Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sunday 11 May 2014 - TGO Challenge - Day 3 - Sgurr Mhurlagain to Torness (Gairlochy campsite)

Route: Dubious weather and over ambitious planning saw me abandon my plan to slog my way over the summits north of Loch Arkaig. Insead, I descended to the road and enjoyed the easy stroll to Gairlochy. 

Distance: 25 km (Cum: 72)

Ascent: 400 metres (Cum: 3250)

Time taken: 8.0 hrs including 2.0 hrs breaks

Weather: rain stopped when I exited the tent, then the mist cleared for a warm day of sunny periods and a shower.

Click on the link below (Day 3) for details of my planned route:

I forgot to mention that yesterday's picture was of the snow on the north side of Sgurr Mhurlagain. That hill isn't much higher than 850 metres, so the snow to the north of higher summits may be impressive. 

Today's image is of Loch Arkaig, with Sam Hackett, during our elevenses break.

Having made the decision to descend from my misty but comfy camp, I treated myself to a lie in whilst the rain continued where it had left off when I went to sleep last night in the wet cloud in which I was still immersed.

I'd just converted an excruciatingly tough day into a very easy one.

It took an hour over easy ground, soon descending below the cloud base and disturbing numerous deer, to reach the quiet single track road that undulates alongside the north shore of Loch Arkaig. It proved quite pleasant to walk along after yesterday's roughness, and Sam was good company after he caught up with me, as were a trio from Telford - Alan, Anne and Nigel. I hope that those three reached Fort William in time for tea.

The tree lined loch was very pretty. This year the trees are more advanced than usual and are rich with foliage in all shades of green. As Sam and I enjoyed our half hour break, woodpeckers entertained us from above. 

We reached the Clan Cameron museum at one o'clock after enduring the 'shower of the day' for about an hour. The museum opens from 1.30 to 4.30. So we took advantage of the large picnic bench outside and brewed up in comfort. The Telford trio were dining on Mountain House dried meals. They looked disgusting. "They are disgusting" quipped Nigel as he headed to the garden to use his as fertiliser. 

We drifted off, one by one, after ice creams and an hour on the bench in the sunshine, having reverted to t-shirt attire. 

The Great Glen Way was soon joined - a delightful woodland path skirting the western end of Loch Lochy. Great views down the loch that Sue will remember from 2009. Wood Sorrel and Wood Anemone line the path at this time of year, together with violets, bluebells and all the usual spring delights of these parts. There's also a concrete landing craft structure that was used for training purposes in WW2, and even one or two wrecks. 

At Gairlochy lochs a surprise awaited. Apart from Sue and Chris Marshall, Markus and Philipp, the two Austrians, were there to greet me. I walked up to the campsite with them. Markus is just about coping with carrying Philipp's two kilo tripod, which has yet to be used.

It was something of another surprise to find Mike Gillespie and his two cohorts, Pat and Alan, on the site. I should have quipped "have you spent the past five years here?" but I didn't think fast enough. Is it really that long since Sue and I met Mike's team at this very spot? 

We are a select band of four Challengers staying here tonight. Thanks for the company folks, albeit somewhat disrupted by midges then rain. And thanks for opening my can of strawberries - they were delicious with the chocolate custard!

A call to Alvar at Challenge control confirmed the rumour that Tim Wood had dropped out at Mallaig before starting. It's just not the same for him without Kate. I'm sure everyone who knows Tim will wish him and Marjorie well. 

Alvar didn't mention any other problems, but then I received two messages. One from Markus to say they had chosen an easier route to Dalwhinnie so would not be seeing me tomorrow as planned. That's fine, I'm so glad they let me know. Also a message from Heather T-S who had been involved in an evacuation of a non Challenger to Glenfinnan this afternoon, when a bed and a food parcel was waiting for her in Spean Bridge. What bad luck - I do hope she's able to continue.

Sent from rainy (when it's not midgy) Torness

4 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

Hi Martin. I stayed on that camp site on my LEJOG. The lady had just experienced a very rude man, who a few minutes before had stopped in his car and questioned me about camp sites before I had arrived there. He had complained to her about prices and gone off in a huff. I sympathised and was rewarded with a free bottle of beer.

Phreerunner said...

It cost me £7.50 last night, including shower and parcel storage. Very good value. Morar campsite (had I stayed there) would have been an extra tenner.

David A said...

An interesting read Martin!

'A Non-Challenger.'(thanks very much!)

Phreerunner said...

Hello 'Non-Challenger' - and thanks for your comment. I didn't really know how best to refer to you, hence the nondescript reference - I hope it didn't offend, and that you are now well and truly on the mend, friend...