I was off by 8.15 – not the last to get going this morning (for a change) but by no means the first Challenger to hit the road to Laggan. A cold night but a clear morning for the long road walk. I didn’t know this area and was surprised to see a canal leading to a reservoir for the aluminium smelter in Fort William and a Wade bridge – obviously the route of an old Wade road. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine but road walking is never great and I was getting a bit fed up with it by the time I got to Laggan.
I wondered about going into the Monadhliath Hotel (now renamed the Monarch) but decided instead on coffee and cake at the Pottery bunkhouse. I met Matt there and another Challenger – Matt had gone north to Fort Augustus after Knoydart then over the Corrieyairack – where he’d had some grim weather.
Both of us refuelled with excellent cake and sandwiches before heading for the Wade road at Phones. We were a bit surprised at the difficulty of getting on to this after crossing the A9 and struggled up through the heather to find it – I wonder if we missed something. Then it was a delightful walk on a good track – so much better than walking on the road. Open landscape and good views to the Monadhliaths. It was good to have a walking partner – great chat and, as we were both tired, we kept each other going.
Matt decided to try the bothy at Luibleathann but, based on a recommendation on Andy Howell’s blog, I had booked a room at the Silverfjord Hotel in Kingussie so I pressed on. Shortly after leaving Matt, I broke my own rule of checking the map at each path junction and ended up taking a wrong turn to the delightfully named Milton of Nuide. It took me a few minutes to get back onto the right track then – after a day of dry feet – I had to wade through the Milton burn.
Feeling pretty tired after a second long day, I eventually arrived at Kingussie. The hotel was on the way in and, when I saw it, I was a bit dubious as it looked a bit seedy and run down. However, this initial impression was wrong – it was reasonably priced, I had a nice room, good beer from the Cairngorm brewery and excellent food. Pigeon to start, slow-cooked lamb shank and a large plate of tasty Scottish cheese – unfortunately, they had run out of rhubarb, my favourite pud.
Woodcarver Ian had made his way to Kingussie, doing a bit of geographing on the way, and we had a great evening in the bar. Hopefully, we’ll manage a trip to Maol Bhuide later in the year.