All photos are here.
David (Inverness manager) drove me in Monday morning. We were joined on the trip by Dave's wife Ailsa and their two dogs, Ash and Cillie. The last time Dave brought the dogs there, they ran up a mountain on him, so this time Ailsa was able to keep an eye on them so they didn't do that.
We all sat in the front of the Land Rover with the dogs sitting in the back, Cillie constantly trying to perch on top of my box of food, so my bread ended up with a squished-in lean to it.
At the Affric car park, we were joined by Carl the water treatment guy, so I moved to sit in the back with the dogs to let him, being taller, sit in the front (having experienced the track ride in both the front and the back, I can definitely say the front is more comfortable. Riding in the back involves holding on to the wall and sort of riding on the balls of your feet more than sitting down at times.)
A rocky section of the track in; you can see why it's bumpy.
The last 7 miles of the trip takes about an hour due to the roughness of the track. From what I remember reading about horse-and-wagon speeds, I think 7 miles per hour is on par with that.
We arrived at the hostel to find Stephen cheerful and even more tanned than last month. There were other changes: the glen was much greener, it now being late May instead of mid-April.
If you look at my pictures from last time, you'll see these same two trees, but without any leaves on them:
The bridge by the hostel that had been washed away in the rains before Easter has now been put back in place by the National Trust guys, and labelled.
After some business, everyone else eventually headed back out. I spent the afternoon sitting out of the wind in the sun (it was warm without the wind) reading my book and waiting for guests to arrive.
Later Monday evening, we ran out of water, which I had known might happen since the burn was so low due to the lack of rain. With the help of the hostel guests, we got the inlet pipe back under water by damming up the burn with rocks, then removed the airlocks from the pipe and got it flowing again. Because the bottom of the tank had contained much silt, the water flow then stopped around 10pm that night because the mechanical filter had clogged up. A couple of the guests again helped me clean it out and reassemble it, and then I cleaned it again in the morning and the water was fine after that.
On Tuesday, I did some cleaning and water works as I mentioned. While working, a fellow popped his head in the back door, asked me if I was the warden, and then asked "Are you serving food during the day?" in a tone of voice that implied that he was sure we'd be serving in the evening. I informed him that we never served food, and he seemed quite surprised. He asked me if the Cluanie Inn served food (a 7-8 mile walk back to the main road), and I told him that they would. Fancy expecting a restaurant in the middle of an otherwise empty glen!
By the time I got out the door for a walk it was about 1pm. I walked down to Loch Affric along the path, here's some photos I took along the way:
A couple of little waterfalls:
Mountains before the loch.
Part of the forest the National Trust is working at restoring:
I walked back to the hostel, arriving just after 4pm. Again the evening flew by with having dinner and chatting with guests.
Wednesday was cold and rainy, so I didn't go for a walk but stayed in with a book. I never managed to read much of the book, because the weather meant that lots of people stopped in - people who had been camping and wanted to stay, and also those who had booked in. I didn't have enough space for all the campers, but they sat around and dried out by the fire for a bit.
The weather started clearing up some in the evening, with the low cloud gradually receding on Thursday morning.
Then before I knew it, Thursday had arrived, when I was to be picked up. Not knowing exactly when Kevin would arrive with Stephen, I went for wander up the mountain path out back just for an hour or so. Took another requisite photo of the youth hostel from above:
Kevin and I had a bumpy ride out, as the rain had softened the ground and allowed for several potholes. We also had to haul out bags of rubbish that people had sneakily been leaving behind (lazy people!). So it was a smelly and noisy ride out of the glen with bottles clanking in the back. Fortunately, once we got back to the road we got enough air circulation from the open windows that we couldn't smell the rubbish anymore.
So that was my few days in Glen Affric once again. And so ended my career with the SYHA, as I'm now finished work. The first of my trips starts this Sunday, when Tina and I are going to visit Alysha in Belfast.