Pages

Thursday, 20 July 2017

TGOC2017 Day 2: Baobh-bhacan Dubha to River Meig

What does our VeryVeryNiceMan Mr Williams and the Leaderene have in common? (I do like Leaderene. The term was invented by Norman Singeing Sideburns) As I can hear David choking on his kedgeree, I'll supply the answer immediately. Both enjoy/enjoyed perishingly few hours of nighttime sleep.

With this valuable knowledge stored away, just before lights out last night, I asked David to call me at a quarter to six so that we can be away by eight. This routine is normally performed by Lord Elpus who is also an early riser but now the blighter has absconded this duty has transferred to my remaining companion, along with opening plastic packaging and letting me know the name of the present incumbent of Number Ten, just in case of accidents. I wouldn't want them to think I had lost my marbles.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

CLICK TO ENLARGE

David is no slouch in matters mathematical and within a split-second came back with 'That's two and a quarter hours!' and  'David Cameron.'

But this is a holiday! I enjoy a lazy stretch, two or three drinks and a decent breakfast by the pool in the sunshine. I suppose the morning routine could be performed at a slicker pace, and on occasion it has, but that way the day gets off to a poor start.

However, this morning doesn't start well. I wake to rain spattering on Trinnie's flanks and a decidedly cool brisk breeze. Of our yesterday evening's sparklingly clear blue pool, barely twenty yards away, there is no sign. We are in the clouds.

The weather forecast of a couple of days ago has turned out to be correct. This morning is supposed to be 'Cloudy, Windy and Heavy Showers' and we have a very steep descent from Sgurr na Feartaig to contend with on a very long wet grassy slope to Bealach Bhearnais. A few years back, a very experienced Challenger had taken a life-flashing-before-his-eyes hurtle down such a grassy slope, resulting in substantial injury. He was wearing trail shoes. His experience has lodged in my grey matter. David's in shoes. You can't dig your heels in to get bite in grass, wearing shoes.

David and I talk today's route through and happily we agree quickly to continue on our lower Foul Weather Alternative. Same distance, less ascent, no steep descents on wet grass but a lot more off-piste rambling up to Bealach Bhearnais. Our Fine Weather Route, over the top of Sgurr na Feartaig would actually be a far less demanding day. Choosing our FWA today also means the next day's route is a less onerous walk. But you'll gather this from the maps when you take a look.

We start the day heading west, not the natural bearing for Challengers, before dropping down to the bothy to have a nose-about. Then it's a delightful stroll following the Abhainn Bhearnais upstream to the bealach. Occasional rest stops are taken where food bags are nibbled, to no apparent reduction in their size.  

VIEW FROM BEALACH BHEARNAIS, BACK TO YESTERDAY'S CREAG A' CHACRAINN

The bealach arrives in surprisingly good time and we pause in the decidedly nippy wind to look back and congratulate ourselves on progress to date. On the climb up we had spotted a couple of backpackers in the distance. We amble over the top for some shelter and come across them - a young couple from Austria. They are flying a small drone with a camera to record their walk. It is very light and with the charger they also carry it has enough juice for over an hour's flight - plenty enough between stops where it can be recharged, It isn't noisy and folds away to a small size. The whole caboodle weighs a couple of pounds at most.

AUSTRIAN COUPLE ON THE CAPE WRATH TRAIL

The rivers are very low so we follow the path all the way down to the wire bridge as it looks considerably easier walking than the route we had mapped out for ourselves. We watch as the first, and then the second Austrian attempts the wires, Both now have wet backsides. We rock-hop across the very low water, dryshod and wave goodbye as they are heading west.

It's a dull four km on a track to Glenuiag Lodge (a holiday home) and the hut, but a milestone is reached as we cross Scotland's East-West watershed. This means, surely, it's all downhill from here? 

HUGE RUFTY-TUFTY DAVID AT THE TINY GLENUIAG HUT

More inroads are made into the still gargantuan food bags, still to no apparent effect. Ahead of us is a distant lone walker, in pale blue strolling at a leisurely pace. The walk down Gleann Fhiodhaig is a delight, following the River Meig. Occasional smartish showers sweep through to keep us on our toes.

VIEW EAST FROM THE GLENUAIG HUT DOWN GLEANN FHIODHAIG

The path, sketchy at times, is a delight and we are overhauling the pale blue lone walker remarkably quickly.

TWO RUINS: BORED WITH POSING FOR PHOTOS, THE BOUNDER ATTEMPTS TO ESCAPE FROM THE PICTURE

It's Humphrey in his pale blue cashmere sweater, of course. He tells us of a 'difficult' morning on the tops in tricky crosswinds, very little visibility, heavy rain and alarming drops. He gave it up as a bad job and dropped down to the glens. I'm sure he won't mind me saying this, but he looks about done in. So, with true Challenge Camaraderie, we leave him for dust when he makes the mistake of telling us that Emma can only be a few steps ahead. Emma or Humphrey? Humphrey or Emma? I mean... Come on!

A few steps? We bump into Wonderful Emma. Her tent is pitched, she's finishing a brew and yes, she's been here ages. She is a darling and in the matter of a moment she's made us cups of tea before we even start putting up our shelters.  

RUFTY-TUFTY BOUNDER NOW HAPPY TO POSE WITH A PERFECT MODEL AT OUR CAMP SPOT

And now, a few campsite pictures. 

HMP3, SETTLING INTO HIS OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATION

TWO IDLERS WITH NOTHING TO DO WHILST EMMA DINES

HMP3 TALKS PROUST. EMMA POLITELY FEIGNS INTEREST

We're here at a very reasonable hour. I feel in great shape and it's been a cracking day. That's two bloody good days on the trot. Some showers rake the glen as I drift off to sleep, a happy chap.

THE VIEW BACK WEST

16 comments:

  1. Are you sure that Baobh-bhacan Dubha isn't the title of a Little Richard song? ;-)

    Another fine day's walk and a lovely camping spot with good company. What more could you want?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'What more could you want?'
      Cake, Sir. A never ending supply of fruit cake, lemon drizzle cake -ooh and Bakewell Tart - which I believe is a pudding, and not a cake.

      Delete
    2. Didn't HMP3 provide some luxurious comestibles? Standards are slipping

      Delete
    3. I think I was investigating the middle third of my hip flask's Small Batch Bowmore at the time... with squally showers rattling down Gleann Fhiodhaig.

      Delete
  2. I remember Emma from previous challenge accounts; how does she always manage to look so fresh, unruffled and in good humour?

    I look more knackered and dishevelled by the time I've taken half a dozen steps. As for the good humour bit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is one of life's mysteries, Dave.

      The odd thing is that at the time Emma was feeling like death, having not been well for quite a few weeks. Norma Keohane's another who always appears freshly laundered. Both are incredibly good-humoured and always seem to have a smile.

      In comparison, David, HMP3 and I, all fit and well, are generally grumpy bastards who look like Compo from Last of the Summer Wine.

      Delete
    2. Compo? You can speak for yourself and HMP3 but I'll have you know that I have been likened to a handsome version of Brad Pitt. On more than one occasion. Okay. It's generally me who claims that. Alright. It's always me. But my mirror does not lie.

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure I know this Brad Pitt chap. Boy band wallah, is he? Sort of Alice Cooper look-a-like? I see, I think...

      Delete
  3. That is a wonderful valley. I had one of my best ever brews and lunch at those ruins watching sunlight and showers race ahead of me. Superb.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would have been your epic solo Torridon to Arbroath trip, then... Right 'Ard Bastard.
      If ever you fancy repeating Glen Fhiodhaig, I'll be there, Captain.

      Delete
  4. That steep and slippy slope down pointing we avoided by taking the FWA. To set the record straight my trail shoes were not a factor in us avoiding it. Well certainly not in my mind. I feel the need to say this as one of my other walking friends (I am very popular) claims that trail shoes should always be avoided in favour of five league boots, even if merely walking across the sitting room to switch on the television. I do not want him having any more ammunition to use against me whence next we walk together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with your friend on this one... Having walked fifteen consecutive Challenges in boots, then three in trail shoes I resorted to and stayed with boots again in 2013 onwards. This was for two reasons - the first being I had my first blister for fifteen years in trail shoes and the second was their alarming lack of purchase on steep downhill grass.

      I didn't think it was appropriate to discuss this on the Saturday morning but it did play a (small) part in my own thought process on which route we chose. Regardless of how we were shod, I would still have picked our FWA simply for safety.
      :-)

      I've a feeling that your friend is being somewhat over-cautious with his choice of footwear when turning on the television as all that needs to be done is to turn the TV on with the remote controller. He could wear thongs, to match your Dirty Girls.

      Delete
    2. You will be pleased and relieved to hear that I wore absolutely massive boots on my 5 day tour of the Lakes which ended this Monday. Made of leather too, just as big boots should be. Ahhhhh. The pleasure of dry feet and no evidence of trench foot. This proves that I am not dogmatic about anything. Nope. Not dogmatic at all. I insist that I am not dogmatic.

      Delete
    3. I do hope you had a ready supply of Tricounies to hand.
      Standards are standards, all said and done.

      Delete
  5. You are too kind, Sir. The pleasure was entirely mine. Thanks also to Dave for his comment. It is all all done with lighting and mirrors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. * Making mental note to take a few mirrors and half a dozen headtorches on my next trip

      Delete

Hi.
Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!