It was raining when I woke up – and it continued for most of the day. I planned to split my short day into two halves with lunch in Carron Bothy and, in this miserable wetness, a building with a roof became something to look forward to.
My vetter had warned me that it was best not to follow the forest tracks marked on the map directly to the bothy, so I’d been looking out for where a main track ended. However, when I arrived roughly in the right area, the track did keep going but the trees had been recently harvested and it was difficult to tell what was “a track” and what was where the huge forestry machines had made a new way through the (now tree-less) forest.
I turned on my GPS and tried to work out whether I could trust any of the tracks marked on the map. I’d walked a bit further than my vetter had advised, but there’d definitely not been any way off the main track so there was no point going back. The remaining trees had regular firebreaks between them, so I decided to walk between the trees in the right general direction. It was now steeply uphill but I only needed to walk for a hundred yards or so before it became clear that I was back on track. I reckon I’d been in the right location all along and it was just the 6-figure grid references and changing treescape which had put me slightly adrift.
I reached a fence at the edge of the forest and Carron Bothy came into view.
I must’ve spent at least an hour in the bothy, which included at least half of that time trying to get the fire started with wet wood. I had a tasty lunch, including a sachet of posh Tomato Soup which JJ had given me.
According to the map, Furnace had a pub and a shop. I had a feeling that the shop would be closed on a Sunday afternoon but the pub should be open – although I was puzzled at why I’d not been able to see the pub when my bus had come this way a couple of days ago.
I found the shop and, as expected, it was closed on Sunday afternoons. But where was the pub? I studied the map then walked the length and breadth of the small village trying to match the PH with one of the buildings. Eventually, I identified a pub shaped private dwelling …. and wiped a tear of disappointment from my cheek. No pub.
The maps showed that I should be able to walk along the shore of Loch Fyne and I hoped to find somewhere to camp by the water’s edge. However, this meant I had to walk through the quarry and past the huge Keep Out signs. When I’d been looking for the pub, an English family had stopped me and asked if I knew “where this road goes, because we’ve been here for a couple of days and we keep seeing walkers going that way but we can’t get through because of the pushchair”. I’d told them (honestly) that I’d not been here before and had no idea where the road went – but their sighting of walkers gave me hope that there was a way through, so I ignored the signs and walked briskly through the quarry.
There were a few suitable pitches over the fence between the quarry road and the loch. It was now raining and windy, so I pitched my tent in the lee of some trees and listened to the wind howling down the loch while I made my dinner . . . . and fought a constant battle with the giant slugs determined to make a new home in my tent.