Everything was pretty damp, so I decided to get up early and just get on with it. I was not really enjoying the porridge I was using for breakfast so decided on having a cup a soup instead. I was just about to pour the water into my cup with the powdered soup when I noticed a slug fighting its way to the surface of the soup powder. So the lesson here is to check your cup carefully before adding anything into it, preferably while wearing your glasses. A lucky escape for me – and the slug.
I headed off at 0620 (yes, stupid o’clock), a road plod I had not anticipated. It was raining off and on, mainly on. Eventually I reached the Old Military Road. This winds uphill through the trees and initially the path is very wet and muddy and a few of the un-bridged streams require you to go upstream for a bit in order to cross. I was really struggling with a sore back after three nights camping, so took some pills. The path improved significantly higher up, until the sting in the tale. I could see the pylon access route where I was heading for just a few hundred metres away, but the final stream was huge, and fast. I went up stream for a bit but it was clear that there was no easy way across. I went back to the marked ford as I thought that at least the usual crossing point would have a flattish bottom. However, it did not, so I removed trousers and socks and waded across in by boots. The current was quite strong, at a few points the water was over my knees and the rain was teeming down.
Once across with my wet boots and sore back, I was feeling just rubbish and felt I would have to pull out of the Challenge if my back did not improve.
After speaking to Richard and Rosemary (who had taken a similar route that day) a few days later, and having a close look at the map, it is clear that there must be (and there is!) a new bridge crossing this stream downstream from where I was, as the stream cuts across the line of pylons and the access roads. It just shows how when feeling a bit down and tired you don’t think rationally at times.
Once on the main track to Fort Augustus, I was thinking about the best way back home from Fort Augustus. Then Jens Bunte caught up with me, he had came up the track from Glen Affric. We walked together into Fort Augustus, and with chatting to him, going downhill and pain killers and anti- inflammatorys kicking in, I felt a lot better.
We got into Fort Augustus about 1400hrs, perhaps earlier, and we had some soup and chips in one of the pubs. I was lucky and got into my B&B early (Abbey Cottage), but Jens did not get into his place until 1600hrs.
I ate at the Boathouse, great food and views of the Loch, and went back to the B&B to get my gear dried out and rest my back as much as possible, and remove one small tick from my leg.