Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Day 3 - Blisters, bogs and bridges

Yesterday, walking with the men in kilts was so much fun, that they arranged to pick me up at my hostel after breakfast. When they come (half an hour late), they take my backpack into the van and off we walk. Belinda at the Station Lodge recommended a shortcut, which we - well, let's just say we try to take it. With very limited results. Limited to walking on railway tracks, climbing under a viaduct, crossing rivers (again), and climbing over a few more fences. It's definitely never dull walking with those guys.

After even more river and fence crossings (just to add to the fun), we end up on the same railway track we have left half an hour earlier. But this time, we think we see a path (the one we've been looking for the whole time), so we climb over the rustiest fence so far - and from then on we are lost. We climb a steep hill while navigating around dead wood and broken branches, until after what seems like a very long time we arrive on a forest track (not the one we were looking for, but better than no track at all).
We have some trouble orientating (phones have no connection up here, and compasses are so old-fashioned), and so we manage to walk into the wrong direction (again) for about a mile, until we realise our mistake when the dam we are supposed to be passing is on our left instead of on our right hand side.

While taking some pictures on the dam, one of the men drops his guidebook into the water. Even though he manages to get it out - after several attempts - it's too late. The book is ruined, and we leave it behind as a warning to the next EHW walker.
So back we go, and then onwards following the forest track for a very long time. It's nice and cool in the forest, especially after the last two days of extreme heat, but the forest road is uncomfortable to walk on. Unfortunately, there won't be many nice tracks today.
After a steady ascent we leave Corrour forest and are rewarded with fantastic views over the Moy reservoir and the hills behind, shrouded in mist.

After a short break we're back in the forest again, descending towards Moy Bridge.

It's early afternoon by the time we get to Moy, and - to save time - we decide to cross a field - only to discover a bit too late how boggy it is (probably the reason why the road leads all the way around it). One of the men, Paul, has to discover this the hard way by sinking knee-deep into the mud (poor kilt).
After some time, we arrive at Loch Laggan. By now, my feet are starting to hurt, and our energy levels are dropping rapidly.

After two hours or so on the banks of the loch, we arrive at a EHW signpost - the first one (it's not an official trail yet, so there is no way marking otherwise). It marks the diversion around Ardverikie estate, where the TV-Series "Monarch of the Glen", and - more recently - the film "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" were filmed. Because the diversion was mentioned on the EHW website, we decide to follow the signs just to be on the safe side. But soon we regret this decision, when we see how far this route is taking us away from the banks of the loch. So we take a turn marked on the OS maps, and arrive at the estate. There is no one to be seen, and we use the beautiful house as a backdrop for dozens of pictures.

From then on, it's getting tedious. We're exhausted and our pace has decreased to an all time low. We can see the sandy beach (the largest freshwater beach in Europe, or at least that's what it says in the guidebook) we want to reach, but it takes over half an hour until we're finally there. 

Near the beach, we get picked up by the vans, and they give me a lift to my Guesthouse in Laggan. Another day has ended, after 33 kilometres :)

Read more about my East Highland Way trip here.

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