The latest leg of my quest had been planned with a fair amount of care and efficiency. It was to start with a cheeky Monday excursion with John to Sheilin of Mark bothy, cycling in from the Glen Esk side. Then I was off mid week to Oban on an advanced train ticket, with the intention of peddling to Fort William via Mull and the back roads of Morven, with a possible extension on to Inverness if the weather held. And over the weekend I was committed to marshalling a leg of the Islands Peaks Race with some guys and gals from the Carnethy Running Club, having resolved that it would be good for me to nudge myself out of my comfort zone, and actually positively interact with people for a change. So when John reversed into an unsuspecting tree in an otherwise empty car park, after a jolly day dodging the snow showers, it wasn’t quite the launch pad I had been hoping for. Surveying the quite impressive amount of damage done to our machines, which had moments before been studiously secured on to the tail gate of the car, I really didn’t think I’d be honouring my commitments.
However, sometimes I can still pull my finger out and act with unnerving haste and ill consideration, just like the old days. Having man handled the broken bike to Edinburgh the next day on the train, the bloke from the cycle shop confirmed that my buckled forks were a right off, and that to get back on track I would have to buy a new machine that afternoon. Which, with the promise of some cash from the very apologetic driver, I duly did. The Bike Station just happened to have a perfect bike at an acceptable price, and with a bit of swearing, I had the bike rack transferred and the panniers packed before the evening was out.
Ahhh feel this post is already spinning out of control, so I’ll try and get back on track as quickly as I can. Made the marshalling gig in Salen on Mull, after staying in Tomsleibhe bothy in Glen Forsa the night before, and headed on to Leacraithnaich on the Morven side with a bit of a hangover. I had a stand off with a sailing couple over the only copy of the Weekend Guardian in the shop in Lochaline, and because the distance was actually really short – barely twenty miles in all – I even had time to do a bit of exploring down by the coast, for another little secret spot which I’d been curious about for a while.
By the Sunday I was off over the hills to Strontian, and arrived there pretty knackered at lunchtime with the intention of cycling on to Resourie. I then looked more closely at the map and realised the top of the pass was over 400m, bracketed with those tell tail double v’s indicating steepness on either side. What an idiot. In fact it almost broke me just cycling over that afternoon, having pitched my tent in the very welcome campsite in the village. And the worst of it was the nagging feeling that I still had the trip back over the bealach once I was working up the forestry track to the bothy.
I was pretty run down when I woke up the next day and I resolved not to push myself too hard for the rest of the trip. I camped in an ok spot by the beach at Ardtoe the following evening, and it was drizzling as I completed the leg up to Lochailort, round the coast of Moidart, on the Tuesday morning. I was very thankful when the train to The Bill pitched up and thought I may just bite the bullet and get a ticket back home there and then. However, I rallied and decided to look at the forecast in Nevisport before deciding what to do. In the end I cycled up to Invermaille along the Caledonian Canal, and was very happy that I’d pushed myself on a bit, as the sun came out and the bothy had an ample supply of firewood. The next leg up to Inverness could wait though, and I cruised back down to Fort William the next morning happy in the knowledge that I had some more choice bothies in the bag.