Friday 13th May, 2011
Shiel Bridge to Glen Affric
13 miles 2356 ft ascent
(All distances and ascents will be approximate and in statute)
It took a little time before we were ready to set off today. As I stepped out of the Trekkers Lodge, the damage caused by the recent wildfires became apparent. I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been. After I’d popped down to the water to dip my toe, I discovered breakfast was running late, which delayed my final packing for a while. Jane was busy collecting money so it was past 9 am before we left. It was showery all day on and off and breezy at times too. It started off warm enough, but cooled later in the day.
We had a few map conflabs, but it was mainly straightforward. Jane seemed surprised I appeared to know the route so well, but I had studied it quite closely, so there were no surprises for me. We heard the first cuckoo of the walk around Innis a Crotha, then started to make our way up the gradual climb Gleann Choinneachain towards Bealach an Sgairne. It’s a good path all the way and we met several Challengers on the way, including Mary Jones and Fiona Findlay, Mike Armstrong and Vanessa Ling (I think…). We were soon at the Allt Coire an Sgairne, which was in spate as expected. Jane tripped lightly across ahead of me, in her shoes that are designed for wet feet. I took my time and a little care, but fairly easily found myself on the other side, where I wanted to be. Onwards through the Bealach.
This was a slightly more rugged path, but still quite clear and easy to follow. We agreed to drop over the top before a break for lunch, where I enjoyed oatcakes and a tin of dressed crab. Or perhaps lobster. It was lovely anyway.
Once we continued down to Glen Affric, the path became less distinct and more boggy, quite a slog at times. We eventually arrived at the youth hostel and popped in to the porch to shelter from yet another shower before continuing on along the river to find my first wild pitch of the walk, just short of Cnoc Fada. Didn’t feel too bad at the end of the day, but had picked up a hot spot. Also found the tent was being invaded by tiny ticks, but I already knew Glen Affric was infested, so this was no surprise, just a bit of a nause having to find, squish and dispose of all the little blighters! I had to wait for a break in the showers to organise dinner and to use the en suite before bed. Not a bad first day, but still felt a little stressed, what with one thing and another.