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 7 - Newtonmore to Ruighe nan Leum

Thursday 16 May (0800-1635)
Distance: 18 miles
Ascent: 550m?
Weather: wall-to-wall sunshine but cooler than yesterday, with a cooling breeze too.

The downside of including Newtonmore in our route was that today we had to reverse the 2.5-mile detour, this time all on tarmac, to get to Kingussie. Then it was more tarmac for another couple of miles past Ruthven Barracks before we veered off onto a track, aiming for Glen Feshie.

Ignoring the tarmac involved in our indirect route (which was worth it for having a bed and shower, and getting to catch up with so many Challengers) the great thing for me about our route thus far is how little of it I have walked before. There was a small overlap with a previous route in Glen Affric, and again along the Findhorn, with the next repetition coming in Upper Glen Feshie.

Today we walked the Feshie from much further down and what a lovely glen it is, made even more gorgeous by the clear blue sky.

A very long lunch was had at the smart Ruigh-aiteachain bothy (quite a few people came in whilst we were there and every single one of them immediately commented on how nice it is). It was supposed to be the end of our day, but we'd decided to continue on a while. We didn't quite get as far as intended, opting to stop when we found a bit of ground that looked okay just below the falls at Ruighe nan Leum. We were first here and had the pick of the ground, making it unforgivable that we have what might be the worst pitch of the Challenge so far. What seemed perfectly acceptable when I checked the lie of the land both before pitching and before putting the flysheet on, suddenly became awful slopey once everything was unpacked. We would have moved, but didn't do so quite quick enough before the other patch of ground we had considered was taken. There are now 8 tents/tarps here, so not the night of solitude I was after. I suppose that's the price for taking a popular route.

Incidentally, last time we came along upper Glen Feshie, I recall not being as impressed by the place as I had expected to be, based on the reports and opinions of others. I don't know whether I was just tired that day or if it was a bit grey and miserable or what, but today I have found it very lovely indeed. I therefore regret not for one moment opting for a low route on a perfect high-route day.

(Other notes:
1) Food. We didn't eat all of our rations on the first few days of the trip so found ourselves with a surplus. We largely dealt with the extra a couple of days ago by doing a lot of eating (whole pack of fig rolls for elevenses? Why not!). Today, at the Co-op, I bought the supplies we needed plus a pack of butteries. We'd eaten all four of them by elevenses, as well as a couple of other snacks. I think we're doing a reasonable job of packing the calories in!
2) Kit failures: a tent pole has a split in it; a Platty bladder has delaminated; my Thermarest NeoAir has sprung a small leak.
3) body failures: two of my toes have small blisters; Mick's sciatica is playing up as it does every time he carries a loaded pack; Mick's Achilles, which had settled down before the Challenge, has flared again.

In the case of kit and bodies, fingers are crossed that everything lasts another five nights.)


  1. ALL Neoairs spring a small leak, usually soon after purchase. The leak will be big enough to be a nuisance, but not so big you can actually locate it. It is a law, like sod's law...

    1. We've been lucky! We've had seven NeoAirs between us. Three were purchased (two medium length and one short) and all of them have been replaced under warranty, one of them twice. Out of those, and after hundreds of nights of use, this is only the second one to have leaked. The only other leakage issue was with one of the very first batch when they were first released, and it leaked from new. Our experience is that they all delaminate, but at least the lifetime guarantee has been well honoured.