See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 5 for map of planned route - we took an easier option. Again!
Distance: 16km (Cum 103) [Mike 15 - Cum 95]
Ascent: 340 metres (Cum 4675) [Mike 135 - Cum 3755]
Time taken: 5.2hrs including 1.2hrs stops [Mike - 1.7hrs stops]
Weather: fine with sunny periods
Challengers encountered: at Bridge of Gaur Guest House - Lou and Phyllis La Borwit, the Fowkes quartet - Bernard, Margaret, Jackie and Emily, and camping outside (but eating in) - Dentally challenged [he says I got the 'D' wrong] Des Horan and sleeping expert Koos Schellevis
Others encountered: only Heather and Eddie at their splendid Guest House
Flora and Fauna: cuckoos are seen as well as heard, and a sparrowhawk catching its lunch, as well as lots of wild flowers on the ascent of Meall Chomraidh - butterwort, tormentil, wood anemone, dog violets, etc
Best bit: a brew stop in the sun on a windless day/the great hospitality here
Worst bit: can't think of one, other than the paucity of summits on a fine day
We slept early and woke late on a calm, rainless night. After a good lie in we eventually set off before 9.30 on a boggy quest to join the old drove road through Rannoch Forest. We saw four people behind us but they didn't catch us. It later transpired that they included the La Borwits, who are nearly 20 years older than us, so can be justified in being slower.
The route through the forest was scenically challenging, unless you like pine forests, but was pleasant enough on a good track.
Mid morning brew stops should feature highly on any Challenge, but today's (pictured) was only our second in five days. A record. It was a highlight of today's walk.
Readers may be aware of my predilection to higher ground. Mike is not so afflicted. So when we exited the forest, Mike was happy to linger over his lunch (and to be fair, I did lend him some bird-watching binoculars to occupy the time) whilst I strolled to the summit of Meall Chomraidh. The views to the east were excellent, with Loch Rannoch and Schiehallion dominant, whilst an ominous belt of low cloud and rain appeared to be racing in from the west. After a chat with Sue and the despatch of Sunday's posting (sorry, but this was the first phone signal since Bridge of Orchy), and loads of photos, I enjoyed a time trial against the rain and descended back to Mike in ten minutes.
Bridge of Gaur was only 45 minutes down the good track, and we were there by 2.45pm, which turned out to be several hours before the rain eventually arrived. Better to arrive dry than wet, though, albeit very early, as we were sure that Heather and Eddie would have been inundated with wet Challengers yesterday. (They were, Ron Reynolds, a man with just a few Challenges - 20+ - under his belt taking the prize for not having a single item of dry clothing.)
Perhaps I had time to pop up Leagag, but the day was better spent in the sociable company of the above-mentioned fellow guests and campers - there is no room at the inn for Des and Koos (who for the sake of pronunciation prefers to go by the name of Dick), who are camped on the lawn but eating here. The Fowkes quartet unfortunately failed to notice the guest house sign and carried out a misdirected tour of Bridge of Gaur before finally landing at this Shangri La.
We had a lovely evening with fine food and wine as well as the excellent company of our fellow guests and our hosts. I was flattered to learn that Phyllis occasionally tunes in to these ramblings. Hello Phyllis - I do sincerely hope that your adjusted route proved to be a success.
Thanks for your messages - Aussie Mike, the weather is certainly not up to its usual standard, with an obnoxious low pressure sitting stubbornly off the north of Scotland.
That's all for now. Normal service (ie rain, hills) may be resumed tomorrow, after these very easy two 'half days'.
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