Metres ascent: 753
Time taken: 10.4 hours including 2.2 hours stops
No of Challengers seen: 0
No of Human Encounters: 2
The predicted rain came, gently, in the middle of the night. I woke to a gloomy, mizzly world of mountains draped in cloud.
So I lay in bed and did some washing. I may have no 'Linolight' (see Alan Sloman's blog) but I can do my washing whilst still in bed. I think Alan has a 'man' to do his washing for him, and from what I can see, his Challenge is to get across Scotland using as many hotel rooms as possible and never camping for more than one night at a time..
(I'm just bitter, Alan, that nobody is being sociable on this route with no hotels - yet.)
Setting off towards Corrour Station, I discovered a path. I'd inadvertently camped on it.
The station was deserted.
Loch Ossian Youth Hostel had a few tents outside. Challengers having a lie in?
I stumbled on along a nice green lane to Peter's Rock - marked on OS maps. It's a small rock with a rather sad plaque:
In Memory of Peter J Trowell
Born Sept 1949 -- Died March 1979
At Loch Ossian
I have a friend a song and a glass
Gaily along life's road I pass
Joyous and free out of doors for me
Over the hills in the morning
My overnight temptation to traverse Carn Dearg from here, only an extra 400 metres ascent, was quelled by the low cloud, though by now it had virtually stopped raining. I'll keep the memory of my ascent on a lovely summer's day, with Nick before his globe trotting days.
There were cuckoos in the Ossian woods, but it was otherwise very calm and quiet apart from the occasional trickle of a stream under the soft blanket of cloud that cloaked the moor.
Further on, the extensive ruins of what must once have been a magnificent sight, and a hive of activity - Corrour Old Lodge. I enjoyed a second breakfast there and, on the advice of my vetter, explored the ruins. The Lodge possibly entered into disuse before the age of photography, but if there are photos, or even paintings, these would be very interesting and would certainly not feature the Blackwater Reservoir in the background.
Over the past few days I've walked on paths shredded by the recent passage of trial bikes. This fine old path, or 'mule track', as it would be known in the Alps, is a prime example. It was not, and is not, built for trial bikes. I know that it's all above board - part of an annual event based in Fort William - and that the bikers are enthusiasts, passionate about their sport, and their routes can be as challenging as many a TGOC route, so I'm reluctant to make an issue of it. It's an observation, then; the paths have been 'shredded'.
In contrast, the walk up Sron Smeur was pathless and pleasantly easy.
"You can't walk past Sron Smeur" opined my esteemed vetter.
Correct. It's a fine little hill with tremendous views to all points of the compass, with lochs and reservoirs radiating as if this were the centre of the world. Not surprising then that a phone signal miraculously appeared as I approached the summit - giving me all the more reason to linger at this special place. It was the highlight of the day.
However, I missed a trick. By blinkeredly following my planned route, and forgetting how dry it is, I missed the opportunity to take a short cut over some no doubt boggy terrain. It would have saved a lot of road walking.
Anyway, after confirming that my planned camping spot would have been fine, with the 'camping spot beside track' waymark ok in an emergency, I had lunch in the sun (not that enjoyable due to a nose bleed) then headed off down the road to Bridge of Gaur.
"Mr Ellis, I presume" - I was greeted warmly by the Challenge Friendly proprietor of the Bridge of Gaur Guesthouse, whose Linolights most definitely work. He was looking out for Les Ellis and assumed I was his man. We chatted, as a result of which my trial bike comment appears above - I wasn't going to say anything, by way of a quid pro quo for the privilege of being allowed to wild camp. But wild camping doesn't shred paths.
Then after a pre-planned call to 'Uncle Roger' at TGOC Control to confirm I was alive and well, I set off up this rather ordinary glen along a metaled estate road, to camp in another excellent spot - at 400 metres - across the river from the ruin of a two roomed house.
A heron is fishing nearby as the sky reddens. Is this a 'volcanic ash sunset'?
Martin R - thanks!
Louise - I heard you met Sloman - no doubt whinging about his Linolight. It seems to be Most Important to him at present. I hope we meet up - I still owe you a prize.
Mark - thanks - I never cease to be amazed that a 'proper writer' should be interested, especially when one blogger comments disparagingly "I prefer to write it up properly when I get home" - you never know what's going to happen next doing it this way, and it has greater 'immediacy'. Will we see you on the Challenge next year?
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