Sunday, 21 May 2017
TGO Challenge 2017 - Day 9 - beyond Kenmore (NN 802 431) to beyond Amulree (NN 914 349)
Route: roughly as planned: minor road 5 km on from Kenmore > minor road E > Garrow (River Quaich) > track to Wester Shian > Auchnacloich > L to Turrerich > NE shore of Loch Freuchie > Wester Kinloch > Amulree > A822 > track to Girron > continue to grass by gate at NN 914 349
Distance: 18 km (Cum: 185)
Ascent: 310 metres (Cum: 7080)
Time taken: 5 hrs including 1 hr breaks
Weather: light rain overnight continued all day, intensifying into heavy showers
I woke up to a damp morning. The Lochan was doused in cloud, with visibility very limited up here at 500 metres.
After two hours of Morse (book 2 - Last Seen Wearing - was finished) and a slow breakfast I finally faced the rain and struck camp. Thanks to the tent's spacious interior it's easy to pack everything up indoors before taking the tent down.
I'd already done most of the day's climbing, so it was an easy stroll up to the top of the pass and a pleasant descent, with no traffic, into Glen Quaich.
The glen could be designated a nature reserve. It's absolutely full of birds - snipe, curlew, lapwing, oyster catcher - these were the commonest but there were also birds of prey and various medium/small birds that I couldn't identify. Ken and Anne would love it here. Rabbit would be on the menu for the birds of prey.
The glen is however marred by a battalion of huge power lines that march through it.
Beyond Turrerich Farm I stopped for a brief chat under a leafy canopy with three day walkers. Nearly every group of hikers you meet on this sort of trip know someone who has done the Challenge, which many recall as the Ultimate Challenge, from the days of its first sponsor. It's now in its 38th year.
After the very amenable path to the north of Loch Freuchie I drifted past some nice properties and into the hamlet of Amulree.
The place was a disappointment. It used to have both a hotel and a coffee shop. There was no sign of the latter, and the hotel was largely boarded up and in a state of serious disrepair. I sat under the porch and ate some mackerel and oatcakes next to a foundation stone dated 1714. To my surprise there must have been somebody inside, unless the hotel was somehow generating its own Moody Blues.
Setting off again into the rain, I passed the parish church that contains copies of records of the large number of people who stayed there prior to mass emigration - mostly to North Easthope, Canada - in the early 19th Century. The church is linked with Aberfeldy Parish Church. An interesting history "Amulree and its Church" was written by a resident Nancy Enniskillen in 1990.
Amulree is mentioned in the song Drover Road by the Western group Cowboy Celtic. Perhaps today's sad spot - albeit perhaps a haven for those who live there - had a lively past.
I was soon heading along a tussock lined path signed 'Harrietfield 7 miles', not that I'm going that far along it.
About a kilometre past Girron, as the skies blackened, a good patch of grass next to a gate forced a quick decision. The tent was up and the rucksack inside before the deluge arrived, soaking me as I pegged the tent out and chatted to a couple of curious dog walkers.
It was 2.30 and I am 3 km into tomorrow's route.
Despite the inclement weather I've enjoyed today. It's always interesting going on 'new' routes, and I've walked only a very small proportion of this year's route before. That's good!
Today's pictures: Looking down Glen Quaich, in Glen Quaich, the sad hotel, my tent with tomorrow's summit in view.
Dodgy signal here, so who knows when it'll post. Meanwhile Morse (book 3) calls - I'm glad I brought the Kindle.