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Just having a bit of fun here, posting about walks and other stuff. I need to get out more.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

TGO Challenge 2013. Day 1: Torridon to Gerry's Hostel

Torridon is a special place.
It had been 20 year's since my last visit on the second of two wonderful walking holidays in the Torridon area so imagine my delight to find myself back in the Torridon Inn, this time with a group of happy Challengers on the eve of The Great Outdoors Challenge 2013.

A few pints and a good meal were consumed and I left the pub in good company for the walk around the head of the loch back to the camping ground as the sun set over Ben Allligin.
Torridon Sunset
Following an unsettled night in the tent, due to an altercation with a bumble bee deep inside my sleeping bag in the early hours, I emerged from the tent to a glorious Torridon morning.
*Tip. Always check the inside of your sleeping bag for bees after airing out on the washing line.

I signed out at the Youth Hostel at 09:30 and made my way slowly back around the head of Loch Torridon to join the wonderful path from Annat to Achnashellach. The views over the Loch and down Glen Torridon are simply breathtaking. I was already having a good feeling about this crossing and the route I had planned.

Leaving Torridon on a glorious morning.

Liatach and Beinn Eighe

Before too long, I caught up with a few other Challenge walkers as height was gained towards Loch an Eion and the massive bulk of Moel Chean Dearg dominated the view ahead.

Moel Chean Dearg
An early lunch was taken overlooking Loch an Eion with Peter Mollenar, Pete Varley and Mark Williams as the temperature dropped sharply and clouds quickly replaced the early morning blue sky.
Then it was off again, over Bealach na Lice and Bealach Ban to the magnificent natural amphitheater of Coire Granda. 
Rain started falling steadily and so waterproofs were donned before the climb to the col between Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Liath Mhor. 

Heading to Coire Granda
I had planned to do the full ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor but due to the worsening weather conditions I wasn't sure that was a good idea. I decided to compromise, and dropped the pack at a lochan at around 700m and in a wanton act of Munro bagging, I climbed the craggy path to the boulder strewn Munro on the northernmost edge of the ridge.                                                                                          

Beinn Liath Mhor

Beinn Liath Mhor ridgeline
On the way back down to the pack I passed Ali Ogden and Sue Oxley who were heading up with full packs to tackle the ridge.These two ladies are obviously made of sterner stuff than me.

Eventually, I rejoined the path and continued along Coire Lair, pausing regularly to soak up the stunning views all around.

Coire Lair
I had planned to camp here but couldn't find an attractive enough pitch in the rain, so I continued through the forestry to Achnashellach and pushed on along the road for 5km to Gerry's Hostel.

The last time I stayed here, back in the 90's Gerry had been away, so I had not had the dubious pleasure of meeting him until now. I had heard a few stories about his eccentricity and was not to be disappointed.
Gerry greeted me at the door and assured me there was room in the Hostel as I walked in to find Pete Varley, Peter Mollenar and a lady challenger who I know only as "Goddess" already making themselves at home beside a roaring fire in Gerry's front room.
I think Gerry took a shine to me when I mentioned I had stayed there previously, and as I was cooking dinner, he whispered that he had a limited amount of alcohol for sale...cans of Caffreys at £2 a can and I was not to tell the other guests about this.
I promptly bought a tenners worth and when Gerry had retired upstairs for the night, I shared my secret supply of alcohol with the others.
The hostel had not changed one bit in the 20 or so year's since my last visit, including the freezing cold bunk room, dodgy showers, ridiculous decor and ornaments. It's a quirky place and Gerry is an eccentric but the place does provide a service to hill walkers and backpackers in an area that is not well served for budget accommodation.
Everyone passing this way really should stay there at least once before it is no more, I fear when Gerry finally decides he cannot keep going that this place will not function as a hostel and that would be a shame.

Gerry's Hostel
All in all, a wonderful first day's walking to kick off my 2013 Challenge adventure. 
Tomorrow I was to be joined by a friend and former Challenger, Richard Wood and his dog Charlie, who were to walk with me to for the next few day's to Richard's home in Beauly. 
Despite the cold bunk room, I fell to sleep contented with the journey so far and looking forward to the journey ahead.


  1. I quite liked Gerry's.
    It's an odd, quirky place.

    I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip, David.

  2. Laaarvly. I've roughed out a route for my next crossing (hopefully 2015) and that too heads out of Torridon over some lovely rough country.

  3. Alan, Gerry's is a legendary hostel, I've heard many stories, most uncomplimentary but I think it's a great experience and the entertainment value outweighs the downside. It will be a shame when it's gone.
    Carl, You could do worse than to follow the route I took. The path from Annat to Achnashellach is the best I have ever walked. It's rough country indeed. I didn't see anywhere to camp in Coire Lair. Boulder strewn and tussocky heather everywhere...Gerry's was a far better option.

  4. Everyone I met said he was a fruit and nut job. So we kept walking. Nice start Dave. Ali and Sue kicked ass for sure. We wimped out and stayed on the path.

  5. Martin, it's a great path every step of the way. I prefer not to dash through the west and take my time a bit. Gerry's was further than I had planned to walk on the first day.

  6. Excellent stuff Dave, I'm looking at a Torridon start next year - I'll be hanging on to your every word!


  7. Cheers John. The plan is, 9 different start points and 9 different finishing points up until my 10th crossing, then I will choose the best of both and favorite bits in between for my 10th. I already know now I will be starting my 10th at Torridon.