Metres ascent: 481
Time taken including 1 hour 45 min stops: 7 hrs 45 mins
No of Challengers encountered: Carole Sinclair plus Mike, Alan and Brian
The night was still and cold and clear and silent. Whatever condensation had formed was soon vapourised when the sun hit the tent at 5.30 am.
A leisurely start saw us leave at 8 am on a beautiful day.
On the way down we found an antler, so we stopped for a brew whilst deciding whether or not to retain it as a trophy. We left it by some rocks.
Down in Glenmallie we said goodbye to the pathless/boggy terrain we had enjoyed for most of the trip thus far, zipped off our trouser legs, and set off along a much quicker rough track. The weather was wonderful. It was a shorts and t-shirt day. We were both glad of our convertible trousers.
A slow worm decorated the track alongside pretty Loch Arkaig, and the path was bordered by wood sorrel, primroses, dog violets, daisies, bluebells, wild strawberries (sadly only the flowers) and more.
We stopped for lunch near trees with soft new leaves. The copper beech foliage was most attractive. Our food supplies had been judged about right, as we were now down to some powdered milk and a couple of tea bags.
Two fishermen in a small boat were the first people we had seen for nearly 24 hours.
A couple of backpackers came the other way near a small museum by a huge mansion that heralded our return to civilisation. They were too young to be Challengers. And too thin. And they were walking too quickly!
From the end of Loch Arkaig a quiet road led all the way - along the shores of Loch Lochy (above) - to Gairlochy, where we picked up another Challenger, Carole, outside a telephone box (a bit of a give away for identifying Challengers) for the last few steps to the friendly camp site at Gairlochy Holiday Park.
It was 4 pm; after an easy day. We set up camp, enjoyed a brew, washed and dried ourselves and our clothes, collected our food parcel, and relaxed in the sun. The table and chairs helped to make us feel at one with the world.
After mistaking several foreign backpackers for TGO Challengers we took a while to identify Alan and Brian as such. Mike drifted in a few minutes later. They had come from Tomdoun today. Quite a hike.
Our food stash provided an excellent meal, including some very powerful chilli con carne that we 'diluted' with new potatoes and mushrooms. Delicious, as was the broccoli, stilton and bacon soup, and the butterscotch dessert.
Sadly, our perfect day has had to come to an end, but at least some chaffinches tried to sing us to sleep before the owls took over..
We managed to exchange a few messages today and were pleased to hear from Alan Sloman, who has reached Beauly, and from Heather, from atop her 12th Munro summit. Also 3 messages from Dave got through, but the vagaries of our phone signal prevent us being more than envious of his excellent Madeira holiday deal.
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