We lay in bed listening to it pissing down, after a night of it pissing down, neither of us wanting to acknowledge being awake, but at 8 we realised we had a ton of miles to do. Actually 18, most of it trackless, some of it on super shiny Estate roads made so that rich fat people didn’t have to put any effort into killing deer and getting to remote places like Coignafearn Lodge to pull the trigger. This estate is turning this part of the highlands into a road network. But they also have good points so I’ll try and be balanced later…
So we left at 9 and trogged til 11.30 until our first coffee, at Dalbeg, perhaps the best poop site so far. Maybe the second best with hindsight.
Anyway the morning sort of went: walk bog fog bog fog, watershed walk… but it was beautiful, so many rivers and Rapids and waterfalls and colours. Up Elrick Burn, up trackless glens to watersheds and down the other side, until we reached a truly magnificent new bothy that I think the Estate built. It’s a hexagonal type of thing with a massive wood burning stove in the middle, wooden floors walls and ceilings, and tables and chairs and lots of wood. A magnificently generous thing of the Estate to do. So this is where my politics of the landscape get confused. I guess that the fat people happy to pay for killing dear have paid for this, and that’s quite a thing. Does it justify the roads? No, not in my opinion, but at least they give back. Many don’t and the giving is appreciated. UPDATE: it isn’t a bothy after all but a lodge for trigger happy folk to sup whisky in and get warm; the bothy is the crumbling shed next door!
Oh yes we also had a rather exciting river crossing, our first. We did it good.
I forgot to say that on the way to the magnificent bothy we took a wrong turn they followed a strong looking specimen who turned out to be Strider Nick. Nick is the youngest walker doing the walk and at 23 he seems assured fit and capable. Nick and I were none of these at 23.
Then we met The Prophet of Doom. What a wanker. He filled us with fear about the pathless Glen ahead, stating its dangers all too clearly, and stating our target to be 5 hours away. The map looked good, the glen showing no cliffs/steep drops/multiple crossings and deep pools full of boulders… and so it was, pleasant and safe. We even saw two golden eagles and lots of dear in the deep mist and gloom, which was quite a lovely yet isolating element to travel through.
Anyway if we see the Prophet of Doom again we will tell him he is a tosser.
After 18 miles we hit another older but well equipped Estate bothy and we’re grateful for a roaring fire and a place to dry out and enjoy the evening.
Aviemore tomorrow, 10 miles to go until more beer and clothes washing. We smell.
Today was a day of two halves. We woke and spent time, too much time, playing in the canyons with our cameras. I’m sure that they will all be crap.So we never got walking until midday… hmmm. We soon encountered a massive dam and reservoir. This was funky. Oh and there were lots of strange flying insect thingies.
Then we hit a dam road and made some haste. Slow but hasty. Then we left the road and followed a fine stream and then at its interjunction we met Dave and Kerry, who were good company. Kerry is into metal and Dave lost his mate Hefty Geoffty who sadly twisted his knee around Glen Affric, and courtesy of mountain rescue is no longer doing the walk with Dave. We wish Geoff well. And hope to meet Dave and Kerry in Aviemore. For beer, and some metal. And some of Nick’s dance floor moves.
We left Kerry at the abandoned mansion, Stronlairig Lodge, a massive 3 storey beast of a building.
We also thought of some questions for The Doctor as we went up the seemingly endless Glen Markie
Q1: if you exercise a lot do you use more of the food you eat and thus produce less poo?
Q2: Nick and I have opposite diets, he’s all meat, I’m all vegetables: how does that work?
Q3: is it yawning or is it feeling hungry that is a sign of being thirsty?
It also rained a lot today, but not proper Scottish rain, more a fey relative. BUT WE ARE NOT COMPLAINING! We’ve been so lucky, 5 days of walking, half a day of kagool action.
Tonight’s camp is only 12.5 miles from the start and the poorest camp we’ve had, but still acceptable, below what looks like an abandoned bothy, no doors or windows but with rotting tables and chairs, and past the fork of two streams. We chatted betwixt tents before medication kicked in.
The day started after shoddy sleep (camping is better) with some much appreciated feedback from our good friend Fraser The Wino. As yon Wino is a writer I sought his feedback as to whether this blog was shite or acceptable. Wino is sensitive and I appreciated this feedback on particular:
“Maybe over stepping the line a bit with the Pongo description, especially as the nature of the whiff is not revealed. If the aroma is cheap perfume then no bother, but if it’s of a more bodily nature then offence could be taken.”
The aroma was of the bodily variety.
Luckily as we headed out we were overjoyed to bump into first Pongo and just after The Geologist who we have renamed The Firestarter, but more of the Firestarter later.
I was able to read Wino’s feedback to Pongo and grateful to receive affirmation that the description was acceptable due to its truthful content. Phew. But it was ace to meet Pongo again.
More joy was received telling The Firestarter just how much fun he had given us watching him run repeatedly betwixt fire and river, and we left him a bit rueful as he thought he’d got away with it, unobserved.
Anyway, today we started and ended very shagged. Having stopped for cooked breakfast in Invergarry, 5 miles on we found ourselves in the wonderful and wonderfully hosted Thistle Cafe, having quiche, chips beans and two deserts (Nick had three, chuff knows how). We think we might be the first people to walk for two weeks and put on weight.
Our route took us up Glen Buck and over the flat tops; we stopped for a cup of tea at Blackburn Bothy where we bumped into two able pups, Sam and Will. Nick and I cast our minds back to being their age and concluded that at their age we were both total wankers and incapable of even thinking about this kind of trip. So we remain impressed with their maturity and efforts. Also, as Nick was about to partake we were grateful of spotting their arrival in advance.
Anyway after this we cruised into Glen Tarf and followed the Tarf upstream. This is a stunning dramatic wooded Glen and it’s beauty must remain a secret, as must the bothy at its head nestled within trees and between a fork in the river, and below cliffs. The views down the Glen are stunning. Somewhere else to return.
We cooked in the bothy with some folk who had the stove going and, less welcomed, more allowed us, to share the warmth; they are here for a week undertaking repairs. They said they’d been coming for years and never met any ‘casual’ visitors which we took as a sort of compliment. But being outside in our tents hearing the wind and the river, the elements of the hills, that’s one of the reasons we are here. It might be warm in there but outside there is a connection worth more than warmth. We learnt that yesterday, dipping our toes in civilisation felt like somewhere we truly did not want to be. There is a joy and connectivity with the Earth in just walking and sleeping on it. I’m not even drinking much whisky. But that’s only because I’ve not packed enough.
Tomorrow brings the second of 4 consecutive days walking, we have decided to abandon the rest day in favour of reducing two 17 miles days to two 14 milers and a 6. We don’t want to be too shagged for disco dancing action in Aviemore. Nick sure can move.
Day 3 we met The Warbler Man. What can we say about the Warbler Man? He is an admirer and fan of the movie Wild, as are we. Mr Warbler was going in search of his friends the warblers, his third visit, each time the numbers of said warblers reducing. We truly hope this year they have multiplied. We enjoyed the brief company of The Warble Man before becoming human juggernauts and sped through the wastelands of deceased woodland that took us to Invergarry down painful gravel roads, proving that for this bit our shoes were inadequate resulting in barking feet.
Along the way we met Sean and Stan; they seemed the silent types and gave a wide birth. Perhaps they failed to comprehend just how amusing we are. Especially after 18 miles, offering our walking companions thc, politely declined.
We are now in a hotel in Invergarry feeling like the reintroduction to society is not good. Somehow focussing on simple things seems better.
Hard to describe the unexpected aceness of the first two days. We started with a fishing boat dropping us off at Inverie, Knoydart, and walking through the mountains to Sourlies bothy, and walking another 2 miles to camp by a Lochan. The scenery was stunning, the early parts of the Finisaig river truly beautiful. Our camp was fun fuelled as you’d expect and we enjoyed watching a man we nicknamed The Geologist put out a fire
that he had started that got a tad out of control.
A very cold night but hey had we mentioned that these two days have been unfettered sunshine, just insanely beautiful during the day, clear and cold during the night.
On day one we also met The Wanker, and Ms Pongo. Opinions of people can be quickly formed on the trail and we were happy that on day two as we entered the magnificence of Glen Dessary we bumped into Pongo, smelling her first from around 300m, upwind. We spent a very pleasant day in Pongo’s company and were grateful for her humour and attitude, not to mention tolerance of two buffoons. And undoubted mountain prowess.
Anyway, the days seemed quite hard. Day one was ‘easy’ but 1100m of ascent and 10.3 miles with a heavy sack felt like a big day. Unfortunately day 2 was 13 miles, with the same sack, turning north to join Glen Kingie, again flipping ace, so wide and open compared to the previous day, canyon like in many places. We parted two miles from the forest as Pongo had more than enough of our company and told us that she was going to bag a Munro, a fine excuse to escape our nonsensical blathering conversation, especially Nick who had partaken some edible substantiates as we walked. It also must be said that at this point we were totally shagged but still had 3 miles to go, and as for the first time we were to be walking through forest we were unsure of both water and camping spots, so we had 7 litres of water between us. Boom. Yeh. Anyway we found a totally stunning place to camp and scoffed and entered a coma, probably my earliest tine to bed in many moons: 9pm. I’m typing this in bed with my 250ml ration of whisky per night feeling very mellow as after two nights (hotel and camp) I took some pills in the need to escape the piglet noises coming from Nick’s tent. Very regular piglet, occasional wilderbeast meets farting dinosaur noises that are probably occurring 50m away as I have also elected to camp a bit away…
But chuff me I can hear nick blowing up his chuffing air mattress; I may be too close after all. More pills.
But the first two days have exceeded every expectation in every way. Especially the weather.
Oh yes and my dehydrator! I need to thank the bloggers who enthused so much about them; last night I had veggie spaghetti bolognaise and it was the best meal I’ve had in the mountains… I’ve more lined up including curries and all sorts of fine shizzle made at home.
Anyway tomorrow is 17 miles. Oooh.
A good journey, a traffic incident, a lot of pork pie action and a few beers, and a lovely evening. Tomorrow two inept unfit buffoons hit the hills for the first leg of our walk, through Knoydart to Invergarry. One of these buffoons has enough pork pies to feed a minor nation for a while.
We will report more in 3 days when we re-enter civilisation.
I promised myself I’d try and keep a record of my long walk with Nick but it feels odd and counter intuitive writing about yourself… I must try harder.
Anyway, train time.