TGOC 2018 – Days 0 to 3
to WESTERN END OF LOCH EILDE MOR
Ok, so we shoot ****ing Cuckoos don’t we?
There has to be music RIGHT?
Kacey Musgraves – Oh, What a World
If anyone is waiting for the 2017 account, don’t hold your breath…just sayin
There may well be spelling mistakes here, and name mistakes.
Live with it OK!
So anyway, let’s set some of the background to this debacle!
Back in the distant past of the 2017 event when Lord Elpus (aka Phil Lambert withdrew for reasons that are none of your business Ok), I came to a sort of anti-gentleman’s agreement with the deity and sometimes angry
young old man that is Mr Alan Sloman, that should Phil want to do it this year, we would reform
“Les Trois Amigos”
An idea that I was ok if they should reject on the grounds that I was a very late interloper into the tight MANLY bond and friendship that goes back centuries (I believe) between Al and Phil.
It was maybe agreed in principle at the time, and as luck would have it (or maybe due to fading memories due to their gradual old age and failing grey matter [I am actually older than Al, and so is Phil – I know bloody hard to believe isn’t it?]), it was agreed.
Good for me.
We hadn’t walked together for a couple of years, and as much as I hate to admit it,
I had somehow missed the conflicting ideologies of walking with them.
You need to have done it to understand, but somehow, there are laughs and quirks that just are not the same without these bastards in accompaniment.
Anyway, the principle was set, and as it happens we were lucky enough to get in and all was ready to go.
OK, I say all…
One of the great joys of this year, apart from the bloody excellent company (I have to say that), was the fact that apart from posting some dosh into Phil’s bank account,
I had to do do close to ***K ALL 🙂
Al did the route (back to that shortly), and Phil did all the travel and accommodation arrangements.
How bleeding good is that eh…
I shall say now… Excellent all round as you will see.
AND The route concept from AL ???????
A ROUTE EASTWARDS WITHIN THE CONFINES OF OS NORTHINGS 60 & 70
Now, I agreed to this, and probably being a tardy bastard, looked at next to nothing until we started out on the Friday. OK, did the standard agreement emails and the odd phone call, but in reality, did I really look?? Did I ***K!
Listen, if Al admits it, he knew I didn’t, as he constantly reminded me on the way across.
I was though sceptical of how good this might be.
I factored in some high variations as a means to getting in some contours.
But as we shall see.
This turned out to be a stunning route, and a stunning concept, that would take us to places you just wouldn’t go, and where the rewards for going were actually 10/10
Yes, bits were actually that good.
OK, as those that did it will testify, the crazy warm weather helped.
This must be the best weather I have ever encountered on the TGOC.
It may never happen again in my lifetime.
But heh, I’ll take that!
If this is GLOBAL WARMING, then bring it on.
I’m gonna fill my car with diesel, and rev the engine like **** and eat cow meat until the ozone layer crashes.
Really you say??
Listen, I am old WTF do I care for 100 years from eh?
Now, at this point, the “self righteous GREENIES and Groandian believers” are chomping at the bit and cursing me to eternal damnation.
Well, that is the ones with NO ****ing sense of humour that know me NOT!
So, anyway, let’s not bother with the normal journey up, except to comment on the dreadful surly jobsworth service on the OLD rolling stock of the Caledonian sleeper.
A service I have loved over the years, but which this year, with a few exceptions was NOT GOOD!
I will leave the full reporting of this to Al and Phil
And so we come to the TGOC itself……………………..
Except I must give mention to Carlos (
, who took us from Fort William to Kilchoan and then Ardnamurchan point.
Now don’t, get me wrong, the price was good, and the journey swift, with Me, and Al and Phil and Lynsey and John Jacklin.
It was more the pace and speed and bends and breaking and general rally approach, that for some was bordering on too much.
The fact that Lynsey was sitting behind me and feeling at the top end of nausea was not good.
As was the loss of feeling in hands clutching straps with white knuckles.
On a plus note, we got there (even with the Coran Ferry crossing) early.
TBH we may have been able to skid across without paying.
It was INTERESTING!
Where was I??????
Oh yes the start.
Thu 9th May 2018 – Ardnamurchan Point to Kilchoan Hotel (12km ish)
Now, I expect you are expecting the maps and distances and every footstep explained at this point???
You haven’t read this blog before have you?
IF you can’t read your own map and do your own route, best not to apply.
This is a story of the crossing.
It isn’t a route plan.
Get your maps out, or just read on and enjoy…………………………………………
OK…Just the one map then ArdnamurchanTo Kilchoan
Although TBH we did leave the road/track and bimble off into some hills to look at the caldera
We dropped a couple of things at the Kilchoan Hotel, and catapulted to Ardnamurchan point, where we staggered out ready to have a look, and then walk back to the hotel, for a beer or 10.
And the landscape???
|The warning horn
|Map of the Caldera
|The old lamp from the lighthouse
|One of the compressor pumps that pumped the air into the tanks for the foghorn
|in a wood (on a hill, a piggy wig stood)
|Off piste on the way back
Look, not much happened OK, we walked back with full kit to the hotel in mighty fine weather to a pub that by then was filling up.
It was time for food and a sociable evening and maybe….just maybe mind the odd ale.
Day 01 – Fri 12th – Kilchoan to just past Loch Laga (22km ish but maybe a bit more in reality)
It was Friday, breakfast was over, and it was getting real.
AND… I had had a poo.
Yep, I know, on day 1 of the Challenge… The old low dose Senakot pre–treatment to avoid that 3 or 4 day terror was behind me now (literally), well technically below and then gone…
So, there we were, Al, Phil, Me and Lynsey ready to rock and roll.
The forecast was not ideal after the wonders of yesterday.
High winds and pending heavy rain after lunch.
For now, it was just windy.
OK quite blustery, as the trees bending testified.
Ahhhh Scottish weather………..
We headed up the road to the point where we would head off piste for about 6km to cut the never ending road, and go over the shoulder of the hill.
The track was ok ish, but indistinct too.
It was a tad breezy.
Al’s hat suddenly flew off and spiralled into the distance, at least 20ft up and away.
How bad would that have been if we’d been near the 60 or 70 parallel.
It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Hats away, we headed on, down, over fences with no way over and locked gates.
It’s the Scottish open access way……
A short stop for a snack and then on and over the hill.
It was a nice route, apart from the battering wind once we started to drop back down to meet up with the road.
Eventually we hit the road again.
It would be road walking for a bit now, in fact, all the way to Glenborrowdale.
It would also be IN YOUR FACE wind, BUT…. No rain yet 🙂
Back up the track into the hills, and hopefully find a decent place to camp.
Very windy, and the rain off and on.
It was time to attempt to find a pitch on the rather tufty wet ground.
At least there was a stream.
The forecast said more rain coming in.
This was NOT the time to find out that you had forgotten to attach the inner to the outer of the tent.
It was raining now, and I was getting a ****ing wet arse attaching hooks.
But then it was up, and dry and Phil had wandered off for a walk.
It was pretty mighty, when he came back with a bottle of Champagne he had secretly buried when he was up here a few months earlier…
It wasn’t going to be a party night, as the weather was getting worse, and the wind was gusting.
Heavy rain was also forecast for about 21.00, and it had been a tiring day in the wind.
But it was still bloody MIGHTY that man!!!
The next photos are the camp the next morning, when the weather was stunning, and my waterproof could finally be left out to dry.
AND …. I had had another poo….
I know, you couldn’t make it up.
It was a NEW ERA!!!!!!!!!!
|The might Tarptent Notch (2018 model).
Love this tent……………..
Day 02 Sat 12th Loch Laga to the ruins below Druim Glas (25 km ish_)
A longer day today, with great weather and some great views, a boat ride and also that ****ING hill out of Polloch. And the lovely Lynsey would depart from us until we would meet again at Inchree.
Some great tracks at the start of the day with some wonderful view across to the hill that Lynsey was going over. We had an appointment with a ferry at Dalelia, so it wasn’t on route.
|Nice track to start
|Looking out to Kentra Moss on the way to Acharacle
|Just as well there was a track across this, even though it was horrid to walk on
A bit more road and we left for a track by the loch at Langal.
The start of the track was boggy and muddy as, but once at the loch edge it became a really nice track, all the way to pick up the stretch of tarmac to get to the ferry at Dalelia
|A glimpse of the loch
|Dalelia (pretty nice)
At Dalelia, we picked up the ferry.
Phil had booked this, and Al was slightly concerned that as JJ and John and Sue Tattersall had taken this a bit earlier, we may have a wait.
OK, I’ll not mention the dialogue ok, but when Al is concerned it may involve ranting and death threats 😁😂😂
As it happens the boat was already back and with splashes and whoops, we were soon at the drop off point the other side, where we were greeted by JJ just finishing his lunch wearing a skirt.
Yeah OK, JJ says it is an American Walking kilt.
BUT, It’s a ****ing Skirt John OK 🤔😁😁😂
We stopped on the small jetty in the sun and light breeze and had lunch, and I made a brew of tea for the weary old buggers I was walking with.
Boots off, we aired our feet.
This is the contentious bit!
This was the nicest weather since 2008.
It was dry almost every day.
But many people had foot issues and blisters and ….
Look, ok, I am going to mention foot care now…
If it isn’t an injury, and your feet are trashed there are things you ought to consider for the future..
- Did you have the right footwear?
- Were the socks right?
maybe this should be looked into…
Ohh.. I’d never wear trail shoes (my feet were blistered??) Really????
- Did you stop as soon as you had an issue and tape the feet or rest the feet?
If not, why not, it was bloody glorious weather…
- Did you just stop on a regular basis and rest your feet, and take them out of the boots / shoes AND socks??
No excuse for not doing that, the weather was blinding.
I have been lucky, I have had no foot issues since 2009 when I gave up bloody great boots.
But boots may be fine and your thing.
I have sympathy with anyone struggling with feet issues.
It’s a total trip and pleasure killer.
But if it was the case, (and it wasn’t an injury), you do need to sit back and review it.
Listen, I did 10 years ago, and touch wood I have never looked back.
This is advice, not a criticism. Just sayin’
Lazin’ on a sunny afternoon.
We know a song about that don’t we?
All this was getting us nowhere, and it was quite lovely.
JJ had gorn oft somewhere by now.
So we headed up the steep track to get up to the roady bit.
IF I have to make ONE complaint about this years route it would have to be SODDING TARMAC!
There was just too much bloody tarmac at times.
Although, as we shall see, maybe better than bleeding cows!
So up we went.
And when we were half way up I spied JJ marching back along the track to where we had come up.
His skirt flowing in the breeze.
No idea where he had been.
A wee trip, or maybe the wrong way.
Maybe he’ll tell me in a comment.
We carried on.
He was right down the bottom, and we had a ways to go.
Firstly to Polloch, where it was decided by Al, it may be nice to pick up some water.
We knocked on a door to see if we could fill out bottles from a tap.
But either as we think, it was a holiday let, and nobody was in, or they had seen the state of us (even rested), and thought “No bloody way Hosay”, so we carried on.
Later John told us he had met someone and been invited in for tea and cakes.
IN A SKIRT?????
Anyway, we trudged on sans water until before the really long hall up the hill.
No, it’s a bloody great tarmac hill, we found a small stream and some water.
Filled with water and after a rest.
Slightly longer rest for Al, because he had business to deal with, we trudged up the hill.
Anyway, we walked on after a couple of stops, stopping again by some bins near Kinlochan.
It was a hot day. It was hot Tarmac, and foot rest was needed.
JJ caught up and told us about tea and cakes (all lies I reckon), and then headed on.
I waited as Al and Phil were still lying down.
Eventually we headed on and up.
A couple of km on Al decided there was a log r something with his name on it, and stopped for his 123rd rest today. It may not have been quite that many but anyway.
I cracked on.
A bloke can have too many stops and I was not acclimatised just yet.
I went on and up and up and on.
I was going to get to the scenic stop with the view that we had discussed as being our intended stop 50 or so stops ago.
And I did.
Here I found a nice post to sit on and wait with a gentle breeze.
Eventually they arrived (I mean like hours later), and we lkeft packs and went to look at the view, climbing up a collapsed mud bank, and through a tree on route, until we found the chair above
|Al and Phil having another rest.
See how happy they are when they are not moving.
I think that is the secret of their Challenge Success.
Sitting about a lot or lying down.
I went to look at the view.
It was overgrown with trees.
There was no scenic view
And so, with MASSIVE disappointment, we headed on more up to the top of the hill (with steep stings in it’s hot tarmac tail, until we reached the top.
Shortly after this we left the road to head down hill eventually to the nights camp spot.
But first there was the electric fence and the very wet bog, that would lead us into the deep misery of the Highland Cattle Ground.
NO, not the cattle!
The total and utter devastation that they had made to the wet boggy ground.
We all agreed, that between us in 50 crossings all told, we had never had to walk over such uneven, mangled potholed dreadful ground.
The fact that is was also boggy in places and steep did not help.
This was energy sapping and ankle snapping shite, and it went on, and on, and on, and on, and ….
I promised myself Aberdeen Angus Steak later in the trip.
I’d teach the lumbering bastards, I’d bloody eat one of them.
None of these pictures do justice to how nice the views were, nor how bleeding terrible the underfoot walking was.
Eventually we made it down via some woods and fences and collapsed fences, to the old mining track, where we almost made a navigational error, but managed to not get lured along the track and dropped down the rather steep tufty ground to a lower smaller track.
Below us I could just make out Sue (that’s the BOSS Sue to you lot), and John Jacklin and JJ, but by the time we got there, they had headed on up the track towards the glen.
We had already decided this was it.
In the distance down by the wider stream we saw John and Sue Tattersall’s tent.
We dropped down to a bit of flattish ground near a stream.
It was potentially midgy, but luckily, just enough breeze to deter the bastards, and camp was set up.
|TBH, a pretty bloody fine view to see from your tent
Another day was over, one more day to Inchree, and a B&B bed, and a bit of pampering, and one more day to go to the end of this chapter of the blog post too.
John and Sue came up for a bit of a banter, but TBH, we all went to bed early.
It had been a hot and tiring day.
Day 03 Sun 13th Glen Borrowdale to Corran Ferry and Inchree (20 km ish – hard going)
So, we started off at the customary 8.00 am give or take a few minutes for Phil.
Can I say, I was bang on time every day.
No, I mean every bloody day!!!!!!!
We headed up the glen.
My original route variation was to knock off the tops to the south.
With hindsight, this may actually have been easier, except I would have missed the beautiful pools.
Before long we had met up with John Jacklin, last seen climbing a fence near Ardnamurchan Point, and Sue. JJ was still languishing in his tent, we were not going to wait, he is not an early starter.
Together we bumbled up Glen Gour.
I say bumbled.
For the most part, although there are odd signs on the ground, this is a boggy trackless slog.
And this was a dry warm year.
Lord knows what it would be like in rain and after a wet fortnight.
Trench foot springs to mind.
We carried on at varying paces, chatting as one does.
|Al heading East
|Sue and John Jacklin with Phil in the distance
|One of those contemplative stops
We carried on, crossing the river.
Spread out and at different speeds and contours, until we finally came across a rather idyllic lunch stop.
One was almost tempted to go for a swim.
The sun had come out, and it was a beautiful day sitting on the rocks by the pools.
Had I had a bigger towel, I would have gone skinny dipping.
But it would also have created horror I fear.
So everyone abstained.
After a long leisurely lunch stop, with boots/shoes and socks off, we finally felt we had to crack on.
There was still away to go.
Away of bloody bogless track, until we could finally pick up the track to the loch, and yep, eventually, more sodding tarmac.
And so we headed off again up the glen.
I must admit, I looked up at the gnarly hills to the south, and pondered if that would have been easier.
Although, they are very gnarly.
And we trudged on in a very very spread out way eventually past the loch and to the bridge by the road.
|The wee loch
|Looking up to the bridge and small dam before the road
I had walked with Sue now, for most of this.
John Jacklin caught us up.
Al and Phil had vanished into the distance of I expect several rest stops.
We decided not to wait, and to crack on.
Sue wanted to get across the ferry and rest up.
John and I were just dreaming about BEER! (which turned out to be cider).
|Looking out to sea on the way to the Corran Ferry
As we went up the road, Sue went on.
John and I headed via the backroad, on the off chance that the café MAY just be open at 16.30 on a Sunday….
IT WASN’T 😢😢
Arriving at the pub before the ferry, which was soon about to leave, we met Sue again.
She headed off to the ferry and John and I stayed at the pub, where John (cos he is a thoroughly nice bloke), bought me a pint of cider.
It was wonderful.
It barely touched the sides.
We met up with Scotty having a beer.
He was staying at the hostel.
I believe that he managed to get John in there too.
Eventually, Al and Phil arrived, along with John and Sue Tattersal which meant a longer wait, and more cider.
I managed to drag them out of the pub just before the ferry left.
We had to almost run to get on, but luckily made it.
|On the Ferry heading to Inchree
Once off the ferry, came the hardest bit of today’s navigation.
Finding the B&B…
We finally got there (and I must say, it was rather excellent).
Cleaned and tidied up.
Somehow I managed to end up in the single room which was bloody awesome.
We finished the day at the pub round the corner, and a well deserved meal in a large TGOC crowd, before heading back to sleep with a real bed, and a real pillow.
Yes, I know some people like to camp all the way across.
But if you can afford the odd bit of luxury, why would you?????
Tomorrow would be another day, and a rather bigger day indeed.
But that is for the next chapter, due out in a few days time.
Which means about a week.
You’ll have to wait folks.