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]

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Day 77 - After Inverlael to Oykel Bridge

30 June
Distance: about 15 miles
Number of people seen out walking: 0

An hour and a half after leaving our night stop we arrived at the River Douchary, which was our originally intended night stop. It would have been a very fine place to camp, but we made the sensible choice to cut yesterday short, particularly given the weather.

We made today easier for ourselves. Rather than taking the scenic and largely pathless route, we took a direct line from the river up to a track on the other side of the valley. It was a track that took us the whole way to Oykel Bridge and whilst it may not have been the most attractive walking surface it made for fast progress and the surroundings were stunning.

Even better, we had fine weather today, with very good visibility. We could see for miles and that always makes for a good day.

A car park on the Corrie Muzie estate had a sign saying "Hillwalkers must use this car park", which made me wonder for what we should use it, given the lack of a car ("Dogs must be carried" came to mind).

Walking along the estate track, where a surprising number of vehicles passed us, we discussed the fact that in the whole of our trip to date no-one had offered us a lift. Obviously, we would have refused, but I had expected that every now and then some kind-wishing soul would make the offer.

In the strange way of these things, not half an hour later, just as we were finishing up lunch, a car passed us, stopped, reversed and offered us a ride.

The occupants of the car were a couple called Helen and Jim. Having declined the lift, we chatted a while. They had popped over from Ireland for the weekend to spend a couple of days in the hills, bothying. They were also so kind as to offer us food, and we came away with another £10 for Macmillan.

The walk down to Oykel, through mainly felled forestry, was entirely uninspiring, but not as uninspiring as the Oykel Bridge hotel, where we are staying tonight. It goes down as the worst value for money night of our trip.

This is a hotel that charges £110 per night for a room. Of course, that is way above our budget, but they agreed to a reduced rate of £80, which although still above budget was more acceptable to us. I expected luxury for the advertised price.

Even at the reduced rate it's poor value for money. Even if they have put us in their shoddiest room in consideration of the reduced rate it's still poor.

Our twin room (despite having booked a double) is very dated and poorly decorated. It doesn't have any electrical equipment bar a kettle - no television, no radio, no hair drier (not that I need one, but I expect one). Then there's the bathroom (ground floor, clear glass window, curtains - that don't close - hanging off their rails). Can you believe that this is a hotel that doesn't have a shower in the bathroom (unless you count the plastic hose job that you slip onto the taps via rubber connectors)? I mean, really, how much does it cost to put mixer taps and a shower curtain in?

Okay, I shall stop ranting now. On the positive side, we have comfortable accommodation and the lack of a shower does mean that we have a bath. It's a big, deep bath. I spent about a week in there.

Sitting in the bar it's obvious that this is very much a fisherman's hotel. There's lots of talk of the intricacies of fishing going on. I'd never realised that river levels are to fly-fishermen what snow levels are to skiers.

Other news of today is that we heard from Doug (LEJOGer No. 4). He reached JOG at 3pm yesterday. All being well Conrad (LEJOGer No. 2 - he took a very similar off-road route to us up here in the north) will have finished today. Last we spoke to him, three days ago, we heard that he'd had the misfortune of the sole falling off one of his boots and had effected some rather ingenious field repairs on it. I look forward to catching up with him once we're all finished.

1 comment:

  1. We camped at the head of Loch an Daimh, stopped for a brew at Knochdamph bothy (yes Alan, it is a cracker!!!)and arrived at the Oykel Bridge Hotel in time for lunch, which was fine by us as we were half a day ahead of ourselves! We eyed the fisher men in their tweeds and deer stalkers and they eyed us in our Paramo, but 'hey!' we all love the outdoors, right!

    We had an unexpected adventure later that day pitched where the Allt Sail an Ruathair joins the Oykel when the the River Oykel rose a good two feet in a similar number of hours in torrential rain - it looked so calm and peacful when we pitched earlier that evening!!!