Distance: 26km, ascent 442m
After some overnight rain, the weather cleared and by the time I was ready to leave Corrie Dho, there were patches of blue sky. I felt well rested and much happier with the world. The first task was to get across the River Doe to the track on the south bank. Fortunately, the water level was low and a short way downstream there was a ford with some convenient stones to rock hop across.
Once across the river, I followed the new “improved” hydro works track to Cul Dubh, where I had camped two years ago. I was glad that I hadn’t tried to camp there this year as there was a large “depot” scraped out by the track and the stream that I had used before for water was fouled.
Beyond Cul Dubh, I left the hydro track and followed a winding track towards Tomchrasky Farm. This was the same track I’d used on my Challenge in 2015. The only difference this time was the water levels were much lower so wading the fords posed no problems and it wasn’t raining, although there were a couple of showers that passed by in the glen below.Every so often the path would follow a large water pipe. In several places it was leaking, so I suppose if you needed some water here was a ready supply.
I did spy some places that it would be possible to camp too, but it was generally not very attractive. The views were somewhat spoilt by the wind farm on the opposite side of the glen. I made rapid, if boring, progress.
The only interesting thing was a whistling gate post! Just beyond the ford at Allt na Dubh-chlaise, I took my pack off to get something out and was mystified by a whistling noise. On further inspection, the wind was blowing across a hole in the metal gate post and making a low-pitched whistling sound. There’s a novelty: a musical gate post.
I was soon passing by the rather unattractive farm at Tomchrasky and making the seemingly endless trudge along the minor road to Torgyle Bridge. The only saving grace was that there was hardly any traffic. In couple of places, some barking dogs broke the monotony. Eventually I crossed the River Moriston and after a mercifully short walk along the busy main road, I followed a track into the forest. Soon I found a convenient log to sit on to have a bite to lunch.
As I was eating, it started to spot with rain. Up went my umbrella. I thought it was just a shower but after 20 minutes it became apparent that this was more persistent rain, so I put on my waterproofs. I followed the track up to the power pylons rather than the military road. As I got out of the trees, the wind strengthened and the rain got heavier. For an hour there was a strange mixture of wind-driven rain and sunshine. As I reached the top, the rain relented and I trudged on under the pylons. After a while my route left the hard track to follow a more pleasant zig-zag down to Fort Augustus.As this was just a repeat of two years ago, I ploughed on as quickly as I could and arrived in Fort Augustus by mid afternoon.
By this time the sun was shining and it was quite warm. I called into the “supermarket” to restock with some food. The selection was rather meagre so I ended up with mainly chew bars and junk. Then I walked to my B&B, The Bank House. The Bank House is a really great place to stay. Sue and Ian are very welcoming and helpful. I arranged for Sue to do some washing for me, then after phone calls to Challenge control and to my wife, I had a bath. Luxury!
I had a pleasant dinner at the Lock Inn. Unfortunately, I didn’t bump into any other Challengers, so it was a solitary affair. I felt good that I’d completed the first section of the Challenge with no particular issues or problems. However, the next day was to prove one of the most dispiriting walks of my life.