In which I persuade my neighbour to walk across with me.
What could possibly go wrong?
So for this venture we need a prequel.
I had for some insane reason after deciding that was it and I would most definitely never ever do this bleeding walk again......
DONE IT AGAIN.
So I did all the planning and set out a schedule and got us in somehow.
My neighbour of the time Nick, hereinafter to be just referred to as N was a company director, and ex rugby player, but NOT in the shape he had been.
I gave him clothing and gear advice, and also set out some training we could do to get to the prescribed level of fitness.
Shall we say that N did not appear to do as much of this as would have been ideal, and leave it at that.
I offered clothing also that would have been preferential to the job, but let's ignore that too shall we.
SO, come the day, all was good an enthusiastic.
N had wanted to do some adventurous bits, BUT I had built a route that would be less arduous, but permit these more arduous bits to be done should we get the weather window and also have the required fitness to get it done.
Bearing in mind, that I was running Marathons in training for Fun prior to this.
So, we set off to the train.
Buggered if I can remember what train we got, but I seem to remember it involved a 5.15am start from Cambridge on the Thu...
We trundled north and then got the train/bus to Shiel Bridge, where we were booked into the Wee Bunkhouse.
John Jocys was booked in here too, which as it happens would prove to be useful by the end of day 1 🙆♂️
I should also add at this point, that I would do all the navigation.
YES I CAN USE AND READ FUCKING MAPS
(if I have to)
Note: there were no phones and fanciful GPS maps back in 2006
At least none I could afford at the time
AND N WOULD DO ALL THE COOKING
(Hold that thought)
Day 01 Fri 14 - Shiel Bridge to Loch Affric ( 25km 745m)
So, after a few beers the night before it was time for the off.
All was going well thus far.
JJ was with us, and so it happens, the true LEGEND Dennis Pidgeon.
Dennis popped off to dip his toe, and came back with one very wet leg.
Anyway, we were on our way.
Fresh as a daisy
|Me and Nick at the start|
|The Legend that is Dennis :-)|
It was to be a long day.
|The weather may have been a bit cool|
|Leaving Camban bothy after a wee stop (before it was done up)|
But the man running it at the time was being a complete
BELL END that's 🔔🔚,
and saying NON residents couldn't come in. (OK, that may have been a later TGOC, but I don't think so)
We were not planning to stay, so we cracked on
Might be wrong on that...???
Leaving Alltebeithe behind
We carried on to see how far we could get.
The weather was a bit up and down, but the rainbow was pretty.
|JJ and Nick (not sure Nick was ever happy this trip 🤔|
|Me crossing the bridge before the camp|
AND YES that is a Buffalo shirt.
And the same Raichle Boots from last year
N was butchered and shattered and just wanted to do nothing but put his tent up.
I had my nice NEW RED Laser Comp, and he had my old Saunders.
Anyway JJ and I put it up for him, and he crawled in.
Remember who was doing the food? 🤔🤷♂️
Yes, John and I did the food, and N lay in his tent.
I think until the next morning.
All that training before the event having paid off ??
|A view a bit before we crossed the bridge|
|Nick in his tent|
|Looking back to the bridge from where we pitched|
|JJ in his Akto (always happy)|
And thus after John and I had a long chat or something.
Not sure if we had alcohol with us, but probably..
It was time for rest and sleep.
Hoping that Nick would feel better the following morning.
Day 02 Sat 15 - Loch Affric via Cougie to near Torgyle Bridge ( 25km 745m)
And so we headed off on a much brighter sunny day.
I think it may have rained overnight.
We headed up the valley on the Affric trail intending to turn right at the Cougie track.
Now sadly ruined by the Hydro scheme.
|Looking down towards the lochan on the way to Cougie after the climb up.|
This is the bit where you go through the gap in the old fence.
This was my FIRST time at Cougie.
And what a brillant place.
The welcome from John and Val was fantastic, and the tea and cakes and scones.
I would come back here again more that once.
I did it on my 10th because it is special.
Sadly, this was going to be the last time I saw both JOHN & VAL together again.
You should read all about COUGIE if you can.
And if you go this way, and haven't been in, GO
Val and John sadly now have passed on, but the welcome from the family is still beyond.
They have left their legacy of happiness.
|SCRATCH the cat|
|John & Val.|
I sent this picture to Mel a few years back and they have a copy on their wall now.
I cannot tell a lie, when I went back in 2015 on my 10th and saw it, it brought a tear to my eye!
Instead, we cracked on heading down the track and right (not the normal trade route towards Hilton Lodge), then then followed the river via a lot of bobby forestry work at the time to head over the
Allt na Muic and then down through the forest.
Quite a bit of Off piste on the middle section as the track totally vanished until heading back down into the forest.
Once into the firest, the trail was clear but very muddy and wet.
We carried on down until emerging near the road by a small field with a stream to the right.
This was our stop for the night.
Just far enough from the road to not be seen, but with a flat pitch and fresh water.
Any further would have meant a road walk all the way to Torgyle bridge and beyond.
|Nick making a better effort with the Saunders pitching than me TBH|
Not a bad spot for the night, and in decent time to masn we could crack on into Fort Augustus tomorrow, and hopefully be there in time to catch the Premiership rugby finals in the afternoon.
One of the teams was SALE and Nick was a big Sale fan and hoping to see it.
I was also secretly hoping that SALE would bloody well win.
Day 03 Sun 16 - Near Torgyle Bridge to Fort Augustus ( 17km 360m)
So, in order to ghet there in time for the Rugby Premiership final, we headed off reasonably early.
Bundled up the road and over the bridge and then followed the main (I think) General Wade track up and under the Pylons, and then down to the zig zag path into Fort Augustus.
The route in takes us via Morag's Lodge, where we boked in.
Luckily, as this was Day 3 only, there were places available.
|Nick loking err.. 🤔|
Well, after booking in, we headed into town to get a beer and see if anyone was about, and also to maybe catch the rugby.
Nick found a pub showing the rugby, but not the one we were in.
I suspect he was tired again, as I do not remember him coming back out for long in the evening, although I may have been wrong there.
So it was an evening with a few beers.
John may or may not remember if anyone was there.
My mind is a bit blank.
Eventually we went back to the lodge and got some shut eye.
I do remember that there were some Fishermen from Devizes there (can't remember 1st name but a surname of Hall springs to mind).
Also, Pete and Trish (who were also at Morag's).
SALE beat LEICESTER in the final, so not sure why N was grumpy the next day.
Well, it could have been ME actually being unwilling to stop in a storm but heh...