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.
*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|
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|
|Beinn Liath Mhor|
|Beinn Liath Mhor ridgeline|
Eventually, I rejoined the path and continued along Coire Lair, pausing regularly to soak up the stunning views all around.
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.
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.