Distance: 25km, ascent: 336m
I had a really good night’s sleep, although I was awake before sunrise. My little camp site was ideal because it had kept the sun in the evening and then caught the sun in the morning too. On the ground, there was a light frost, the first of the Challenge.
By the time I’d had breakfast and packed, it had become a bit more cloudy although it didn’t look like it would rain any time soon. I wandered down the tributary of the Allt Mor. There were a couple of superb camp sites along the way.
In less than half an hour I was at the shooting hut/bothy. I suppose in an emergency you might want to stay there, but the inside was untidy and not very inviting. Even outside, the ground was not much use for camping either.
The shooting hut is at the confluence two tributaries and once joined the river has carved out an impressive mini canyon. I followed the track above before descending to the bridge crossing the Allt Mor. On the other side there was a short climb to a stand of trees. Here I managed to pick up a decent phone signal, so I called Challenge control and home to let them know I was ok. Then I checked the weather forecast. Uh-oh! Fine until mid evening, then rain continuing for the whole of the next day. Mentally I prepared myself for another Foul Weather Alternative for the following day.
Kingussie was a key resupply point for me, so I visited the Co-op to stock up. The choice of food was disappointing. Once again I ended up with quite a lot of junk. It was particularly frustrating that they had no plain peanuts, only chilli or salt & vinegar. At least they had some loose apples. Suitably restocked, I went to the memorial garden to sit down for lunch and to repack my goodies.As a keen student of history, I always find war memorials very moving. We are diminished if we don’t take time to recognise the sacrifices that previous generations have made to allow us to live in a free society.
After a quick visit to the toilets in the car park (I was a bit miffed that I had to pay 20p), I resumed my walk. In truth it’s a bit of a plod to Tromie Bridge. Ruthven Barracks provides the only real interest. At least there wasn’t much traffic.
At Baileguish, the navigation became a bit confusing with no bridge where there was one marked on the map, which didn’t matter too much as crossing the burn was easy. Apparently there’s a bridge on the other track, although that wasn’t marked on my map.
Not far into the next section of forest, I caught up with two more Challengers David P (on his 10th) and Ray. I spent a pleasant hour or so with them meandering along the forest tracks. Ray had some foot problems and was going quite slowly, so I decided to move up a gear and push on.
I was quite excited to arrive at the River Feshie as I’d never been to Glen Feshie before. The gorse was in full bloom with its glorious scent. I was soon over the bridge and at the Allt Garbhlach. The old path and crossing had been dramatically washed away by previous storms. Fortunately it was only a short trek upstream to another crossing point.
Soon I reached the bothy at Ruigh-aitechain. The bothy is being refurbished. There were several tents pitched nearby. One of them belonged to Sandy with whom I’d camped a couple of nights earlier. After a quick chat, I decided it was too crowded and would find a pitch further on.
I didn’t have to go very far. Normally, I don’t like pitching under trees, especially if I know rain is on the way. However, there was a nice green flat spot beneath a pine tree. Although rain was forecast, it wasn’t expected to be very windy so there wasn’t any danger from deadfall.
One feature of this Challenge so far was the great places to camp and this was no exception. It had been a really enjoyable day, despite a bit of road walking. It also was the day when I thought that I’d cracked the walk and that it ought to be straightforward from here. I was feeling fit and my feet were good. All I had to do was get through the bad weather on the next day and I’d be on the home stretch.