Walking 1004.9 miles from John O'Groats to Lands end in aid of Accommodation Concern! (starts august 3rd 2014)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Day-15 Disney land.... Sort of!

After a warm nights sleep only disturbed by odd dreams which a psychologist would have had some fun explaining! I pack up for a late start of 8am with no concern as today is almost entirely valley walking albeit 19 miles of it.
The valley in question is the Spey valley famous for its whiskies (a pure accident of planning this ;-)..) this morning finds it raining again but lightly and with a milky mix of sunlight that does improve during the day, noticeably as I make tired but good progress to Garva bridge, during a quick sit down a convoy headed past back up the valley, the middle vehicle had blackened windows, I wonder which Toff/Mp/celebrity was off out for a shoot? I'll never know but they were all chuckling at my disheveled self! Which I can understand after my time on the trail.. I just smiled back.
Further on I met a chap by a dammed section of the Spey who was in charge of controlling the depth of this man made and unnamed loch, he looked a little shocked when I said I'd crossed the Corrie Yairack pass the day before...the locals have more sense I guess! Passing the dam I pick up another section of General wades road nice to be on agricultural land for a bit, passing highland cattle one of which posed beautifully for me (pic to follow).
Passing the ruin of Laggan church and what should have been a hotel.... Blowing my chance of a beer!.... I progress to posh cafe at Middleton to be accurate the cafe is Middleton no idea why every remote building on os maps in Scotland have names? But they do.
A much needed cappuccino later and cake of course, I carry on along the A889 traffic dodging on this almost single track A road for about 9km to Dalwhinnie, with great views of the cairngorm mountains to the east some of which still have pockets of snow visible, wonder if the Lairig Ghru has? Fond memoirs of my south to North walk come back to me.
A final loop of road and I'm in Dalwhinnie, curiously my feet walk me straight into the distillery! ;-)
A quick look around my version of Disney land and I head off with a small medicinal bottle for my pack!
Things go slightly awry here as I was hoping to get a room at the hotel to scrub up a bit.... Closed for renovation..... There was a cafe still open in the building so a quick burger and chips and a chat to the owner, who kindly allowed me to camp in the grounds for free... Good man!
And with this nice early finish at 4.30 and already fed I'm playing catch up with some needed rest!

Day-14 cheers Balfour Beatty!

After a long rainy night I get lucky while packing with a break in the rain! Away along the old military road to Allt Phocaichain (a stream) for the first of today's obstructions! Naturally overflowing with rain water I go through the now familiar process of beating my phobia of crossing fast running water by tentatively paddling across and filling my boots, as ever! Sloshing off over the top of the hill via the power line construction road passing all the usual no access signs! Tough I'm going this way!. Leaving the road to continue on the old military road into fort Augustus tiny town heaving with trekkers going this way and that.. All looking wet!, entering the first cafe I see I order a full breakfast... So needed today!
Then stocking up on provisions to keep me going for three day's making my pack bleeding heavy but that's unavoidable.
The trail for the Corrie Yairack pass is nicely marked, so uphill I go... Naturally in the rain, it's a long old slog up the first hill on a twisting and undulating track, feeling the weight of both my pack and my breakfast at this point! After a few kilometers I find Blackburn bothy right next to another overflowing stream that's about a foot deep in the track... Soggy feet once again!
The track continues past the fork in the valley to Glen Tarff and into the luxury of a bridge over the raging torrents of Allt Coire Uchdachan, the road now pushes steeply uphill for about 3km passing an old battered bothy where I rung my socks out, feet warmer now I continue up the hill still following the power line construction track though that now lies below me, into the clouds and the top foggily shows itself. This is the highest point on the trek and according to my gps tops out at 2700 feet (pic).
Finally downhill into the Corrie that gives the pass it's name, a great scoop of a valley, but that just means trouble in these conditions and so it proved with no end of streams /river's forging across the path, all sort of passable though occasionally risky.
With the corrie disappearing in the distance my path levels out as we head into the valley, then big trouble strikes, the Ford on the map is huge! No way I can cross this and the ruin of an ancient bridge to my right just rubs salt in the wound! Thinking about my surroundings the works on the power line bring an obvious solution to my trouble with the works track that's up the hill from me, bit of a scramble to reach it but the bridge over the torrent makes my day! Hence the title of this blog - it's also a bit of an apology to Balfour for all the ranting I've been doing about their health and safety signs doting the hillside today ;-)
Back downhill and on track we reach a little of nirvana in the shape of the Melgarve bothy. Tonight I'm sleeping on a warm albeit manky sofa in my toasty sleeping bag! Result.... Also my kit is hanging up and drying out.... Couldn't ask for more after today :-)