See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2012.html Day 6 for map of planned route
Distance: 26km (Cum 186.3)
Ascent: 700 metres (Cum 4800)
Time taken: 7hrs including stops
Weather: fine, mainly sunny, light shower later, cool NW breeze
Challengers encountered: Tony and Nik, at both Bridge of Gaur and Kinloch Rannoch; Graham Weaver and Oliver Robinson at Bridge of Gaur; Phil East on the road walk into Kinloch Rannoch; Alan and Catherine Watt at Bunrannoch House
Others encountered: two day walkers passed nearby this afternoon; Ben and Rita at Bunrannoch House
Flora and Fauna: more red deer, nearby cuckoo on a post, nutcracker-like bird in the woods
A very leisurely start saw us following Tony out of Bridge of Gaur after 10am, after leaving Nik with Eddie and a conundrum of how to get her maggoty deer's head, complete with antlers, back home to Nottingham. She had carted it lovingly from Rannoch Forest, trying quite hard to limit the number of maggots falling down her neck.
We soon passed Graham and Oliver at the T-junction where a left turn took us down to the Braes of Rannoch church, where the Rev A E Robertson (1870-1958) was minister from the date this new church opened in 1907 until his retirement in 1920.
Robertson's main claim to fame is as the first 'compleater' of Sir Hugh Munro's list of Scottish mountains over 3000 feet high, in 1901. It wasn't until 1923 that anyone else matched his feat, an achievement now accomplished by several hundred folk every year. Today's list of summits is much more accurate than in Robertson's day, when tops like the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye didn't make it onto Munro's list. Sir Hugh was constantly updating his list and would undoubtedly have utilised the modern techniques used by the Munro Society in its 'heightings' to continue to enhance the accuracy of his list.
Graham joined us in the little church, and he kindly rescued Sue's waterproof jacket when it escaped from her clutches. She doesn't have much to carry, but ... Graham was duly rewarded with a piece of shortbread - she would never drop that!
We left the lads to walk down the road (seemingly a favourite occupation of this year's Challengers) and followed Tony up the track that branches to pass boggily around the back of Leagag, the route to the top of which is really pretty easy.
At 601 metres, Leagag's summit is a pretty modest height, but on a clear day like today its views are wide ranging, with snow clad Ben Alder shining brightly across Loch Rannoch (pictured above), the big western mountain ranges lining up for identification, and the distinctive snub of Schiehallion ever closer to the east.
We drank in those views and watched Tony disappearing onto the forest path far below, before descending steeply down the eastern flank of the hill to a sunny lunch spot on the edge of the forest.
Initially the surface of the forest track was hard and wide, where recent operations had amputated much of what had been growing nearby, but soon after passing an unexplained wooden cross adorned by a well ripped black bin liner, it transformed into a pleasant woodland path through stands of lovely old pine forest (as predicted by David on Day 1).
A second and rather lengthy lunch, enhanced by Braeburns from Heather and Skittles from Bob and Rose, was taken (pictured) in the woods, surrounded by wood anemones, beside the Bogair Burn.
A gentle forest descent then led us down to the small hamlet of Carie, where the nice looking camp site sported a red Akto and a green Nallo - tents surely housing other Challengers.
Reaching the road, we joined Phil East for the walk into Kinloch Rannoch. He was walking with Dave Catanach and Conrad Woolcock, who were somewhere unseen on the road behind us. We should see Phil again at tomorrow night's lodgings. He had stories of unhelpful hoteliers at Glenfinnan, where he had finished up spending a night in the station waiting room.
A passing shower, the foretaste of more continuous rain, did little to dampen our spirits as we entered Kinloch Rannoch and said goodbye to Phil as he headed off to the town centre. Ben and Rita, proprietors of Bunrannoch House, were anything but unhelpful, and we were soon installed in front of tea and cake in their guests' lounge. Tony and Nik appeared, and we enjoyed a pleasant evening with them and with Alan and Catherine Watt. I've never previously encountered a B+B Challenger whilst on the walk, but tonight Nik was the odd one out - of the six of us, she was the only one carrying a tent, though she has only used it once.
So, here we are in Kinloch Rannoch.
Formerly a tiny hamlet, it was enlarged and settled, under the direction of James Small, formerly an Ensign in Lord Loudoun's Regiment, mainly by soldiers discharged from the army, but also by displaced crofters. Small had been appointed by the Commissioners for the Forfeited Estates to run the Rannoch estates, which had been seized from the clan chieftains who had supported the Jacobites following the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Local roads and bridges were improved, enabling soldiers at Rannoch Barracks to move more freely around the district. Small was supported by Dugald Buchanan and his wife, who taught the villagers new trades and crafts. Dugald was a local schoolmaster and Gaelic poet, who is commemorated by a large monument in the centre of the square in Kinloch Rannoch. He worked with James Stuart (Church of Scotland) of Killin on Bible translations into Scottish Gaelic.
Near the village is a hill reputed to resemble the head, shoulders, and torso of a man. It has been given the name of "The Sleeping Giant". Local myth says that the giant will wake up only when he hears the sounds of his master's flute.
The village and some of its inhabitants were featured in the film Shepherd on the Rock.
That's all for today apart from a note on comments:
Martin R, this is indeed a crossing laced with history. But that actually applies to any crossing of Scotland, or anywhere else for that matter. It's just that I'm trying to vary the reporting style by including a bit of history or 'local interest' where I can.
Gibson, there is no 'peat bog' photo, not because of the 'civilising Scottish influence' (sadly), but in my excitement I pressed the wrong button and turned off the camera!
Paul, it's good to hear from you - good luck with your 'Footprints'.
Alan R, up here it can be warm and sunny sitting behind a sheltered wall, stepping out from which the Arctic wind can be like stepping into a drafty fridge! Your comments do continue to entertain us Alan - well done.
Helen - good to hear from you, we'll be in touch when we get home.
Others: you may have noticed some spam advertising from the likes of Crish Hell and Camp Stove - these are unwelcome and will be deleted asap (it's not easy to do that from the phone); please don't click on their embedded links - they may be harmful.
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