TGOC 2014 – START OF SORTS – MALLAIG TO NETHER WARBURTON
Well, this is NOT the route that was originally intended in detail, but then again weather in Scotland often means that plans have to change.
The complete route can be found (approximately) on the live map below
The map above is interactive and you can zoom in and out and scroll it.
This post ONLY covers the journey up, and also up to end of day 2
NOW... At this point I better mention music.
Love it or hate it, there WILL be music on these posts.
You can turn it off.
You can stop it.
You CAN turn the volume down.
BUT since it is my blog, and I like music, there is NO point telling me not to have music.
And that is the final word on it.
Today's Music is home grown by me, recorded here, as will be quite a bit of the stuff this year.
The quality will be rough and ready, since it was recorded with the bare minimum of equipment on a PC, in MONO, and the final lead guitar tracks are ALL done as a LIVE Jam over a laid down base track or tracks.
The lead was using an old Epiphone Les Paul in Sunburst for those that care.
Track Title is Blues For Fen Skies
The rest of this is how I remember it.
That may not be what happened.
It may or may not bear any resemblance to reality.
The longer it goes on, the more vague it may get.
Listen it was weeks ago, and I am not getting any younger, so that is it.
If you find it fictitious, it is, but not in my head.
If you find it rude and offensive, than I am sorry, but if you stop reading it, you will find that problem goes away.
If you find like a couple of years back, that I have not written the entire history and geography of the area, then sorry, but that is NOT my style.
So, what I am saying is sorry, now read on ..................
And so where do I begin?
DAY -2 (The Journey UP)
Well, at 18:00 on the Wed night Mr Lambert arrived at my house, and Lucy kindly ferries us to the railway station to get the 6.45 train to Kings Cross.
As it happened, we managed to get the slightly earlier train, and duly arrived in Londinium and a short walk to the Bree Louise, which was frequented by many business types and young upwardly mobiles, and also a contingent of the soon to be unwashed.
Now, at this point I should say that although many of the photo's are mine, the odd ones, especially and usually those with me in are pinched from elsewhere. Normally Phil and Al.
I will try and say which, but when I don't, which will happen, well, sorry.
|A gathering of unlikely sorts at the Bree|
Would you really trust any of this lot?
Photo c/o Al
Luckily this year, no Nicorettes were thrown into the mix, and after a pleasant but short evening, we made our way over to Euston, where some managed to fill their faces with even more food.
But being now lithe and healthy, I did not do this at this point, having eaten earlier.
And then, we were on the train, having sequestered ourselves in our apartments, and made our way reluctantly to the buffet and bar area. Where we met a lovely lady who was returning home to Scotland.
Shortly after we arrived however she made her excuse that she needed some sleep and had to go.
I am sure this had absolutely NOTHING to with the fact that she was sitting next to Al.
|Phil and I in the bar on the train c/o Al|
Day -1 (To the Coast an stuff)
So, after a nights sleep and getting up at a far more civilised time than we would if we had gone to Glasgow, Phil and I musterede ranks and headed off after a bit of packing, to the buffet car, where Al was already having a coffee.
I ordered Phil and I coffee, cos there was time, and we spent the last bit of the journey here in comfort, before finally arriving in Fort Bill
Once in fort bill, it was time for a bit of last minute shopping at Morrison's to get the cheese and rolls and stuff, and have an extended breakfast, which we did.
However, there was still time to get across to a bar for a beer.
A small ale was consumed, or in my case a glass of Diet Coke, cos I is goo init.
We had the company of David and Margaret Brocklehurst.
Then after Phil had made his way to and from the gentlemen's rest room, and with time pressing, and only 10 minutes to go, we decided to leave.
Phil timed his horror and angst perfectly, having discovered that he had mislaid his wallet somewhere.
He tried all the usual pockets, but NO.
Where was it, it had all his money and tickets in!
"Try the toilet, maybe it is in there"
Phil rushes off.
Horror, time is now getting to URGENT
"Try everywhere again!"
It was in his BACK POCKET all along!
Where he had FUCKING PUT IT!
"Never do that again Phil" - Oh if only!, but you need to read a lot further and NOT this installment,
So we got to the station where many an unlikely person was standing waiting for a train with a bleeding great rucksack.
|Me, NOT a plaster on any finger, unlike a few years back.|
Later we will see this again.
|c/o Al again.|
Oh such pranksters they are.
Oh how we laughed all the way across :-)
And then we were in Mallaig, where we went to our B&B "Sea View"
This was an excellent start & very friendly.
We started by borrowing some plates and prepared our lunch rolls for the next 4 days.
|Our B&B Room|
|Al on the production line|
And it was.
A few tweets later, and a crowd was forming inside it.
John & Norma, and BOTH the Toby and Vicky's were in plus others.
Then it was up to the Pub, where there was a Quiz going on.
We had arrived late and missed the start so it was on about question 8 by now.
Phil had gone back to get beauty sleep, although as we all knew, it wasn't working.
And so it came to pass, that we accidentally WON the quiz.
The quiz that the locals team that came second had obviously always won.
|Part of the winning team.|
BUT... We were not popular.
Even less so, after one little twat accused us of cheating.
Unfortunately for him, he accused Al on our behalf.
And Al in his best Estuary told him what a **** he was.
You can add your own word to that, any most will probably do.
So, after nearly winning the really big prize as well. My number was 2 off the winning one, we beat a hasty retreat, lest we end up in a confrontation and have to bring honour, but also shame to the TGOC.
And so, it was a short meander around the harbour before checking back in for a good nights sleep.
|I test out my stealth PHD Alpamayo|
And thus it was suddenly time for the Ferry and the journey would begin.
And this assumed I could get Sloman & Lambert out of the Old Forge in time to get anywhere.
The ferry was full of many a fine person.
I will never remember them all, and anyway,
Al has most mentioned on his blog, and far more people read that because they think he tells the truth.
Ha... Like there is a path up to Loch Quoich (wait for day 2)
It was NOT a clear day, but I have had far worse starts I can tell you.
|Heading From Mallaig to Inverey|
|Toby & Vicky (Younger)|
John & Norma
Toby & Vicky (Slightly Older, meaning Vicky)
|Phil's splendid Porthole photo|
Toby (Younger), Me, Vicky
The original Toby & Vicky
Emma just in front
In particular, 2/3 of my team.
I put my rucksack down with the others and then made my way down the raod a short distance to have a cup of coffee.
There are witnesses, because John and Norma were there.
|Toe/Boot/Shoe in the sea time|
|Views from the Coffee shop|
Did I really expect anything else?
|So, just time for number 3 before we leave then.|
Anyone fancy a whisky Chaser?
Just as we did Vicky younger discovered a camera and wallet on her rucksack.
It had to belong to a Challenger.
It was the only just slightly older Vicky's (she said I HAD to say that).
We pondered on what to do, but decided to leave it in the pub, under the logic that in about 15 minutes when they got up the hill to a good view (they were going the other way), Vicky would think that is a nice photo, and then say
"FUCK, where is my camera..." and panic would ensue, and then one or the other of them would run back and get it, and their Challenge after that would be OK.
AND... Guess What :-)
So, along with Vicky and Toby (younger), herein after to be called Vicky and Toby, or Toby & Vicky, we finally set off heading amazingly EAST. Remember last year, WEST and then North by North east for 5 bloody days.
And low and behold, before too long, we found a bench. About half a mile I think, could be less. Anyway, longer than Sloman's 100yds.
Well, one should never walk past a bench without sitting down, so we did.
|It was a very rocky bench.|
|Don't even ask why Al has that expression.|
Because you probably don't want to know.
There was a sign that said please leave cars here.
We were thus surprised that 2 cars came up and another came down the track, but heh....
|Me, Vicky and Toby|
They are the good looking ones :-)
Just starting out proper
|Leaving The Monument Behind|
|The day at this point was getting better|
as we headed along Gleann Meadail
|Vicky, Toby, Phil & Al|
|A last view back of the sea|
The weather had been good, but as we rsted, it turned cold, and the rain moved in.
Not enough for full waterproofs, but enough for the top, as we descended.
|Al, Vicky & Toby dropping down the path towards Carnoch|
|Phil in the distance|
|Ruins at Carnoch, just before we turned off|
|A last chat for a while|
It shows a track on the ground, but to be honest, this is only really on maps.
There was still a long way to go today, and as time passed, we knew we were going to come up a bit short. We could make it up tomorrow. Oh if only we had known.
We carried on following the river
At Croc Allt na Seilge, were the river is a bit more shallow, we decided that we would camp. There was nothing on our side, but a brief wade to the other side showed some better pitches.
Time to properly test the Zuucs!!
|Al on his way.|
Phil was already across taking the photos
|Easy stuff, but slippery underfoot|
I may have spent too long the other side looking for the perfect pitch that didn't exist.
But eventually I had finished faffing about, and got ready to put my tent up.
This was the only place that I really saw TICKS.
When I sat down to dry my legs and feet, there were several wandering around on my legs.
I brushed them off, butchered 2 with my knife (just for the heck of it), and then got covered up.
I never did find any ticks, but I am pretty sure that I did get one on the back of my neck up in the hair line.
|Phil's Akto with my TS in the distance|
So after setting up camp, and before having some food, and maybe a small whisky, I popped down to the river to get my water and to take a few photos of the camp spot.
Tomorrow was going to be a LOOOOooonnngg day.
It's just that we didn't know how bloody long at this point.
DAY 2 - Croc Allt na Seilge to Leac na Fearna (Loch Quoich)
|Day 2 actual map c/o Al|
And so all packed we headed along the same shore line of the Carnach. There looked like a bit further up that would be good to cross, although it was pretty obvious it would be a wade, and anyway, it was bloody wet underfoot anyway.
Actually for much of the day.
We crossed abou a lm up stream and then after donning dryish footwear, Al and I headed off, while Phil absconded to a secluded spot. Not for the first and not for the last time.
Al and I headed along a bit, and then watered for Phil.
Phil arrived in due course, not looking of his best.
This is the problem with owning a baffle free system.
|Maybe going over this would have been easier|
|Along the carnach|
This way lies the Gorges
|Phil after a second contemplation of the day c/o Al|
|Me c/o Al|
We were probably too low, and as we discovered there must have been a higher path, but to be honest we saw no bloody sign of it.
At the start of the first small gorge, I stopped for a photo.
Al and Phil headed on.
|The path is to the left|
I was quite surprised at how little progress they had made, and then I realised why.
It was not that difficult with care, but some very slippery and muddy paths with a bit of scramble down awkward with a big pack, and a slip would end you up 15 ft below in rocks.
After we got to the other side, it was time for a sit down and a second breakfast, and also to rest feet.
You can NEVER rest your feet enough.
|Snack Time c/o Al|
Do you get across?
Do you do big hills?
Do you do long days?
Do you crack on well 'ard
Do your feet ache?
Do you have blisters?
Now, if your answer to either of the last 2 is YES then you need to take more care of your feet, and rest more.
After this we carried on a more or less path that followed the river up to the old ruin.
Really it is a ruin by a small lochan under a bloody great cliff.
I carried on up the hill to get a look at where we assumed the path was going
|Just above the ruins|
|Long distance shot of Al checking for valuables|
|Look back at the lochan|
|Heading over the top.|
We carried on to the point where the river turns right, and the "Gorge of Death" begins.
Here we met a chap who I think was Dutch.
He was staring at a strip map, and following a route up to Mam Unnderlain, but seemed confused as to where he was. As far as we know, he had NO 1:50000 maps.
He told us a story that goes something like this.
"Did you come via that slippery gorge or over the top?"
"Yes it vas qvite hard going"
"Zer vas un oldt man zer as vell, about 70 or zo"
"He va finding it qvite divviculkt going"
"Ha.. he vood 'av made it tooo"
"How e zdruggled ven I prized ees ands off za grips"
"It vas zo vunny"
"Da ve e screemed az e vell"
"oh ow I vas larfing ven I levt"
Yes ok, only the first 4 lines of that bear any resemblance to reality, and I mean no offence to anyone who is Dutch or any other nationality.
It was just the story we made up to amuse ourselves at lunch.
We sent him up the track to the left, explaining where he was.
And off he went as he looked at us and wondered why we were going to cross the river again, rather than go up the hill and along the top track.
With hindsight, this would have been quite a good route really.
But Al (remember Al, it was Al's route), had decided, cos what Al says goes init. OK, or he will come over all anger management issues.
So, we watched him climb the fill, and settled down to have an early lunch.
I say early, it was I think about 12.30.
The lack of anything underfoot, had made it quite hard going to get here.
Ohhh. what we didn't know.
|The purple shows approximately our route, and the green the higher and probably a lot easier alternative|
|Will it Go? Me on reconnaissance|
|Yes it will!!|
Not being one to resist a challenge, and since I had already decided that IF WE HAD TO go up this bloody side, then it WOULD GO, I headed off.
An easy start, but soon we were into clambery, scrambling stuff.
Some of the rock was a tad wet and slippery.
There was the odd tree and bush in the way, and after a while it was apparent, that we would need to gain some height, and it would in places be a scramble.
"IT WILL GO", I shouted back and headed off.
That really meant, "I CAN DO IT .... GOOD LUCK!"
After a while I stopped, because this bit was a tad more technical, and had involved throwing up poles and climbing over stuff.
The big rucksack didn't help. but I reckoned once I was up and over, I could always take passed up packs.
I waited and then gave some sort of climbing instructions.
I have NO bloody idea what I said.
"There's a good hold there"
"Now, put your left hand into the crack, there is a hold"
"Get your right foot up onto the rock"
"Now, there is a good hold just above your head, feel for it"
And with this, we finally got over.
Although Al, had cracked his knee.
Most likely trying a different route just to the right, and this created for the rest of the trip, and did influence some of the routes on later days as well.
"THE HURTY KNEE"
Which even as I write this a month + later is still I believe HURTY
It was a fine route, and although it did involve a lot of Up and Down, and getting up slippery slidy wet hills, and down slippery and slidy hills, and over trees, and rocks and rivers and rocks and stuff, it was probably a lot more exciting than just bimbling along a track.
It certainly cleaned the cobwebs out.
The DOWN SIDE was of course that it took FUCKING FOREVER.
The next few pictures are just to give an idea, they may well be out of sequence
BUT... You really have to go there and DO IT!
|Phil, me in distance|
Notice the ground water under foot
|There was yet ANOTHER dead Deer in here|
This is NOT A TRAIL!!!!!
But as you can see, although bloody hard work, what a fabulous be it all bloody wet under foot route.
We had a brief stop on route for a rest, and then carried on and dropped down to Lochan Nam Breac, which is a wonderful place, and we even pondered on stopping here, what with it already being something like 17:00, and the fact that we had done bugger all distance realistically.
|Dropping Down to the Lochan.|
You can just see the start of a proper path
|Beautiful isn't it?|
|Al and Phil just behind|
|Looking Up the Lochan|
Here althoiugh NOT deep, the water was deep enough to require thge removal of shoes/boots, being up to mid thigh in places.
I decided foolishly, that unlike every other river crossing, where I put my shoes into the pouch on the Exos, that I would put the socks inside them and carry them in my left hand, with poles in the right.
Half way across the second bit, having chosen NOT the best route, I ended up in slidy slippery sand.
I was already thigh deep, and sliding.
I did NOT want to fall in, so I put my hands down to save myself, which they did.
Except I was holding my shoes.
They were thus submerged, and now with socks, soaked, and also full of nasty silty sand.
So, with this lesson learnt, the others laughing, prepared to cross better prepared
|Doesn't look that deep does it?|
So after a bit of a rest to dry out and other stuff, we eventually headed off over to Loch Quoich.
There is a path shown.
IT IS WET!!!
|Up Lochan Nam Breac|
|Yes, that is the route|
|Anyone seen a proper path?|
|A First Glimpse of Loch Quoich|
|Two Views Up the Loch|
An omen of the ground was probably the fact that at the end of the bridge, there was a 4" deep 10' long puddle on the concrete
|Map of the walk along the loch and across the river to the camp spot marked in RED Square|
|Looking back to the bridge|
About 6km to the crossing, and although there was a big track, in places it was so wet, that we were moving from side to side and skipping round huge puddles.
AS such, there are NOT a lot of photo's on the next bit.
Mainly because we were now getting knackered.
It had been a LOOooonngg day
So we went On and On and On and On and On and On and On and ........ON?
Nowhere to stop, and not at the potentially difficult crossing yet (that Al reckoned we could camp on the far side????
Near the final approach to this bit, tired and in need of a single malt or 11, and that isn't 2, we came across yet another dead deer.
You could smell it for nearly half a km away.
Finally at about 20:00 we arrived at the crossing.
We had to find a way across.
It was not straight forward.
And to add to our woes, it decided at this point to PISS down with rain.
And it was NOT light rain.
And there was FUCK ALL place to camp either.
We all finally got across.
I wanted to put my tent up, and I headed up the hill in full waterproofs, mumbling something under my breath about killing the fucker that had though this was a good fucking route.
It was pissing down still.
I looked back down the misty hill.
Al and Phil were still twating about putting shoes and stuff on.
And then still twating about going nowhere.
I was at the top of the hill.
I was not feeling rational.
I wanted to put my tent up.
"What the fuck were they doing down there, fossilizing????"
"Get a fucking move on, we need to find a pitch!"
An evil gremlin had taken control of my mind.
He was considering evil things.
No one would know!
It would have been a terrible accident
No one would blame me...
And then what seemed about 2.5 hours later they arrived.
All smiles, we cracked on.
Might get em up there.
NO, boggy and nasty
NOPE, covered in that nasty red twiggy shit that grows everywhere.
"How about there?"
"NO, fuck it, this is it!!"
And with that, we put tents up, still in rain.
|View From Phil's Tent c/o Phil|
|Camp Day 2 - c/o Al|
|Camp Day 2 - c/o Al|
We were all tired
We had food and whisky and all was well with the world.
We looked at a shorter route alternative because we were so far behind after 2 days that tomorrow had to be shortened.
AND.... No one had to die.
It had been a Challenging day!