Route: as planned, with some adjustments
See http:/www.topwalks.com/tgoc2013.html Day 5 for map
Distance: 34 km (Cum 130)
Ascent: 900 metres (Cum 4980)
Time taken: 9.6 hrs including 1.5 hrs stops
Weather: fine with long sunny periods, rainy evening
Challengers encountered: none
A sunny morning greeted us through the curtains. The tent was soon down (think I'm joking? - no, but I slept in the bed) and a brew was on.
Breakfast was excellent. Then Ali and Charles set off in one direction and I took the low road. We had spent last night with Charles, who is tackling the Cape Wrath Trail. Good luck Charles, if you read this.
The day was bright and clear - excellent walking weather.
Tarmac was to feature quite a bit on my route. My first attempt to leave it failed due to my planned route being blocked by the new Beauly - Denny power line. But that left me a better alternative, albeit featuring a runnel of deep bog.
My first encounter of the day was with a very friendly chap who was mowing grass outside Beaufort Castle. He told me where to see ospreys nearby. So I went to the spot for lunch, but the birds eluded me.
I pottered on to Cabrich, for a good natter with a complete stranger, Donald West. He was going to the Struy Hotel tonight. "Great food" he enthused. I agreed. He recalled that the hotel used to be the estate office for the Chisholm estate, when the Chisholms had a pub by the river near Inchmore. Apparently the drovers used to get their cattle to that point and say 'not an inch more' as they headed for the pub. It was shut by the Chisholms the day after as drunken customer drowned in the river. It never reopened.
After the beautiful woodland of Moniack came the ascent to An Leacainn, my high point of the day. First I took the wrong track for a kilometre and reached a half built house with a grass roof. Then after retracing to find it, the correct path, when located, turned out to be very rough, boggy and hard to follow. It was quite late when I finally reached the trig point, which informed me that this was 'The Place of Flagstones'. It also had good views and a cold wind.
Readers may expect mention of Ben Wyvis, of which I should have seen much today. It was hidden from the world, present only by virtue of houses named 'Wyvis View'. A postman's nightmare.
Descending from An Leacainn, I came across the irresistible track of the Great Glen Way. As it was late, with rain in the air, I abandoned my planned route over Cnoc na Gaoithe in favour of the pristine highway. This led to a more direct path into Dochgarroch, or so I thought. I was wrong. Private tracks forced a 3km detour. It was 7pm by the time I finally reached my destination. But there was no sign of a campsite. A planning error on my part.
Luckily there were some Air Force cadets camped by the lock, and they kindly lent me a key to the Waterways toilets. My pitch beside picnic benches was flat and comfy. After nearly setting fire to my tent I enjoyed a pleasant evening with an excellent dinner, followed by a long sleep.
More about the route issue tomorrow, and I may mention the fire...
Sent from beside the Caledonian Canal