The first day of the challenge was finally upon us. As usual I woke up at silly O clock feeling eager to get those first steps under way.
We had stayed in the Trekkers Lodge at the Kintail Lodge Hotel. It was a basic bunkhouse type affair, but clean, tidy and we had a room to ourselves rather than dorm type accomodation.
Checking out at the challenge check point wasnt due till 9am, and we took our time getting packed and had a decent breakfast.
I was starting to get itchy feet and was keen to get going on our walk. We grabbed our gear and went to have a seat outside in the morning sun to see if there were any other challengers on the go. As it was, there were people milling about and I found out that we didnt have to wait till 9 to check out.
The time had come and we donned our packs, had our photos taken before setting off on the path down by Loch Duich where we dipped our feet in the water.
Shiel Bridge is certainly one of the more popular starting points and many a challenger seemed to be taking the path by the shore.
One of the first people we met and got talking to was Willie Todd- I was quite impressed by his small pack size and the fact that he was wearing trail shoes. Willie was starting his day on a high by traversing Beinn Fhada and camping at the same spot as us- Loch Affric, whilst we took the easier option by walking up the scenic Glen Lichd and over the pass to Glen Affric. This is a spectacular walk where the path goes up the Glen and climbs up past a gorge winding its way through crags before opening up again as you head into Glen Affric.
Eventually we reached Camban Bothy and stopped for a break. It seemed wrong to sit for long in the Bothy as it was a lovely warm day outside, so didnt linger for long. I went to fill my water bottle by the stream near the Bothy, but with all the dry weather lately, it had almost dried up but I still managed to fill it up. I was quite disgusted my all the rubbish which had been left outside one of the Bothy walls- four large bags of rubbish containing items such as gas cannisters to frying pans. There is no refuse collection at Bothies! If you carry it in- you carry it out!
We carried on and the path now became a good track to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel- one of the most remote hostels in Scotland- the only way to get there is by foot or bike. The warden was offering drinks and snacks to challengers and I didnt say no to a cup of coffee.
We were soon on our way again on the track to Loch Affric where we would camp for the night.
Almost 17 miles later we were nearing our destination for the night- the Western shore of Loch Affric, and so were a large number of other challengers. This is a cracking spot for wild camping, one of the best camp spots I’ve had so far.
We soon pitched our Scarp 2 tent and as the evening went on, many our challengers turned up for their first nights camp of the challenge.
We met Billy Liddel who had set up camp about fifty meters away and chatted away, then Willie turned up also setting up camp. All in all I had lost count of how many people whom had chosen to camp there that evening!
It was a beautiful eveing and I wasnt in a hurry to bed down for the night. I took many pictures and had conversations with many people- only problem was that with so many other people in the vicinity, it was hard to find privacy for going to the toilet!
Remarkably after such a long day I was still full of energy late on in the evening and eventually I did get into my sleeping bag to get a good nights sleep.