Cannich to Ault na Goire
A look at the fine weather and also the pending wet weather, showed that a rapid decamp would allow for a nice dry tent pack, and this was definitely the correct decision, because by the time we were ready for breakfast, there was rain. Not a lot, just another shower, followed by a dry bit and another shower. I HATE packing my tent in the rain, so this was a no brainer.
All up and tent packed and down to the breakfast stop for scrambled eggs on toast with a bit of bacon. Just the think to start the day. None of the muesli stuff.
In fact so spritely was I , that I was ahead of Al, and that is a tough challenge.
So suited and booted, and fortified for the day ahead, Al and I set off after a breakfast in fine company. My original original plan was to go through forest and stuff, but since we wanted to get to Drum early, it was decided to add a bit of road and go down and see what had happened to the Bearnock Tea rooms. So off we set!
It is not a great walk down the road, but one thing is for sure, it is rapid, and at this time in the morning there is very little traffic, so less chance of a lunatic sweeping round one of those bends and wiping you out, well apart from the prat in the bus later in the day, but we will come to that in good time.
I will need to postpone my Balmacaan route for another challenge, and just hope that I can manage it before they build that ridiculous bloody great wind farm on it. (Lunatics and Vandals!).
Also I think that the route into the Balmacaans is better done from Cougie and across.
Also you get to stay at Cougie, which is an absolute MUST DO, if you have never been there.
So, we walked along the road for a while.
As excess breakfast fluids dictated, it was probably time for a stop, we did and apart from a pee, I also did a shoe faf.
Now a map of where we pee’d is probably too much information, but there is a story attached so bear with me on this.
Brief stop over, we yomped off down the hill. It is not a steep hill, but it is down, and so for about 3/4 of a km we headed down at a goodly pace, at which point I realised I had left my TGO Hat on the fence post. This is my only TGO hat, and they are no longer available so I had to go back. Al said he would go on slowly (Al’s slowly is NOT that slow, but never mind), so I headed back up, Al carrying my poles.
Now, an intelligent person would have stashed the rucksack by the side of the road, and gone back UP with no pack, but I did not. No sir, I lugged that pack all the way back up (AT PACE).
In the distance I spied another rucksack descending the hill, and as luck would have it, stopping in said same spot and going in to look, at I hoped said same hat.
They came out, and I increased pace as I could see Al vanishing in the distance.
Eventually, about 400m from the hat place I met Morven (excuse me if I get the name wrong), who was descending with an enormous pack.
“High I said”, puff puff. “I left my hat just back there” (hoping it would be in her hand or bag).
“Oh, yes, I saw that” she says, “I wondered who it belonged to!”
So off I went back to get my hat!
Of course it was still there, so retrieved I headed off back down the hill AGAIN at even greater pace. Indeed, as Al had now vanished completely from view I ran (not a good idea as we shall see).
I quickly caught up with Morven.
Now ideally I would have rushed on, but this is the Challenge, and you cannot just overtake Challengers, without a good old natter, even if they have left your bloody hat on a post!
So we walked down for a while at a brisk pace (she doesn’t hang about does Morven), discussing this and that, and the weight and size of her pack, that has been leaking and is wet and stuff. Morven lives in Aviemore, so she is going to change kit there and get a replacement sack.
Anyway, we carry on, and Al slows and eventually we catch up with him for more chat.
Chatting is great when road walking, because it makes it go much quicker.
As we get to the turn off for the Corrimony track or it may have been the Shenval one, Morven heads off, and we continue our quest to the Bearnock tea rooms.
Well, we get there and it says Open, but they are shut.
Indeed, they are NOT a tea room anymore, but a hostel.
But, at that moment, the chap who looks after them appears, and we tell him we though they might be open, what with the sign in the window saying open and all that, and wonderful man that he is, says.
“We don’t do coffee, but, I’ll let you in, and if you want to make yourself a cup that is fine”.
So he let’s us in, shows us where everything is, and we make a brew, and rest our tarmac tires legs and feet.
What a great bloke.
We stick some money in the charity box, and pick up our packs to complete the journey.
Just up the road a small bit, the track heads off south, where the old path into the forest is/was! (See map above)
So, up the track we went to the house that is having a massive amount of work done on it.
There are a few tracks now that depart from said house, and we took the one that may or may not have been the right one.
Following this along and through a gate and along a bit further to encounter a herd of cows, with young’uns.
Al is not good with herds of cows, (have I mentioned that).
“They’ll be fine”, says I, “Just go slowly past them, no worries”.
Well Al goes through the gate to the left of the track to circumvent the cows, and go via the barbed wire fence at the end.
I am not sure about this strategy, what with Al’s track record with barbed wire fences and all that, but that’s what we did anyway, as the herd thundered off back up the track.
Cows are not the most intelligent of animals you know!
Luckily, the barbed wire negotiation is uneventful, and indeed unnecessary, because the cows have legged it, or should that be hoofed it away, and we can go back through said same gate and carry on through the other gate, it being the one that we wanted to go through all along.
And so we carry on to the end of this track.
There appears at this point to be no known direction, and no obvious track.
We attempt a soirée via the woods, but decide that is probably not the way, and then go round via the field (what has more cows and heffers and things in it).
But this is NOT looking hopeful, so we decide that we need to get over the wall, and go along where for all intensive purposes, it looks like it may have been a track once.
Now however, it is muddy, and overgrown, and full of fallen trees and such, and to be honest bloody hard work.
So looking at map, and for the first time, checking location on GPS gadget, we decide the the best way is just up through the forest (about half a Km), and there we will find the track.
Now, this is not any old forest.
This bit is old, and un-tended, and of Amazonian density, so with pack and poles catching everything above, and assorted branches, debris, and God alone knows what forms of insect and other Indiana Jones like life forms dropping into our hair, and down our shirts, we bludgeon our way the short, but knackering distance to the track, from which we finally emerge.
Time to get all the bits out.
That’s all the unknown horrors, that have managed in such a short distance to stick to us, and also work there evil way into the deepest crevasses of our nether regions.
We didn’t take any pictures of this bit, on the grounds of decency, but trust me, it was not nice.
Refreshed and itching we carried on along the track to the end, where the car park is, and where several other Challengers, inc Bernie, and David Albon (who is not invisible) were having a break.
A brief chat, and then Al and I headed off out of the forest to do a bit more tarmac.
The others were going via the forest, but having done that before, and feeling the lure of the fleshpots of Drumnadrochit, we went for the fast and furious route, and the road.
Now, on my map, I have marked two possible place, that we may have hit the road, but in the excitement of the moment, I cannot remember which one we used, although I believe it was the first based on how much my feet ached when we got to Drum.
It is at this point, or just after this, that I should mention the bus again.
There are a few corners on the road, and on some of them, there is little choice but to stay on the road, there being no real verge and all that.
So that is what we did on the corner with the bus coming.
OK, I may have leaned a lot further out of the way than Al, but he is not a man to be bullied by public transport and held his ground with fervour, and widespread poles.
The bus did eventually slow down, with the driver shaking his fist, on the grounds that we should have leapt over walls to allow him to do his journey quicker. (Prat!).
Well, the rest of the journey was uneventful, and with conversations of many things to put right the problems of the World, and Al running his phone battery down to zero, by talking endlessly to BBC, and German TV and many other people about the forthcoming (Tomorrow),
Wake for the Wild coffin protest, we wended our way to Drum and the lovely little coffee shop.
I had also stocked up on Jelly babies from the local shop.
JJ (John Jocys) arrived and we chatted.
I was getting another delivery tonight at Ault na Goire, so did not want to carry it.
OK, it did cost £2.00 to send it, but it was £12.00 worth of meals so it’s quite acceptable.
I should also mention running along roads with a great big pack on.
By the time we reached drum, I had really achy shins, and was actually a bit concerned that I might be developing shin splints. Luckily, once we got off tarmac, the pain went away, and with a bit of stretching caused no more real problem, but be warned!
For those who have not been on the ferry, always ring and book, don’t just turn up.
You will get across, because Gordon is a top bloke and will take you across, but without booking, you might have to wait a bit.
It does not take long to walk to the ferry, but always best to get there early.
So, I grabbed some money from the cash machine, and we all trundled off.
Tea and Scones, and Alex’s weird and amazing sculptures
Al, Jack, Alex, David and Rob at the meal
Wonderful view from the house towards where the Wind farm abomination is intended to be
Fortified, we eventually drifted to our tents.
It was time to tension up Wendy, so a bit of a bugger, when her strap came loose, and I had to refasten it using a head torch. In normal circumstances this is NOT an issue, but a head torch at night in Scotland, surrounded by 1,000,000 midges, it ain’t good.
So, after climbing in my tent, I spent the next 20 min killing the little £u$%&^s.
Let me tell you, that going for a pee at 2.00 am was also an adventure.
But all was good, and tomorrow I would be able to carry the coffin up a hill!