TGOC 2022 - Torridon to Kinnaber Links Day 11 - Lochallater Lodge to Glen Clova Hotel

TGOC 2022 - Torridon to Kinnaber Links
Day 11 - Lochallater Lodge to Glen Clova Hotel

24km (705m)

What???? Just a single day blog post??? 

Well, this is normally a Monday, although this year for me a Sunday because of the staggered start.
However, over the years, this day has always been influenced by the night at the lodge.
The only music today is the Lochcallaterlujah song.
I wrote this based on a bet from Michael, who wasn't there this year.
It sums up the day for many a Sunday Night Punter (and from what I can tell, the motley crew who arrived this Sunday evening)

Press Play for the song.
Apologies IF it has a bloody advert.
Apparently it uses the tune from a known song.
Lucky I wasn't cancelled!

The Lyrics

And so with a trip to the toilet (essential), and a bacon butty and several coffee's and teas, it was finally time to go.
I had been waiting for Martin Rye, who was walking up from Braemar (not his planned route, but he had a painful calf muscle so was doing slightly less hills (not that this was going to be a walk in the park)

There are not many early images today.
It was rather breezy.
It was raining.
And the cloud ceiling was down, so not a whole lot of visibility early on.

Now I had originally planned to do the hills to the SE up to Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Tolmont, Tom Buidhe, Mayar and Driesh but the forecast was pretty crap, and I just didn't fancy doing it in zero visibility. Better to remember the fine route from 2016, apart from the rain on Driesh. In fact I had bumped into James Impey that year on the way to Cairn of Claise.

So, this year I was now re-routing up via Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn, and then down to Clova (HOTEL!!!! Remember the song lyrics) via the pony hut, River South Esk and Mouzie.

The first 3 pictures, are what I MIGHT have seen if, and did see in 2015.

It's always a tough start to the day, being UP.
There was a brief bit with no wind or rain, and always the glimmer of a shape moving ahead in the distance. Eventually, it evens out as you swing round to the cut off point across to Cairn Bannoch. Here we caught up with I think Rita, Brian, (That's Brian Gruber hereinafter to be called Frank) and Mark.
They had dropped packs and were about to head up to the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, searching for spare Canberra Parts.

Accident English Electric Canberra B.2 WJ615, 22 Nov 1956 (aviation-safety.net)

No visibility worth talking about now, so for us not worth the repeat visit.
A brief chat and off we went in opposite directions.
It's a nice easy walk over to Cairn Bannoch, be even nicer if we could actually bloody see anything. A brief clamber of to the top to look at the wonderful 10m views, plus a wait for Martin to clamber down to get his phone case that had decided to blow away at the most inopportune moment, luckily getting snagged in the rocks, and then down to the next walk over to Broad Cairn.

The last clamber to the top is a bit of a bouldery scramble. Here it was over wet rock. TBH, bothering to go to the top was pointless, but it would be rude not to do it. At the top, the distant shadow figure was found to be yet again James Impey.
We descended together trying to pick a route through the slippery and what seemed like huge boulders. So much easier when you have a line of site. At first we were several degrees off, but corrected, and then after what seemed like much much longer than normal, we came out from the boulders and hit the path.
That was pretty much it for the days climbing. As we dropped down towards the point hut, we finally arrived below the cloud ceiling and could see where we were heading. Martin was off to the left to skirt Loch Muick. I was heading to that hotel room in Clova. James was heading the same day, so it appeared we were destined to head to Clova together again, be it a different route.

At the pony hut we bade farewell to Martin, who I had arranged to meet at Tarfside on the Monday, and took the right hand track to head down to the small bridge that crosses over to the far side of the South Esk.

This is a gentle walk and then quite a steep final descent to the bridge.
Well, all I will say is that some of those big slabs on the way down were very very slippery. After my second long slide and potential injury, I skirted them on the rougher ground.

Finally we hit the bridge, where it was time to lose the rather damp waterproofs and gaiters for the much easier wander down the south bank of the Glen towards Mouzie.

The bridge over the gorge is a fine deep cleft with an impressive little waterfall.
Thank God for the bridge!

Back in "I can't remember when", I had come this way with Ian Cotterill and taken a splendid nose dive further down the glen, luckily landing on my then Gorilla pack, but unluckily also tearing the mesh and the pocket.
As the sun came out, there were no more incidents this time.

We wandered along chatting.
This is a good and also sometimes not a good thing, as you don't always look at your maps, which is why we wandered straight past the small bridge across the river that takes you over to the tiny winding and boardwalk track that goes to Mouzie, and ended up standing the wrong side of the ford that required removing of shoes and socks to get across.
Oh well, it was nice and refreshing on the feet.

Swinging round and past Mouzie, we were now heading South towards Glendoll to meet the Jocks Road track at Downie.

I don't know what the tree devastation was on that route as much of it was blocked off, but the number of trees down, just blown flat by the winds earlier in the year was staggering to see. The pictures cannot really show the vastness of this. It must have been extreme. There were not huge trees, but young pliant ones, just snapped off. Huge swathes of newish plant flattened.


The rest of the walk down the long road is rather tedious. That's why my original plan was the other ridge with 6 Munros, a silly long day, and finally drop down via the pilgrims path (I'll park that one for the next time and hope for some nicer weather), so no more pictures from today's walk.

I say that, but there was "the man in the white car" with the "maniacal horror movie"  facial expressions  😳😨. I'm sure he was just fine, but the mind plays weird tricks after a long day.

When I got to the Clova Hotel, Craig was already there, as he'd left earlier, and had similar fun over Broad Cairn. He hadn't walked past the small bridge down the glen though.
He also had the only key, so having failed to get into the room, I found him in the bar. Well, that meant a beer then didn't it.
Then up to the room for a kit sort out ( I had an exciting supply parcel waiting ) and a shower, before a rest and then down to the bar (it was beer o'clock already) for an evening meal and a few more pints. Craig already had a table booked and James joined us, having managed to get a room (he wasn't pre booked).

I'm pretty sure this was the same room I had in 2019.

Only hairy bit was nearly "doing a Woolston" and going absolutely flying in the shower on a somewhat slippery floor. Luckily I escaped that, and 2 days of back pain.

So there you have it just one day.

Tomorrow I had plans for a rather different route to Tarfside.
Also, the forecast was much better, so.............


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