The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

GT Day 3: A’Challeach

Wednesday 29 October

Leaving Tillicoultry yesterday afternoon, I didn’t head to my intended night stop. The clear skies combined with a good forecast for today convinced me that it would be a day to go high, and having chosen a suitably positioned Munro I decided that I needed to make it further north before parking up for the night. Dunkeld was where I decided to head, and my race to get there to find a parking spot before full darkness fell was only won by the smallest whisker. 

The moon shining down, as I manoeuvred into the car park, told me that it was going to be a cold night. In fact, even by just gone 5, the temperature was collapsing. This is the frosty view across the fields opposite the car park, taken at first light this morning (which also turned out to be the only photo I took today of any merit for sharing!):


Pointing Colin’s nose north once again at 7am, I arrived in the car park at the road-end above Newtonmore before 8.30, and after an unreasonable amount of faffing (not to mention a little tea drinking) off I set with the intention of a quick out-and-back bag of A’Chailleach.

The Garmin Gadget had been turned on ready to go, but I forgot to pick it up, and I missed the updates it gives me on progress (it trills every mile). Its absence (and my failure to look at my watch) also means I have no idea exactly what time I set off, nor what time I reached the summit, but neither fact is really important. The key fact is that I did reach the top (albeit not necessarily via the usual path), and that it was in cloud when I got there.

It probably would have been in cloud when I left too, if it hadn’t been for a chap from Elgin who reached the top about 30 seconds after me, as on my lonesome I would have just had a quick drink of tea and headed back down. With company, I sat and chatted for what was probably at least 20 minutes and maybe half an hour, such that by the time we parted ways, the views were opening up. Pity that I failed to take a single photo that does them justice!

The other benefit of the chatting was that I was now aware that if I had taken the cairned path I had passed early in my route (the one where I’d thought ‘I wonder if that’s the baggers’ path?’), then I would have benefited from a bridge to cross the Allt a Chaorainn, albeit with the warning that the path from there was ‘a bit boggy’. Given that my route had been rather boggy too, I decided to return via Elgin Chap’s ascent route, and nearly came a cropper as I stepped onto the slick wood surface of the bridge. The stones I’d used to hop across the river on the outward leg had been far grippier!

I was back at Colin in good time to be punctual in arriving for tea with Ali and Sue (TGO Challenge Co-ordinators, and owners of Newtonmore Hostel) and a very pleasant few hours were spent drinking tea and walking their dogs.

I’ve now moved on to another night-stop and as I type this with my fingers feeling the chill, I think it may be another cold night. If only that meant it was going to be another fine day tomorrow, but I understand that’s not to be the case :-(


  1. That's a Munro and two Marilyns. I meant to ask when we met what was the motivation for these two particular hills?

  2. I only actually did the Munro. The original thought was that I would park at the road-end above Newtonmore for the night on Wednesday and set out bright and early to do the 11(or so)-mile circuit today (Thursday). When the weather forecast looked spot on for Wednesday, but quite horrible on Thursday, I brought the walk forward by a day, but with the penalty of less available time - hence just the quick bag of the bigger of the pair.

    As for why I chose those hills: I can't say that there was any particular reason, beyond it being an obvious outing from a potential night-stop point.

  3. I am not sure if we aren't at cross purposes. Both the hills, A’Challeach and Ben Cleuch qualify as Marilyns.

    I hope you succeed with the bigger one on your list - looking forward to your post. I suppose it will depend a lot on the weather. Take care.

    1. Ah, sorry - I did misunderstand. So, the relevant answer would be why I chose Ben Cleuch. That one came about when I was looking for a place to walk in the Stirling area and noticed that Dollar was not far down the road. I really liked the walk out of Dollar when we passed through on our EtoW, so I started looking at the map for that area. My eye was drawn to Ben Cleuch simply because it has a viewpoint symbol on it. It was only when I'd been up it that I found that it was both a Marilyn and a County Top.

      I see that Creag Bheag is also a Marilyn, so this is turning into quite a Marilyn-bagging trip!

      Alas, weather forecast isn't currently looking good for next week, so I'm not optimistic about the biggy on the list.