I’d planned my first three days to be short and easy so that I could ease myself gently into the Challenge. However, today’s loch-side bimble of less than 5 miles was a lot easier than I needed and if I hadn’t already booked a bed in the Youth Hostel I would have pushed on for a few more miles.
I reached Inveraray at lunch time and went straight into a pub for food, beer, and more food. The pub was warm and I took off my waterproofs and stood my rucksack up in a corner where it formed a pool of water. Despite having had a relatively easy couple of days, the rain had got into every nook and cranny and my hair was matted to my head. Sporting rosy cheeks from the warmth inside the pub, I must’ve looked a right sight but nobody seemed to be staring and I knew I’d soon be getting clean and dry in the Hostel.
After lunch I wandered round to the Youth Hostel hoping that my nagging fear that they didn’t open until 5pm was wrong. Nope, I was right – I still had over 3 hours to kill.
I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun (Yes, sun!) or sheltering from the rain in the Co-op where, as well as food, I bought a roll of binbags to double-bag my dry clothes and sleeping bag which had been suffering from seepage, through their dry-bags, from the constant rain. A text message wished me well in the grotty weather and let me know that there had already been 9 retirees including 2 by airlift; blimey, maybe my wet socks weren’t worth moaning about after all?
There was also enough time to go and have a chat with the man in the ticket booth in the grounds of Inveraray Castle. I intended to walk through the castle grounds in the morning so it was as well to check that I would be able to get out at the other side. He very helpfully described the paths I needed to take – then looked very puzzled when I thanked him, turned round and walked in the opposite direction.Not long after 5 o’clock I had all of my wet gear spread out in the Hostel. Everything was damp and I thought back to drying my kit in Invergarry and Newtonmore hostels in 2012; will the TGO Challenge ever be dry again?!