TGO Challenge Day 5- Ft Augustus to Kingussie (via Aviemore Medical Center)

Today was the big day, our walk over the Corrieyairack Pass. Since planning the route this is the high point (in terms of elevation) that we would have to achieve in our walk across Scotland. Missouri's highest point is 1776 feet, the Corrie while by no means high is at 2500 feet. We were well rested and resupplied from our night in Ft Augustus and the day had dawned as blue sky as Scotland gets!. 

We needed to walk out of town toward the Pass and the path went right through the Kilchuiman Burial Ground. (above) We also get a first look at part of the Pass as we come around the side of the cemetery (below)

We started to move up hill as the first three quarters of our day would be all uphill from Ft. Augustus and Loch Ness to the top of the Pass, we encountered more sheep with new lambs. In this case they were unafraid and courious about our passing.
too cute not to take photos. Mom was being vocal about us stopping to take pictures.

The start of the pass proper

A view back at Ft Augustus and Loch Ness as we start to ascend.
At the very beginning of the Pass you encounter a large estate and the Culachy House, essentially a huge pink castle. (above and below) The building was getting extensive renovations and the grounds were closed off. We had to view it from the construction road for the new pillions (electrical poles) going in.

So a bit about the controversy surrounding the Corrieyairack Pass. It is quite a famous path as it was part of General Wade's military road and provides fantastic scenic views, but it is also the site of controversial wind farms (seen below) the wind farms generate electricity which then has to be transmitted by the pillions (which I think are more of an "eye sore" than the giant turbines, which we have all over in the US)
In order to put in the electrical pillions (transmission towers) they have had to turn what was a rough two track path into a major construction "highway." You can see the size of the road below with Vicky walking to one side to avoid the giant trucks that were using the road.
We were stopped at the beginning of our path up the Pass by a construction worker that warned us we needed to hurry along as they would be closing the path shortly to allow the helicopters to come in an lift heavy items around the construction zone. We made it high enough to not interfere with their activities and I got some nice shots of the helicopter doing its work.
Another nice view of Ft Augustus and Loch Ness as we move higher up the Pass

Compare this photo above of the path (more of the way it should be) away from the construction zone to the one earlier.
There are two Bothy's along the Corrieyariack Pass, one as you really start to climb (Blackburn Bothy- above) and one when you reach the end of the Pass on the other side (Malgarve Bothy)

Vicky going up the Corrie Pass. We walked with 4 or 5 different Challengers on and off up the pass this morning as they were doing the same route as us trying to reach Garva Bridge by evening.
A view looking back at the "Corrie" as we continue to climb

Part of the old General Wade's Military Road- and old bridge across a stream.(above)
Anticipating the top of the Corrie, it was very breezy but a very nice day for walking this high.

Panorama view of our path coming up the Pass
looking back down from the top

A Cairn marking the high point of the trail across the top of the Pass and Vicky below having reached the high point of the day.

Here is what all the fuss is about. In this panorama you can see both the wind farm in the distance and the power lines that dominate any view from this point.  Arguably spoiling the view you get of not only the pass but the mountains in the background. In fact right behind me as I take this picture is 20 men and big yellow trucks pouring a new pillion footing for the next electrical tower.

Crossing over the pass quickly went from our highest point to our lowest point. Something in Vicky's knee gave way. At this posting we are still waiting to due an MRI but it appears she tore the meniscus in her left knee. She experienced a stabbing pain that brought tears to her eyes and made her unable to walk for a while. After a time I put my knee brace on her, as all the meniscus in my right knee was taken out 22 years ago, and I carried her pack along with mine down the back side of the Corrieyairack Pass. 
We discussed what we were going to do and it became clear this was not a situation she was going to "walk off" and that we needed help to get medical attention.

In about 2 miles we saw a construction vehicle doing work on the side of the road and a young man around the truck. I approached him and explained the situation and before I could even finish Stewart had volunteered to drive us to the medical center in Kingussie. This was no easy obligation as we were not meant to be in Kingussie for another day and half and even by car it took well over an hour and would mean his work day was done. Once we arrive in Kingussie we discovered that the medical clinic was closed for the day. We had booked rooms in Kingussie but not for another day. We told Stewart we would just get a room tonight and sort out the clinic in the morning, but he drove us the extra 20 miles to the medical clinic in Aviemore so Vicky could be looked at right away. He even offered to wait for us, while we were in the clinic. His generosity really made the difference in very difficult circumstance and will never be forgotten by us. 

Everyone at the medical clinic was very nice to us, but there was really nothing they could do as it wasn't their day to do x-rays or other more advanced exams. The doctor examined Vicky's knee and put it in a full leg brace, gave us some crutches and some pain and anti-inflamatory drugs and paid for a taxi back to our hotel in Kingussie. 
Vicky in her full leg brace

Returning to Kingussie we checked into the Tipsy Laird Bunkhouse and Bar, they were also very helpful and understanding and made room for us for an extra night, we only had one course of action- go to the Bar and start to drink! We only briefly discussed if this was the end of our Challenge, that was a conversation we could avoid for now.
Pain medicine and hard berry cider from Sweden, Rekorderlig-  A terrific combination for the rest of the afternoon.

Day 5
12 miles in 7 hours walking- 
the map below shows our intended path from Ft Augustus to Garva Bridge and how close we came. The part in the red is the part we could not make

Elevation profile for Day 5


  1. Thank goodness for kind people. I'm glad you found them.

    1. I am always embarrassed to walk up to a stranger to ask for anything, but everyone in Scotland seemed to always have time to talk and was generally concerned with each other- such a nice country.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how generous folk are when a bit of help is required. People are generally pretty wonderful. The knee must have been incredibly difficult emotionally for Vicky - she was doing so well!


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