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 10 May 2013

TGOC Day 1 - Acharacle to Ariundle

10 May 2013 (0845-17something)
Distance: 14 very long miles
Ascent: 3600' (felt like more!)
Weather: 3 hours dry, then persistently wet

That photo above, taken out of our hotel room window this morning, makes it look like we had a lovely fine day today. The weather forecast made it look like we were going to be favoured too. Looks can be very deceptive.

It was fine as we walked down the road from Acharacle, where, after a mile and a quarter we were faced with a decision: to take the road to Resipole to pick up the 'baggers' path up Beinn Resipol, or to go through the forest and cut across the hillside to pick up that same baggers' path. We contemplated the merits of both routes and came down on the side of our route sheet (rather than on the side of our vetter) and took the forest track.

Even in retrospect, we were happy with our choice, and in terms of timing there was almost nothing in it; we arrived at the path up to Beinn Resipol in between two other Challengers, who had signed out within minutes of us and had gone the other way.

I'm not sure when the rain started in earnest, but with 100 metres of ascent left (at which point I declared a hunger so great that we had to stop for lunch, rain or not) it had been decidedly wet for a while. That wet persisted in various degrees all afternoon (and, indeed, is persisting as I type this).

The east side of Beinn Resipol is not the best place to find yourself when enveloped in cloud and when being rained on. It's a tussocky, boggy old yomp over many an undulation, and probably quite good fun when you can see anything of your surroundings.

That wasn't the worst bit of the day, mind (I'm making this sound like it was all doom and gloom, which wasn't actually the case). When we finally picked up the miners path down to Scotstown (I confess that I did shout a little over-excitedly when I spotted that path which had proved so elusive for so long) we found that the Scottish Six Day Trials (a trail-motorbike event) had been through two days ago. It was hideously chewed up. (How ever bad you're thinking, it was worse than that.)

We were due to stop just above Scotstown, but Kirsten, with whom we had been walking since lunchtime, told us of an excellent bunkhouse at Ariundle, and we didn't take much convincing to continue on and take advantage of the facilities.

Alas, there was no room at the inn. But, the tea-room was open so hot bowls of soup and vats of tea gave us the opportunity to steam gently. It was one of those days when 'waterproof' proved not to be so and all three of us were wet through.

By and by the big wood-burning stove was lit and we migrated over there. We must have looked a sight: two ladies and a chap, all standing in front of a stove, with their waterproof trousers around their knees, trying to dry out the seats of their pants!

The owners of the bunk-house/tea room are lovely. So lovely that they took pity on us and said that we could camp in the garden and make use of the tea-room facilities until closing time. It transforms into a restaurant at night, so closing isn't until 10.30pm. We are mightily glad, as we have had the chance to dry out a bit.

Alas, there are other casualties of the rain. It seems that both Mick and I have leaking rucksack liners and as a result I have a wet-in-places sleeping bag (bin bags have been obtained to rectify that leakage). And, it seems that I still haven't learnt the important lesson that when putting things in plastic bags, it is necessary to seal those bags. Happily, my maps have now dried out on the stove in the tea-room.

Well, it's getting late, so it must be time to go and crawl into our sleeping bags, ready for another rainy day tomorrow (tomorrow I'm going to put both waterproof jackets on; wish I'd done that today!).

Click here for Day 2

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  1. Just to let you know I'm on your trail.

  2. Friends of mine were in Acharacle today - canoeing trip, only to find the pie shop closed!

  3. Was it wet then! Some kit appraisal needed?