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]

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Day 5 - Coignafeuinternich Ruins (River Findhorn) to Coylumbridge

Tuesday 17 May (0715-1630)
Distance: 18.5 miles
Weather: couple of drizzly showers, otherwise dry. Some sun!

(I've noticed that I thought that both Sunday and Monday were the 15th of May; I think I've got the right day and date today!)

Today wasn't as spectacular as yesterday, but that's just a comparative thing; it was still jolly pleasant. Even better, by noon some blue patches had appeared in the sky and the sun came out a few times!

Having got ourselves a bit of an early start (not by design, I just happened to drag myself out of the snuggly sleeping bag more promptly today), off we set to pick up a track about half a kilometre from where we had camped. To our surprise we found a path leading us there. A long disused track by the looks of it, but with no indication of it on the map.
As keeps happening, we got to a point where there appeared a new track that wasn't on our map. Not knowing where it went, we followed the direction we needed, only to find after a climb that the new track would be useful to us after all (if we went a slightly different way), but that we needed to descend and re-ascend to reach it.

That track sped us a good way upstream before it ended, leaving us with just the final yomp up to the pass. Peat hags were again the name of the game as we crossed over the top, and today they were a little less friendly than yesterdays, being more oozy with fewer firm bits, but they weren't overly hostile and we found our way through. The burn we picked up on the other side was pretty indeed and once again would have offered any number of lovely waterside pitches. We became quite familiar with that burn too, as the best route down it involved crossing the water rather a lot of times. Sometimes it was just a step, sometimes a little jump and latterly a matter of picking some likely looking stones to ease us across dry-shod.

Near to where our little burn joined the River Dulnain we figured we may just as well cut over the hillside instead of taking two sides of the triangle. It was whilst stepping through the heather there that Mick nearly trod on a grouse. A quick peek from where it had flown revealed six eggs (which will be why the mother was trying to stay put even with boots almost upon her), but we quickly moved on to allow her return to her task in hand (wing?).

I had plotted for us to take to the east side of the River Dulnain, but having cut across the last corner we were committed to stay on the west side, which turned out to be a good move. The walking was firm and easy; the other side (where the map shows a path) didn't look so good. In fact, the walking on the riverside was so good that for a while we ignored the track (another apparently non-existant one), which had appeared above us.

The track, when we joined it, took us to 'The Red Shed', a bothy (complete with a rocking chair!), where a cup of tea was brewed and elevenses had. The bothy book revealed that another Challenger (Kim, with whom with finished in 2009) had passed through two and a half hours earlier. We had heard last night that he was nearby.

The bothy isn't a bad place, and a few years back must have felt very remote. Now it's at the junction of many new tracks which have been unsympathetically built, scarring what would have previously been a largely unspoilt landscape.

As much as we might complain about how offensive such tracks are on the eye, we were quite happy to take 'The Burma Road' - another eyesore of a track. It took us the whole way up to 700m, and then all the way down the other side of the hill, to just down the road from Aviemore. I did point out to Mick when we reached the top that we only needed to go up another 125m (and across about a mile) to bag the Corbett that lay just to our right, but Mick didn't much fancy the extra distance (and I had my mind on getting to our destination early enough to do some washing), so down we went.

A bit of a detour was necessary to pick up some food in Aviemore, where we bumped into Kim, who it turned out is also staying at Coylumbridge tonight (and who hadn't been able to resist the Corbett, which explained how we'd caught up with him). With bags heavy with food, down the road to the campsite we toddled, where we are now pitched on the bare earth of the forest floor, there being a distinct lack of grass on this site.

My fingers are crossed for good weather tomorrow. It's the day of the walk where I really *really* don't want to have to take the foul weather alternative.

Click here to go to TGOC Day 6

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  1. Great stuff Gayle. How do you find the time!
    Have a good one - we will see you in Montroe.
    M + M

  2. Would this be the campsite with my most favourite toilet block, per chance? I love warm, dry, clean, spacious toilet blocks.

  3. M & PM - In the case of this post I found the time by virtue of our clothes needing a wash and the laundry being on the opposite side of the campsite. An hour sitting in a small room gives a long time to play around with a blog post!

    Louise - It's not a bad toilet block is it? It was the redeeming feature of the site for me, as otherwise I wasn't bowled over by the place. Give me a nice grassy open site with views any day.

  4. If memory serves, there are inconvenient ant nests and a lot of stones when trying to push in tent pegs, but that toilet block, wow.