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TGO Challenge 2007 day 4 - 5

Glen Roy and Creag Meagaidh

Tuesday, 15 May 2007 - day 4

distance 26km - ascent 950m

After a relaxed

breakfast I had quite a late start. With Wendy and Craig I climbed out of the Great Glen in a southeasterly direction. The forest track zigzagged up the steep hillside. Of course we had more conversation than speed. At the YH yesterday the warden had showed us a sketch of a path going up the hillside after the highest turn of the track. Another possibility was to follow the track a little bit further and ascent the open hillside in a southwesterly direction. The path along the burn seemed more adventureous.The start of this faint path, on the right and left side of the wee burn, was very muddy and Craig slipped while crossing the burn and went in the sludge to his waist.The banks of the burn were overgrown with trees and bushes and progress was slow. Peter-Lilo-Varley caught up with us and the four of us were struggling up the hillside. Wendy and Craig decided to climb the 6 feet high deerfence beside the burn but Lilo and I stayed on the lefthandside of the fence. In hindsight a good decision because once out of the forest there was a newly made gate that made climbing the fence unnecessary. An intermittend path contoured around the hill and a last steady pull brought us on the col. We could see Creag Meagaidh and Stob Coire Poite Ardair where snow was still lingering (see top of page). We had to find our way through the peat hags and while concentrating where to go we saw four people rising up from the peat. Phil Lambert, Ron Reynolds, M.A.Harper and Mike Akin- Smith had just finished their elevenses. We were all heading for the same little footbridge in Glen Turret. The surn was really hot and after reaching the bridge I re- filled my both with delicious cold water from the stream. After a little rest we all moved on. One and a half km further, near Turret Bridge, we turned east. The views into Glen Roy were tremendous. Glen Roy is reknown for it's 'parallel roads'. These are higher up the hillside and if you're unfamiliar with them you might think they are real roads or tracks but they're actully shorelines of an ancient ice- dammed lake, formed during the subsequent period to the last main ice age. We all enjoyed the walking and the little breaks we had. The track was steadily rising, passing Luib-Chonnal bothy, and reaching the watershed between the River Roy and the infant River Spey at a height of 375m. From here we had splendid views into both glens and we saw a golden eagle gliding majestically across the flanks of Creag Meagaidh. From the col the path gradually descends, becoming intermittent and even completely disappearing on the plains before Shesgnan. Shesgnan was being refurbished and is most likely privately owned, the new track leading to it from the east lessening it's isolation. In the afternoon we reached Melgarve bothy. Several tents were already pitched on thegrass in front but there was still room in the bothy.It was my first bothynight and Lilo (the man with 1001simple but effective gadgets) and I shared a room upstairs.At Melgarve the route from Laggan and the route from Fort Augustus over the Corrieyairack Pass come together. Lots of Challengers walk further to camp at Garva Bridge but in bad weather Melgarvebothy is a great shelter.

Looking NW across the Great Glen

(See Wikipedia for more information)

Glen Turret

Having a break

Luib-Chonnal bothy

Ron crossing the Allt Chonnal

Towards Melgarve bothy

Wednesday, 16 May 2007 - day 5

distance 19km - ascent 240m

discovered that Wendy and Craig had arrived at Melgarve bothy late last night. Today they were heading for the Monadhliath Hotel, just south of Laggan. My original plan was to go to Glen Banchor but I changed my destination to the Monaliath Hotel. I 'd had a taste of the social side of the Challenge at the Loch Lochy YH and fancied some more.We didn't start early today, a 19km LRT/roadwalk through sheepcountry lay in front of us. The walking was easy, the pastures not very interesting. One of those days where you chat the miles away. In the picture you can see Lilo near Garva Bridge, acting to be an ornitho logist or studying his text for his role in the remake of "The eagle has landed". On the bridge itself the minimalist American Rob Hausam was lingering to take pictures of the River Spey. Garva Bridge is a wellknown spot to Challengers for wildcamping but there were none there anymore. They'd all moved on. A couple of km past Garva Bridge we picked up fellow Dutchmen, and firsttimers like me, George Hoeks and Peter Molenaar. Their nickname is quite rightly 'the smiling Dutchmen', a joy to be walking with them.Early in the afternoon we reached Laggan and the famous Laggan Stores. This store is reknowned for selling all kinds of small groceries and stuff a Challenger may need. Bigger towns like Newtonmore and Kingussie aren't that far away but Laggan Stores is perfectly placed to stock up for lunch. Sadly the store is now for sale (2011). Let's hope the future owners keep up with Challenge tradition.We said goodbye to George, Peter, Lilo and Ron who were all heading for Glen Banchor while the rest of us crossed the bridge to pitch near the ruined church next to the Monadhliath Hotel.We spent the afternoon having some drinks and shooting some pool and the hotel served a very good diner. We had a jolly good time and it was great to meet Challengers like John Manning and his girlfriend Steph, Scary Mary (Christian) from Aberdeen and her sister Janet Tennant to name just a few. Many a good story of past Challenges was told during diner and the following evening of drinks, pool and banter. The bartender had to kick us out late that night. Although I had a fairly easy stretch tomorrow - despite being in unmapped territory - I was wandering whether the alcohol would have any ill effect the next morning.

Melgarve bothy

Peter - Lilo - Varley

The Spey dam reservoir

Camping next to the ruined church

This morning I

TGO Challenge 2007





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