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, 17 May 2019

TGO Challenge Day 6 - before Coignafearn Lodge to Newtonmore

Wednesday 16 May (0705-1400)
Distance: 14 miles
Ascent: 650m? (if I had the route sheet to hand I'd check)
Weather: wall-to-wall sunshine and around 22 degrees

What a lovely day for a walk through the stunning Monadhliath Mountains!

To our surprise, the sun made it over the hills and was on the tent by 6am and it was warming up by the time we set off up the Elrick Burn. At a junction of tracks we had ourselves down for an off-piste yomp up the top part of the burn to the watershed. The initial part of that burn didn't look good walking, being too steep-sided for comfort. We decided, therefore, that our best bet was to take the first two switchbacks of the onward track, the contour around to rejoin our route. It was a fortuitous choice: at that second switchback we were surprised to find an old (but unmapped) track with a perfect soft surface that made walking easy and pleasant.

The track didn't go very far, but by then the burnside terrain was friendly and continued so until we reached the track in the next glen. At the end of that track the map showed a building which we assumed was a shooting hut and thus we had been aiming to arrive there in time for elevenses. It turned out to be two huts...

 ... and we chose the octagonal one, where coffee and snacks were being served (as long as you had a stove, mug, coffee and snacks with you, which we did). 


With the tent dried and with our bodies suitably rested, up the track we went until the point at which it seemed sensible to take a sharp left and yomp up the side of the Corbett of Carn an Fhreigeadain.

Another top ticked, with excellent views.

I preceded Mick on the track down and when he joined me as I paused at a burn (I knew he was out of water) he looked intently back up the hill.

"What is it?" I asked.
"I'm just looking to see what you were running away from" he replied. Apparently I'd taken the last couple of kilometres at pace.

The obvious route to take from that location would have been down to Kingussie, to overnight there, but our route involved a detour to Newtonmore, about 2.5 miles out of our way. By the time we turned into the path by Loch Gynack the day was hot indeed, making the forest tracks, and latterly the road, hard on the feet. I was certainly happy to arrive at Newtonmore Hostel early enough for a good rest with plenty of tea and cake.

There was a good gathering of Challengers there and some of them had been organised enough to book a table for dinner at the Glen Hotel across the road. We had not been so organised, so it was a good job we went relatively early. Our meals were large...

 ... and we ate every last morsel:

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