Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Monday, 18 May 2009

TGO Challenge 2009 - Day 10 - Wilderness Camp at 720 metres to Wilderness Camp south east of Fealar Lodge, at 580 metres (NO 018 789) - A Fine Day in the Highlands

Distance walked: 23.0 km
Metres ascent: 1093
Time taken including 1 hour 20 min stops: 9 hrs 35 mins
No of Challengers encountered: 0
No of people seen: 9

As we dived into the Nallo last night the rain started to lash down, as is its wont.

We were happy and dry, but the showers continued until early morning, with the cloud base just above us.

But the pressure was rising so we thought things would improve. True to form for this trip, as we exited the tent the rain stopped. For the whole day. So as I write this from, sadly, our 8th and last wild camp of this trip, I am yet again being dazzled by the late sun - the tent is pitched facing west, as on all except the first night of the trip - that's nine days of easterly winds when we would normally expect westerlies.

Anyway, the clouds raced with us up the easy Corbett - Beinn Mheadhonach. We only managed to overhaul them 50 metres below the summit, so we nearly got a view.

An easy river crossing, one of many on this trip, on the way to Carn a' Chlamain

The rough going to Carn a' Chlamain, our 11th Munro of the trip, was made easier by the clearing weather, with the dark low clouds of the early morning being gradually replaced by high white fluffy ones for the rest of the day.

And a truly fine day it was, as you will see from the images when they appear here in a week or so's time.

Here they are:


Top: Sue was fascinated by this plant - can anyone identify it?
Middle: on the summit of Carn a' Chlamain
Bottom: descending to the warmth of Glen Tilt

From the summit a good path led down to Glen Tilt, which was simply glorious to walk up this afternoon, after we'd enjoyed lunch in a wonderfully sheltered spot on an old bridge parapet below some falls. 10/10.

At around 300 metres, this was the lowest our route had taken us since Kinloch Laggan, some four days ago.

Above: striding up Glen Tilt
Below: "Let's cross this bridge!" said Sue

Neither of us had ever been to Glen Tilt before. We commend it, though we found the Falls of Tarf, viewed from a magnificent suspension bridge built in 1886 and commemorating the drowning of a 16 year old in that place a few years earlier, just a little disappointing.



From the falls a pleasant path led over to Fealar Lodge, from where we yomped over a low ridge to reach this pleasant camping spot near the confluence of two rivers. It's just a couple of hundred metres from our planned location, though we did use Crocs to get across the river to this flat patch of grass.

Fealar Lodge is very remote, and high at 550 metres.

I'd expected to find a bolted up hunting lodge, but from the top of the Munro, some 7 km away, it had somehow looked more than that. It still surprised us when it came into close view. A working farm. Painted pink. Including the outbuildings.

The bright sunshine brought the wildlife out today. For a change, the birds were not being blown backwards any more. There were plenty of oyster catchers and lapwings, chaffinches in the woods, a dipper scooting low up the river, and curlew, wheatears, pipits and skylarks on the moors. Plus several more moorland and river birds that we struggle to identify.

We saw our first bloom of tormentil, that unmistakable small yellow flower with just four petals, on the approach to Fealar, in an area where there was an abundance of the white flowers of wood anemone, flowering much later here than at home.

There's now a lot of lady's mantle around, as well as dog violets and the odd marsh marigold. We spotted a lone vetch in some grass by the Fealar path.

The butterwort plant is distinctive and ubiquitous, with its circle of pale green basal leaves. It must be due to come into flower, but we have yet to see any of its single stemmed pale blue flytraps.

The surprise of the day looked like a discarded piece of rope lying across the path, about two feet long. The first surprise was that it moved. We drew closer. It turned and hissed loudly at us. The stand off lasted a couple of minutes. Photos will follow in due course (see below), but sadly I didn't have the presence of mind to take one with this gadget. Neither Sue nor I had seen such an impressive adder before - a good inch in diameter at its fattest point, and in the past they have always scurried quickly away from us, not turned on the offensive.

A highlight indeed, of a fine highland day, continuing as I write (8 pm) with the calls of curlew, grouse and other birds, and the gentle babble of the river we had to cross to reach this fine piece of turf.


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