TGO Challenge 2017: Day 1

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Distance: 25km, ascent 828m

Just after 9.00am we signed out of the hotel. We were joined by Rich and his brother Pete. Unfortunately, Pete’s rucksack had been lost by the airline he flew up with and was having to return to Inverness to see if he could reclaim it (it was a bit of a saga, but he managed to get it couriered to Shiel Bridge the next day). As Pete was going to Inverness, Rich decided to join Dickie, Rosie and me. Before departing we had the ritual toe dipping in the sea.

Then we were off on our way. Rich was originally going to take a more direct route to the radio transmitter, but foolishly, he was persuaded by me to follow the back roads with us. There was hardly any traffic and the gorse was in full bloom.

When we turned off towards Achnandarach we passed a some fine rhododendron bushes in full flower.

This gate post caused a few chuckles.

As usual, the forest marked on the map was nothing like the trees on the ground. We couldn’t find a path along the burn, so we bushwhacked a bit higher up.

Then a section of forest blocked our way. We tried to find a way through the fallen trees, but it was too dense and we had to retreat at the cost of a tear in the mesh pocket of my rucksack. We had a rest, which gave Dickie a chance to try his new super dooper MSR water filter on a dubious pool. Although it purified the water, it couldn’t remove the hydrogen sulphide giving it a rather unpleasant tang.

After a quick bite to eat, we found a path a bit closer to the burn and sploshed our way along a peaty path. Soon, we emerged into a ravine. Looking back we could see the Isle of Skye. The clouds in sky were beginning to thicken behind us.

Eventually we emerged onto the moorland around Beinn Raimh, which was quite desolate. At this point Dickie decided to ditch his “eau de Trump” water and purify some fresh water.

We tramped merrily down towards the A890. Before reaching the road Rich and I stopped for a bite to eat, while Dickie and Rosie carried on.

After our repast, Rich and I took the track to the road. For a short distance we followed the track parallel to the road before being defeated by some dwarf trees, forcing us down to the A890.

Fortunately, we only had a short stretch of road walking before taking the track along Gleann Udalain. As we bimbled along it started to spot with rain. Smug factor ten as I whipped out my umbrella. The rain was neither heavy nor prolonged, so the umbrella was much better than putting on waterproofs.

At the gate through the deer fence, we caught up with Dickie and Rosie who were lolling around on the other bank of the river. After a short break we climbed over a low bealach to Loch Innis nan Seangan. Underfoot it was reasonably dry, but quite uneven.

My original plan had been to camp at Loch nah Onaich, but the ground wasn’t very inviting. By this time Rosie was getting tired and Dickie decided they would camp there in their bomber Hilleberg tent. Rich and I decided to carry on towards Nonach Lodge with a view to camping somewhere beyond Killilan.

It was a steep descent down to Nonach Lodge and getting late in the day. Tired and thirsty, we stopped at the building to replenish our water from a conveniently placed tap and have a quick snack. At Killilan Rich used the phone box to ring his brother. I sat on the bench, contemplating whether it would be too cheeky to camp on the mown lawns in front of the houses (which appeared to be unoccupied).

As Rich emerged from the phone box, another Challenger, James came trundelling along. Deciding that it was too cheeky to camp there, we pushed on. I knew there were some places to camp a little way on. Eschewing the first obvious ones, we made it to the bridge beyond Faddoch where an almost prefect site presented itself to us.

Yet another Challenger, Bill, had camped on the other side of the road. However, there was plenty of room. It was around eight o’clock and it had turned into a much longer day than I had anticipated. I was very glad to get the tent up and have some food, before slipping into my quilt for a well-earned sleep.


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