke to an ok morning, and a lovely genteel stroll down to Newtonmore
|Approaching Glenballoch farm|
|On the way to Newtonmore|
|Sue, Neil and Ali's Hostel beckons|
|Just as we reached the road views|
He had fallen nigh on 400' & only with the excellent nursing skills of Heather and also help from Challengers including Roger Boston, had gotten off the mountain not only in one piece, but pretty well repaired all things considered.
All I can say is that His GOD must have been with him that day.
But, his story is for him to tell.
And it should be told to let Challengers & potential Challengers know that ....
Out in the Hills, SHIT CAN HAPPEN, and suddenly!
So we stayed for TEA and cake and more TEA, and a chat, and then headed along the road and cycle track to get lunch in Kingussie
After a fine lunch, we went to the store to get wine to carry to Val and Dave's in Kincraig where we were staying that night.
And then with that in stow, we headed off along road and track.
With a brief boot faff stop near Ruthven Barracks, where we had a chat with an excellent local chap, who had a rather lovely dog with him too.
Soon we had headed into the track and wood, but decided after a couple of shoe pauses, cos road walking butchers your feet if you don't stop and air them, to have a pause and phone home and stuff
|Phil phoning home.|
I think this was the apology one.
That is another story, and none of your bloody business OK!
People with BIG blisters...
Aired our feet and stopped for a REST!!
ARE YOU GETTING THIS??????
And then it was the final walk down the road and over the bridge and to Val and Dave's for a bloody splendid evening and socialising.
And food was served, and teas and coffees, and wine and beer
Bloody excellent hosts as well as doing take outs to parties.
|Val and Dave|
HALF WAY THEN!!!!!