See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2012.html Day 2 for map
Distance: 34.5km (Cum 64)
Ascent: 1000 metres (Cum 1600)
Time taken: 9hrs including stops
Weather: Mainly sunny, with a cool SW breeze
Challengers encountered: None whilst walking; several of the 'Ardrishaig Crew' (Ian, Geoff, Frank, Bert and Vicky) in Inverary
Others encountered: None whilst walking
Flora and Fauna: We are told that yesterday we walked past an osprey's nest, and we failed to notice the beaver dams in the Ford area. New birds include heron, robin, sandpiper and pied wagtails, with Mildred reporting tree pipits, goldcrests and a wren by Carron bothy. New flowers include swathes of pink purslane, speedwells, wild strawberry, common comfrey, ribwort plantain plus various common (buttercups, daisy, gorse etc) stuff not previously mentioned. Mildred did better, she spotted yellow pimpernel, ramsons, herb bennet, herb robert, and a stoat.
'The String of Lorn is a lovely walk through to Carron Bothy' reported a vetter. So after saying our goodbyes to Alison on her warm, calm, midgy doorstep we set off in high spirits on a sunny morning.
We soon noticed whole rows of trees that had blown down in the winter gales, and all day we continued to see these, as well as quite a bit of bare countryside due to felling operations.
After a minor diversion to avoid a quagmire that we had been warned about, we joined the old stalkers path to Carron. Except that it had gone, having been replaced for three kilometres by a broad road, with various bits of construction machinery littering the surrounding hillside. Wind farm paraphernalia.
A little further on, next to the old stalkers path, lurked what looked like a giant lavatory bowl. It was a 'Triton Sonic Wind Profiler'. Oh dear, what is to become of this beautiful landscape?
Once through that devastation, however, the old path was indeed delightful, all the way to Carron, where last night's occupant of the bothy, Mildred, had left it looking really spic and span.
The visitors book had some lovely messages, and we could see outside that last night's camping Challengers may have enjoyed a sumptuous feast of bracken stew.
A lovely forest path (pictured above) with high banks of primroses, then led us to another relative motorway - a 'Forest Ride' accessible to all vehicles. Admittedly subject to a 15mph speed limit.
A short cut through the forest to Beinn Ghlas was spotted. We duly heaved ourselves up to the 420 metre trig point with fine views. Ben Lui sparkled in the distance like a Christmas pudding dipped in icing sugar. We enjoyed the moment over lunch in a sheltered spot. Wonderful.
Two wind farms intruded into our view, but I suppose we shouldn't complain, it was clear that Beinn Ghlas's lonely trig point receives few visits. We wondered whether Julie Harle had made it up here yesterday - it was on her planned route.
From there we regained the forest track via an area of felled trees. I gave my feet a break by wearing trainers for the next 6km. The downside of this was sore shoulders from the extra weight in the rucksack.
We passed Auchindrain -
"A UNIQUE PLACE - There's nowhere like it in Scotland. Auchindrain (pronounced Aach-andryen, from the Gaelic Achadh an Droighinn, Field of the Thorntree) gives visitors a fascinating and authentic insight into how people lived, worked and played in the old Highlands, from the first record of Auchindrain in 1533 to when the last resident moved away in 1967."
It's apparently recognised worldwide as the last and most complete example of a Highland farm township, where a group of families worked the land in common. Agricultural improvements in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Highland Clearances and the development of crofting changed farming, families and the face of the Highlands forever, but Auchindrain carried on much as before, just slowly evolving. The museum provides an opportunity to see life as it was, and to share the stories of the families who lived here as tenants of the Duke of Argyll.
It is from nearby Brenchoille that modern day creations have accrued from the efforts of one Roger Smith, who I'm told created a footpath network to Furnace. This area must be a favourite of Roger's, so is surely worthy of inclusion on any Challenger's route. I harbour happy memories of woodland walks undertaken whilst on family holidays at nearby Minard.
After a quick 3km along the busy main road, we hid behind a wall whilst a short squall passed through and I returned to boots. From there it was a delightful stroll into Inverary, down Forestry lanes then past a large campsite beyond which fine views up Loch Fyne dominated. One of those is shown above.
A flowery green lane led us finally into the back streets of the town and to the reuniting greetings of other Challengers and the welcome of the SYHA.
(You don't HAVE to read the next bit, which is courtesy of Wikipedia, but it may be of interest.)
"Inveraray is the traditional county town of Argyll and ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll. In 1744 the third Duke of Argyll decided to demolish the existing castle and start from scratch with a new building. The castle was 40 years in construction, and the work was largely supervised by the Adam family, still renowned to this day as gifted architects and designers. The end product was not a castle in the traditional sense, but a classic Georgian mansion house on a grand scale, Inveraray Castle. Over the years the castle has played host to numerous luminaries; Queen Victoria visited it in 1847, and the Royal connection was further cemented when her daughter, Princess Louise, married the heir to the Campbell chieftainship, the Marquis of Lorne, in 1875, illustrating the elevated position of the Argyll family in the social pecking order of the times. The town prior to the reconstruction of the castle was little more than a collection of humble cottages adjacent to the castle site and the Duke wished that the populace be moved to improve the appearance of his home. As early as 1747 William Adam had drawn up plans for the creation of a new Inveraray. By 1770, however, little had been done, and it was the fifth Duke who set about rebuilding the town in its present form. Much of the work on the rebuilt Inveraray was done by John Adam, the Argyll Hotel on Front Street being his, as well as the Town House. The end product was an attractive town which included houses for estate workers, a woollen mill, and a pier to exploit herring fishing, which was to mushroom in later years to play a major role in the town's economy. The finished product is one of the best examples of an 18th century new town in Scotland, and the vast majority of the properties in the centre of Inveraray are considered worthy of protection because of the town's architectural significance. The celebrated essayist Doctor Johnson, himself no fan of Scotland, was moved to comment on the new Inveraray: "What I admire here is the total defiance of expense"."
The meal at the George was excellent, and later we enjoyed a good blether with a number of Challengers, past and present, before taking to an early bed. We'd all had a long and tiring day.
Thanks as always for your comments, everyone. It was particularly nice to hear from Norma and Phil, who we would normally expect to encounter somewhere en route, grinning broadly under their heavy loads.
We have another longish day tomorrow, with a slightly 'iffy' weather forecast, (but thankfully no high summits) so I'd better get some sleep!
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