I sleep like the dead and waken to mist rising off the loch and mountains beyond. The beeb reports rain straight on for weeks, but right now, anyway, it’s sunny. I’ve come to learn you can’t entirely trust the weather report.
We drive along the loch perfectly reflecting the surrounding mountains on a one-lane road with numerous passing places. No one can afford to be macho here; you simply have to pull aside to let others through. The lay-by is almost full of cars likely because as Sandra told us, this is a beautiful trail.
Definitely not at the start in muck and wet cutting through yellowing bracken. We’re so used to it now, we simply tuck in and climb, heading steeply up away from the River Carron.
It’s hot and humid and I’m soaked through with sweat in the bright sun. This can’t be right, I think.
And it’s not. The map which I hadn’t bothered checking has us on the other side of the river. It’s wild and rushing with no possibility of crossing except back at the car.
We try not to slip heading back and see the obvious public path sign taking us through gnarly, moss-covered oaks and ferns, changing color for the season.
This is a decidedly easier trail, built up with stepping stones and a very easy grade. We easily talk the entire way, taking us less than an hour to reach a bridge missing many of its slats and finally the large stone Corie Fionnaraich bothy.
It was built in 1913 for the fourth deer stalker of the estate, a Mr. K. Maclennan. A photograph shows a dapper balding gentlemen with a bushy mustache and his strongly built wife wearing a fox he killed just for her around her neck.
For his work maintaining the path and other tasks required of a fourth stalker (or hunter) he received the use of this house, sheep, a sheep dog, a cow or two, and a deer fence to protect their potato garden. It’s a lovely place looking back down the glen and tucked beneath several Munros.
There are two common rooms below with large windows and two above, though no bunks. We claim a room, planning to leave gear and continue up towards a loch. But just as we leave, it begins to rain.
I’ll pause here to remind us all that we have become accustomed to non-stop rain. It’s simply part of the experience. And yet Ted and I make faces at each other, saying why bother.
Again, being here at this bothy in the heart of the Highlands with a rushing stream and Munros in a row, we’re already ‘there.’
We sit at the window and make tea, just as six older people show up one at a time, drenched and happy for their walk, but ready for lunch out of the weather. We tell them what we’ve done so far and they say it was an extraordinary summer with no rain or midges.
I counter this is so different from anywhere I’ve been, I’m happy for the challenge – if I survive. As they leave, they promise to keep an eye out for my survival or demise and we laugh.
When the rain pauses, I waddle out in my flip flops, picking my way carefully down well placed stones to collect water. Two more drop in, young women in tights and strong boots who gave up a Munro 2/3rds the way up since nothing could be seen. They warn us about the stalkers and we realize we really aren’t supposed to stay here during stalking season. To this, the taller of the two tells me the client is quite fancy and likely wouldn’t stay in a cold, empty bothy.
Empty of whisky, sadly, but we have dinner and cook it up as the rain stops and mist creeps in, wiping out any trace of scenery. We take the chairs outside for a moment, before drizzle returns and chases us inside. A candelabra warms the dark corners and I fall asleep to the river’s song, hoping tomorrow might bring back the sun.
Two minutes to midnight, the door bangs open and a Scottish couple with the thickest accent walks in with bikes, loud and crashing.
“We’ve walked all the Munros and now we’re walking the Corbetts!”
They tell Ted the rain will be continuing and proceed to build a fire, so he grabs up our clothes out of the way. Friendly enough, but wow! Out biking in this weather at this hour? And so loud. (until 2:30 or so) A different world, this.
Ted tells me the man assures him no one can expect to sleep in a bothy. Not with them, one can’t. Funny, in the four others we had lovely, polite neighbors.