Tuesday 28 May 2013

TGOC 2013 Day 3: Real Heroes

After my route had been submitted and approved by my vetters I had decided that a long road plod by Loch Arkaig had not been the best idea.  But with a B and B booked at Spean Bridge for night 3 I decided not to try changing my plans.  As it happens I had a perfectly enjoyable day, albeit not one with any great excitement or challenge. 
Looking back up loch Arkaig. That's a lot of loch.
I walked parts of the way with John Woolston and Harry from Newcastle and John from Midhurst.  Having people to chat to helped the miles pass reasonably easily.  It was a long plod, but the road by the loch was quiet in the early(ish) morning and, as everywhere in the north of Scotland, there were good views to be had.  The view I most wanted, though, was a tea shop.  I had consoled myself when thinking about this leg of the journey that as I was walking along roads for much of the day I would be able to stop on occasions for refreshments.  I was particularly looking forward to a coffee and slice of carrot cake.  My route was to take me through Achnacarry.  The map showed a museum there.  That meant there had to be a tea shop didn’t it?  Of course it didn’t.  But soon after that we would hit Gairlochy.  All those boaters on the Caledonian Canal would need a café wouldn’t they?  Apparently not.  And there would be one of those mobile refreshment trailers parked up for the tourists at the Commando Memorial, perhaps even selling bacon butties.  No there wouldn’t be.  There was, of course, a selection of tea shops in Spean Bridge (if a single tea shop can be said to be a selection) but I was there by then wasn’t I so what was the point?
Loch Lochy near Gairloch
Not a café in sight...
The pleasantest section of the walk was the short off road stretch around the foot of Loch Lochy on the Great Glen Way.  The most memorable part of the day, however, was the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge which I found quite moving.  The thoughts of what these generations of brave men had done put our little walk and a bit of rain and sleet into perspective.
These guys did more than a long walk
Thank you
That evening I spent an hour drying gear and sorting a supply parcel in the B and B.  I hung the soaking Akto over the shower to dry out, and gave the enormous slug that I later found in there a piece of my mind.  I didn’t so much mind that he had left a sticky trail all across the flysheet; but I was pretty miffed that I had lugged his big fat body all the way from Loch Arkaig.  Every gramme counts, doesn’t it?  So I punished him by chucking him out of the window.  Please do not report me to the RSPCA for this wanton act of cruelty.  I later ate at the Old Station at Spean Bridge.  Not cheap, but lamb in red wine washed down with Guinness, followed by Bread and Butter Pudding is rather tastier than your average freeze dried muck, n’est ce pas?

Order out of chaos



  1. Slugs are sneaky little blighters and I've found often grab a lift, that made me chuckle, but the last photograph, what? Any room I might find myself in as I Challenge is never going to look like that. Major kit explosion every time. Well done!!

  2. Those pesky disappearing coffee shops, eh? I promised Andy & Wilky one of those at Gairlochy last year (it had shut a few years previously) in the pouring rain. It didn't go well. However, I salvaged the situation with the hotel at the Commando Memorial - which did afternoon teas. The stroll down the hill into Spean Bridge went well after a sticky, teapot-less day.

    I agree with Louise - that room must have been tidied up! Where's the sleeping bag, socks, pants and boots & insoles?
    Yes! Onward!

  3. A skilled vetter might have pointed out that Wade's Road starts at the pylons just before the Commando memorial and gives an easy off-road route by the river into Spean bridge city centre. You'd have missed the commando's though...

  4. That bed resembles a "sorting office" with all the remaining kit which you are not sure about.
    3 piles are already out of view on the floor -
    1 Essential must keep
    2 To be posted home
    3 Destined for the bin

  5. Mike - yes I saw that on the map but really wanted to see the memorial so stuck with the road and glad I did.

    Alan and Louise - that was, indeed, my room after I had sorted everything out and tidied up. Did you spot the bags of cocaine in the photograph? Not really, its Ready Brek. Honest. And that's not to be sniffed - potent stuff :)

  6. Very good at getting a free ride them slugs...I well remember taking my boots off after a day backpacking in Knoydart only to find the toes of both socks impregnated with dead slug/s! Guess they must have been in the slugicide squad!
    Looking forward to the next instalment

  7. Ah, the joys of Scottish west coast hospitality. Usually worth the detour, but only if you happen to be travelling by car and can spend an entire morning searching for an open tea shop! I must say I deliberately planned my route to avoid any extensive road walking (at least until the east coast) but it looked like it all got a bit more pleasant towards Spean Bridge. The Commando Memorial is a very atmospheric place though I still haven't ever had the view of Nevis and the Grey Corries from it!

  8. That was last year that was in lashings of rain. We ended up putting waterproofs on in a phone Box while overcoming the disappointment of NO TEA & CAKES. :-( That was Alas fault that was.
    But we did have cakes later so it is ok.
    Bloody slugs... Had half a dozen of them invade my tent in Glendessary back in 2004. I made them pay for that I can tell you....

    I really must start to write mine up, now the photos are sorted out :-)