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]

Sunday 15 May 2011

Day 3 - Eskdale Moor to Drumnadrochit

Sun 15 May (0750-1500)
Distance: 12.5 miles
Weather: showers, some prolonged, but mainly v light

My image of Eskdale Moor had been one of heather, bogs and tussocks for seven miles. With no paths or tracks marked on the map, I pictured one of those hard-going yomps where you have to pick the foot up to knee height on every step. I had estimated that we would cover one mile per hour.

Off we set from our campsite this morning ready for a hard day, and immediately decided to make it even harder by going over a series of lumpy bits that lay in our way, rather than taking my plotted line around them. The thinking was that it would be drier if we went higher - plus the climbs might serve to get some blood into my fingers and toes.

We were indeed soon warmed by the climbs, and also pleasantly surprised that the going wasn't as hard as expected. The heather was deep in places, but it wasn't overly tussocky, nor was it as extensively waterlogged as anticipated. In fact, I only filled my (mesh topped) shoes with water three times all day, rather than on every step as expected.

Once we had reached Loch Neaty (two miles in) the going became easier for the next mile (if you ignore the two deer fence clambers) as not only had we cleared the lumpy bits, but short grass prevailed for a while, followed by some vehicle tracks. At Loch Bruicheach the vehicle tracks joined a made track. Now that was unexpected!

It might have been that the made track would have carried us to where we wanted to go, albeit via a round-about route, but it seemed to go off in the wrong direction. Instead we followed the shore of the loch, which for a chunk of its distance involved thigh high heather and bilberry. I only lost a leg down a deep hole once (and it was accompanied by a very girly 'oooh' sort of a squeal).

A pipeline was the leg-saviour for the next chunk. A water pipe has at some point been buried, running exactly where we wanted to go, and on top of its line the heather hasn't yet taken full hold again. The going was still rough, and at times steep, but it was certainly more comfortable than another mile and a half of heather-bashing.

When we finally picked up a track, which according to the map would take us to the road into Drum, we thought that the hard part of the day was behind us. It should have been too, except that we got completely discombobulated when things on the ground didn't match the map (did I mention that I need to update my mapping software?!).
To and fro we went, until we gave up on our intended line and re-routed. Even that wasn't plain sailing, and ended with a bit of a bash down a hillside. We got here in the end, though, and discovered another Challenger sitting on the green, killing time before the boat ride across the loch.

We will be taking that ride tomorrow, but for today we popped up the road to the campsite, where the replacement Thermarest NeoAir was waiting, and where we have enjoyed much needed hot showers.

As I type this, we're ensconced in the Loch Ness Inn for tea, where the food has been recommended.

(Note: Mick says that I've made the day sound easier than it was. He'd like it to be known that it was a day of heather and squelch and that it was quite hard going. I don't disagree with him. It's just that I expected boggy heathery hideousness, and it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined.)

(Hannah - we did eventually get a cup of tea last night. Also realised that I didn't answer your previous questions: this year we're both using Osprey Exos 46 litre packs, which are significantly bigger than the OMM Villain 45 that I usually use (fortunately, I haven't felt the need to fill the extra space!). As for ticks (which I'm still removing from myself daily) I use the tweezers off my little Swiss Army Knife. They get under even the tiniest of ticks and seem to do the job nicely.)

Click here to go to TGOC Day 4

Click here for 'The Wildlife and the Landscape'

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  1. Still following you. Your posts get the atmosphere of trekking across Scotland so well.
    I am established in an above average pub in the middle of a good meal making up for a rather tough day (by my standards) yesterday.
    All the best for the rest of the trip.

  2. I have to say that I do not envy this part of your trip, but what I would like to know is what sort of landscapey views do you get where you are? Or is all you can see rain? Any wildlife up there (cuckoos? :P) Maike. PS - no guarantee can be given I did not misspell that bird you hate so much..PPS - did you manage to resolve the fly - sheet problem and get the one that was sent to you?

  3. Glad you got your cup of tea, ive been stood in a field at a carboot sale and forgot to take a flask with me - duh! Thanks for getting back to me, i know that you have been incrediably busy of late. Ahh, so you use the good old swiss army knife, im thinking of getting a tick-tool as they only cost a couple of pounds. I can practice removing them from the dog, before i may need to use it on myself. And ive been looking at the exos, looks good. Thanks - have a good day tommorrow