TGOC 2017 – Days 1 to 4 – Dornie to Fort Augustus but in 3 days because ???

Getting there and some light Music

Thu 11th May 2017  – Bimbling around Dornie and other stuff

When did this all happen?

Some time in May 2017, I vaguely remember.

So factual then?

I am suspecting that this is more of an introspective memory.
And some of those are now borderline fiction….
There are those that think all my trip write ups are fictional.
Could be… They really happened, it’s just the memories….

A little bird said once that I should not include automatic music.
But when did I ever listen eh. eh….
So it’s at the top, click don’t play if you don’t want to hear it.

That said…. Hannah Aldridge – Black and White
(off the Album Razor Wire)  –
Pretty ****ing haunting!

So, it all started on the Wed night at the Bree Louise (which sadly was closed in 2018 so that HSE can ferry a few rich people North at huge cost).
So a couple of beers and off to the train 9.15 to Inverness.

Now, I ask myself why I bought the ticket to Inverness rather than Glasgow, (apart from the price), as it meant either a really really early bus (the one I got, that got me to Dornie at some insane silly time), or spend all day in Inverness.
I had opted for the former, so at least I could book into the hotel.
The down side was that there were very very few people there, and I spent much of the day avoiding pubs, lest I collapse into a void of headache, and wandering around Dornie.

Well, there is the castle full of tourists, but really, not much happening otherwise.

So, much of Thursday, was spent meandering, and taking photos.
Even in the evening, when there were far fewer punters about than I had expected.
So, spent much of the evening supping ales with Matt King (a damned nice chap, and a pretty good artist too), check out some of his pictures 🙂

Day 1 Fri 12th May – Dornie to Camban Bothy

AND, so, it came to pass that it was Friday morning, and we were to start.

My original route took me North and then round, but I had decided that rather than miss each other completely, I would meet Martin and Keith at Shiel Bridge, and so I headed off with Matt.

So we headed up the road in a mainly easterly way taking the higher back road up near the viewpoint.

Now, it was a nice day and Matt and I chatted all the way up to the path that leads off to the viewing point. Here we met up with a small dog. that was looking lost. Not really much we could do so we said hello to it and carried on.
A few moments later a girl (I say girl, mid to late 20’s) called out to us.
She thought we had missed the view point.
But we told her we hadn’t and we were just starting out on the TGOC.
The dog was hers.
A brief chat and then she was gone running down the road.

Now, this is a BIT sexist but….

I soooooo wanted to follow.
I am now too old, but a man can dream.

Was she absolutely bloody stunning??

Babe Central

OH God Almighty Yes.

I would have relinquished the Challenge there an then if it wasn’t for the fact that I am now officially an old fart and have no chance anymore.

BUGGER this ageing process.

We carried on down the hill.

A MAN CAN BUT DREAM (not that sort of dream…OK, it probably would have been)

We carried on down the road, and onwards

We headed on.

My right little toe (the only one I am likely to get an issue with, having broken it 4 times

(YES YES, I am ****ing careless ok), was giving issues.

I normally always use X-Socks.
But as Darn Tough socks were reported to be the DOGS!, I had worn a pair.

Well, they were a Darn site tougher than my toe.
Hardly any distance, it was hot and bothered and blistered.



We sat by the edge of the road.
I changed socks, and plastered up the pinkie.

That bit of bloody belly needs to go as well.

We cracked on, failing to find the SO CALLED way up to the top track
Where it may have been it wasn’t.
We went down the road a bit, at which point I decided to drag Matt up through nothingness to find it.
It was steep, involved a fence climb, and crossing a small stream.
The logic was…
Go up and you’ll hit it

Red circle = Hoped a path was there
Blue circle = approximate way up (probably)

Eventually… The track, and now an easy yomp to Sheil Bridge (off tarmac 😁)

Matt at the top

That bit of saggy bleeding belly has to go… 😲🙄

 We headed to Shiel Bridge and then to the Morvich.

NOW, I was meant to meet up with Martin and Keith about 12.00 at Shiel Bridge and then head North to camp, but after a brief text correspondence with them, it conspired that they had been held up by a delayed train , then by being stuck on the road to Shiel Bridge behind a convoy of Bastard Pointless Wind Turbines (DON’T GET ME GOING 😠😡), I decided I couldn’t really wait for up to 2 or maybe 3 hours (it didn’t turn out to be that long but WHATEVER), so I changed to plan B (that didn’t exist until then), and walk with Matt up towards Camban.
Also, that was TGOC company, and for me, the TGOC is as much about the people as the walking.
I can bugger off and do big hills solo anytime.

So we headed off that way, stopping for a relaxed lunch break a bit past the Activity centre down by the river.

The afternoon passed with conversation and pleasantry.
The weather was pretty good with some stunning scenes, even on this lower route.

Matt was planning to stop near the old Glenlicht House site, but after a bit of persuasion (not much) he agreed to crack on the extra 6 (ish) km to Camban Bothy.

The push to Camban and a little climb

When we got to Camban (I was just slightly ahead), there was a Dutch chap there.
We got stuff sorted, and had a good evening.
The Dutch chap shared whisky, and I vaguely remember that Matt seemed to share rather a lot of his too.
I cannot remember what it was.
The weather closed in a bit overnight, and we had some low cloud and lashings of rain.
TBH I was rather glad of not having to put a tent up or take it down in it.
And with hardly anyone in, that meant lots of room.
OK, TBH, a fire would have been nice, but no wood that we could find.

Day 02 – Sat 13th May – Camban to Cougie (for me)

Clearing away in the morning

It was a bit overcast at the start, but it was just a short bimble along the track to Altbiethe, and a chat with the lovely Hannah for breakfast.

It is customary at Altbiethe to not wear grotty boots into the hostel.
As luck would have it, they have some slippers and stuff to put on.

Well, I found this natty sparkly pair.
TBH, they were slightly small but heh….


After tea and scones and stuff, and a chat with a few there including David Wehwell who was at the time on his 9th, we headed off.
Heading up to Loch Affric where we took a short stop a bit past Athnamulloch for a snack and foot rest. You can never have too many foot rests.
This is also where I dropped the GoPro and lost the USB cover 🙄

Lunch stop.
Just to the right down the bank.

We moved on heading along the loch further.
Matt was doing the Affric way, and I was bound for Cougie to catch up with them.

Now once upon a time, the little bit of river that meets the Loch was an easily accessible Oasis of Joy.
Sadly, due to the Hydro Abominations, not only was it inaccessible, but the original path as shown on the map had been detoured via an excuse for a path (it was a messy bog).
Maybe the proper path is back now?

This WAS the spot the Spot in 2015 on my 10th..
Lord knows what I was doing though?
Having a Zen moment?

No point stopping, Matt and I parted and I waded up the re-routed path to eventually via a lot of engineering works, pick up the original track that takes you over to Cougie.

So, arriving at Cougie, I went in.
I wasn’t booked in, but hopeful that I may just be able to blag a bed for the night.
As luck would have it I met Mel (see TGOC 2015 Days 1 to 5)
I managed to Blag a bed over in Brian’s house.
I had met Brian several years earlier in his pomp.
He was looking very frail now. I felt sad that such an interesting vibrant soul could have deteriorated so much.
Mel must have been days away from giving birth.
Must find out if they had a boy or a girl.

I sorted my kit and popped over to get food and a beer or three.
There was a good crowd in, and I have long forgotten who they all were.
The ones I remember are Hugh and Barbara , Frank, might have been Sandy too and Robert and his wife. I apologise to anyone else who I have forgotten.

It was a good meal, I had a shower and then went back to sort out my kit for the next day.
Then as it was only 21.00, popped back over to the kitchen to see who was about.
They had all buggered off to bed.
Just Mel, Sasha and their husbands (pretty sure that was it, I shall explain why that was vague)

It started with a couple more beers.
Then moved onto the opened half bottle of Lagavulin.
Had we only stopped there, but it turned into a brilliant evening (as always here) and a 2nd new bottle of Lagavulin appeared.
The evening slowly fizzling out about 2.00 am.
Not sure how much 4 of us got through (Mel was not drinking for obvious reason).
There could well have been wine too.
I’m also not sure how I even got back to my bed.
And Christ knows how I managed to get up the next morning.
I did sleep bloody well though.

With hindsight, I could have been up a sodding great cloud covered hill with Martin and Keith.
No offence boys, but NO. You missed a cracker.. (except the headache)

Day 03 Sun 14th May

Now, before I start today, I should point out that at this stage (I had radio’d in) I was not exactly on route, and was due in Fort Augustus on Monday, where I had a B&B booked.
But anyway…..

So we had an excellent breakfast, said goodbye to Cougie, and headed off.
I had decided to go with Hugh and Barbara, but deviate off and pop over the hills rather than track or follow the contours. This had been a route in 2015, but on that day the weather had been dire, so it seemed appropriate to do them now.
No idea what they are, Graham’s or some such I believe.
Whatever the case, it was well off piste.

We made our way out, through the forest, following the stream (nice route actually), then out onto the open moorland.
TBH, the map is approximate.
I have no bloody idea where I actually went, I just went up hills and took a bearing to the next high bit.

So, anyway, after bumbling all over the place in a generalish E to ESE  direction I finally arrived at the track where I eventually met up with Hugh and Barbara, and also Frank, who was walking in beach style shoes, because his boots had crippled him after 2 days, being too small.
Much respect to Frank, as I have NO BLEEDING IDEA, how he managed to walk all that way, and then on to Fort Aggie. OK, maybe my idea of putting the foot-beds of his boots in the Beach Sandals, but even so. Hard or What?

Below are the photos before I landed back on the track

So, after meeting up back on the tourist track from Hilton, we headed on down to Torgyle Bridge.
It was actually quite a warm day, and we stopped just before the woods, to try and get some water.
It was a bit of a scramble. It also probably needed filtering but I couldn’t be bothered.

We stopped down by the bridge, and had some lunch.
Then headed up the track.
We deviated slightly up an earlier track that looked good.
I ran up it, and it seemed to be heading in exactly the right direction.
We all came up.
Everything went swimmingly until it fizzled out in the middle of sweet FA, and we ended up having to make a route up through sod all under the pylon line.
It was steep, and tough going, and because of this, the Scottish GOD decided that it was the perfect time to piss down with rain.

Decision time..
Frank, Hugh and Barbara (who keeps saying she’ll never do it again?)
Carry on or go back and take the track further East.

Carry On Up then

Eventually we hit the main track again and followed up and over and down through the forest to Fort Augustus.
It makes it quite a long day from Cougie, but good walking mainly, AND there is a bed and a pub at the end.
Well, I hoped there was, as I wasn’t booked in until the next day 🙄

On arriving at Fort Augustus, we went our separate ways.
We would meet up later in the Pub.
There would be a goodly amount of lying around and pub time.

I went up to my B&B to see if I could get tonight as well.
Sadly, that was a NO and so I went to Morag’s lodge and booked in there.
Luckily for me, I had nothing to dry out, just a bit of washing to do, as I had managed to get to here without putting the tent up.
Indeed, I would NOT be putting the tent up until day 5, as I was going to spend the whole of tomorrow bumbling about.
I can say now, that a day off on the way across is NOT to be sneezed at.
I had a day off in 2015, and in 2016, and again in 2017 🤪

So that’s what happened then.
I spent the evening bumbling and at the Loch Inn.
Then moved to the B&B on Mon morning.
Did my washing.
Met up with Martin and Keith during the day on Mon (they were cracking on to camp – Madness!)

Got supplies and then went to the pub again in the evening.

So stressful.

Met up with loads of people, many who I walked with the next day, when I have to say IT TOTALLY PISSED IT DOWN, and we arranged an impromptu Cheese and Wine (NOT the official one mind, I wouldn’t dare), to take place on Tue evening at Challybeate Springs.

Peter and Bert

Jayme and Mario

Pete, Bert, Jayme, Mario, JJ (JJ’s mate whose name eludes me) and a bit of me.

You’ll have to wait to here about that, but it was an absolute CRACKER!

That’s it.
Any errors are purely ERRORS.
Any spelling and grammar errors are totally intentional or maybe not.
Feel free to let me know.
I’ll decide whether to act on them or not.

Any way,I’m off to visit Humphrey… to boogie 🎸😁


6 thoughts on “TGOC 2017 – Days 1 to 4 – Dornie to Fort Augustus but in 3 days because ???

  1. Crikey Andy, your thoughts about the woman with the little dog. You are not allowed to think such things these days, let alone write them down for all to read. I am going to start a petition to get you the Challenge equivalent of 'no platformed'. I reckon you deserve at least a 10 year ban from the event. That'll learn you for being a bloke. 😁

  2. It's all true..Apart from maybe the girl who ran past me the day you dropped me in Braithwaite?? Nope even better.She was maybe the most naturally stunningly beautiful woman, I have ever seen. And……. I am not ashamed to say that.🙂

  3. I'll add to that.It is a sad reflection on the pseudo politically correct post Blairite society we live in, that giving someone a complement nowadays is fraught with the minefield of those pathetic members of society so willing to be deeply offended on behalf of others.. 🤔 🙄😒

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