Wednesday 21 October 2009

Trip Report: Day 3 – Evanton to Ullapool

Sorry guys, this one is a long day……

I woke in the morning to the sound of the wind which I could feel rushing in over my sleeping bag. It wasn’t cold, but enough to keep on waking me from my doze, so in the end I just lay there listening. I’ll never tire of that sound and despite trying to record it on my phone it’s nothing like the real thing.


 The derelict dwelling at Loch Vaich in all its ramshackle glory!

I could have stayed there all day but Paul had suddenly shot up and headed down to the bothy to make tea. Today had the potential to be quite a long one so reluctantly I packed up and went in search of the elusive brew. We perused the map whilst eating breakfast of muesli (for me) and protein shake (for Paul) and decided that if the weather still looked OK we would commit to Seana Bhraigh. Annoyingly the morning felt a bit rushed once we were up and I was starting to see the effect of our lack of available days to play around with.

The clothes were almost dry from the night before – if not a little smoky, and the remaining damp items were hung from the outsides of our packs as we headed off towards Deanich Lodge.

me_loch_vaich 2 Me getting ready for Ski Sunday

Looking back to the buildings it dawned on me just what a great spot it was and that we had land access laws in Scotland to thank for such a low, hassle free camp. I think it was that point where it really occurred to me how England and Wales could really learn from Scotland.

The pack wasn’t sitting pretty today as we thundered up the easy track towards Deanich Lodge. I’d packed my first aid/hygiene bag and clothes bag right in the centre of the back pad and it was pushing on my back. The bag’s comfort depends very much on how you pack to avoid this happening but its easily corrected and as we stopped to adjust shoes etc I quickly re-arranged my sacks…….er drybags I mean, into better positions.

Weeks earlier, when sat planning the trip, I had imagined that by now I would have a few foot issues or maybe the dreaded knee injury, but so far so good. Sometimes, pounding along tracks can take its toll on tired feet but each day we set off my feet felt very comfortable. I wondered if I would be saying the same tomorrow morning!

deanich_lodgeDeanich Lodge with Meall na Rainich and Meall Dionach guarding

We rounded a curve in the track and the Lodge came into view. It looks incredible in its setting between Gleann Mor and Gleann Beag and I can imagine staying here gives a real sense of remoteness. We continued on to meet the bridge at Abhainn a Glinne Bhig and the sun was beginning to make shy appearances further west along the glen and we were hopeful of a dry, if not breezy day on the tops.

abhainn_a_ghlinne_bhig_bridge  “Yorkie bar or Reisens?”

We stopped at the bridge for a few minutes to take photos and check the map. Back at the tent we had decided our route up from the glen would be chosen once we’d gotten a visual on the severity of the various ascent options! We didn’t have a plan at this point and considered the track up alongside the waterfall before settling on the decision to press on up Gleann Beag and take lunch at Loch Sruban Mora.

abhainn_a_ghlinne_bhig2The view from the bridge over Abhainn a Glinne Bhig

We left the bridge (and Paul’s new caterpillar friend) with thoughts of food on our minds and having deep and meaningfuls about what chocolate snacks we’d have and when. I was clearly very distracted by this and I failed to spot the large adder basking to the left of the track. Paul reached out to alert me but I spotted it and froze dead still. It seemed surprised but not enough to move until we started fumbling about looking for our cameras. As it uncoiled it began to show a bit more interest and so much so I held my pole out for protection - to which it slithered away into the heather. We both just looked at each other shocked and I for one couldn’t believe how big it was! This was a photo we weren’t going to miss and we both took up positions ever closer to get some shots, and I’m sure it was just wandering what the hell we were doing! This was the first snake I’d seen in the wild and I was thoroughly impressed to see one this large and just sitting there on a Land Rover track! A real highlight of the day.

Glen_beag_adder The adder at Gleann Beag

Needless to say the next few hundred metres passed very quickly as we relived the moment. In no time at all we left the track before the weir and headed north on the path weaving alongside the falls of Loch a Sruban Mora. Somebody had bravely taken some horses up the same path and in parts this would have been butt clenchingly tight! It’s likely these were the Garron ponies from Deanich Lodge still used to retrieve stags during stalking season.

By now it was warming up and the wind was welcome as we pressed on up the increasingly steep path. After all of the easy tracks so far it felt like a never-ending climb. Layers were removed and I found I’d drank a litre a water in only a few hours. The timing wasn’t bad though as we reached the slight plateau before the lock and the views opened out.

meall_a_chaorainn Looking back into the glen with Meall a Chaorainn in the distance (centre)

The sun was breaking through some of the thicker areas of cloud, though the wind was quite a feature up here so we looked for shelter to eat lunch.

meall_a_chuaille Our view of Meall a Chuaille at lunch

The fine banquet for today’s feast was roast vegetable couscous with Peperami and despite its humble status as an accompaniment back home in the big smoke (no, not London, Coventry!), today it made for good eating!

To add to the days delights, I managed to get a signal in a very narrow ‘corridor’ on the hill and called in to Charl. Even after this relatively short time is was unashamedly good to hear her voice.

I went and filled the platypus and we consulted the map for an idea of how we might tackle the impressive Seana Bhraigh. From here, its not the best approach but we’d committed to ascending early to the loch and now we’d pay the price! There would be no reward for our eagerness and having hit the cairn on Carn Loch a Sruban Mora we encountered nothing but tough, boggy terrain, regularly dropping 20-30 metres only to climb it again only half a kilometre later.

carn_loch_sruban_moraThe rocky summit of Carn Loch a Sruban Mora 

In short, we had made an error. However, the honourable men that we are, we made the most of it and messed around stone hopping across the boggiest sections we could find, taunting them to swallow us whole! Paul committed to a particular route around a tricky section but I’d spotted a more obvious route. Paul being the stubborn grown up he is wasn’t turning back and spent some considerable time working up the courage for a ‘leap of faith’ across a large gloopy bog. I was hoping certain it would end in disaster so cheered him along whilst reaching for the camera. Backing up he ran and leapt like a…….man with a heavy pack I suppose, and landed whilst skidding heel deep on the outer perimeter. This video will make it on the blog soon enough and my only regret is not zooming in!

ciore_mhic_mhathain Finally we make it across the rough stuff at Cooire Mhic Mhathain before the final ascent to Seana Bhraigh

The boggy, rocky ground was taking its toll and my feet were beginning to roll inside my Inov-8s. I could feel a hot spot coming and as I stopped by the wee lochan to apply Compeed we spotted a stag and his harem on the opposite ridge around the 780m point. We were worried we’d ruined the day for some stalkers but nobody shot at us as the beasts made haste across the shoulder - so we assumed we’d got away with it! An adder, a stag and three does in one day is quite a treat for us city boys.

creag_an_duine       The magnificent looking ridge of Creag an Duine

I’d caught the hot spot just in time and we carried on ever upwards over the bogs and tussocks and this stretch had really tired us out. It was starting to feel as though we would never reach Seana Bhraigh just as she came into view (is it a she – who knows?).

seana_bhraigh The final ascent opens out ahead through a break in the cloud

The wind was pretty strong all the way along the ridge and so much so that neither of us felt that comfortable when the other got to close to the edge! We followed the track until the rocky scree and then just made a final push to the top. The cloud rolled in really low just as we reached the summit shelter, spoiling the potential for a great view.

We sat in the shelter a while waiting for the wind to push the cloud over but it was cold and felt as though we’d never get that elusive photo from the summit. I wolfed some Jelly Babies as my stomach grumbled at being empty yet again. We had worked pretty hard to to get there and we were chuffed to be in the final leg of the day. As we messed around suddenly the cloud cleared enough to reveal a stunning view down into Glen Achall to the north west and Strath Mulzie to the north in the early evening sun. It was worth the cold windswept wait at the shelter.

strath _mulzie_sb The low evening sun over Strath Mulzie from the summit shelter of Seana Bhraigh.

Our spirits were lifted immediately and we both strode off in various direction is pursuit of the best photo! The wind was still so strong I had to lie down to steady myself to take the shot of Loch Luchd Choire in the basin below. I’ll relive these few moments again and again.

loch_luchd_choire The impressive west face of Creag an Duine and loch Luchd Choire below.

loch_a_choire_mor_sb The shadows extending over Loch a Choire Mor from Seana Bhraigh

We suddenly realised we’d spent far too long taking photos and snacking on the summit and we’d miss a beautiful evening at camp if we weren’t careful. We picked our route down Creag nan Gobhar which was far easier than it looked on the map. The view just continued to glow and impress as we descended into the valley.

Suddenly we both stopped dead as the mating call from a stag echoed around the awesome basin created by the two towering beasts above.

loch_a_choire_morStopping to listen to the manly calls of a stag nearby. 

Once again, I was out of water, whereas Paul had clearly been absorbing his fluids through the bogs or something! For some reason Paul drinks the most pathetic amount of water when walking and I never know how he does it. We picked our way down the steep rocky hillside as I joked that his wee must be like syrup!

We wanted to camp by the lodge if possible and to do that we had to cross the outlet of the loch. So we tried to work out the least boggiest approach from our vantage point.

shoulder_carn_banThe setting sun just kissing the top of Creag an Duine 

We stopped at the stream to fill the platypus for the evening meal and pondered our options of crossing the river. It was wider than we were expecting and it looked at one stage that we might have to resort to the dreaded crocs! Paul being Paul he wasn’t going to be beaten and set off rock hopping across the river. This was all well and good until the next available rock was just out of reach. I wondered off to look for another option further downstream but as I glanced back I caught sight of Paul making what looked to be an impossible leap! The problem wasn’t just the distance, it was the balance required on the landing that made this difficult. Not to be beaten however, I turned back to go for it too! As I got closer the gap looked wider and it wasn’t filling me with much confidence. I put the pole into the black water to attempt to vault the gap but it almost disappeared before hitting the bottom! It was my turn for the leap of faith which luckily for me remained a dry affair. Its those little adventures that will stay with me from that day.

The cloud formations were incredible from the glen and we spent our time walking up to the bothy with heads pointing skywards most of the way.

Choire_mor_clouds Disk-like cloud formations from the valley.

Another characteristic of the glen was the speed at which the light seemed to fade. As we rounded the final corner to the bothy the wind whipped across the loch and we caught a whiff of smoke. Our hearts sank as the warning that the bothy was closed for stalking season was correct. We hadn’t planned on using the bothy but the idea was we would pitch using the bothy as a shelter form the ever present gusts of wind and nip on in to eat by the fire etc. Whoever was in there had a roaring fire going and it gave off an deep red flicker through the window. We pondered for longer than we should have about whether to go and knock and ask permission and finally decided to just press on and find another camp spot. We didn’t want to annoy paying guests of a stalking party.

In the 15 minutes it had taken us to cross the river and reach the bothy it was dark and we were tired. We walked on down the track looking for the closest place to camp but by the light of our head torches this wasn’t as easy we’d planned! No problem -out with the map and we soon picked a spot around a kilometre further on where the track meets the river once again. This turned out to be almost perfect and we set about getting the tent up and getting some food on with gusto. It was a great spot and we just lay around the tent eating and drinking hot chocolate and tea with gay abandon. It had been an amazing day and we’d covered quite some distance and taken in so many different landscapes to boot. Best of all it hadn’t rained and we’d got some reasonable photos too.

It was a beautifully clear and cold night with the milky way clearly visible form the tent door. The Ipod went on once again until I dropped off with hopes a great sunrise the following morning….

Saturday 17 October 2009

Windows to Ubuntu - Blogging Software

Sorry to interrupt the trip reports with this random pish, I'll be back on the case with the trip report for day 3 shortly.

I'm slowly trying to make the move from Windows to Linux and part of that process is understanding what the limitations will be and the workarounds re
quired. I can't quite decide which version of Linux works best for me at the moment, but I'm finding out by trying to use it the way I would a windows machine in everyday life. So far this latest version of Ubuntu (well until 9.10 is released in a few days) seems to work fine.

I've got a choice of blogging software to replace Windows Live Writer but I need to test just how good these are. Lets just go with it for now and see what happens...

Here I've got BloGTK which is quite basic and pictures seem to have to be linked to its hosted hyerlink as opposed to the WYSIWYG format of Windows Live. This means I have to uplaod the pics first for me this is a real deal breaker, but lets just see if it works.

I've got 3D desktop setup easily enough, which in version 7.10 was a world of terminal work to get my ati graphics to play. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ sorry have you all dropped off yet!

Woohoo Compiz working on Ubuntu 9.04!

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Trip report: Day 2 - Evanton to Ullapool

It was a windy night and Paul had brought his snoring machine along to boot, so sleep was never going to be abundant. I caught a few hours here and there, listening to passing rain showers and stag mating calls in between. I woke at around 6.30 and was wishing we hadn’t promised to move on quite so quickly now!

I reached up and opened the tent to see the rain had stopped and the thick cloud had dispersed from the night before. It was still quite windy but it was dry and I headed on out to relieve myself having done that thing were you put it off for hour after hour!

Despite the dark arrival we’d chosen probably the only good spot beyond the wooded area for a pitch.Gradually the sun crept up and as it got brighter it was clear it wasn’t going to be a bad start.

pitch_1  How not to pitch a Seedhouse SL2!

It became clear upon being born from the tent door (that’s how you have to leave Big Aggy when she’s holding twins, she gives birth to you in the most unflattering way!) that the reason for the incessant flapping was purely user error, but that wasn’t a problem because today we were free men in open country. We could pitch that thing however we damn liked and there was nothing anyone could do about it! We took her down as quickly as we could in any case….

We ate, checked the map and packed away whilst it was dry and we were ready to be on our way in no time at all. Packing the Gorilla was becoming more routine and I was growing to like the little blighter already. Putting it on is a nice experience if that makes sense. The straps are sufficiently wide to spread the weight and no part of it had rubbed the previous day – which was a nice surprise.

Paul_packing_up Paul demonstrates the safest way to hold the tent pegs

We hit the track, taking in the scenery and before long we forded our first river of the trip. Paul had to cross 3 times though as I didn’t have the camera ready the first time!

pauls_first_ford Paul demonstrating his intrepid explorer pose.

One thing I’ve often noticed in Scotland is how big the skies are and today was no different. The clouds were just making all sorts of shapes and was pure entertainment in itself.

Cloud_front Cloud formations approaching Ben Wyvis

We made good progress on the track and it was really sinking in that we were out here doing our thing. The plan for today was relatively simple: We would be following the glen along the falls, and breaking west off-track up onto Carn Loch Nan Amhaichean, before heading on down to Strathrannoch forest and following the well maintained landrover tracks north west until we rounded in the glen and Loch Vaich. I knew from reading Jame’s blog that there would be a bothy to play around in so we couldn’t wait to get there.

We gradually ascended the glen passing the falls and the stalking shelter on the way up. We were making great progress without really making much effort and even despite the increasingly boggy ground alongside the river.

topsy_turvy_waterfall The shelter and falls of Abhainn Beinn Nan Eun

We broke to higher ground from the track, trying to avoid the endless boggy ground but everywhere we stepped threatened to swallow us at any time. It became a bit of a lottery as to whether you could make it over sections of ground without the need for a snorkel! We rejoined the path further up before heading west after the ford and up a slight cleft on the approach to Loch Nan Amhaichean. It was tough going with the heavier packs and was really the first ascent of the trip. Again the ground was wet and bogs lay in ambush – I couldn’t quite get my head around how a steep incline could retain so much water!

loch_nan_amhaicheanPassing by Carn Loch Nan Amhaichean

As we approached the top of the cleft we were met with a blast of cold wind coming in from the west. Without seeing the Loch we could see that our summit was in a band of low cloud. We trudged on some more before deciding that making for the top was pretty pointless, so we continued west towards the forest.

strathrannoch Strathronnoch Forest and the bog mined ground in between!

As we pressed on the wind battered our faces, the cloud lowered and the bogs squelched at our every move. Luckily we could see clearer skies in the distance and we hoped they blow in for our approach to Loch Vaich. By now we were ravenous and food was starting to become quite an obsession for us both. Once we’d eaten breakfast we were thinking about lunch and planning dinner! Rather than eat and get blasted we decided to carry on to meet the river we would have followed down to the forest had we have bagged the peak of Carn Loch Nan Amhaichean and this was a good decision as we were rewarded for our bog hopping with a nice sheltered riverbed to take on food and a brew.

lunch_alt_a_choire_rainnich Descending to the river for lunch


“Sorry, is this seat taken?!”

Lunch was Quick Rice Chinese style and it won’t be appearing on the menu again! We refilled out platys and headed on down towards the forest, opting for the more interesting route down the river, crossing over at various stages, jumping from rock to rock.

alt_a_choire_rainnich Rock hopping the alt a choire rainnich

The weather was holding off nicely but looking back it seemed our decision to skip the tops was a wise one as the sky blackened above Carn Loch Nan Amhaichean.

carn_loch_nan_amhaichean Carn Loch Nan Amhaichean from Strathronnoch Forest

After the endless bogs walking on the landrover track was surprisingly welcome. Up ahead we spotted a 4x4 and a quad with a stalking party, but by the time we reached the fenced wooded area they had turned around and gone. We forded the river and it was touch and go as to whether the crocs might have to come out for the first time. They didn’t and I was starting to wonder if they would ever be needed and just end up being a 349g dead weight in the bag.

passing_strathrannoch Heading north on the track from Strathrannoch

Unavoidably we talked work whilst stomping down the trap, both eagerly awaiting the first view of Loch Vaich and the bothies near the shore. It wasn’t long until the track began to turn west and eventually north where the loch came into view.

loch-vaich-bothies Paul charges towards the shelters

Our eagerness to get to the bothy was primarily as we were looking forward to setting up camp in good time and getting a fire going before taking a dip in the loch. The notion that we could set up camp early was great and the freedom to just relax rather than hurriedly put the tent up, scoff food and got to bed was refreshing to say the least.

We made our way over and quickly noticed that the first dwelling was not fit for any kind of human occupation – being literally full of sheep droppings! However, the second of the two buildings had one room left with window and fireplace, fit for a temporary shelter. Kindly, someone had left some wood inside to dry out and to say we were elated is an understatement!

The building once had two floors but the stairs had long gone and the only features up there were the resident bats which would visit us later on that night by the fire. There was not a chance we would sleep inside and with that decision made it was back outside.

loch_vaich_bothy Our prize for the day: the open fire and dry fuel

We decided to set up the tent in the lea of the second building whilst it was dry, but with the wind whipping up from the south of the loch it offered little protection for Big Aggy. This done, we set about rigging up a drying line and lighting the fire before heading down to the loch for a swim!

bothy_fire Paul prays to the God of hell fire before our near death experience at the loch.

I’ve heard that the legendary Alan Sloman uses a gas stove for his fire lighting trickery but here I found that liberal use of meths works just as well to get things going! The dry wood needed little help though and was soon popping and crackling away.

The plan was to pop the crocs on and go for a ‘refreshing’ swim in the loch, which we fully anticipated would be cold but foolishly continued regardless. Paul was the first to get down to the shore donning merino socks, boxers and crocs as I trailed behind with the camera and similar attire! The wind was whistling on up the loch and whipping up a cold fine spray, hinting at what we were about to sign up to. Paul flirted at the water’s edge, I however I wasn’t in the mood for small talk and waded on in whilst trying to stifle my wimpy gasps. Paul barely got wet and ran back to the bothy but I made the most of the opportunity to wash a few items and freshen up. Luckily there was no-one around to see this homo-erotic freak show at the lochs edge!

By the time I got back to the bothy the fire was dying away but with a small drop of meths and some more logs soon restored open fire karma. Boxers, socks and towels were hung up to dry and it wasn’t long before we had the alcohol stove on for a brew. We sat on rocks by the fire warming ourselves and our food obsession returned with a vengeance. It was a Real Turmat beef and potato stew for me and it was worth the £7.99 price tag without a doubt. We took our time eating for a change and finished off with a hot chocolate before heading out into the howling wind to the tent.

We had pitched the tent on a slight slope as there was no level sheltered pitches to be found. Nevertheless we had pitched it to absolute perfection. It was like a little rock despite the ferocious gusts of wind. We dived in to get the usual chores out of the way.

Upon inspection I was still without any blisters and ticks so was a happy man all round. I still took the time to apply some Gehwol Extra foot cream which if nothing else has a nice smell and encourages you to at least check your feet for blisters and sore spots.

Paul went off to sleep almost instantly whilst I lay listening to my Ipod before dropping off, with only a faint sound of the wind getting through.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Trip Report: Day 1 - Evanton to Ullapool

With everything packed into the bag the night before, I was fairly relaxed despite the early start. Although the flight wasn’t until 12.05pm Paul was picking me up at 8.45am to head over to his for some last minute checks and to get some breakfast at the ‘golden arches’.

Months of planning and sorting gear were over and the trip was officially on, but in hindsight I don’t think it had properly dawned on me that we were about to spend 5 days being feral in the Scottish Highlands.

We arrived at the airport with time to spare and by chance I spotted an abandoned roll of shrink wrap by the entrance to Terminal 1. They were charging £5 for this just 100m away and, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, we promptly applied an obscene amount of shrink wrap to each of the packs and dropped them at the oversized baggage point.

The flight was delayed so to be polite we waited quietly with a couple of beers and eventually arrived at Inverness around 2pm. I’d arranged for Nigel from Shore Excursions to collect us from the airport, stop, off in Inverness and drop us in Evanton. Nigel didn’t mind the delay (unlike any other taxi I’ve ever taken) and we set off for Inverness. Nigel was a cool guy and it turned out his service is way beyond that of a simple taxi. Nigel explained that like most businesses in the Highlands he worked in a number of areas; from arranging tours to pick ups and drops offs for cyclists, backpackers and those using the cruise ships and ferries. He could even pick up supplies and receive parcels and so is more akin to a fixer than a taxi driver.

I darted out to Craigdon Mountain Sports to grab gas, meths and a drybag and was told that our Seana Braigh day (Friday) would be a treat with 80mph gusts. Goooood!

We set off straight away to Evanton and Nigel had took the liberty of finding out from his wife exactly where we wanted to be dropped – small thing but a nice touch and especially as we were running late. Arriving at the burial grounds we left our litter with Nigel and said our goodbyes. The spot was exactly where I’d planned to be and we just re-packed our bags, filled our reservoirs and headed to the shore of Crommarty Firth to wet our feet. The coast to coast had officially started.

Feet_at_evanton_coast By golly it’s on!

We started off up the minor road heading for Evanton just as short sharp rain shower blew on in from the west. Was this the weather we had to look forward to over the next few days? Who knew but it wasn’t all bad as multiple rainbows appeared along the way.

evanton_rainbow Ahh a rainbow!

We both seemed quite subdued at this point and for me that was partly down to the fact I needed the loo (of the really inconvenient type) and partly absorbing the notion that this trip was finally on and we were now on the map!


The weather blowing in over Crommarty Bridge

We shot through Evanton, taking our first wrong turn, eventually heading through the woods to Black Rock Gorge. We opted not to take the track descending to our right to the gorge itself but heading further up into the forest before meeting the other bridge further along. We passed the water treatment works and onto the forestry road towards Eileanach Lodge. Here, a couple in a Saab passed us several times asking for directions but the lodge they were looking for just didn’t appear on our map. The Gods clearly thought we could have done more to help as they proceeded to punish us with wind driven rain showers all the way along Loch Glass. The loch is surrounded by some impressive scenery and we just trudged on past the pink Culzie Lodge as we compared our packs here to those we carried a few years ago in Buttermere. Despite the extra food, our packs were as light as the proverbial feather in comparison!

loch_glass_east Our first sight of a gloomy Loch Glass

One thing I noticed was how quickly the darkness set in and we both knew it would be fun finding a good pitch in the dark beyond Wyvis Lodge. Suddenly a 4x4 thundered up the sandy track with its light cluster blinding us as it pulled up close. It was the game keeper who asked if were out for the night and didn’t look too pleased with our reply. We explained where we planned on pitching and he explained that he would be heading out there with a stalking party the following day. We promised we be away early but he seemed happy enough to take his party elsewhere instead. Relieved, we trudged on and decided it was fair game (no pun intended) in return for our night vision – now ruined by the headlamps.

It wasn’t long before the lodge came into view with its rooms lit by soft lights and open fires – Suddenly the tent didn’t seem as welcoming as it had only a mile up the road! We passed on by the lodge and my first mistake became clear. As Paul revealed his head torch as if he just happened to be carrying it all the way there, whereas mine was buried deep in my pack! Not wanting to faff by the Lodge we just used Paul’s but it was futile in the boggy ground beside the river. It seemed like we weren’t going to find anywhere so we pulled out the map to track the rivers position further up the glen. It seemed as though there might be a spot just a hundred meters along Abhainn Bienn nan Eun so we rejoined the track and sure enough it appeared. Like all of the best pitches the track was pretty much running through the tent but we didn’t expect to see anyone at this time and we’d be away early. We pitched the tent (appallingly) and I collected water from the river for tea after getting the neo air and sleeping bags setup.

I was looking forward to seeing what the neo air would be like especially as its almost a full length mat for my ‘compact’ stature! We boiled water on the Mini Atomic stove whilst recording some audio for a podcast.

tea_for_two Waiting for a well deserved brew on the Mini Atomic

We had made good time considering the distance covered and it worked out at just over 13 miles in under 5 hours. I took a lucky dip into my pack for my dinner and pulled out a Real Turmat Game Casserole and what a prize it was! Food never tastes better than when you eat it outside and merely endorses my theory that you would eat just about anything when camping.*

* with the exception of pork liver and actual poo maybe…

Paul had clambered into his bag the moment we got into the tent but I’d been a little more reserved and so when I finished some hygiene duties getting into my bag felt a bit overdue. Time seemed to fly as soon as we’d eaten and all of a sudden it was 11.30pm. It had been a strange first day what with the flight, the raid on Inverness and then the 13mile dash to the pitch. Surreal but quite cool.