Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TGO Challenge Day 6: May 19, 2010 - Monadhliath Hotel, Laggan

This has been a short day, perhaps the shortest of the entire Challenge. I could have walked all the way to Kingussie and been wiped out, but what would I have gained. A short stroll, pretty much all along roads except for a small bit on farm paths not far outside Laggan, and a lazy afternoon at the hotel is just fine by me. Many probably go on farther and use the caravan (RV) campground in Glen Truim near the highway and have a short trek into Kingussie the next day but that seems a bit silly to me. I am glad I have done what I have and I would encourage others to think strongly about the same approach if they intend to end up in Kingussie or thereabouts anyway.

It was a nice enough morning when I set out from the bothy and I was soon striding easily down the tarmac road towards Garva Bridge. I did not expect to find anyone there when I arrived and I was not disappointed. Strolling past the farms along the quiet road went easily enough though it seemed to drag a bit as time wore on. I think I covered the 6 or so kilometers to Garva Bridge in a little over an hour while the next dozen or so took, seemingly, much more than twice that long. The scenery in this area is not that compelling until you come to the River Spey. At the river it gets a bit nicer but you are still pretty much road walking and so I can't get that worked up about it. However, there appear to be some nice camp spots along the river and I could imagine using them under the right circumstances. I did see a few poeple out and about by the riverbank.



Photo: the nicest part of the ealk today is the stretch along the River Spey. It is along the paved road but the river makes it nicer. I saw one big tent pitched.

Walking the farm paths that are mapped out on a small sign noting the paths about Laggan is a change from the road walking but to be brutally honest it really is just a path through farm fields. I suspect their are some nicer paths around but they would take you well out of your way. Just march through the farm path and be done with it. You have some more road walking, this time on a busier road that runs right into Laggan, but it isn't too terribly long and I didn't worry about the traffic.



Photo: My Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar pitched in the ruins of the old church. I was the only one camped here. The hotel was full of Challengers.

Sometime around 13:00 on a warm sunny afternoon I strolled into the courtyard of the Monadhliath Hotel. I found people sitting at picnic tables enjoying a bite to eat and a drink. I joined them and we talked about our respective Challenge walks and what was coming up next. I asked if any vacancies were available, turned out the sign lied, none were. I wandered over to the bunkhouse down the road and found out they were full of a school group too. That was a surprise. At that point I certainly could have packed up and moved on but as I noted before I just didn't see the point in getting to Kingussie super early when a good place with interesting people was here and I had access to a very nice camping spot. The owners of the hotel will let you camp in the ruins of the old church and that is what I elected to do. I set up my canary yellow Trailstar and then settled down for a quiet afternoon in the hotel bar to chat with the folks who came on by. They included Alan Sloman and Phil Lambert; Chris and Ian Wright; Lou and Phyllis La Borwit; and a few others. Easy conversation amongst people all taking part in the same endeavor: great fun.

My only small complaint and it really is a niggling one is that the active farm next door to the church ruin is noisy. The animals certainly rise early and make enough noise to disturb ones sleep. But that's really a small gripe and I would definitely not want to discourage anyone from camping at the hotel.


Location: Vicinity of Monadhliath Hotel, Laggan

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