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]

Saturday 14 May 2011

Day 1 - Strathcarron to Gleann Innis an Loichel

Friday 13 May (0815-1750)
Distance: 19 miles
Weather: showers, but more dry than wet

Unless my memory is being selective, I think that, even though today was far from our longest mileage day of the trip, it was the longest day's walking in terms of time. We only had about an hour's worth of proper breaks too (i.e. stopping for a rest and some food, rather than just pausing for a faff).

The day started after an excellent night's sleep and a good cooked breakfast, when we signed out on the TGOC Register and set out in dry weather (and without even the sight of a shower heading along Loch Carron).

Up was the theme of the morning (unsurprisingly given that we'd started the day at 10m above sea level), and along a path we sploshed in the direction of Bendronaig Lodge. The Lodge has a private bothy, and being 6 miles into the day it seemed like a suitable place to aim for our first break.

It was as we sat there, fending off questions from a very enthusiastic chap walking a meandering route up Scotland, that we looked at the map and spotted the route that I would have chosen had I noticed it at the planning stage.

We ummed and arrred as to what to do. The route we'd spotted didn't feature on our route sheet at all, but did have two points of significant appeal: 1) we'd not walked that way before; and 2) it avoided some stream crossings that I expected to be, at best, dodgy.

It was the latter point that swung the decision and off in the 'wrong' direction we headed.

A while later we caught up with Frank, who we'd spoken to earlier, who must have wondered about our navigation skills. Earlier we had told him where we were headed yet now were somewhere different entirely. We didn't get to explain at that point, though, as we caught up with him just as he headed off upstream to find somewhere to cross a burn, whereas we just sploshed across on the track.

There seemed little value in trying to keep the shoes dry when everywhere was so wet anyway. A few miles later, when the track we were following ended, the bog and standing water was certainly unavoidable.

The wet theme continued too, as we embarked on a yomp over a pass, but to our joy after some hard-going terrain, the marked path on the other side of the pass did exist and sped us towards our intended night-stop.

Our night-stop got shifted onwards by another half a mile when a shower hit just as we were ready to look for a pitch, and by the time we found somewhere further down the valley the next shower was in sight too. The pitch isn't the flattest. In fact, we're pitched on a mole-hill, but having thrown the tent up before the rain came we've decided not to move it. It may have a lump, but it has other redeeming features: a river just below us, and a bit of a view.

We now find ourselves reasonably well placed to go high tomorrow, if the weather in the morning should look promising enough to allow it.

Quite a pleasing first day, all in all. Moreover, as the weather allowed us to appreciate some stunning scenery (freshly dusted tops too; it seems that last night's rain fell as snow high up).

Click here to go to TGOC Day 2

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  1. Good luck with the challenge. I originally assumed that it would be the last two weeks of your big walk, rather than added to it, forgetting that the TGO is West to East.

  2. We must have had a thing about walking coast-to-coast this year. It only dawned on me at the start of the Challenge that, in the process of walking Lowestoft to Ardnamurchan, we had already walked east to west across Scotland. The TGOC was definitely the most interesting terrain and conditions of this year's walking (so far...).