The weather for the day was looking grim with high winds and rain forecast, but it started off fine enough.
We left the campsite around 8.15am and soon met up with fellow challenger Billy Liddel. We spoke for a few minutes and then Billy soon left us behind. Billy was eager to get moving as he was doing his walk on a shorter time scale than us. On that subject, myself and Lynn made up a few nicknames for a few challengers! Billy was named ‘Billy Whizz’ by Lynn after the cartoon character and in my eyes he was the ‘Flash’ That was the last we saw of Billy on the Challenge and he indeed finished the challenge a few days before we did!
From Fort Augustus we took tracks and back roads before picking up the start of the famous General Wade’s Corrieyairack Pass which climbs from Fort Augustus near sea level to a height of 770 meters above sea level.
The pass starts off by heading up a lovely hillside path with some overgrown gorse bushes for company to contend with, then picking up a hill track passing Culachy House.
After some short steep climbs, the weather did infact deteriate and we were glad to reach the small but cosy Blackburn Bothy where we stopped for a wee break where we met Rob and as we left we bumped into Donna and Willie again.
The Corrieyairack is a long steady climb which seemed to be never ending. To make matters worse or perhaps I should say to make the walking more difficult, we were faced by a strong headwind and Lynn walked on behind me using me as a windbreak!
Finally we made it to the top of the pass catching up with Rob and another challenger whom I shall call Mr Alpkit as he as adorned with Alpkit clothing- perhaps they had sponsered him?
This wasnt a spot to linger and we soon started our descent to Speyside to drop down out of the wind.
Mr Alpkit had stopped halfway down the hill to get a bru on with his Alpkit stove, as we continued to drop further down the pass. Next Rob decided to stop as his feet were giving him problems and shortly afterwards we found a sheltered spot by a burn to have lunch by and restock on water.
Soon we were on our way again and walked the final few kilometers to Melgarve Bothy at the Bottom of the pass in the company of Willie Todd.
At Melgarve we had a look inside the Bothy and I made the mistake of having a seat in the large sofa couch which I promptly sank into and wasnt that keen on getting up again to walk the five kilometers along the single track road to our camp spot for the night at Garva Bridge, but we were soon on our way eager to finish our days walk off and stop for the day.
I think the last five kilometers must of felt like ten to Lynn, but we got there and soon the tent was pitched amongst the five other tents already there.
Later on once we were settled in and fed for the evening, father and son challengers Eddie and Alistair turned up. They had walked from Spean Bridge that day via Glen Roy and past Luib Chonnal Bothy- a long day!
The shelter they were using for the challenge was a Mountian Laurel Designs Trailstar which I’ve been taking a keen interest in lately and this was the first time I had seen one in the flesh. Im still keen on buying one at some point. Lynn doesnt seem keen on the idea, but for solo camping trips- this shelter seems ideal for me.
Over the course of the challenge for here on, we would see a lot of Eddie and Alistair at various points whom were great company along the way.
By the end of the night I counted no fewer than ten tents dotted around the area by the bridge.
It had been a long day and we had a good sleep that night. I was a bit anxious about the next day as it was going to be mostly road bashing all the way to Newtonmore, but on reaching Garva Bridge, I felt I had reached the first milestone on the trip reaching the infant River Spey.