Day 1 – Day hike from Tomnavoulin to Tomintoul

Yesterday was a lovely chill day in Inverness where I ate loads of nice food and spent some time with Katie and Sarah. I’ve not seen Katie since 2016 when we met on a trip in Uzbekistan and it is so good to see her again!!

I used the time in Inverness pretty wisely I reckon – I managed to buy a cool mascot for the team. His name is Douglas. He is not your average mascot – it’s probably more accurate to call him a scapegoat. He’ll be to blame for anything that goes wrong on this trek. A bit of a morale trick that I learned from Katie back in Kyrgyzstan, where she introduced me to Doug the koala who often played tricks on us.

Douglas attached to my backpack

We met up with a few more of the team at Inverness Train Station and then our guide, Stuart, collected us at 2030 and then we drove to pick two guys up from the airport before meeting our final teammate in Aviemore. Then we headed out into the wild, arriving at a cottage near Tomnavoulin just before 11pm.

Katie, Sarah and I had a gorgeous cottage to ourselves and I had the double room! Beautiful.

We had a leisurely morning, setting off on a 14km hike at 0930 giving us a good opportunity to do a kit check.

I don’t think that I mentioned that one of my molars split in half on Tuesday and I needed to have an emergency dentist appointment to extract it. So it’s been a pretty tough week with me only having paracetamol to take the edge off the pain and trying to get used to a sad gap. I miss my tooth.

Today I did get quite a lot of discomfort from my jaw but it’s definitely getting better already.

The hike was really nice; we started off at the Cairngorms National Park sign and had a mixture of snowy and boggy terrain at first and then headed up onto the Speyside Way for a pleasant hike through a variety of different settings including some beautiful woodland.

We have another night in the cottage before we head off on the big push. When we got back to the cottage we had a look at the maps for the route and also the weather forecast. It looks ok for the first couple of days so we really need to push and make good progress. It looks like there’s some low pressure weather that will hit in a few days and that could be a really big challenge. But we will wait and see!

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