|Day 2: Route|
Saturday 10 May, 18.4 km, 667 metres, 7 hours 45 minutes
Weather: Pretty wet, drying up in the afternoon. Sort of.
|View from the Scarp (taken on the previous evening)|
One of the less than pleasurable aspects of wild camping is the early morning walk with the MSR Blizzard stake, with the improvised duct tape handle, to a place remote from other tents and water courses for a man to do what a man has to do. Not too bad on a dry day, it is most unpleasant when it is raining. So I can tell you that having wandered off from my tent at 5.50am in the dry to undertake aforementioned euphemism I felt pretty smug 15 minutes later as I lay back in my sleeping bag with a brew and it started to tip it down.
It continued to rain throughout the morning, which was no surprise, this being Scotland in May and Challengers all along the north west of the country were just getting on with it. I headed off along the track towards Loch Affric, eventually catching up with Fran and Allen near the track that turns away from the Loch and heads up towards Cougie. I only caught up with them because they were repairing Fran's boots again. I walked with them through an increasingly unpleasant, steep, wet and muddy excuse of a path to the main track that heads to Cougie.
Allen scoured the track for old bits of wire and cable ties to add to his boot repair kit for Fran. We stopped near Cougie for lunch. After getting very fed up of trail mix and too many cereal bars on previous backpacks I have started to buy wraps for lunch and spread these with Primula Cheese. This is far more satisfying. I am also packing my mug so that it is more accessible to encourage me to drink more water when passing burns. It’s a new Evernew mug, bought just before the off. It did make an annoying grating sound whenever I unfolded the handles but I found that a tiny squirt of Primula down the titanium channel that holds them in place sorted this.
We followed a track up the hill out of Cougie. It disappeared long before the Ordnance Survey said that it should, and despite the use of GPS to check we were on this “path” we waded through heather and bog for a goodly bit ie a couple of hours or so. I can only think that the OS map makers, who now use satellite imagery to plot features such as paths, were using the same satellite that had told master blogger Alan Sloman that there was a brilliant wild camp in the middle of a Cumbrian wasteland on the Pre-Walk Daunder in April. Not that I’m bitter, you understand.
I had planned to camp by the Allt na Muic and not far from the grid reference given on my route plan I did see a pretty reasonable spot. Allen wanted to “push on for a bit” so I was deprived of his and Fran's excellent company and settled down to a wild camp alone – the only time on this Challenge when my tent was on its own.
I spent an interesting evening. I foolishly left my tent door open as I went for a short wander to the burn for water and when I returned it was filled with large numbers of flying ants who, it seemed had needed to “get a room”. They were hell bent on using the Scarp for immoral purposes, and despite shooing as many of them as possible away I had to lie in my sleeping bag watching the remaining swarm with voyeuristic fascination as they cavorted and copulated on the sides of my inner tent until tiredness saw me drift to the land of nod.
|Wild camp pitch near the Allt na Muic|