The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Day 66 - East of Killin to Allt Camghouran

19 June
Distance: 17.8 miles

It was a hideous nightmare.

Not the whole day.

The first ten miles were fine. Although on tarmac and although in the rain, they were through Ben Lawers Nature Reserve, which provided stunning scenery with barely any cars.

Innerwick was a disappointment as yet again we had our hopes up of a cup of tea and a slice of cake and again found that although the tea room advertised itself as being open it was shut.

The route out of Innerwick was complicated by a minor failure to navigate, but the back-track wasn't great, and although still accompanied by rain the Pass of the Swines (or Lairig a' Mhuic as you'll find it on the map) was uneventful.

The pathless yomp up to the col and down the other side was hard going (and accompanied by rain), but we can hardly expect an easy ride in this terrain, can we?

Then we got a kilometre or so into Rannoch Forest and the nightmare began.

There was a fallen tree across the track. Nothing overly unusual there, and around it we bashed.

Then we came to another fallen tree and another and another. The next two kilometres were a mess of fallen trees. There was not a single stretch of twenty metres that didn't contain a fallen tree.

We climbed over, under and round. Branches tore at us and in the style of an assault course at times we had to do a belly crawl and at times had to heave ourselves over (backpacks off, backpacks on, repeat).

We would have gone back and found a different route, except that we kept optimistically thinking that after the next obstacle it would improve and then we'd gone so far that to fight our way back would have been worse than going forward.

It was worse than our bash through a forest last week (by a long way), only this time we were on a track (part of Scottish Hill Track 139 according to my notes). It would be no exaggeration to say that this track was impassable - irrespective of the fact that we fought our way through (and I bet there's some information out there somewhere that, if I'd found it, would have told me that three hundred trees block this part of the route).

Our slow passage was of course accompanied by rain.

All that was bad enough (or if your cup is half full then it was quite an adventure), but about three trees from the end of the nightmare (as it turned out) I noticed that the distinctive yellow tip of the poo-shovel handle was missing from the back of Mick's pack.

Eeek. And we're four days out in the wilds!

Leaving Mick and my pack I tackled the assault course in the other direction (much easier without the pack), but didn't find it within half a km, so gave it up as lost.

Ten minutes later a new shovel was on its way to meet us in Fort Augustus as once again came to the rescue. They're turning out to be a jolly handy supplier of emergency replacement items on this trip - and you know that you can rely on their prompt service. Thanks Bob & Rose!

The day didn't have a bad ending (and there were actually dry spells between the periods of rain, so the weather wasn't quite as bad as I've painted it). We've pitched in a lovely location right next to the picturesque Allt Camghouran which puts us 2.5 miles into tomorrow's route (a pre-planned bit of re-shuffling to reduce Saturday's scheduled 22.5 mile day).


  1. Hi Mick, Hi Gayle - That tea shop is a right sod! I walked 11 miles in the morning a few weeks ago on the Challenge to get there to find it was shut!

    Sounds like you had a horrendous day today - so well done in getting through it so well. Easier day tomorrow - so enjoy it and take time to laugh about today!

    It will be funny in a few days time, honest.

    All the very best to you both,

  2. Thank you for suffering yesterday. I'm relying on you both to trailblaze and so I'll know which route NOT to take next year! You're both doing amazingly well.