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]

Thursday 19 May 2011

Day 6 - Coylumbridge to Corrour Bothy

Wednesday 18 May (0755-1435)
Distance: 13.25 miles*
Weather: showers, some quite violent

I have long wanted to walk through the Lairig Ghru, but it hadn't fitted nicely into any of our walks to date. One of my two starting points for planning this year's TGOC route was therefore that we had include this legendary pass.

With such a long held desire to walk this way, if we were only to have one day of good weather on this entire 2-week walk, then I wanted it to be today.

Perhaps a bit perversely, given what I've just said, when yesterday afternoon turned out to be calm and dry with clear tops we had a rethink. As much as I wanted to do the Lairig Ghru it seemed a shame in such weather not to go higher. We decided that, if the weather was still so good, we would go via Ben Macdui and when we called in to report our progress to Challenge Control we told them of the plan. They told us in return that it was possible that some bad weather was going to come in overnight.

Later we saw the Mountain Weather forecast. 35-40mph winds on the tops, gusting 50-65. Harrumph. I clutched at the straw that the forecast was wrong.

All was calm when we left the campsite this morning (admitted the campsite is very sheltered), and although showers were passing through the tops were mainly clear. I was optimistic.

By the time we reached the point where we needed to branch off if we were going for the tops we were battling against a headwind and being lashed in our faces by rain. The Lairig Ghru it was then!

The wind did make it a bit of a challenge, sometimes stopping us in our tracks, but the heavy rain only lasted for twenty minutes or so, and in between the passing showers we could see all around us. Impressive it was too. Spectacular in fact. From the stream running down the middle, to the steep hillsides either side and the boulder fields we had to cross, there was much to admire (at least when we weren't hiding under our hoods, looking at the ground).

Reaching a stone windbreak at 800m, just before the top, the decision was made to stop for lunch, even though it was only 1230 and even though we'd only had elevenses half an hour earlier. It seemed unlikely that we would find shelter again until we reached Corrour Bothy (still 4 miles away) and the sun was shining...

... we had just got our packs off and our lunch out when it started to rain. Back away went the lunch and back on went the packs. Lunch could wait.

Plenty of other people were seen as we popped over the top and came down the other side. Most people commented on the wind. Did I mention that it was quite noticeably strong?

We reached Corrour Bothy at 1435 and, being our intended night stop we made ourselves at home, got a brew on, had some lunch and were looking forward to a lazy afternoon. Or at least, that was the plan...

(*anyone who has walked from Coylumbridge to Corrour Bothy might think "but it's only 11.75 miles between those two places". They'd be right, if you take the direct route. We intended to take the direct route, but somehow both of us managed to miss completely a turn we needed to take in Rothiemurchus Forest and, blindly following a good path, didn't even look at the map to notice the omission until a good mile later. As such, we took a longer route via Rothiemurchus Lodge.)

Click here to go to TGOC Day 6 Side Trip

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1 comment:

  1. Been there, done that. Wind and rain can make life very hard in the Lairig Ghru while they're sunbathing down in the valley.
    You did a good job.