Cul Dubh to Ft Augustus
As I was having breakfast, the overnight rain started to clear, giving the promise of a better day. I was able to pack with no rain, although the tent was still wet. However, as I set off, the clouds gathered again and it started to spot with rain. Away from the shelter of my camping spot, the wind reasserted itself.
The track contoured around the hill side, following a large water pipe for some of the way. There were a couple of spots by the track where you could camp, but they were very exposed to the wind. I was glad that I had stopped at Cul Dubh the previous night. I had to cross a couple of fords, one of which was deep enough for me to use my waders (which I had decided to bring after all).
On reaching the farm at Tomchrasky, the rain commenced in earnest. I now faced a road walk to Torgyle Bridge before a forest walk up and over the ridge to Ft Augustus. The good news was that it was more sheltered on the road, so I could use my umbrella. This turned a dismal walk into a more bearable one.
Along the road I encountered a herd of cows with calves grazing. I approached slowly but they decided to stampede for a field with an open gate, leaving one poor little fellow behind. The walk was pretty boring, only notable for large number of properties with For Sale signs.
At Torgyle Bridge, I crossed the river and headed into the forest. Although it was still raining and forest walking is a bit boring, at least I was sheltered and could still use my umbrella. Occasionally, the forest would open up for some views, although they were curtailed by curtains of cloud.
Instead of taking the construction road, I followed the old military road. Because of all the rain, the streams crossing the road were swollen, making detours necessary to cross them. Just as I was beginning to despair of the weather, as I reached the top, the rain stopped and the weather brightened. In the distance I spotted two figures in ponchos.
I caught up with fellow Challengers, Richard and Rosemary, at the ford. They were assessing whether it was passable or not. It didn’t look promising so we decided to explore upstream. Poor Rosemary had blisters. The ground was very rough upstream and nowhere was fordable. Eventually we reached an impassable ravine and deer fence. We gave up and headed downstream, figuring there must be a bridge for the construction traffic somewhere. Indeed there was, only a few hundred yards away. If only we had known!
Richard urged me to push on as Rosemary’s blisters were making them go slowly. The construction track made for fast walking, although the surrounding devastation wasn’t very attractive. Soon the military road peeled away to a very pleasant path descending into Ft William. Increasing bursts of sunshine made the surroundings more cheerful.
Just as I reached Ft Augustus, it started to rain again. I was delighted to find a well-stocked Londis with a Chemist and was able to do an extensive re-supply for the next few days. Next stop was my B&B, the Bank House. This turned out to be an excellent choice, with a nice room. Best of all they did some washing for me.
I met with soon-to-be legend Andy. He declined to go out to eat as he had to lighten his pack by eating one of his unused freeze-dried meals. I went down to the Lock Inn, where I met several Challengers (Lee, Tony, Dave, Graham, Fred, Bob and Rose) and had a very fine burger and chips!
Day four was never going to be and exciting day. It was a link between the West and the Monadhliath. My umbrella and staying at a B&B made it much more bearable than it might have been otherwise. Now I had the Monadhliath to look forward to. I just hoped the weather would improve.