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, 5 May 2011

Day 37 - Killin to S of the W edge of Rannoch Forest

Tuesday 3 May (0840-1550)
Distance: 20.5 miles (Tot: 649.5)
Weather: mainly sunny; 4 oktas of cloud early on, clearing as the day went on. Hardly any of them obscured the sun
Number of red squirrels seen: 1

By the time we reached Killin yesterday I felt like I'd walked a long way and was more than ready to stop - even though the day was only 13 miles long. If someone had told me that I had to walk another eight miles, I would have pouted at the very least. It's all in the mind, though. Yesterday I'd had enough after 13 miles because I knew it was to be a short day so was focussed on an early finish. Today we walked 13 miles by 1.30, the same as we did yesterday, yet I was raring to go for the final 7.5 miles of the day. As I said, it's all in the mind (or as Mick tells me when I'm failing to increase my distances when I'm running: "the biggest distance is the one between your ears").

What of today? Well, I fear that I'm becoming awfully repetitive. The summary is that we went for a walk in stunning weather with stunning surroundings and, once again, had a jolly good time of it.

The longer version is that after a very good night's sleep we were standing outside the Post Office as it opened just after half eight this morning and a few minutes later (having divvied up and stowed the contents of the food parcel) we were on our way.

It was an eight mile road walk out of Killin, to pick up a track that would take us over to Glen Lyon. As it turned out that track (or what appears, from the map, to be a track) is actually a road, so it was tarmac for the next four and a half miles too. I would have preferred a softer surface but the surroundings were good, and the traffic non-existent.

The most stunning views started as we reached Loch Lyon, where we stopped for lunch at the spot where we pitched in May 2009 (our 2009 TGOC route being the same as today's for 4 miles along Loch Lyon), with an excellent view over the dam and the loch.

Four miles later our yomp-of-the-day began as we left the track which circles the loch and headed up Gleann Meran. What a gorgeous burn it is that runs down that glen, and with so many good pitches. We could only hope that equally good pitches would present themselves alongside the river as we approached Rannoch Forest.

The pass over which we (umm) passed was a long flat one, which, as yesterday, gave signs that it is an absolute bog-fest most of the time, but in the current extraordinarily dry conditions it was an easy yomp.

Heading gently downwards, alongside the Allt Learg Mheuran there were pitches from heaven. It was sorely tempting to cut short to take advantage of one of them, but with tomorrow scheduled to be 21.5 miles we thought we'd see what lay in the valley, acknowledging the possibility that it was going to be the home of a million tussocks.

Happily the stream continued to have nice flat grassy bits alongside, and it was one of those that we selected. We have stopped a little short, but that's only to place ourselves a little away from the pylons and the railway track.

By virtue of having continued on to where we are now, we got to see that there is another fire burning to the west of us. That's two big fires in two and a half days. It is a worry. As much as we're enjoying such a sunny walk, we acknowledge that some rain is desperately needed (and I understand is forecast for Thursday). In the meantime we're hoping that the wind doesn't change direction to blow the blaze towards us (I've got no signal here, so if you're reading this then we must have survived the night!).

(Maike: the benefit of waterproof socks rather than waterproof shoes is that I don't have to wear them all the time, so I only put them on when I encounter significant wetness (like walking through the wet grass the other day). I wasn't wearing them yesterday (thus allowing my feet to get plenty of air) as we were walking along a nice dry track, which occasionally forded streams. If I had been wearing them I would have remained dry-footed when I misjudged the stream...
David - funny you should mention being covered in bog. I was thinking yesterday how clean our trousers are staying in the current conditions!
Conrad - as we looked up at all of the Munroes we passed today, we did think "Conrad's been up there".)

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