Maybe it’s a perversion, but I like peat hags. I enjoy the mental challenge of trying to navigate over the tops, and then the physical effort of the inevitable drop down and climb up again – trying to pick my way over the top-crusted peat rather than sinking thigh-deep into the black gloop. Today was a day of two halves, and the trackless peat of Glen Fyne was either going to be a reward or terrible punishment at the end of a long day.
Having made the effort to suss out the route through the Inveraray Castle grounds, it came as no surprise to me when I got lost. The ticket booth man’s directions were fine, but I had one of those “let’s argue with all of the facts” moments and had to retrace my steps then do what I’d been told to do in the first place.
The track up Glen Shira turned out to be a metalled road all the way up to the Lochan Shira dam but, despite the tarmac, was a very pleasant walk. The weather was now quite warm and it wasn’t raining, although the sky never quite cleared completely.
Rob Roy’s House had been on my route sheet but I missed the turning and couldn’t be bothered to go back, seduced as I was by the easy walking on the road to the reservoir.
I could probably have walked along the top of the Loch Shira dam but I could see yellow-coated workmen up there and I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way, so I followed the power-station road and found what looked like trig point, although it did not have the usual OS markings.
I climbed back up to the road on the North side of the Lochan and took the opportunity to sit in the sun and have some lunch. Within minutes the rain arrived. Oh well; I put my waterproofs back on and finished my lunch. By now I was learning to enjoy the dry spells rather than curse the rain.
A couple of km past the end of the lochan, the track ended and I was now walking on a bearing of “just a bit North of East” for 4km. I knew it would be boggy; I knew it would be trackless, but this little bit of wilderness was really good fun.
I was aiming for a (not very likely to be there) bothy which was marked on some maps at the end of the track which runs SE down to Gleann nan Caorann. The bothy wasn’t there (but I found the remains of its foundations in the morning) but the adjacent sheepfold was still in place and I thought that would give me some shelter from the wind which was starting to whip up.
The sheepfold, whilst having the flattest, least tufty grass for miles around was also extremely rocky and peg-unfriendly and I was glad I’d taken a few extra pegs to double-up now that the wind was gusting quite fiercely.
It had been a long day and the last few miles had been quite hard going but, after my easy introduction to this year’s crossing, I now felt like my Challenge had properly begun.