Thursday, 29 May 2014

TGO Challenge Day 5 Wed 14th May

Fort Augustus to Spey Dam   36km - 1055m ascent - 823m descent
So supplies replenished off I set, my sac was at it's heaviest with 4 days food....although it would turn out I wouldn't need it all. I had seen the forecast for the next 3 days, it looked like the weather would stay mainly dry. But with the wind becoming stronger towards the weekend. Something to consider as I planned to camp high on the Friday night.

A bit of road work ( although nothing compared with what would follow!) and I walked along this track to Ardachy House, very pleasent.

Then I arrived at the entrance to the acccess for the Beauly-Denny power line :-(
As I took this photo a security man rushed out of his office, and asked me what I was doing!
I told him "I was taking a picture of his signs...Is that a problem?"

Perhaps a more official sign is required?

A last look back at Loch Ness and the Great Glen. real progress Eastwards was being made now.

The Corrieyairack Pass is not the most interesting track in Scotland, General Wade must have had some Roman genes in him I think!

I was making excellent time, so stopped at Blackburn bothy for brew. I could see several challengers had passed through in the recent past looking through the bothy book.

As I climbed steadily towards the summit of the pass I was accompanied by the work connected with the new power line.
I like most folk want to go and flick a switch to put the light or kettle on....but it's hard to believe that this line couldn't have been taken over the Corrieyairack in a more sympathetic manner. Thats all I'll say on the matter. :-(

A rather "interesting" cairn marked the summit of the pass. This was another box ticked for me, I've wanted to cross the Corrieyairack either on foot or by bike.

Down into Coire Yairack the Cairngorms start to appear in the distance.

Just before you hit the tarmac again Melgarve bothy appears, in very good order considering how easy the access is for the car borne masses.

Again the bothy book contained evidence of the passage of many Challengers.
I was called into General Wades Office and told "Take that smile off your face!"
I explained I couldn't because I was enjoying the Challenge so much!! :-)

The Cairngorms National Park

Garva Bridge I'd planned to camp here, but it was only 4.30. It also tried to rain, but didn't manage anything. As I arrived David Hale ( who I'd met on the 1st day) and Kate Kowalska were debating wether to camp or not. In the end we all carried on. David's feet were very sore with blisters, so we walked at an easier pace.

Near Glen Shero lodge there was a drilling rig operating. They were looking for water!!
It's everywhere hereabouts!!

David and Kate had had enough by Sherrabeg so decided to camp there. I walked on to the Spey Dam. eventually pitching my tent at the foot of the Markie Burn. Looking back I don't know why, but it felt like I was "trespassing". Mainly due the proximity to the Balfour Beatty compound I suppose.
It had been an easy crossing of the Corrieyairack, and a seed of an alternative plan was starting to form in my head as I fell easily to sleep.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

TGO Challenge Day 4 Tues 13th May

Above Glen Moriston to Fort Augustus  19.5km - 384m ascent - 599m descent
There had been very little rain overnight, I'd slept well and I knew I only had a half days walk to Fort Augustus. I wished I didn't have to return to civilisation so soon.

As the inversion of the early morning dispersed, I was treated to a grand view to the West. The Cluanie hills still carrying alot of snow.

I descended to the minor road at Tomchrasky. I had an interesting chat with the farmer, he was very well informed about the Challenge. Although he was more interested to know if I'd seen any Adders, some tree planters had seen a number of them basking in the sun the day before.

It was a pleasent walk through the scattered hamlet of Dalchreichan in the warm sun, this was the life!
I cossed the River Moriston at Torgyle Bridge.

A short stretch on the A887, heading West! again, until I was able to enter the forest to follow this old drove road....I didn't need any assistance, even at my great age!

I then picked up the old military road, which looked like it had been recently received quite a bit of work to keep it in good order.

AS I reached the higher parts of the Inchnacardoch Forest I was confronted with a mass of pylons and new roads...they sure know how to make a bloody mess of the landscape. I met Paul Atkinson (link to his blog) here again, we chatted about his route since I'd last seen him and gear. (of course!)

I'd stopped on the way down to Jenkin Park, the way East was revealed.  Paul had carried on. I think he could smell the fish and chips in Fort Augustus.

I had a bed booked at Morag's, and a parcel waiting for me. I arrived about 1.30, fortunately reception was open so I was able to collect the parcel and have a shower.

Doesn't take long to make a scrow!

With the bulk of the afternoon to chill, I had a walk beside the canal. There's always lots going on hereabouts.

After eating my own share of fish and chips I caught the last of the evening warmth before sleeping in a bed again...what a strange idea.
The weather had been fantastic...surely this dry spell wouldn't continue?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

TGO Challenge Day 3 Mon 12th May

Loch Affric to Above Glen Moriston   20.7km - 594m ascent - 578m descent
I had a leisurely start today, it looked like an easier day on paper. All todays route would again be new to me which I was looking forward to. There would be no rain today while I walked :-) As a bonus, just as I started walking I met Peter, Lee and Matt. It was good to chat with folk of a like mind.

The track East above Loch Affric made for easy progress, the Scots Pine on heere are superb.
Looking back the head of Glen Affric was gradually disappearing behind, a mixed emotion for the hills of the West are special.

We stopped to take in the view at the head of the Allt Garbh.
Lee, Matt and Peter looking back to the Carn Eige hills.

As we approached  the small lochan near Allt an Laghair, we came upon this german expedition equiped Land Rover. They'd certainly looked for an isolated spot to spend the previous night.

We stopped for a snack overlooking the lochan. This would make a superb wildcamp spot, but it was way to early in the day to consider it for tonight.

As we walked through Cougie the weather improved it was now very warm....just in time for the ascent to the Bealach Feith na Gamhna.
The tree in the foreground looked like the arboreal version of Keith Richards!

The uphill work of the day completed as we reached the Bealach Feith na Gamhna. The path kinda comes and goes hereabouts. Alast clear look at those Western Hills.
Shortly after this I parted company with Peter, Lee and Matt. We would have different routes to Fort Augustus. It had been great walking with them for the day..I would walk again with the "Famous Three" from Tarfside.

The place I planned to camp at was poor, so I picked up some water and followed the hydro road West! until I found this great spot on a grassy knoll looking down on Glen Moriston. I'd just got the tent up at about 5pm when there was a heavy shower. I didn't take a picture that evening as the light was poor, this was taken early on Tuesday morning as an inversion started to form.
It had been a great day walking.

Monday, 26 May 2014

TGO Challenge Day 2 Sun 11th May

Gleann Sithidh to Loch Affric     20.6km - 1374m ascent - 1464m descent
I slept pretty well, surrounded by deer "belling". The last forecast I'd heard had suggested that there may be thunder today...not ideal for a day to be spent above 3000'. The cloudbase was round about 2500'...I was in a Quandry!

Yours truly making his breakfast, debating if I should take my point in climbing Munro's in the mist is there? I paced up and set off  still undecided.
Why is a lot of my gear black, it looks rubbish in photo's!

Here I'm looking down towards Mullardoch, the morning seemed to be improving.

Looking back to the West the sky was breaking, decision made...a Munroing I would go. Shame I'd already dropped over 50m in height.

Looking East showers were hanging from the sky, but the wind was so light they never really bothered me.

As the shower passed the end of the ridge I'd just climbed the sun produced this weak rainbow.

The Munro summit of Mullach Dheiragain, with the ridge i would cross later in the day. the cloud was coming and going across the ridge I was to follow. My direction now SW!

The Carn Eige group of hills, I was now very glad I'd decided to go high.

Another shower, another rainbow. Most of the rain was passing to the North of me though.

Soon enough the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhan arrived. wonderful views to the South of the Glen Sheil hills and beyond.

I turned to look back along the ridge I'd walked as it stretched back towards Mullardoch.
I met John Graves on the summit, (a fellow Backpackers club member) we were both going the same way and so we walked together for the rest of the day.

This is the route onwards over the last munro for the day An Socach. A couple of daywalkers were just arriving as we left, they had stayed at Alltbeithe.

Here I'm looking a very happy chap...Sgurr nan Ceathreamhan behind. Shortly after the rain started in earnest, it was the worst weather I'd encounter on the Challenge. It lasted almost until we reached the valley floor of Glen Affric. So sadly there's no photo of the summit of An Socach.

 John decided to continue onwards, but I'd spotted this place and camped on the edge of the loch.
A cracking spot...even a jetty to walk out on to get water. Paul Atkinson had also camped near here, we had a chat, he told me of his plans.
I was very pleased with my day, everything was going well and spot on schedule...All Good!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

TGO Challenge Day 1 Sat 10th May

Kintail Lodge Hotel to Gleann Sithidh          22km - 1055m ascent - 771m descent.                        I was a late starter! Indeed only 4 folk had to sign out when I left the hotel. The weather was a bit grim to be honest as I set out for Strath Croe.

The well kept gardens of the Kintail Lodge.
A last look at the West Coast....well for about 250m until I walked beside Loch Duich into Strath Croe!

Approaching the Bealach na Sroine.
 Looking back West, Beinn Sgritheall peeping thro' the gap.
The rain had more or less stopped by now, shortly after this I met David Hale who had started in Dornie on Friday.

The Falls of Glomach...and damm fine they are too!
They were on my list of "ticks" which formed the basis of my route selection for the Challenge
I had met Peter Little (he's at the top of the falls if you look closely, handy for scale!) at the top of the falls, our paths would cross a couple more times over the next 10 days or so.

As I descended beside the roaring river I met Chris and Tony. We had a chat about the benefit of rain for good waterfalls. Although much of this water would have been snowmelt.
Quite a sight well worth seeing IMHO.

At the bottom of the gorge the view opened up revealing Glen Elchaig, a hidden gem all the better for having no public road up it.

It was a pleasant walk up the glen, I took the track past Iron Lodge to climb the zig-zags towards Mullerdoch.
The pointed hill Carnan Cruithneachd dominated the scene back down the glen beyond Loch na Leitrach.
The weather had improved greatly and was now quite warm.

Just before the col is Loch na Droma...I found a couple of  good spots to camp only to discover rotting deer carcass's nearby, so pressed on to the area I'd originally planned on stopping at.

Over the watershed already...downhill all the way to the North Sea!
Hardly I planned on climbing the wet pathless slope in the background on the Sunday, weather permitting!
So off across the wetness I strode to the promised green oasis beyond.

Which I found in the crook of the Abhainn Sithidh. The pitch was slightly slopey but was dry. I was thankful of a tent with a small footprint.
So that was Day 1....Weather had been more than acceptable  and all was going to plan.
More Please!!