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]

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

TGO Challenge Day 5 - Ault-na-Goire to by Coignafearn Lodge

Tuesday 14 May (0745-1700)
Distance: 18.75 miles
Ascent: around 650m
Weather: a few bits of whispy cloud but none obscuring the sun.

Mick counted 23 tents at Ault-na-Goire last night. It has become a popular stopping point - unsurprisingly given the hospitality. Even though the field is a big one, the tents weren't massively spread out and there was a snorer somewhere nearby. I was tired, though, so wasn't overly disturbed.

Breakfast was just being served as we set out this morning and it smelt mouth-watering. If it hadn't been for the thought of carrying yet more uneaten food, I think Mick would have succumbed to it. 

View as we walked along the road.

So, instead of loading up with bacon and eggs we strode off up the road. Road formed the entirety of our first 6.5 miles (we did have a forestry alternative planned but works and diversions were in place). It was right at the end of those tarmac miles that we met a farmer on his quad bike who told us we should have taken the Seven Lochs Trail. We had been unaware of it, otherwise it would have been our route of choice and, annoyingly, when I looked at the map as we continued on, the path was plain to see. I don't know how we missed seeing it when planning. No point crying over spilt milk - onwards and upwards we went.

The next section wasn't great either - the track alongside the River E is now a windfarm road. It runs through nice surroundings, but is both a scar in the land and hard on the feet - particularly on a hot day like today.

Windfarm tracks - better than roads but far from my ideal walking surface. 

At what should have been the end of the track, a lunch hut appeared before us and, as it was 1pm it would have been silly not to take advantage. Thus we sat on benches and availed ourselves of the table to have an abnormally long lunch break. For the second time this trip, we even broke out the stove in the middle of the day for coffee.

Spot the unnecessary luxury items being carried...

The track no longer ends just after the hut but seems to continue up the Corbett of Carn na Saobhaidhe. There we would have gone too, except we had been over that hill a few years ago, and we'd had enough of tracks. Instead we set off across country as our route sheet said we would, crossing the watershed to the south of the Corbett.

What a good move! It's delightful streams like this that make walking through the Monadhliath worthwhile, despite the energy companies' best efforts to ruin the place with tracks and turbines.

So many pitching opportunities! If we could have just found one such spot in the Balmacaan Forest we would have been made up.

Looking east from the top, with the windfarm now behind us, the view over to the snowy Cairngorms was unspoilt and our descent route, along another stream, was as delightful and easy-going as the other side of the pass had been. Even the track we picked up part way down was pleasing: an old, partly grown-over Land Rover Track, rather than the dirt roads that cover the hills these days.

Looking down on Dalbeg, where our route sheet said we would stay, but we didn't. 

Dalbeg, alongside the River Findhorn was supposed to be our night-stop, and is eminently suitable for that purpose with acres of flat grass. However, we didn't stay there - or at least we only stayed long enough to soak our hot feet in the river and filter some more drinking water.

We only walked on a couple more miles, continuing along the stunning glen to the point where we could see the massive building of Coignafearn Lodge. We know not whether it is currently occupied, but in case it is, we then back-tracked about 100m to get out of sight of their windows, before pitching the tent on a convenient bit of flat grass.

With it being so hot this evening (such a contrast to Day 1! ) we had a treat whilst tea was rehydrating: standing outside we took turns in pouring bottles of water over each other's heads so that we could have a proper hair and face wash. Oooh, that feels so much better!

1 comment:

  1. That showering sounds a bit radical, but it must be the best TGO weather for years from what I can glean.