Monday 16th May, 2011
Fort Augustus to Melgarve Bothy
12.3 miles 3046 feet
(Some really rubbish photographs!)
I was in some pain in the morning, so a few pills were popped, but I got off to a good start, getting packed up in time to dry the tent out draped over the rope by the toilet block. I also met Ian Shiel by my tent that is green (I’d briefly seen him in The Bothy) and we spoke. I think.
It was a breezy, damp day, which did not improve. We made our way to the Corrieyairack Pass, which started the way it meant to go on, a stoney, unpleasant path, quite steep on the way up. Steep on the way down too.
We enjoyed a break at Blackburn Bothy, quite a pleasant place, or maybe it was just the shelter it provided at the time. Colin dropped in too and we bumped into him several times during the day.
Barbara and I toiled up the hill and Hugh waited and encouraged us. He was very gentle with us. It was quite a long day that became more miserable and it became apparent that Barbara was struggling more than previously. The wind was strong and gusty and threw rain at us from the side most of the way. There were burns to cross and boulders to sidestep.
As we got closer to Melgarve Bothy, I became suddenly freezing cold. I was ahead of both Hugh and Barbara at this point and I desperately needed to carry on to warm up or get into shelter. I had to go on, but felt bad not waiting to tell them. I also had Allt a Mhil Ghairbh to cross by myself. There was a bridge with a few missing planks which I’m sure others would have strolled across, but I preferred to ford. I picked my route and struck out. I made a really good job of it, until the last step. Whether my pole or foot slipped first, I’m not sure, but I suddenly sat down hard (ahem) on the rocks behind me and watched as my right foot floated in the river in front of me. Pants.
Turned out it wasn’t just a wet foot and a bruised ego, I later discovered a fist sized bruise on my bottom. I also upset my already sore shoulder, so I wasn’t a happy bunny. My soggy foot and I soon found ourselves outside Melgarve Bothy and Colin was a welcome sight, shepherding me to the back door of the bothy with the promise of a fire and hot water for tea. What a star!
Inside, I found others, sheltering from the dire weather. Pat Deane, Peter Molenar and John and Helen Dixie were enjoying tea and hot food, and I whipped my jacket off and waterproof trousers round my ankles to I warm myself by the fire. Bliss. Colin kindly kept an eye out for Hugh and Barbara, I was worried they may not realise the bothy was open, as the door at the front was padlocked. In between times, he helped me sort my kit and find somewhere to sleep, as I decided Garva Bridge was no longer beckoning me. He also ventured out into the elements to find fire wood, without suitable tools. He was a real star.I rather liked the rainbow with the table and accoutrements silhouetted, although you don’t really get it in this photograph
Natasha, Jayme with drying clothes and a pile of wood
The roaring fire
When the others arrived, Barbara was evidently exhausted and unwell. She managed a little to eat and drink, but was soon tucked up in a warm sleeping bag, sleeping.
Soon, we were joined by Jayme Morgan and Natasha Gahoojamanian and another couple, and I believe Emily Rodway’s team stayed close by, although I think only John Chivall popped into the bothy and did some extremely useful wood collecting aswell. It was a while before the names of the other couple were mentioned and I suddenly realised they were my vetters, Ann and Alvar Thorn, who weren’t supposed to be at the bothy either, but at least I was on my route, if a little short of my proposed stop. All such lovely people! This was beginning to become a bit of a theme.
A very pleasant and relaxing evening ensued, before I retired to my bed. It’s been a long time since I shared a room with an older man other than my husband.
I had discovered earlier that, if I hung far enough out of the window upstairs, I had a signal. I phoned David and asked him to meet me at Laggan with rucksacks, on the pretext of changing mine to help my shoulder. I intended to ask to go home…
So, my first ever night in a bothy!