6.10.2022

TGOC 2022 - Torridon to Kinnaber Links (Days 4 to 6) - Cannich to Kingussie

Where was I?

Disclaimer.... 
Mainly true, may contain offensive language.
May even contain opinions .... whatever!

Ah yes, Cannich.

Well after a night in the Pod, woke, went to the toilet block.
Returned and packed most of my stuff away, and then headed over to the cafรฉ area for some breakfast before moving off.
Coffee and Bacon roll was in order.
It opened at 08.00 so should be away by 08.45 eh...

Except, open at 8.00 doesn't mean ready to serve by 8.00 so there was going to be a delay. Nay problem, it doesn't take long to get to Drumnadrochit does it??? 

OR does it??? ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Breakfast Cafe

So after a few chats with other Challengers and an eventual coffee and butty, it was time to head off.
Craig had gone on, having managed to get an earlier breakfast.

Day 04 Sun 15th May - Cannich to Ault-na-Goire

Map to the Ferry


BITE THE BULLET (Today's MUSIC) - Bullet - Suzanne Santos

I started down the road from the campsite and either caught up with 
Jim Davidson, or he caught up with me, or we started walking together. I have no ****ing idea. Maybe that last pint yesterday was too much, or the whisky or.... ๐Ÿคท‍♂️

At Comar bridge we headed RIGHT (my original route plan from the track off the road is shown in blue) ๐Ÿค”

Possibly something like the route, or maybe not ๐Ÿคท‍♂️

However, Jim said that he'd gone straight up and over before and it was fine, so as we were chatting away, that's what we did.

The start, just before the shite began.
I so should have taken images of the route through to the forest.
It still bloody annoys me that I didn't!



I cannot describe the bog, fences, ditches, heather and knee to waist high nasty little Scottish bushes we fought our way through, and that was just the kilometre.

The shown route is red, is TBH, just a wild guess.
I will say, that despite being older, having had a heart attack (NOT today), having a stent in, and not using poles, Jim is amazingly sprightly heading down hills, over ground that my knees just look in horror at, as I drive them forwards.

By around the 268 point on the map, or wherever the fuck we were, Jim admitted that 

he didn't remember the route like this!
No shit Sherlock! 

We carried on.
Using the best line of sight, and mainly a compass bearing that seemed about right,
As we finally got down to the river at Strath Marsley (somewhere), it became even boggier.
After discussion, and as to the left it got wetter and boggier and wider, we went to the right and then over yet another fucking fence, up a hill, collected some water, and arrived at another bloody electrified abomination. It appears, that in some parts of Scotland "Right to Roam" means
"The Right to roam into miles and miles of electrified shite with NO crossing points"

Anyway, the only way over this bugger was under, or as I foolishly decided OVER at the corner post. I put my poles across and then climbed up.
The staples came out, and the bottom wire collapsed. I fell down onto the post landing just below the rib cage. A potential nasty moment and injury, that luckily turned out to be no worse than a bad bruise and a nasty graze.
Yes, I did climb a fence, yes it did break the staple (not the wire, or the fence), and NO I wouldn't have, if the UTTER TWAT who erected it, had put anywhere to cross it.
This would NOT be the only electrified piece of fuckwittery with no means to cross, that I would encounter, nor nay have an incident with.

So, now nursing a hurty rib, and feeling pissed off we attempted to navigate the last 1.x kilometres of open heathery ground to pick up some semblance of NEVER present on the ground in reality track to the woods.
I guess IF you can count the small rutted water filled double trench found towards the end as a track, there was several metres of track.
Anyway, at last the woods.
At last a track.
Maybe we could now make up some time, as so far we had covered next to bugger all of the distance to Drumnadrochit, and the ferry was due to leave at either 05.30 or 6.00 or something like that to get to Ault-na-Goire tonight.

We pressed on!

It was not a bad track.

Some pictures of the route near Corrimony.





Along the road, we bumped into Grahame at the Chambered Cairn (Grahame had been turned away from Craig on the Thu, in rather crap conditions, as there were no beds, other than the 4 spare ones at that time)



Also, some pretty chickens (not at the Cairn, further along the road/track)




We cracked on along the Affric Kintail Way path past Loch Meiklie to stop for a break past Lochletter Farm (you can get to the road here).
Rather wonderfully as we were to find out, the new extension to Affric Kintail Way now goes all the way into Drumnadrochit on a fine and easy walking track, despite what was on my older 1:50000 OS map.
In fact, towards the end, there are 2 tracks now on the 1:25000, that head into Drumnadrochit, our final route is shown below.


There's another Affric Kintail marked track just down there too.



At this point I was trying to find out what time the last ferry went, as we were late and it was unlikely we'd get to the ferry by 5.30.

Jim had an email from Gordon saying he was booked on the 18.30 ferry.

I was booked on the 2nd one (whenever that was).

I had a message come back from Gordon to say that he didn't understand my times, and the last ferry went at 17.00 ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Well, as we'd done the main track, and made good time, as we hit Drum, I headed off at a ridiculous pace (7km/hr) as I reckoned, I could just about make the ferry.

Below is the text chat with Gordon.

Also the follow up from him, after I had covered the final 2½ km at some sort of Herculean Speed, arriving at the Ferry point about 17.05, to discover that the 1st ferry had gone early, but been held up, and was going to be late back any.
TBH, I didn't realise until this point, how bloody fit I was.




Well, as you can see, it was all resolved and everyone (including Jim), and some others who appear in the photos, but whose names now escape me (sorry peeps) got across. ๐Ÿ˜€











Did I mention it hosed down with rain whilst waiting!

Anyway, trip across Loch completed, and always interesting choppy disembark at Inverfarigaig survived as a team effort, we headed towards Errogie and thus to Ault-na-Goire.

Apparently, I was navigating this bit, so lucky I had good memory!



Ault-na-Goire achieved, tents put up, and beer arrived, and absolutely brilliant evening was had, many thanks to Janet and Alec, and their neighbours who provided the beer, along with an absolutely wonderful bit of hospitality round a bonfire/heater with more beer.
What a great evening.

Sadly for some insane reason, maybe being knackered, and the eventual 5 pints of excellent home brewed beer, I took NO photos, although, come to think of it, my phone was on charge for a large chunk of the evening, but anyway 
if anyone has any photos of that night, that they can send me to add to the blog
I would be really really grateful, as it was fabulous, and one of the reasons I do the Challenge far too many times.

Edit and Images of Ault-na-Goire courtesey Marty Smits ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘











And a couple from Martha ๐Ÿ˜Š






Day 05 Mon 16th May - Ault-na-Goire to Dalbeg (and then No 1 Bothy Dulnain)



This started out as a day that was just going to go to Dalbeg

Actually, it started out with breakfast, and a tune from Alec!





And then I headed off to go to the Findhorn via Dunmaglass Lodge.
Catching Martha early on, we started out walking together, later to be caught up by Paul Butler as we were just about to head over yet another non existent OS path to Dunmaglass.







Somewhere along the non existent track on the OS map, we went a tad wrong, ending up the wrong side of a small lump of hill, after traipsing though heather and bog and arriving at a fence we had to climb, followed by a heather filled tussock strewn descent. Easy to see where you are going, bloody hard walking to get there. Sometimes solo walking is easier as it doesn't involve group decisions.

As we neared Dunmaglass and their concept of footpath, the weather was beginning to dull over. 



We caught up with a couple of other Challengers at this point, and just before we descended the short track to the bridge to head up the NOW HUGE BLOODY
1 in 14 track
 towards the windfarm, the heavens decided yet again to open.

Oh well, 2 days without getting heavily pissed on, it was back.
And so was the seemingly never ending wind.


No pictures of the next bit of trudging, as we had heads down, and it was an ugly scar. No problem walking up it though. Except for the steep up designed for 4x4 vehicles rather than people.

About 1 km it was time for me to head South, as the others went East and UP.
Paul decided he would come down to Dalbeg with me, if it was open, we would camp there, so we spent a pleasant but windy, and intermittently wet day walking mainly S/SE


Just as we were heading up, we stopped and had a chat with some chaps in a 4x4.
They had some large guns in the cab, so obviously out shooting something. They were aware of the Challenge, after a while we bade them farewell, and continued on.

Not convinced it was resting???

The Monadhliath have some beautiful little valleys in them, and some stunning views, amidst the miles of open heathery nothingness, and bog, and hags and sadly sodding great big access tracks for hydro and windfarms.






After what seemed like a bloody long time, but was probably around 13.00, we found a great little shack for some food and rest, and shelter from the never ending wind.

It was quite posh with a stove, but weirdly a roof covered in mould.
I should have taken some photos here, but I was just trying to get my hands warm.
And get a drink inside me, and some food. The breakfast was wearing off.


Can't stay all day.

The next section was trackless, whilst following the stream up and then picking up the stream down to finally find the track along the Allt Odhar that would eventually take us East to the waterfalls, and a bigger track along the Allt Creagach to the Findhorn and Dalbeg Bothy.
This was my intended finish point today.


As long as you used your instinct and eyes , the first bit of the navigation was fine, and after a goodly hike, we arrived at the bothy around 16.30 (ish)

Some images along today's route, and the bothy.








Dalbeg was locked up tighter than a ______ ______ (add your own).
It was too early.
We thought about stopping, but Paul was now off route.
However, the huge Findhorn track, would get him to his original destination at the ruins near Coignascallen via Coignafern Lodge, and I had already decided to crack on for a couple of hours up to and along the Elrick Burn, to make tomorrow much shorter into Kingussie.

So we parted ways at the right turn up towards the burn.



Initially, I was thinking of camping somewhere along the burn.
But apart from the wind, and an outside chance of some rain, it was ok, but continually upwards walking. I set a time of maybe 18.00 to 18.30 to stop.

And thus I continued up to the small bridge.
NOW, the map shows the track going over the bridge and a Ford further on, with no path on the west side.
Good old pizza party OS.
The reality is that the main track goes on the west side, whilst the bridge leads to a next to non existent bog trot and animal size track.
However, the river was flowing, and as I didn't know how easy the ford was going to be, I decided to cross anyway and tough out the next km and a bit until the ford, and the bigger track returned.
As it happened, wise move, because the ford would have been shoes and socks off, and at that time of night, I couldn't be arsed.



There are 3 circles on the map.
The first red one is the small bridge to whatever counts for a track in the mind of the OS people.
The second is the ford and also where I stopped for a rest, and to take on board a load of water, plus refill my water bottle.
We'll come to the orange one shortly.


The river near the ford

After taking on water, I decided to crack on.
It looked a bit like it might drop some rain, but I hoped not, and at this point, the wind wasn't so bad.
Which brings me to the orange circle.
Somewhere in there, I spotted a small tent pitched by the river on the only decent pitch I'd seen.
I called across "Morning Camper", assuming it would be a Challenger, as who the heck else would be camped up here around 18.15.
Not a lot of movement, and then a head slowly popped out and said

"Hello Andy" ๐Ÿ˜ฒ 
Followed by "Brian Wightman"

We shall expand upon this over the next day.

I popped over for a chat.
Brian had a rather large plaster on his head, and was looking a tad worn and weary.

He explained he'd not had the best of days.
He'd I believe lost maps or compass or maybe both (Sue will know).
Also had a navigation issue coming off a top earlier in the day, due to very low cloud, and also taken a bit of a tumble.
He looked knackered, but seemed ok.
Eyes were focussed, not tottering, no slurred speech, and no signs of any serious damage. We chatted for a bit.
He'd been on his way to Newtonmore today, where he had a room in the pub near the hostel, but wasn't going to make it.
There was also bugger all signal here.
He was going to come over the same route as me to Kingussie tomorrow after resting up.
At that point he seemed ok (which I'm sure he was), and anyway there was nothing I could do or even camp.
I promised to call it in, if at any point I got a signal (which unfortunately I didn't, until the following morning).
So as Brian returned into his tent, I cracked on.
I was looking maybe to camp near the end of the track, just before the open moorland trudge up and over the watershed, especially as it was getting late.


I walked up further to the cut off point, where the river goes South, and the track and stream cut left (East).
I didn't want the track, and at this point I had looked at my maps.
It was getting towards 18.30 at this point.
I decided (foolishly, but ok), that I would crack on over the watershed following the Caochan Mor Bun Fhraoich (nope I have no f***ing idea how that is pronounced either).
I'd look for some suitable spot along the route (although it was somewhat exposed), and then either today or tomorrow, I would drop down the Caochan Clais an Daimh ( another Klingon expression I think).
In fact, in an ideal world, I would do the next 5 km and drop down to the Dulnain No 1 bothy, and that fine octagonal hut.
Although, by the time I'd fannyed (sp?) about looking at maps and with kit, it was getting nearer to 18.45, and that was a bloody tough 5km pending, over totally trackless moorland.
Also, the river at the start was a deep gorge, and that would therefore entail going up a bit before going down.
I was tired now, and approx 29km into the day, with the hardest terrain and navigation to come. 

It was that potential accident time of the day ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿคž

What could possibly go wrong with my track record?????

But heh.... Fuck It, some days you just have to do stuff eh!

So, off I set, some bits were very pleasant, some bits bloody hard going.
I used my eyes, and my knowledge, and at time when I hit the watershed, a compass bearing and a guess to get to the stream heading down.

Oh, and there was nowhere to stop.
Anything flat was a windswept piece of wet boggy ground.
It was going to be that 5km slog come what may. ๐Ÿ™„





No pictures of the haggy watershed, I think I was concentrating hard.
Once I picked up the river down though, it was easy navigation. Over every bump I so wanted to see that hut. This was not easy walking, and it was taking a bloody age in my head. And the wind was picking up.

As you approach the steeper bit of the river on the way down, there are some quite steep short sections. At times for me, it was bum slide time.


If I'd known about that bloody great Grouse Butts track (it wasn't on my map), I'd have not followed the slippery damp non existent river track all the way down, I'd have taken a bearing off to find it.
But heh... Hindsight is a wonderful thing.



Finally I saw the wooden hut.
And at the same time, the fine octagonal roof of the bigger bothy hut.

I scampered the last few hundred metres, and crossing a small stream made my way into the hut. Deep joy, the big hut was open.
There was a tent just over the river, but I wasn't going to be hospitable at this point. It was approx 20.05, and I wanted some shelter and a sit down.
It had been a 34km day, with very very little food.
I was going to sort my shit out, then get some water, then cook some food, eat a load of sweets, drink a huge glug or several of whisky (all in the dry, as the forecast was rain overnight), and tomorrow I was going to pack my stuff inside in the dry and head to Kingussie.

But first I had to sweep about a million dead flies off the floor so I could get my sleeping mat down.
Where the unholy fuck did all these bloody flies come from?
Was I in a poisoned chamber.
Had the Russians been here and spread chemicals.
AND, there were some weird multi legged things that needed to 

GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY BEDROOM TOO! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ™†‍♂️๐Ÿ™†‍♂️

Interestingly later on I discovered Woolston had been here the previous night.
Were they his bleeding flies????? ๐Ÿคท‍♂️๐Ÿคท‍♂️

Anyway, I swept up.
Threw about 1 million fly corpses out the door.
Evicted a plethora of other creepy shite.
The rest I just bloody squashed.
Tonight this was my domain. 
Fuck the insects baby!

And the bloody flies were on the tables too!

So, MASS EXTINCTION of local insects sorted, I got my sleeping stuff sorted too.
Then cooked a fine boil in the bag meal.
No idea what it was, but it tasted great.
Ate a bag of chilli jerky (would I regret it tomorrow?)
Ate a lot of sweets and chocolate and nuts.
Had some extra soup.

Then a huge whisky!

Finally about 22.00, I hit the sleeping bag.
Watched part of a film on my phone, and then fell asleep listening to a downloaded podcast, after 2 more large whisky's.

That had been a tough MOTHER of a day.

BUT.................

It meant tomorrow at the most, was going to be 14km.
And, at the end of it was a HOTEL!

DEEP JOY!

A song for the day!



Day 06 Tue 17th May - No 1 Bothy Dulnain to Kingussie)




So, after packing most of my gear away ready to head off, a short excursion up a hill to some easily diggable ground was required.
On arriving back at the hut Sam was in there cooking breakfast.
So, I didn't head off right away, but stayed for a general banter.
He was heading to Kingussie as well, but wasn't planning on heading over Carn an Fhreiceadain. We could at least start together.

Not sure what time we left the hut, but around 08.30 I think.
Still no signal, and I'd tried both my phones (I'm NOT a drug dealer, the second isn't a burner ok). Not a sausage on either Vodafone or EE.

We headed off up the hill.

Just as we were at the cut off point for me, a Mountain Rescue Landrover was coming up the track, or down TBH.
He stopped and wound the window down.

"Are you Brian Wightman?"
"No" I said.
"Is that Brian just down there?" pointing towards Sam.
"No, that's Sam"
"I assume you are talking about Brian with the Geordie Accent?"
"He's definitely not here yet, but I can tell you exactly where I last saw him, and the route he would be taking, based on our conversation last night"

There was more conversation than that, but you get the gist.
I told them where he had been, the sort of condition he'd been in etc.

It appears (Sue may correct me on all this), that 
when he'd not turned up at Newtonmore, nor called in, his wife had been worried.
At some point this morning I think he'd messaged out using an inReach or equivalent, and also sent an SOS.
How I wish there had been even a bloody hint of a signal until now.

Anyway, they headed off down towards the bothy.
Sam headed off to Kingussie.
And I headed onto the track to swing back up to the Corbett.
Well, it was a nice day (bit windy TBH, as I climbed), and with only 14km to go, I didn't want to get to Kingussie too early.

So up I went to the top.





Just as I was heading away from the summit back towards the track, another great big Mountain Rescue van was coming up towards me.
As I got to them, they stopped and wound the window down.

"I am guessing you are looking for Brian Wightman?"
"Yes"

And I proceeded to also tell them all I knew, and where he had been, showing them on maps.

I trundled off heading East, and they went off down the track I had come up.

By the time I got down to the very bottom of my track, I was seriously impressed with them getting that van up here. Must have had one heck of a god engine.

It's further than it looks over to Beinn Bhreac 




And after that I headed down the track, that seemed to go on for ever and ever and ever. In places quite steep. Definitely designed for vehicles, not aged knees.
By the time I got near the bottom, I definitely had knee aches, but I'm well 'ard init, so I only mention them in passing.

Met several mountain bikers dragging themselves up the hill.
Rather them than me.
Towards the bottom there was this excellent little hut.
Sadly locked up.
I can see why, it would have been trashed by Bell Ends.


There had been a lot of trees down this year (and I was to see a lot more too), the high winds had caused some devastation.
As I finally hit the main track that descended eventually down to Kingussie, I passed by several stacks.

 






Just past this point (last pic) as I was on the tarmac section, the MA Ambulance went past. They stopped and wound the window down.

"Found him" they said "Thanks for the help. He was picked up by the bothy and is in the Landrover behind".

I waved by, and they went off.
Shortly after, the Landrover drove past.
They slowed and I waved.

Not much else to do now, than to head down to Kingussie and see when I could get into the hotel.

It was about 12.45, I was going to have to spend a long day in Town.

I took a route in that cut across over a small bridge and then took the road in past the hospital. I missed the nice little river walk I had found a few years back. Oh well.




I must have arrived in Kingussie about 13.05 (ish)
I walked down to the hotel.

Nobody about.
It said, if nobody in reception, try the bar area.
Not a sole.
A sign said open at 15.00, so I decided to head into town.
I needed to pop into the Coop anyway.

Well...... ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜ฎ  

What can I say.

The Coop was full of fearful, proximity avoiding looking people wearing masks.
Not a Hazmat suit in sight yet.
Actually, even in the main street some were masked up.
This seems to still be a thing in bits of Scotland.
Definitely sold on the Covid horror story in places.

I bought my essential stuff, and some soft drinks, and scurried out like a leper.

It was still early, so despite the desperate need to lose this bloody pack, I thought I might as well explore what was about.
Also, when I walked past it, the ONLY coffee shop was quite full.

Well, next to fuck all, seemed to be the answer.
So many places shut or closed down.
Shops shut, hotels shut, pubs shut, coffee shops shut.
No wonder everyone was in the coffee shop, there was **** ALL else to do.
This was a Town I thought, at pending End of Life????

I walked a fair way up that street, and down the other side.
Not a lot.
Still far too early to go to the hotel, I sat on a bench like some sort of hobo, and sorted out some kit stuff, whilst drinking a couple of bottles of soft drink, and eating a slightly limp cereal bar from my pack.
Might as well ring Sue, and report in, and see how Brian was.

We chatted for several minutes.
Brian was actually up at the hostel.
He was OK, and going to head off to a hotel I think.
Yesterday had it appears been a day too far, with everything that happened.
I was just bloody glad he was ok, and down safe.

And still it was only 13.40 ๐Ÿ™†‍♂️๐Ÿ™†‍♂

Might as well go back and try the coffee shop.

So I went back, and as luck would have it, there was a seat.
I ordered a Latte and a Soup & Roll, and settled into a rather nice leather sofa.

Had a good chat with a chap sitting opposite who was a cyclist and cycling round.

It killed a good 40 minutes.
He went off, and I ordered another coffee.
I still had time to kill, it was past the lunch rush, and this sofa was really really comfortable. Also, I wasn't carrying a pack.
Bloody luxury!


Eventually, it was time to go.
I headed on (slowly) back to the hotel, hoping I could get in.
Still nobody at reception, but I went through to the bar, where a very small noisy dog greeted me. Later, I was accepted, but for now, there was this smelly bloke carrying sticks in the pub.
Turns out, she/he? I cannot remember, was the early warning system.

And so, all booked in and paid up (really lovely people running it, ok it isn't The Ritz but), I headed to my room, where a full on KIT EXPLOSION took place, and 5 day socks and underwear were all washed.
Yes, Yes... 5 days... It was ****ing minging.
No wonder the dog barked at me.
Actually thinking back, maybe that's why they were wearing masks in the Coop??


Clean water ready for gear cleansing

FOR perspective.
THIS was just ONE SOCK!
Don't Ask ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

So, all kit washed and cleaned, including the towel drying trick (next pic), I settled down.
Sorted out gear.
Popped sandals on, and popped briefly back into town for stuff I had forgotten.

Grabbed my parcel, and sorted out essential supplies, and had a good lie down.








OH, I had a really really needed long shower too.

I thought there may be some other challengers in this evening, maybe in the bar, but none. I guess the staggered start had an impact on that, especially early on.

I went down to the bar for a beer.
Then had a lovely meal (that also may have involved another beer, or two).



Eventually heading back to my room, and after watch a bit of TV (they really don't seem to have many channels in Scotland, even on free view, I wonder if it's to keep them compliant?), I went to sleep.

It was a very comfortable bed, but for some reason I didn't sleep well.
Maybe it was the thought of the stupidly long day I was going to have tomorrow, all the way through the forest and up to Loch Morlich.

And I slept!

Here's a beautiful Beach Boys tune to lull you off too.
Probably my favourite Beach Boys track!
Especially the orchestral and harmony bit 
๐Ÿฅฐ


Listen to it. You will see!

3 comments:

  1. The flies. There were new dead ones in the morning ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿชฐ

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've slid my way down that waterfall a couple of times over the years, only noticing the road coming down from above me on the left after I was almost at the octagonal bothy on the second occasion.
    There's always been flies in the bothy. I reckon they're living off the remains of the missing Challenger beneath the floor boards.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Laura and I did the bum slide down the waterfall in 2014 and also noticed the track coming down after we got down. Going over the watershed and over the hags was actually quite a joy ๐Ÿ˜œ. We had a break in the beautiful bothy but continued to Newtonmore (from Dalbeg, a LONG day...) Don't remember the fly situation...

    ReplyDelete