A bit of light rain is falling, timed to coincide exactly with me packing away the tent. It’s that infuriating sort of rain that’s too light for the warmth of the jacket, but too heavy to go without. A few hundred metres up the road I switch to my windproof which is a relief. The day is grey and after yesterday doesn’t hold much promise. The murk doesn’t entice me to climb up to the Lairig Gartain that I was at one point last night so keen to do.
Actually the road walk to Dalness is pleasant and seeing the steep climb up to Lairig Gartain, I decide to stick with the road. I’m, enjoying it, once you allow for the hordes of people parked up and camped up at the roadside.
The River Etive itself is quite interesting too, with waterfalls and alternate slow/fast stretches. A particularly rickety bridge spans it at one point. I’m stopped by a Glaswegian who asks me what I’m up to – well it is strange seeing someone actually walking rather than just rocking up to camp in a vehicle. I explain the Challenge, at which point he feels the need to shake my hand. I guess I’m his first encounter with a Challenger, then. A little further up the road there’s a phone mast and I take a break by it to catch up with the outside world, and make a call home.
The road is long and winds gradually uphill, but it’s not boring. I make good time and as I approach the junction with the A82, an older couple offer me tea, which I gladly accept. This turns into a long chat. They’ve just driven over from the East simply to stand and look at the view and drink tea. Seems fair enough to me.
I cross the A82 and behind me is the classic view of Buachaille Etive Mor that every West Highland Way walker would recognise. It feels odd seeing other people backpacking, and they’re all heading north. Some of them look at me as though they think I’m either lost, or mad, in that I’m, temporarily, heading south along the WHW.
I pass the Kingshouse Hotel, or what’s left of it during its extensive rebuild, and head onto Rannoch Moor. A short way along I encounter Gerry, another Oban starter, and we keep each other company past Black Corries Lodge. Here I briefly consider heading up to the Black Corries themselves for a high camp. But I’m enjoying the track (I do like a good track!) and so am content to stay with it. After all the views are still pretty spectacular even down here.
Gerry stops for water, and I do likewise, and we both start scouting for spots to pitch. We both reject a tussocky patch, and carry onto my originally intended spot at Tom da Chloiche. For some reason this doesn’t take Gerry’s fancy, but it does mine and I plonk Delilah down on a nice flat dry patch by the lochan. It’s not a bad spot (you’ll see a similar camp picture in some other Challengers’ blogs from this year).
I have my tea, which consists of a makeshift chilli (I’ll explain later), and then pour myself some Oban and look out of the tent. To my surprise there’s another tent a short way away. I didn’t hear them come. I wander over to say hello to Robert from Tennessee. A bit more of a wander around to get some pictures of the evening light and I’m done for the day.