I wake in the bosom of my fellow Challengers, for the first time this trip. It’s long overdue and with it the recognition comes that this has been a lonely Challenge so far. There’s been a couple of days (ok, well technically I guess every day from day 4 onwards) that I really could have done with company. I’m missing Paul, my intended walking partner – not in a Brokeback Mountain sort of way, just in the knowledge that the trials and tribulations of the Challenge so far would have been easily brushed aside if he’d been here too. I’m looking forward to some walking where fellow Challengers are in sight, not to mention maybe even alongside!
This joy is hiding another issue though. At some point over the last day or so I’ve found myself coughing, and last night it kept me (and maybe some others too) awake. But hey, someone once said that the Challenge is a perfect place to recover from such a minor ailment. All that fresh air and exercise and it’ll soon be gone.
As I pack up I realise that Mike and Amy are camped pretty close and I wander over to chat. I’ve not seen them since the train. As fellow first timers last year, Mike and I kept bumping into each other. It’s good to see and chat with a friend. It transpires that Amy has had foot problems and skipped a couple of days. All her talk about “next time” starts to infect me with a bit more of a positive attitude too.
I leave them to finish their packing up and set off on he well-trodden path. I should have done Glen Feshie last year, but a good forecast saw me take the Lairig Ghru instead. I instantly take a liking to Glen Feshie.
A very short distance into the walk and I sit on the riverbank and get the painting things out – something I’ve not done since the morning of Day 2. A small sketch is executed while the bulk of the Challenge party pass by. I resume the walk and soon encounter a struggling Challenger. One of the American contingent, she’s suffering with foot problems and making very slow progress. I say hi and a couple of hundred yards ahead meet one of her companions who’s wondering how far back she is. I enlighten him. I then follow the track down to the river and in vain try to work out how to cross it without a lot of palaver. At that moment I see someone wending their way through the vegetation up to my left, and realise I’ve gone awry. I retrace my steps and take the precipitous loose dirt and rock path high above the river. In the distance an American is powering away. Chelsea, the considerably slower American catches up with me and we walk together a while, running the full gamut of conversation topics.
I’m quite enjoying the upper reaches of the Feshie.
Lunch is taken by the ruined building, before climbing up to the bridge over the Eidart which, according to another Challenger, is “really something”.
Expecting a stunning piece of architecture, I’m slightly nonplussed to find the bridge consists mainly of scaffolding.
Just after the bridge I fall in with Chelsea again, and once again her walking companions disappear into the distance. We walk together for another hour or so, until I too have to leave her – my head just can’t take another late finish. Although slow, she’s making steady progress and there are other people on the trail. She’ll be ok. I’ll be surprised if she makes it to White Bridge much before sunset though.
Ahead of me I see the point where the Bynack Burn joins the Geldie Burn and an inviting patch of green suggests a possible camp spot. I have no need to push on to White Bridge – tomorrow is an easy day and the distance can be made up. Clearly, I’m not the only one with the same idea, and as I draw nearer pretty much the whole posse from Ruigh Aiteachain is camped up. I join them. Tonight, I’m a bit more sociable.
Dinner is a collation of mince, vegetables and pasta. It’s great. As the night before a resupply, it’s also “eat whatever the hell I want” night. I take advantage.