As agreed last night, breakfast is taken at the first opportunity. Supplies are gathered from the local shop and we sign out. Early. Andy even admits it on the sign-out sheet, saying “it’s only 15 minutes”. I take a more cowardly approach, adding 5 minutes and annotating “Andy made me!”. We’re off, up the minor road above the A87. A few minutes later the first stop is made. Andy’s having a bit of trouble with his feet. Already. Surely me being the new boy, it should me having these issues ?
We’re chastised by a young lady out running for ignoring the viewpoint, and don’t have the heart to tell her about the viewpoints we have yet to come. The road walk passes in a blur and we try to find the way onto the woodland track that will avoid us having an intimate acquaintance with the A87. We fail at the first attempt and end up climbing up beside a stream and scaling a tall fence. There’s then a near vertical slope of bracken, broken trees and mud in critical places. Already I’m convinced that this Walker fellow is trying to kill me. We reach the track, undertake further administrations to his hooves, and are then progressing again along, rather than up, the hillside.
Conversation is flowing well: stories of Challenge and non-Challenge happenings being shared. Despite his attempts to kill me with Death Slopes and exposure to his feet, he is a good companion. The distance is eaten up. Sadly, as we get mobile phone reception it yields the news of a delay to Martin Rye and Keith Willers – their train was late into Inverness, so they missed the bus and are now in taxis stuck behind a convoy of wind farm components. Clearly there is some irony in there. Since Andy’s plan was to meet them at Morvich he is now reassessing his options. On the one hand a long wait followed by some strenuous walking uphill late in the day, on the other tagging along with Yours Truly.
I can’t have been that bad company, as he opts for the latter, although whether this is simply because it will provide more opportunities to bump me off, I’m not sure. My route for the first 4 days sees me follow the Affric Kintail Way almost religiously, an idea I got from my mate Stuart (@LonewalkerUK) who walked it last year.
We make our way up Glen Licht and reach the house at the end for 3pm. This was my planned target for the day, and we rest awhile here. It is, however, a bit early and Andy persuades me of the charms of the next glen, and in particular the bothy to be found there. He fails to mention the work required to climb up to the bealach. Not a difficult or big climb, but coming at the end of the day just makes it a bit unwelcome.
We set about the climb and admire the waterfalls of the Allt Grannda. I’m flagging a bit, but Andy waits patiently each time.
Expecting to find a full bothy, it’s a bit of a surprise to find it completely empty. An inspection of camp spots is made anyway, and we decide to sleep inside. Dinner done, a Dutchman arrives and joins us for chat and whisky. We never discover his name. My supply of Laphroaig diminishes alarmingly and before we know it it’s almost midnight.