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]

Sunday 11 May 2014

Day 3 - W end of Orrin Reservoir to N side of Beauly Firth


Sun 11 May (0735-1730)
Distance: 19.75 miles (Tot: 57.25)
Weather: much better! Just showers today
Number of ticks found embedded in my person: 4 (one in the middle of my back, so I'm glad Mick was here to assist)

If I wasn't feeling quite fit just now, I think I would have found today to be long and hard work. It started off (in the dry! After a night of rain, it actually stopped as we packed away) with a pathless yomp, across ridiculously boggy ground, alongside Orrin Reservoir. It turns out the reservoir is there, just dramatically reduced in size, compared to the map, by a low water level.

Reaching the point where we were supposed to have stopped last night, and after fording another cold burn, we started diverging from the water's edge, to pick up a path marked on the map.

The line of the old path was clear to see and to follow, once we reached it (through more bog-wading), but it wasn't feasible to walk along much of the path itself. It has long fallen out of regular use and now varies between being a stream, being overgrown, and being that breed of moss-on-mud which is guaranteed to cause a slip. Next to the old path was reasonably good walking, though.

Just at second breakfast time, we reached a modern track and, with poor timing, the first shower of the day (quite a violent one) hit as we were sitting. The result of some pondering over second breakfast was a deviation from our intended route. Rather than following the line of the old path, we decided to indulge in a bit of easy-going for a while, albeit at the cost of more distance, and take the new track. The bigger cost of that deviation was that it would require a mile and a half of completely pathless yomping later in the day, across terrain that the map suggested would be boggy.

Boggy really doesn't come close to describing the reality. A snorkle wouldn't have gone amiss. I can't think that we've ever walked through such sustained wetness for such a distance. It was laughably wet (and, actually, quite good fun).

Finally we met a track, which (unfortunately) then became a super-highway for a wind-farm which has only just started construction. Still, it boasted good views of the Beauly Firth and it sped us to Muir of Ord where we tarried outside of the Co-op before continuing on for our final miles of the day.

What looked suspiciously like a minor road on the map turned out to be a disused railway line, running through old woodland, which gave us surroundings and under-foot conditions far more pleasant than I had expected for that section.

A couple of quiet lanes then saw us heading into woodland, where a building on the map, which is depicted no differently from the little Gatekeeper's Lodge just down the track, turned out to be the castle shown in the photo. We were so taken with it that we visited it twice. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to our intended direction the first time we left it...

Before we left the woodland we scouted out a pitch for the night. What we found is as flat, level and grassy as you might find on the best commercial campsite. More excitingly, since we pitched (2 hours ago, as I type) it hasn't rained, so we've even managed to get some of our wet stuff slightly less wet.

Click here for Day 4

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  1. Wow! you seem to have polished it off very quickly. Should finish tomorrow?

  2. Wups. And this link too. And there may be others

    1. Thank you! All put right now (I hope; I thought I had them all right the first time!).