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]

Monday 13 May 2019

TGO Challenge Day 1 - Dornie to Loch Gaorsaic

10 May (0840-1630)
Distance: 14 miles?
Ascent: 650m?
Weather: a few showers but also some sunshine

Dornie is a good Challenge start point from the point of view of the speed at which one leaves tarmac and civilisation behind: about half an hour of walking up a tiny dead-end road from the Hotel (the sign out point).

Alas, the weather gods were a little unkind with a shower starting a few minutes before our departure. With barely a breath of wind, showers were slow moving this morning, although it was light enough that we held out for 45 minutes before breaking out the waterproof jackets. We managed with unwaterproofed legs.

Our first other Challenger, a second-timer called Andy, was met towards the top of our first pass of the day, above Camas-luinie. He paused for second breakfast at the top but we went on. A good move for this reason:

How convenient!

Next to our elevenses spot

Our lunch spot was almost as good, as we sat on the edge of the concrete plinth that supported a previous bridge at the bottom of the Falls of Glomach Path.

A trio of encounters were had as we ascended that path, first with an American woman walking the Cape Wrath Trail, then with a Challenger headed the opposite way to us (she started at Shiel Bridge), then a chap walking end-to-end, up to Dunnet Head. We'd been talking a short while with the latter before we established that this was Cary and we knew of him through Martin's blog and he knew us through Martin, and via this very blog. It's a small world! Once we're back in the land of internet, we'll be catching up on his progress via his blog.

We were supposed to be camping not far beyond the top of the falls, in order to do a ridge walk tomorrow. In view of the amount of snow up there, Plan A was shelved in favour of Plan C: nipping up the smaller Sgùrr Gaorsaic instead. That hill also has snow on its upper reaches, but I would have likely gone for it anyway (probably as an out-and-back first thing in the morning as Mick wasn't fussed about coming along) if it hasn't been for not thinking about the need to cross the river (the Abhainn Gaorsaic) in good time. By the time we found a suitable crossing point we were not very far past the hill in the grand scheme of things, but sufficiently far past not to want to have to backtrack, particularly as we couldn't see any campable land over there. We're now on to Plan D for tomorrow which involves a consolation Marilyn in the way to Cougie Lodge. (Plan B was our Foul Weather Alternative but as we're only 8 miles away from the end of that route, with little ascent involved, we felt the need to come up with a new plan).

Not too shoddy, as pitches go.

So we've ended up by this lochan. There's another couple in a tent just the other side of the ruined building (see photo above). As they're not Challengers they may be a little peeved that they found this nice spot then someone else pitched up nearby, but at least we've got out of sight of them and it really is the best bit of land that we'd seen for quite a while.

The female half of our neighbours went for a swim in the loch as we were pitching. By the gasping, I think we can safely say it was a bit nippy in there!

Then it rained. Repeatedly and, at one point, quite heavily. But rain when sitting in a tent is greatly preferable to rain whilst walking.


  1. Good to hear from you two. And what a surprise to find tractors there. Just so that you will be able to tell folk in the future, the blue one is a Fordson Major and the other I think is the devils machine. An International 666. I remember crossing the Gaorsaic on a particularly wet day and the ground was awful. It took me ages.

    1. Our route thus far has been mainly very nice, but hasn't majored in mobile phone reception, hence the gap of a few days then a sudden glut of posts. Impressed you could ID the tractors - I would have got closer for a better snap, but a water obstacle lay in front of the gate.