TGO Challenge 2015: Day 3

Loch Affric to Cul Dubh

Distance: 20.2km
Ascent: 611m

Day 3click to enlarge

Dawn brought the gentle pitter-patter of rain on the flysheet. My reading of the clouds the previous evening had been correct: the weather was changing for the worse. However, it was only light rain and it almost stopped when I packed.

IMG_1223 IMG_1224 IMG_1225 IMG_1227Views around Loch Affric

All of today’s photos were taken on my iPhone, which was in a waterproof Lifeproof Fre case, hence the lower quality, for which I apologise. Indeed, it was so wet later in the day, that the touch screen ceased to function, so I couldn’t take as many photos as I wanted.

Mick was going to Cougie, while I was heading for the Allt Garbh. However, our paths coincided for the first part of the day’s walk. As we walked along the shore of Loch Affric, the rain stopped and we had a pleasant stroll, chatting away.

IMG_1229 IMG_1231 IMG_1232 IMG_1233Views from path along Loch Affric

We reached the Allt Garbh and Cougie path and turned south. In places it was decidedly boggy, but the surroundings were pleasant. As we climbed higher, the rain started in earnest. By the time we reached the turn off to Cougie, there was a strong wind and driving rain. Mick turned off to Cougie and I continued up the track following the Allt Garbh.

IMG_1235 IMG_1236 IMG_1238 IMG_1239 IMG_1243Path to Cougie along Allt Garbh

Although the weather was increasingly grim, the conditions underfoot were made easy by the well maintained track. To my relief there was a substantial bridge over the Allt Garbh. I was hoping that the shooting hut shown on the map might be open to provide some shelter. However, it was locked and I wasn’t even able to shelter behind it from the wind.

IMG_1245 IMG_1246Allt Garbh

Beyond the shooting hut, the floor of the Allt Garbh opens out into a lochan fed by a sinuous stream and a boggy morass. I continued westwards along the 450m contour, following a faint track some of the way. The wind was driving the rain into my face and things were starting to turn unpleasant! I looked for a crossing point but the boggy floor of the glen meant I had to go further west than I wanted. In the end I found a decent place to cross.

IMG_1249 IMG_1250Allt Garbh

The next task was to climb up to the Bealach an Amais and into Glen Fada. There was no track. It was steep and tussocky with extensive snow patches near the top. As I climbed, the wind became ferocious with driving rain which felt like ball bearings firing at my face. Fortunately, my back was facing the wind most of the time. At the top I was almost blown over a couple of times. My decision to take my FWA rather than go high seemed a wise one. The good news at the top was that I found a LRT going down Gleann Fada, which made the walk down considerably easier.

IMG_1255 IMG_1256 IMG_1260 IMG_1264Gleann Fada

As I descended into the glen, the wind and rain lessened. The scenery was bleak but in its own way, beautiful. The LRT was not marked on my map, so I had no idea where it led. Further down, the rain stopped for a while, although the wind was still ferocious in places. Eventually, the LRT led to a ford where the foaming river looked tricky to cross. Instead I decided to head for a bridge marked on the map lower down. I picked up a stalkers path which led me to the bridge.

IMG_1265 IMG_1269 IMG_1270Gleann Fada

With some relief, I crossed the bridge and regained the track winding its way down Glen Doe. My intended stopping point was Cul Dubh. However, I was on the look out for other places if they presented themselves. Frustratingly, there were quite a few good spots on the other side of the river, but none on my side. The rain started again and I resigned myself to the trudge down to the dam marked on the map.

IMG_1272 IMG_1275 IMG_1277 IMG_1279River Doe

I reached Cul Dubh just before 4 o’clock. There was a decision to be made: should I camp here or go on, as it was still early? I decided not to pass up the opportunity of a certain good spot for the uncertain prospect of a pitch further on. IMG_1280Cul Dubh

I was extremely glad I did stop a bit early as about an hour later, it absolutely hammered down with rain. Not only that, but, as I found the next day, there weren’t any decent camping spots for a long way.

While I wouldn’t have chosen the weather, it was a good experience, especially as my Paramo Velez didn’t wet out at all. Considering the conditions, I stayed reasonably comfortable. I knew that the next night I would be staying in a B&B in Ft Augustus, making any privations more bearable.

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14 thoughts on “TGO Challenge 2015: Day 3”

  1. Two very good decisions there Robin, not using your camera in the rain and camping early. I walked on an extra few miles in that afternoons deluge, and my Sony RX-100 got damp, and subsequently died. Placed it in a bag of rice a for a couple of days to try and draw the moisture out but it was dead. Expensive mistake. Good call on the FWA.

    1. Sometimes I make the right decision! It certainly was a deluge and I wouldn’t have wanted to be walking in it. I took a lot of photos with my iPhone this year. At least I know it’s waterproof. Makes me wonder whether a waterproof camera is the way to go.

  2. Similar to my bad camera experience. In an afternoon of steady rain, the Samsonite pouch on my hip belt soaked up water like a sponge, resulting in my Ricoh compact dying. Back home, a week in the airing cupboard failed to revive it so I reluctantly binned it. For the replacement I bought a more weatherproof pouch, with an allegedly waterproof zip, but I’m not taking any chances, I have a plastic bag folded in the pouch ready to put the camera in if necessary.

  3. Fantastic to read about your trip. I have a little bit of trouble understanding your abbrevations though, FWA, LRT? Keep up the good work!

  4. Quite a different day from the previous one. Some good decisions were made there. It’s always a tough decision when one happens upon a great camp spot before the planned end point for the day – but invariably stopping early, is always the right one.

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