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]

Friday, 6 May 2011

Day 39 - NW of Corrour Station to 5 miles beyond Kinlochleven

Thursday 5 May (0745-1405; 1550-1745)
Distance: 18 miles (Tot: 687.5)
Weather: showery. Probably as much wet as dry, but mainly light rain
Number of times we took the wrong path: 2

If yesterday's direction across the map seemed counter-intuitive, given our destination, then this morning's walk was even more so.

A mile into our day, as we touched the edge of a loch (the name of which is off my map; fantastic place but we found that the two obvious loch-side pitches were occupied, so were glad we hadn't walked on last night), we headed off to spend the next seven miles heading in a south-westerly direction.

Up to a pass we went, passing on our way a solo female backpacker who had made a very early start. It was whilst heading up that we nearly went off in the wrong direction; fortunately I spotted both that error and the next one (a few miles later) before we had got more than 20 yards from the correct path. I should perhaps, have been paying more attention.

As the climb warmed us up we were both tempted to shed the waterproof trousers which had, to that point, proved unnecessary. But, we felt sure that if we took them off then a significant shower would hit us (as it turned out they continued to be unnecessary until about 30 seconds after we took them off, a mile short of Kinlochleven).

Second breakfast was had at Loch Chiarain bothy (one of the cleanest and tidiest bothies I've visited) where someone had left a half-full canister of gas, so we also indulged in a 'free' cup of tea, which made it a good long break. Certainly a lot longer than we would have paused had we not been indoors.

Blackwater Reservoir, which is absolutely vast, was our next objective and, in terms of surroundings, the walk from there down to Kinlochleven is an order of magnitude nicer than the West Highland Way path, approaching from Devil's Staircase. The river is a delight, where you get sight of it, and some of the waterfalls along the way are tremendous (don't know where they're getting all that water from as quite a few seemed to be in full flow). It may have been a good path from a scenery point of view, but the walking surface was often nothing short of awful. Horribly erroded with a loose stony/rocky 'surface', it made the last five miles into Kinlochleven by far the toughest of the day. That was unexpected as I usually think of yomping as being the hard miles. By the time we made it down to the village, my feet and ankles felt like they'd been assaulted.

Another good long break in Kinlochleven (timed as dozens of walkers on the WHW poured into town) made my feet feel like new, and off we set again, figuring that we may as well take advantage of the not-as-bad-as-forecast weather and knock some mileage and ascent off tomorrow's walk.

Alas the proper rain caught up with us about three minutes before we reached our intended destination and it then took us a while to scout out a decent pitch. That meant that, for only the second time ever (yes, incredibly, with about 170 or so nights spent in a tent over the last three and a bit years), we had to pitch the tent in proper rain. It's got even heavier since then, so as I sit and type it's absolutely hammering down (which is rather unfortunate as I *really* need a wee!)

(Richard: the sodding cuckoo is, like sodding flies, found all over the country, but in my experience both species prove to be most troublesome in Scotland!
Carol: I no longer have the Killin map, but Sron a' Chlachain sounds like it must be a lot higher than we're venturing on this walk.
Alan: that's useful information (even though I'd already typed a response to Maike before I received your comment), as I'd not heard of that model of Goretex socks. I had a pair of Rocky ones, which got discontinued, and Mick has Trekmates Amphibians (more bags than socks, which have been discontinued), and now I've got a pair of Gore Bike Wear - but they've become difficult to get too and I suspect maybe also discontinued.
Martin: whilst the current rain is preferable to all of the recent fires, I would be grateful if you could cause it to turn fine again after a couple of days. It hasn't escaped my notice that if we hadn't popped home for a week then we would have completed the entire walk with only 3 hours of rain!)
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1 comment:

  1. I'll get right on that weather. Did you go into the Ice Factory shop? I remember a lot of Haglof's nice stuff!