View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Kilt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kilt. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 7. Timeshift

In which we may have encountered a wormhole

A wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity. But be wary: wormholes bring with them the dangers of sudden collapse, high radiation and dangerous contact with exotic matter.

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Sunrise over Loch Rannoch

Awake at stupid o’clock (again) and so a bit more early morning photography whilst slurping on my first caffeine shot of the day.

Drift back off to sleep and eventually got up properly at 7.30am, away at 9.30am. T’other JJ had set off earlier, he hadn’t being firing on all four so he wanted to get a head start.

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Looking west over Loch Rannoch

First stop of the day was Kinloch Rannoch, 10km east, where there was a shop. Arrived to find t’other JJ getting ready to leave. He’d decided to change his route and to follow roads to the coast to try to shorten his journey. He headed off towards the fleshpots of Tummel Bridge.

The shop had a coffee machine, sold all manner of unhealthy things to eat and had a bench seat outside. so we drank tea (or coffee) and sat on the bench in the sunshine whilst eating all manner of unhealthy things.

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All was well until there was a wobble in the the space-time continuum…or maybe it was just a normal day in KR.

A terribly smart, freshly laundered and camera-shy John Arlington from Washington in USA rolled up. He’d started in Acharacle and was headed towards Lunan Bay.

We also met another Kilchoan starter in the shop: Paul Southward. He was heading to St Cyrus. He looked to be doing a similar route to us although we didn’t see him again.

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Our route for the rest of the day was one I’d done before, not on the Challenge, but when I walked out to meet members of East Lancs LDWA as they took part in the Scottish 100 mile (in 48 hours) challenge walk. This always takes place over the second May Bank Holiday. I’d walked over to Kinloch Rannoch, where the breakfast stop was, and then walked back for 20 or so miles. I remember it as being a nice bit of their route.

The day’s kilt admiration came from two Dutch ladies. They were on a walking holiday and were finishing in KRimage.

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Glenmore Bothy

We wandered over by Schiehallion and down by Pheiginn Bothy which had been one of the LDWA100 checkpoints. I’d have liked to camp there but there was no water for quite a distance.

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Pheiginn Bothy’s Mrs Mopp

We eventually spotted a lovely flat(ish) bit of ground at NN750507 with a stream running through it. It was getting on for 8pm and we’d walked quite far enough thank you very much. 15 minutes later our tents were up and tea was on the go.

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A curious deer came to visit during the evening but it soon bounded off. We were probably camped by it’s usual watering hole.

My diary says that we’d had very good weather that day and that the kilt had performed well. Sounds about right.

Lights-out at 10.30pm – rather late, but there you go.

Cuckoo count: 4

Other wildlife: two deer + plus a couple of Challengers who weren’t very wild at all.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

TGOC2018, Day 6: Lunch in the sun

In which we frighten the ladies

I slept badly. This wasn’t down to grunting, farting or snoring (well there wasn’t THAT much snoring), it was just another of those nights that my brain had engaged hyper-drive.

I made a cuppa around 4am and stuck my head out of the tent to see what was going on.

Nothing. Nowt. Nada.

It hadn’t got fully dark all night and now, approaching dawn (hello Dawn!), the snowy peaks SW of us were standing out quite dramatically. I photographed the scene but I’m no expert – see yesterday’s post for the photo. I was using my Lumix TZ70 Compact (a fine little camera, but at the end of the day it’s just a compact), plus the camera on my Samsung S5. In spite of these limitations I was quite pleased with the results.

Up and about fairly late, around 7.30am. Mike had reported that our tents were icy earlier – he’d been forced to leave the warmth of his pit for a …..well, you know.

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View from my tent at 7.45am

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Fab views all around this morning: bright sunshine illuminated the hills all around.

T’other JJ spotted a big bird, he reckoned it might have been an eagle.

Whatever it was, it whizzed over far too quickly for me to even grab my camera, let alone photograph it.

Much poorly–ness in camp this morning. Mike was slightly under the weather and t’other JJ wasn’t feeling too good either.

Up and away around 9.30am, it was cool and fresh but rapidly warming up.

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Rannoch Moor

This wasn’t the most exciting day, most of it was mainly either on LRT or very minor road with just a titchy bit of forestry track where we didn’t get very lost at all. It was all easy going though.

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Lizard

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Curious deer

The major stop of the day was the very excellent Rannoch Station Tea Room, situated rather conveniently at, er, Rannoch Station.

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Approaching Rannoch Station

Much tea was supped, toasties guzzled, and wonderful soup slurped. This worked wonders – it gave us all a damned good kick in the pants. Or kilts.

The sun was shining very hotly. Ladies on the adjacent table, possibly quite frightened by the appearance of naked knees (the ladies were frightened, not the table), were struggling to concentrate on their lunches…nowt to do with me, I was well dressed under my kilt. I couldn’t possibly comment on the state of Mike’s undress, you’ll need to ask him.

It must have been the heat.

It was 3pm by the time we left the tea-rooms, we thought we’d best move on before we got moved on. You can only ask for a finite number of tea-pot top-ups with hot water before suspicion is aroused.

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We were now on a wiggly tarmac minor road. the B846. The planned destination for the day was the Forestry Commision Campsite at Carie on the south shore of Loch Rannoch.

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Unidentified wildlife (Fossilised Giant Haggis?)

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In search of a suitable pitch


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The campsite was shut* although as it happened it didn’t matter. We didn’t get there that evening, we were just too knackered to walk the last 5km of road. Instead we found a slightly lumpy patch of ground on the loch shore at NN569566 and we pitched there.

* Although the site at Carie was shut (closed-down by the look of things), another Forestry Commision Campsite had opened a little further down the road, towards Kinloch Rannoch.

I enjoyed a brill tea of home-made and home-dehydrated pasta bolognese + a dollop of olive oil followed by a couple of Eccles cakes for pudding. Eccles cakes really are quite excellent – especially when they’ve been crushed inside your pack. For a true Cordon-Bleu experience they should be submerged under a topping of instant custard….but not tonight. Only because I wasn’t carrying any.

Chorley Cakes, BTW, simply won’t do. They’re a completely different animal. Obv.

By 9.15pm (as I was writing my diary up) it had got very cold so I was snuggled in my sleeping bag, supping a mug of camomile tea.

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Sunset over Loch Rannoch

I left my tent door open until quite late, watching the light fade over the loch. It was all quite romantic really.

Cuckoo count: 7 (much better)

Other wild animals: Two red squirrels, numerous lizards, various deer, and a suspected eagle - there were other birds too but I didn’t count them.

No wild Challengers though.

Friday, 1 June 2018

TGO Challenge 2018, Going over the top. Day 5

In which I lighten my load…

Up at 7am to start packing, I had breakfast in thew hotel - £10 for a full English Welsh Irish Scottish, good value for what I had: all the usual stuff you get with a hotel breakfast, but rather having a fry-up I opted for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It was probably the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. I’ll be using the MacDonald Hotel campsite again – it’s better than other commercial sites I’ve used in the town.

I joined Conn Hardingacklin for breakfast, he’d planned a similar route to mine – whatever that was!

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The view up the loch from the campsite was quite stunning – the morning light was just right.

Up and away via the Post Office (to send some stuff home) and the Co-op to buy choccy and bread.

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JJ, Mike and I left town at 10am for the long slog up to Devil’s Staircase.

Lots of kilt comments (mostly complimentary) and loads of requests for photographs….we should start charging! The vast majority of the walkers we saw were on the WHW, some hoping to get to Fort Bill that day whilst others seemed content to stop in Kinlochleven.

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Miffed that the cafe at the top was shut

It got a gloomy as we climbed, then it got gloomier still as we climbed some more – then waterproofs were needed as the wind drove rain in. It got quite cold too. This was the second and final time that I walked in rain on TGOC2018 – quite a record.

As late as 4pm some WHW walkers were still heading north, it would be quite late before they got to KL.

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The rebuilding of Kingshouse

Once past Kingshouse the kilt comments virtually dried up. We were now off the WHW and we didn’t come across any other walkers for what remained of the day.

The rain had now stopped but the cold wind remained, at least it dried the outer shell of my Velez quite nicely.

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Black Corries Lodge

I’d intended to camp before Black Corries but it felt right to continue on beyond the lodge. And so we did.

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A mile or so later, at NN322552, we came across a nice flat spot with an abundant supply of water – just what we needed. It was adjacent to a LRT but we really weren’t mithered about that.

Tents up and brew on – just in time for the Archers on BBC R4 LW.

I had an excellent meal of home made and home-dehydrated beef & ale plus Idaho mashed potatoes – these are now my favourite packet mashed potatoes, they’re delicious.

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Pudding was a good sized (= big!) piece of chocolate, an Eccles Cake and a mug of tea. I was replete.

After a top-to-toe wash down in my tent I slid into my sleeping bag and wrte up the day’s diary….ie what you’re reading here.

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Looking over the lochan in the fading light was really quite relaxing. The snow-covered tops added to the beauty of the scene. The sky was clearing so I expected a cold night ahead. Because I’d loaned Eden some of my lighter-weight stuff I was carrying my winter sleeping bag – cold was not on my list of worries that night.

Eden was doing his DofE Bronze expedition at the same time as my TGOC, I didn’t want the poor lad to be weighed down with a pile of heavy kit.

Whinge warning:

On the subject of DofE, which I’ve commented on previously (causing some knee-jerk reactions by those who couldn’t be arsed to read my words thoroughly – or just want to argue / disagree with my P.o.V.):

There are some absolutely brilliant and very experienced DofE expedition ‘intructors’ out there (you know who you are) but there are also some who clearly don’t have much idea at all. They probably don’t know who they are.

Expedition instructors can’t be held fully responsible for their teachings, the recommended expedition kit list can be viewed here – I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions….but we’ve all taken pity on overloaded DofE teenagers. I’m surprised that so many return to the outdoors.

Some fellow Backpackers Club members, including me, have offered some local DofE groups help and advice but as far as I know, and certainly in my experience, our offers haven’t been taken up.

End of whinge.

I slept badly, not because of the cold, I was actually VERY warm, it was just a load of crap going through my head that wouldn’t allow me to wind down. A mug of camomile tea, a listen to the BBC World Service and a bit of time spent taking photos helped take my mind of the rubbishy stuff and eventually my mind found neutral and I drifted off.

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The view from my tent at 4.10am

Cuckoo count: 3 (poor)

Other wildlife encountered: Not much at all really, a just few birds lurking around the lochan. Not even any Challengers.



Thursday, 31 May 2018

TGO Challenge 2018, the story so far…

In which my knees terrify some WHW walkers…

Up at 6.30am, away before 8am…after washing some of my smellier smellies. The sun, even at this time, shone hotly – my soggy laundry would dry fairly quickly in this heat.

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Towards Lundavra

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Water tap by Lundavra – no water though

The day’s route was very straight-forward and *mostly* easy underfoot: north by Lundavra, then following the West Highland Way, south and east, to Kinlochleven.

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Lots of walkers encountered – all going the other way (to Fort Bill, the end of the WHW). Many took delight in telling me I was going the wrong way (this is not news to me, I usually go the wrong way), others wanted to know whether I was doing the WHW in the ‘other’ direction – North to South.

I think the WHW must be marketed quite heavily overseas, a very substantial proportion of walkers were from overseas: many Americans, a large Japanes party and and goodly number of Dutch and Germans. The Way must provide an important source of revenue for businesses on the route.

Walking in a kilt

American ladies swooned. Japanese photographers clicked away, English walkers blushed, German walkers politely averted their gaze….

I had to pose for so many photographs that day that it added a good hour to my walk – great fun though!

My Sports Kilt was generating a lot of interest. In all seriousness, this is the best of walking kit I’ve bought in a long while. It’s extremely comfortable, lightweight and very practical. At 330gms it’s not exactly heavy and because it’s made from microfibre it dries very quickly.

It helped that the weather was so good of course, but even in moderate rain it did it’s stuff well.

The risk of ticks was uppermost in my mind when I was walking through undergrowth. I’d treated my kilt (and my undies) with Permethrin before setting out and this gave me some peace of mind. There was only one day where I didn’t wear the kilt all day, that was my Day 3 through Glen Gour where it just *looked* like good tick-breeding ground. As it happened I didn’t encounter one tick on my entire crossing.

Sports Kilt is an American company, I ordered mine (and Mike’s) whilst I was in USA earlier in the year – perhaps a Scottish manufacturer could take up the reigns and produce them over here.

Back to the walk…

I’ve walked the WHW a couple of times, always South to North, going the other way transorms it into a completely different walk – no better or worse, just different.

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The route was mostly but not always easy underfoot, some of the path was covered in loose rocks and stones which slowed my progress from time-to-time. The absolute worst bit was the final steep-ish descent to Kinlochleven – I nearly ended up on my bum a couple of times.

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I’d booked into the campsite at the back of the MacDonald Hotel, it was very quiet when I arrived, but within a couple of hours it was rammed. It’s a reasonable commercial site, £10 a night and good facilities – the ground was stony under a couple of inches of grassy soil though.

The Kilted Pieman was refused permission to camp, apparently the site was full – although he could have squeezed on quite easily.

The hotel served decent food and very excellent beer (Cairngorm Trade Winds). I’d hardly eaten all day so I ordered a decent lunch but I struggled to finish it.

I’d sent a food parcel to the hotel, it *should* have contained maps for the next section of my walk….but it didn’t. What the hell happened there then? I had my route description with me of course, I also had my Garmin Etrex20 so I had a fall back, it wasn’t ideal though. (I since found the maps….at home, in a box. A different box.)

A couple of other Challengers appeared, notably Conn Hardingacklin and Scott – good blokes, the pair of them.

Mike ended up camping at the Blackwater campsite, we met up for nosh and beer at the Tail Race, decent food but no proper beer – just fizz.

Mike’s route wasn’t too dissimilar to mine so we decided to team up for a few days (he had his maps!), certainly until my next food parcel which would hopefully contain some maps.

In bed by 11pm, nicely relaxed and ready for a good night’s kip. It wasn’t to be though, noise from adjacent tents and the camping pods kept me awake until the early hours…then it was coming light at 4.30am. Ho hum. 

Cuckoo count 4

Other wildlife encountered: Norralot, not even any Challengers on the route.


Photos from my entire TGOC2018 are here



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