See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2011.html Day 4 for map of planned route - the option forced upon us was easier.
Distance: 27.5km (Cum 124.5)
Ascent: 500 metres approx (Cum 3000)
Time taken: 7hrs including stops
Weather: sunny periods with rain in the air, after early heavy showers, turning into a very pleasant afternoon
Challengers encountered: none whilst walking, Nik Lawcock is at Bridge of Orchy and has been involved in a river crossing and misplaced waterproof epic. Her waterproof is due to return, having been mistakenly taken home by three people who gave up. We've also heard stories of another epic river crossing undertaken by Julie Harle, and a gent who got the train home after one wet night - what a waste of a space on the Challenge...
Others encountered: nobody during the walk, other than a few motorists and a kind lady who offered us a lift. Various people at B of O doing the West Highland Way, and Marion, a LEJOGer.
Flora and Fauna: Canada Geese, pheasant, common milkwort, plus - as always - much already seen.
By 7.45am this morning we felt that 10 hours of luxuriating under the canopy of our four poster, listening to the splatter of rain against the window, was perhaps enough. We thought of Geoff under his tarp.
Rebecca's full English breakfast set us up for another long day in the hills. We thought again of Geoff in his tarp, and of Frank with his 'micro-portions' of food.
"You're only jealous" would no doubt be Geoff's (not unfair) response. You can follow his progress via his 'Litehiker' blog (http://litehikersblog.blogspot.com)
We set off quite late (9.20) after chatting to a couple from Yukon over breakfast. After admiring the church from the shelter of a tree in a heavy burst of rain, we set off along the metalled road on the north bank of the River Orchy, soon finding ourselves on a pleasant unsurfaced track (pictured) next to the fast flowing river.
The path eventually faded into a marshy area near where our route indicated a short ascent. Our short cut across lower ground would have been fine if we had noticed an easy crossing of one of many side streams, all in spate, near its outflow into the main river. As it was, we dared not risk the steep torrent, and headed steeply up for
several hundred metres before finding a crossing place.
Back beside the River Orchy we were disappointed not to see any kayakers. The river (pictured) was in spate, and was giving a very clear demonstration to confirm its reputation for having some of the best white water in the UK.
After a short section along the quiet B8074 road, we left this at Eas Urchaidh in order to head up the good forestry track beside Allt Broighleachan. A pleasant route. Until we got to NN 230 333, where Lorne Forestry's signs prohibited further progress. We paused for lunch under a tree canopy that protected us from the rain rather better than yesterday's wall, whilst debating our options. We planned to leave the forestry track after an hour or so to ascend Meall Tairbh, so perhaps we should continue? Sue would have done, but I'm a bit of a wimp on such matters. So we turned tail and returned to the B8074 road, cursing Lorne's inconsiderate foresters for failing to properly site their notices (which should have been at Eas Urchaidh) and for failing to explain the extent of the closed path. As we strolled beside the River Orchy to our destination, we could see devastated areas of recently felled forest near the track beyond where we had planned to leave it, so we'd probably have been ok continuing along the closed track, especially as there was no sign whatsoever of anyone working in the forest today. They possibly just 'forgot' to take the signs down, lazy *******.
This all made for a comparatively short and easy day, albeit with rather too much tarmac, with the bonus of the company of the impressive River Orchy in spate.
Reaching Bridge of Orchy by 4.30, we had plenty of time to contemplate the history of the small Central Highland hamlet. Dating back to 1751, It now includes the tourist hotel in whose bunkhouse we are ensconced. Located at the head of Glen Orchy, it's on the A82 road, has a railway station and, as many readers will no doubt be aware, is on the West Highland Way (WHW) long distance path. This makes life very easy for the hotel, whose profits come on a WHW plate, whilst slightly off-route hostelries struggle to survive. The bunkhouse is ill equipped to say the least, with cereal bowls doubling as teacups!
Nearby prominent peaks include the munros Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dòthaidh. The eponymous bridge was constructed by Government forces as part of a programme of pacification of the Highland Clans, which involved the construction of military roads from the Lowlands into the much wilder upland areas of Scotland. It crosses the River Orchy, acknowledged as indicated above as one of the finest white-water rivers in the UK.
The hotel, staffed by enthusiastic Aussies, South Africans and Eastern Europeans, does 80 to 100 covers a night. A veritable gold mine. We took two of those places tonight, and to be fair the food was very good.
Condolences go to Alan R, and any other (I don't think there are any) readers who admit to being of 'Red' persuasion.
Thanks for other comments, and for your weather forecast, Gibson - the B of O Hotel hasn't bothered to update theirs today. I'm afraid that those requesting 'more pictures' (Martin R) will have to make do with just one or two a day, 'for technical reasons'.
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