Allt Uchd Rodha to Cannich
Sunday 11th May
Start 10:30, finish 4:30, 17.3km
It rained most of the night, but I had a reasonable night’s sleep. I managed to hang on until 6:30 before getting up. The rain stopped after breakfast. My two fellow campers wandered over to say hello. The first was Alan Dutton, who also had a Scarp and was very interested in all the modifications I’d made. The second was Jean Turner who I “knew” through blogs and the Challenge message board.
Any hope of any early get away faded as we chatted away like old friends who had known each other for years. One of the wonderful things about the Challenge is that everyone (well almost) is your instant friend. Alan was going to Struy, but Jean’s route coincided with mine until Glen Cannich.
It seemed natural for Jean and I to link up for the morning’s walk. I also had the grid reference of the gate that we needed to locate to get through the deer fence on the Laitrie Burn.
Before our little gaggle broke up, Ian Sommerville appeared. He was trying to find the bridge over the River Farrar and claimed it was missing and that we might have to ford the river. A close look at the map confirmed that there was indeed a bridge. No mention of a bridge missing had been made by the vetters, so he set off again to find the mystery bridge.
Rather belatedly we set off. Rounding the hill we came upon a pleasant green lawn that might have made an even better camp site. On the far side, as clear as day, was the mystery bridge. How Ian missed it, I don’t know. Perhaps a visit to the opticians is overdue.
Unfortunately, the glimpses of blue sky disappeared and it started to rain lightly. Reluctantly, waterproofs were donned. It looked like the climb up the Allt Innis na Larach was going to be a bit sweaty.
Jean insisted that if I wanted to press on ahead, that I should do so. I replied that I wasn’t in a hurry and would appreciate the company after two days of solitary walking.
There had been several warnings that the path was rough and that there had been landslips, making the ascent difficult. The actuality was that the path was no rougher than many and that diversions around the landslips were well established.
That is not to say that it was plain sailing. The path is certainly steep and rocky in places, but no worse than many paths. The ravine is quite charming in places, which kept our minds off the gently falling rain.
About half way up we spotted a figure below us ascending the path like a mountain goat. We decided to stop for a breather and let him catch up. It was Colin Lees, who like Jean, is from Dunfermline. Naturally there was a conversation about various aspects of Dunfermline and its walking clubs.
Colin explained that he was a much faster walker than his Challenge partner, Ian Smith, who was somewhere down in the glen. We bade Colin au revoir and he sped off up the hill.
We climbed higher up the side of the valley avoiding the gashes of the rock falls that were evident on both sides of the burn. nearing the top, we encountered more boggy ground.
Right at the top was a small section of peat hags, which took a little time to negotiate. Unfortunately, Jean did a face plant. Later she discovered that in acquiring some black face paint, she lost a glove and her rucksack cover.
Jean negotiates the peat bog
At this point the weather had improved significantly and we were treated to a bit of sunshine. I was getting hungry and suggested to Jean that we look for a lunch spot. We were going to find a spot down by the Liatrie Burn, but we stumbled upon some old ruins, which provided a convenient place to sit.
Nobly I donated the best seat to Jean. I looked behind us. The clouds looked ominously black. After one crunch bar and a swig of drink, the hail started. Up went my umbrella. As the intensity increased, Jean hunched over her rucksack. After five minutes, she said she was getting cold and wanted to move on.
I stowed my food, while sheltering under my brolly. We had gone no further than a hundred metres when I spied a quad bike track. It seemed logical to me that this would lead us to the gate that we were seeking.
It wove around a bit, but quickly it led us to the corner of the deer fence and the very gate we were seeking. If you go this way, all you need to do if you don’t find the gate is aim slightly to the west of the gate and turn left, following the fence until you reach the gate (approx NH 255 339).
The gate was quite heavy to shift, so having two pairs of hands was useful. The track down was clear but very boggy and steep in places. We took care not to slip. I felt a bit ungallant sheltering under my brolly while Jean’s waterproof bore the full brunt of the cold rain.
Eventually we reached the road to Cannich. Jean’s original plan had been to go south over the ridge to Tomich. However, this was pathless and the weather made this prospect even less enticing, so she decided to accompany me to Cannich, with a view to walking on to Tomich by road.
Lower down, the rain petered out for a while. We bimbled along the road chatting about all manner of things. What could have been a quite boring road walk was transformed into an enjoyable afternoon by Jean’s company. We endured several rain showers before we reached my destination, which was Cannich camp site.
Miraculously, we arrived just before the cafe was due to shut. Food. Yes! I had a burger and some cake. Lovely jubbly. We also met Shap and Martin Angell on the camp site.
Cannich was a phone in point for me, so I phoned Challenge control to let them know that I was OK. Jean decided that she wouldn’t go to Tomich, but she would stay at Cannich. There were now plenty of Challengers on the site. I selected a pitch to one end of the throng, hoping to be away from any snorers.
I spied Andy Howell and Kate, so I quickly introduced myself, before going off for a shower. A crowd were going to the pub, but as I had eaten already, I decided to stay at the camp site.
My boots were a bit damp from sweat, so I filled them with paper towels to help dry them. I settled down to write up my notes and to compose a shopping list for the next day in Drumnadrochit. There wasn’t any snoring that I could hear, but someone had a very noisy air matress!
Day three is supposed to be the worst day both physically and mentally on the Challenge. However, for me, it was fine. Having Jean as company banished any negative thoughts. Physically, I was feeling good. There had been no sign of the foot pain that I felt the previous day and I was feeling strong.