Leaving Melgarve at 0800 with a warming sun high in the sky I soon left the old military road for a single lane tarmac road. When I could walk the shoulder on dirt or grass I did. I passed farms with sheep and horses and birds of various feather. The peaks receded into the distance replaced by more rolling hills and even some forest. Pretty enough but hard on the feet.
In time I was caught up to by Hayden (not that long after crossing a bridge on what sure seemed like a canal of some sort). He's hiking Scotland on his own schedule and that opens up options a Challenger doesn't have. We walked the road chatting about various topics from the sub-prime mortgage crisis to world politics. Then just after River Spey came into view Vicki and Barbara caught up and we learned from Vicki about the footpath option into Laggan that popped us out below Spey bridge. We talked more about world travel as we moved along until the ladies fell back so Vicki could stay with Barbara whose feet were really bothering her.
Hayden and I found this hotel and had a tasty lunch. The ladies arrived and the mellow afternoon has continued on and on. Part of me feels I should've gone on but now I see no point and will do the 20 kilometers to Kingussie tomorrow. It has been nice to just hang out here, have some decent food and good beer (John Smith), chat lazily with other Challengers as they arrive and know that I am now doing pretty well all things considered.
Coming into Kingussie was another pretty day of open views of moors and sheep farming with small rivers thrown in for good measure. I hiked with Russ and his friends most of the day and we ambled all the way. Nick and I pulled ahead for the last bit (Andy trailing helping Vicki perhaps with Barbara) at the end. The last mile or so which travels roads drags on a bit. But still a very fine day. I would say that a highlight of the day is the variety of scenery we got to see. Especially before and after Phones as the landscape changed quite a bit in character. It may not be as stunningly beautiful as some places I have been but variety keeps one interested too.
I must note that I ate a ridiculous amount of food. Had I known the potato wedges with cheese and bacon would be what they turned out to be I'd probably not have gotten the lasagna. I was expecting something more like standard potato skins not thick wedges of potato mounded over with bacon, onions, and cheese (more like chili cheese fries though better). And although I had a fair bit of alcohol it was over such a long period of time I never really felt it that much. As the night wore on I learned that a big football (soccer) game with a Scottish team playing some Russian team was on and that was garnering a lot of attention. The Scottish team lost and I'm sure many were very much down in the dumps (later I learned about the damage done down in Manchester by football fans). American sports fans don't hold a candle to what some of these football fans do when things don't quite go their way.
Things are going very well and with luck will continue to do so.
The church ruins I have pitched my Tarptent Virga within are adjacent to the Monadhliath Hotel. Maybe if I had known about the bunkhouse down the road before I pitched my shelter I would have gotten a bed, I did check it out (sort of), but I stayed put. It was a fine place to camp and I got a standard UK-style breakfast at the hotel the next morning for £5. May 13, 2008. 16:16.
Lunch with the rest of the group I had been hiking with today (Russ and his band of Mark, Sam, and Herman, Vicki and Barbara, Nick and Andy) was a real joy. In some way this probably rates as the best lunch spot of the entire trip. The scenery was varied and the company great fun. May 14, 2008. 13:30.