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May 19th, 2009

Hijinks Ensue

Last Friday

Let's see, where was I the last time I had a chance to update this? Last Friday we set off from Helmsdale hostel and headed south. We had decided to go on a mad detour down Gleann Mor on a road that showed on the map as a 20 mile dotted track.

On the way to the Glen we popped in to have a look at Carbisdale Castle YH - very impressive. We also stumbled across a group of mad people driving classic tractors from Land's End to John O' Groats to raise money for Leukemia Research.

I've attached a photo showing a part of the track through Gleann Mor. It was rough. That's an understatement. It started off rough and got very gradually worse and worse. Did I mention the rain that turned the deep potholes into mud pools? We did see some awesome scenery though, and an enclosure full of boars, and some very cool highland cows that were reluctant to move off the track and let us past. :D

After doing about ten miles in an hour we reached a lodge and had to make the decision whether to risk carrying on in the hope that it would improve as we got nearer to civilisation, or turn back and do the whole thing again in reverse, plus an extra thirty miles or so on 'normal' roads to get to where the track should have taken us. We saw a Land Rover coming towards us, slowly picking its was over the rough ground, so I got out and stood in the rain waiting for it to reach us. The car was full of Australians, who for some reason didn't seem too surprised to see a 'Morrie' on a rough dirt track in the middle of nowhere, but advised me that: "nah, it's not going to get any better than this mate," and "this is actually a private road, you shoulda got permission from the warden to be here." So I made the difficult decision to turn back rather than risk the next 10 miles being as bad or worse than the last bit we'd just done. Back at the start of the track another Land Rover shot around a blind corner and onto a bridge we were crossing, and nearly crashed into us. We reversed back off the bridge to let it past, but an angry looking bloke jumped out and stomped over to us. "Don't be driving up the Glen, guys!" he said. "Park up if you like, but don't be driving up the Glen!" We reassured him that we were just leaving, and he stomped away again, placated. :)

Back in civilisation I inspected the damage: a few dents in the sump, number plate bent again, mud in the engine bay, tufts of grass hanging from the sill finishers, and the already-on-its-way-out exhaust had now fractured where the pipe exits the back of the silencer.

After a spot of lunch at Bonar Bridge we headed on down to Inverness and had a very brief look at Culloden, before shopping at Tescos for food and Focus for materials to bodge the exhaust (I'll do a separate post about that later).

Onwards, it was already getting late but we decided to do the south side of Loch Ness rather than the usual north side because the road looked more interesting. Good choice - there is some excellent scenery on that road! A bit later we stopped briefly to see the old Bridge of Oich, a very early and quite pretty suspension bridge next to a modern swing bridge.

We finally rolled into Glen Coe independent Hostel pretty late and very knackered, and gratefully checked into our pretty little log cabin. But it's time for bed now and that's another story for tomorrow. :)
Last Friday