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]

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Gummer’s How (SD390885; 321m)


Ah, Gummer's How. A special hill for me. One that really left its mark when I was just a toddler...

That last visit was in 1975, when I was transported up in a baby carrier on my father's back. At some point in the outing he tripped, went flying and, in the process, catapaulted me out of the carrier. There was a collision between my head and a rock and it must have been reasonably dramatic as, some 40 years later, I still have a little scar on my forehead* to show for it. If it hadn't been for that mishap and the resulting scar I doubt very much that anyone would have ever mentioned to me that I'd been up this hill.

I've long wanted to see the place that scarred me, and it's surprising that it's taken me this long to get around to it. Happily today's outing was entirely uneventful. Unhappily I can't remember the last time I encountered such a high percentage of people intent on blanking my greetings. I suppose that's what you get for visiting a quick and easy stunning viewpoint during school holidays.

Even so, I did enjoy this rocky little pimple and the views it afforded up and down Windermere.

By adding a circuit of the summit I brought the total distance for this one to a whopping1.4 miles with around 350' of ascent.

As tempted as I was to squeeze in another one, the day was marching on and my intended kipping spot was in the opposite direction to my next hill, so I called it a day, very happy with my two little walks.

I met this chap on the path on my way down. I included my foot in the snap to show how small he was.

(*As an aside, that's not the only scar I collected on my forehead as a young child whilst in the care of my father. Two years later I was in a lawnmower shop with him when I tripped over my unfastened shoes, resulting in a coming together between my left eyebrow and the blade of a lawnmower. Unlike the Gummer's How incident (and even though I was only 3 at the time (going on 4)) I remember the lawnmower encounter and the resulting trip to A&E.)

Whitbarrow (SD441870; 215m)

Having arrived home late on Sunday evening, and with a plan forming in my mind to be off again this morning (Tuesday), my single day at home was spent doing exciting things such as laundry, shopping and cleaning Colin (particularly removing the remains of eight billion flies from his front end and windscreen). What I ran out of time for was planning, so my intended early departure this morning was pushed back a couple of hours so that I could spend some time flicking between maps, and StreetView, and making notes. At a quarter past nine, as I climbed into Colin, the time had come to make some sort of decision as to how to order my hills and it seemed to me that the most obvious thing to do was to head for the nearest first.

Arriving in the south Lakes three and a bit hours later it was to find that my intended parking area (near Millside) would have had plenty of room if it hadn't been for the three cars parked there being evenly spaced at about 20 feet apart. It turned out to be in my favour as, whilst looking for somewhere to turn around, another parking area was found which was nearer to my chosen path.

I've not downloaded the gpx file yet, but I'm pretty sure that the waymarked permissive path that I followed bore little resemblance to any of the lines shown on the map, but that didn't matter as its direction was perfectly clear as it took me through pleasant woods, up onto the lovely limestone ridge and along to my objective.

Having made the decision to take this trip on Sunday night, it was a full 24 hours later that it occurred to me that it's a Bank Holiday week, and school holidays to boot, and thus not an ideal time (for one who has so few demands on her time) to be heading to one of the busiest holiday destinations in the country. The thing that convinced me to go ahead regardless was the good weather forecast and, as I made my way along this ridge in the sunshine, with clear views all around, I was certainly happy with where I was.

Half a dozen other walkers were seen as I made my way out and back, so it was hardly rammed up there either.

A little bit of a corner was cut as I made my way back through the woodland, which brought the whole outing in at 5 miles with (I would estimate) 900' of ascent.

There was another hill in my afternoon, but as it was such a special one it's going to get a post all of its own.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Innerdouny Hill and Lendrick Hill

This is going to have to be a very quick blog post. Having arrived home last night, I’m planning on setting out tomorrow morning to collect some more hills and, at 8.30pm, I haven’t even started looking at which hills and in what order.

Innerdouny Hill (NO032073; 497m)

We woke in fog. Most of my ascent was in fog. Even as I approached the trig it hadn’t quite cleared…
…but by the time I got there the views had opened up in most directions:

Cunningly taken selfie so as to cut off the sticky-up bits of hair!

5.8 miles, 950’

Lendrick Hill (NO019037; 456m)

I’d noted duff information about this one, but in my favour, as I found that the break I needed to take through the forest was much nearer to my starting point than expected.

It was steep going through the break, and sometimes slippery with that mossy stuff which doesn’t adhere to the earth below it
It was a good hill to finish the trip, as once out of the forest, the views were superb:

And once again my hat hid the hair situation nicely:
I couldn’t decide in which direction to take the selfie, so took two:
Then I ran back down, except for the steep bit through the forest break, which I took rather more cautiously. I hate to think what was going through the mind of the chap I passed on the forest track when he saw some mad woman running towards him in a Tilley Hat, with thick trousers rolled (at unequal lengths) up above her knees, and poles in her hands. The look on his face and his failure to return my greeting suggested that he was a bit taken aback either by me or my appearance.

Back down at Colin, coffee and an early lunch was accompanied by the entertainment of a Mini rally passing by. The oldest dated back to the early sixties; the newest just a few years old. Some sounded healthier than others. Some tooted and waved, perhaps thinking we were sitting there because of the Minis passing, rather than it being incidental to our day. Even though it was incidental, it was quite good fun to watch them passing:

And then we drove the 300 miles home, which took all of the rest of the day and most of the evening too.

2.3 miles; 700'.

Three and an Extra One

From noon on Saturday 21 May until tea-time on 27 May my time was spent mainly in the Kinnaird Room at the Park Hotel in Montrose which, during two weeks every May, turns itself into the TGO Challenge Control Room. In my first few days there, I would have had no problem with finding time to pore over maps and Marilyn lists, and yet it was in the hour before the final Challenge event (dinner on Friday night), by which time Challenge Control was closed, that I sat myself down (cross-legged on the floor) by a plug socket in one of the lounge areas of the hotel, to fire up the laptop and consider which hills we were going to squeeze into our final day and a half in Scotland.

Saturday 28 May

Norman’s Law (NO305202; 285m)


This hill (along with the next two) lies just south of Dundee and only a short distance off the Fife Coast Path. In spite of having good information about following the unmapped track which leads to the west side of the hill, we followed the Coast Path as it headed east, which worked fine, except for the need to cross two fences. We came back via the west side of the hill, which also involved two fences, but this time furnished with gates.

With a big layby conveniently located right by our start point (NO 31031 20950), Mick joined me on this one, so there was no need for a bad selfie from this nice little summit, which boasts good views over the Firth of Tay.


1.8 miles, 500’

Mount Hill (NO 33094 16479; 221m)


imageIf I’d listened to the chap we met on the top of Norman’s Law, and if I wasn’t so intent of collecting these hills, I might have given this one a miss, on the basis that the tower was in such a dangerous state that it has now been fenced off such that it is no longer possible to get to the summit.

The reality is that I could see absolutely no evidence of disrepair in the tower, and the deer fence was easily crossed by using the gate provided. Really, some people…

Approaching the tower my hope was that it wasn’t open, as if it had been I would have felt obligated to climb it. Happily, the door was firmly padlocked, so I made do with standing on the highest bit of earth outside and taking a couple of snaps:



Oh dear, another bad hair day.


A tree by the tower; I’m not sure those baubles are naturally occurring…

2.1 miles, 450’

Cairnie Hill (NO280155; 229m)


I found evidence of many waymarked footpaths in this area, yet very little parking was available. After looking for parking by a couple of other (longer) possible approaches to this hill, Colin was finally squeezed into a gateway which clearly hadn’t been used for a very long time. Even so, I’m convinced that if we ever left him unattended in such a position, that’s precisely the time when the once-in-five-years access would be required, so Mick happily sat this one out whilst I made an easy job of the upward direction, fortuitously finding my way around the pheasant fences and through the woodland to pop out onto a grassy, gorse-clad summit:


Another bad-hair selfie

The downward leg didn’t go quite as smoothly, with the pheasant fences this time becoming obstacles, along with a particularly dense bit of the woodland, but as the whole outing was so short, it didn’t take me long to get past the obstacles and back to Colin.

1.3 miles, 500’

Steele’s Knowe (NN969080; 485m)


After Friday’s very late night, I was tired the moment I woke up on Saturday morning and only mustered up the energy for the three planned hills on the basis that they were small. Indeed, on my way down Cairnie Hill I’d been looking forward to spending the rest of the day curled up with my book and maybe having a bit of a snooze. Instead, over a very late lunch, I looked at the three hills that I had on the agenda for Sunday and realised that 15ish miles of walking, with 2200’ of ascent, may be a little too much when there was also the matter of a 300-mile drive home.

With the sky now clearing, the obvious answer was to bring one of the hills forward and take an evening walk up the wind-farm road which would lead me to this hill.

I clearly remember walking up Borland Glen, just a few hundred metres to the east, and looking up at this wind-farm during one of our long walks (Lowestoft to Ardnamurchan, I think). Now I was walking through the farm (discovering as I went that I like walking under whirring turbines about as much as I like walking across bridges over motorways), which took me very easily to within a hop, a skip and a few dozen jumps to the trig point, from where there are fine views, if you ignore the turbines:


A hat – a very good tool to hide bad hair!

5.4 miles, 1000’.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Creag Ghiubhais (NO313955; 486m)

Saturday 21 May


With a need to try to find somewhere selling LPG (Autogas) on my way to take up my seat at TGO Challenge Control, I didn’t have an awful lot of time for a hill on Saturday morning but, rather conveniently, there’s a very little hill not too far away from Ballater.

Initially I was on a nice track through woodland – the same track as Mick and I had used on the TGO Challenge a few years ago when we walked around the back of this hill. It hadn’t occurred to me to go over the top of it back then.


nice track through nice woodland

Then, after a bit of a yomp through heather (should have turned to face the hill when I was still in the woodland; I came down that way and it was much better going), I made my way towards the rock fields, thinking it would be easier walking up the rocks than through deep heather (these rocks were more car battery sized than car sized, so not really boulder fields). As it turned out, the shoes I’d chosen for this outing (boots, due to a need to re-tape the heels of my usual Terrocs) didn’t create any friction at all on those wet rocks (wet because it was raining quite convincingly on me for this one); it was a bit of a precarious ascent.

A bit more yomping through bilberry and heather got me to a cairn, where there was no more up to be seen…


…so I went down, after taking the obligatory summit selfie:


I chose a better line on the way down, largely avoiding the slippery rocks, completing this little outing having covered 1.3 miles with 600 feet of ascent.

Mona Gowan

Friday 22 May

Mona Gowan (NJ336058; 749m)


My kipping spot on Thursday night was perfect for my needs. Nice and level and, being 300m down a dirt track, gloriously quiet. I’d arrived there just after 1pm and tested it quite thoroughly, in that it was quite a cool afternoon and, being low on gas, I didn’t want to run the heating, so I curled up under a blanket with my book and promptly fell asleep for a few hours. Even when I did wake up, the weather wasn’t such that I was enticed out to explore my immediate surroundings.

Friday didn’t dawn too badly though, so by 7.30am I was pulling into a parking area for a quick walk up Mona Gowan. Then, briefly, it rained on me, which was a bit antisocial and certainly not in the forecast I’d seen.


The best sort of track. Pity it only lasted for 50 yards before becoming more classically ‘tracklike’ again.

I’d been in two minds as to how to approach this hill and I’m glad I came from the south west as it proved to be unexpectedly easy, in that a new track has been built which took me above the 650m contour, leaving me with less than a kilometre to yomp to the top. On the way back down I found a decent trod joining the track to the top; pity I didn’t find it on my way up!


Not a nice track, and quite an eyesore, but I was happy to make my ascent easy by walking on it

I’d just sent Mick a text to tell him where I was (I send him a dated and timed text from every summit so that if I do go missing then at least he’ll know where I was at a certain time) when my phone rang, and it was the man himself, so I sat myself down for a chat. It turned out that he’d got thoroughly wet through on Thursday and, not feeling inclined to pitch in the pouring rain, had walked on further than intended, which in turn meant he was a lot closer to Ballater than he was supposed to be, and as I was meeting him in Ballater (his first campsite of the trip – he was more than ready for a shower!), I thought I’d best get a wriggle on to make sure that I got there before him. I did, of course, take the time for a few summit photos…



An ascent powered by audiobook

before I turned and retraced my steps.

The stats for this one were 5.6 miles walked with 1300’ of ascent.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Cnap Chaochan Aitinn (NJ 146099; 715m)

Thursday 19 May

Let’s compare and contrast my speed/distance/ascent stats for a couple of this week's hills:

- Meall an Tarsaid in fine conditions on Monday 16 May: 1.3 miles with 700’ of ascent, taking 1 hour, averaging 1.3mph.

- Cnap Chaochan Aitinn in wind and rain on Thursday 19 May: 12.3 miles with 2400’ of ascent, taking 3 hours 50, averaging 3.2mph.

As you may deduce from those stats, whilst today’s hill was quite a distance from the nearest access point, it was a very easy walk. (Post blog note: In fact, it was such a long walk in, that I couldn’t fit the route onto a single screen with any detail included, so I’ve had to split it across two screen grabs, below.)
That I set out going very noticeably downhill wasn’t ideal, and there were quite a lot of minor undulations on the way, but what made me choose this hill today* was that the map showed there to be tracks leading to within about 300m of the summit. As it went, there is also an unmapped track, which took me to within 50m of the top.

I can’t report on the views, as I had none. I also got rained on for over half of the outing, although not so noticeably on the way back, as by then the wind was behind me.

I was all done by lunchtime, and whilst I did give passing thought to visiting a second hill this afternoon, I decided against. So, by quarter past one I was parked up for the night. I think I’ll spend the afternoon with Sherlock Holmes for company.

(*The other thing that brought this hill to my attention was that Mick was due up there today too. As it was a 6 mile walk from the NE for me, and a 14 mile walk from the NW for Mick, and as our respective routes had only the summit in common, it was always very unlikely we were going to meet. Having been up there, I very much hope Mick decided to take his Foul Weather Alternative. As he is not actively collecting Marilyns, there was no point him subjecting himself to head-on wind-driven rain along the ridge, without even a view by way of a reward, when he could just walk a perfectly good track down in the valley. I don’t expect he’ll have phone signal today, so I’ll probably not find out until tomorrow whether we did, in fact, both stand on the same top, a matter of an hour or so apart.)

Meall Mòr (NH737356; 492m)

Wednesday 18 May

I do wish I wouldn't look at little hills like this one (which sits less than 1km from layby 171 on the southbound A9, with around 150m of height difference between the two) and make ridiculous assumptions about how quick and easy they'll be. Setting out with the mindset of "a hop and a skip and barely any effort and I'll be there" isn't helpful, particularly when the objective is a tussocky, heather-clad, bouldery thing, with a very steep pull off the road, and where so few others are daft enough to go that there are few trodden lines going in the right direction (although there were some on this hill, unlike others I've done recently).

Even having started out with unrealistic expectations, I probably would have enjoyed the hill had the weather been dry and clear. Unfortunately, it was neither:

The fog had lifted since I'd first looked out of Colin's window at 5am, but not far enough to clear the top of this little lump. And the rain fell the whole time. It was the first walk of this trip on which I've worn anything waterproof (and today I wore everything waterproof; I even had boots on for the first time, although I have to concede that they're not as waterproof as they once were).

Having arrived, dripping, back at Colin it would have made sense to have sat with my book for the rest of the day. Somehow I didn't quite manage that and have taken another couple of walks in the rain, around Nethy Bridge (where there's a selection of marked routes, and I did find an information sign, but the Visitor Centre only displayed leaflets about walks in other nearby places) totalling around 7 miles.

I do hope it's dry tomorrow as the two hills I've got pencilled in as possibilities both involve quite a walk in.

(Incidentally, no hills were visited yesterday. I parked up on the B road by Dumnaglas Mains on the west side of the Monadhliath (in the same place as I did on the same day last year) and offered cups of tea and slices of cake to all passing Challengers. It was busier there this year. My first visitor came through at five past seven and when the final two came through eight hours later I had served 23 drinks and cakes. I came better prepared this time too - there is still cake left over for myself!)

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Meall an Tarsaid, Creag a'Chliabhain and Beinn Mheadhoin

Monday 16 May

When I said yesterday that I was having a rest day I was, in part, trying to convince myself of that fact, as there was a thought in my mind that I might just slip a little hill into my afternoon. Then I arrived in Fort Augustus, where I needed to pick up a couple of things from the shop, and the 350m walk from the free car park to the shop convinced me that no hill was going to make its way onto the agenda.

I did take my lochside stroll though. Having parked Colin up in this position at Loch Killin:

and after the minibus of half a dozen fishermen finally went home, I took a stroll along the loch and back.

By this morning I was feeling much more lively, even if some bits of my body were protesting, so bright and early I set off for:

Meall an Tarsaid (NH490132; 492m)

imageMy journeys on Google StreetView had made me think there was nowhere to park along the tiny lane running to the north of the hill, but thanks to opting to spend the night at Loch Killin my drive along the road had revealed a suitable looking verge, behind a passing place, where I thought I could get Colin sufficiently off the road. That saved me a bit of a walk in, and thus without preamble off I set up the steepest and craggiest side of the hill.

Bogs (the first really wet bogs I've encountered in this trip; everywhere thus far has been incredibly dry), thigh high heather, crags, and sizeable boulders completely grown over with vegetation (thus hiding the holes) made this one a trickier walk than it had looked on the map. The downward leg was the worst, as that's where I kept encountering the hidden holes, causing me to proceed with much slowness and care.

On the plus side, the top was a good viewpoint and the weather was reasonably fine. Here I am having a bad hair day at the top:
The whole outing was only 1.3 miles, with around 200m of ascent, but it took me an hour to complete. I think that may make it my slowest hill of the trip so far.

Creag a'Chliabhain (NH576206; 520m)and Beinn Mheadhoin (694215; 556m)

I was just about to step out the door for this one when along came a chap with a rucksack, so I invited him in for a cup of tea and some cake. He was Russ from Canada, a TGOC first-timer, who it turned out had met (and negotiated a bog with) Mick two days ago.

As Russ went on his way, so did I, into the construction site which is the Dumnaglas estate. Oh, it's so sad to see all the motorway-esque tracks which have been put in. Hopefully in a few decades they'll have blended in a bit (although by then there'll be wind turbines galore), as although the moment these lovely hills look like the access to a quarry, but with more traffic.

I opted to ignore the 'temporary diversion for pedestrians' route and stick to the tracks I had planned to use, working on the basis that if I'm capable of walking down a road without getting run over I should be equally capable of stepping out of the way of vehicles here. As it went, I soon left the windfarm roads behind.

Approaching Dumnaglas Lodge I opted to ignore another arrow which wanted me to take a detour around the back of the gardens and was just standing right in front of the front windows of the (clearly not in use) house when a car pulled up next to me and asked where I was going. Despite my immediate misgivings it was a friendly conversation and soon I was back on my way, to tromp through more bogs and heather to get to the top of the hill whose name looks too much like 'chillblain' for me to call it anything else.

Looking over to Beinn Mheadhoin from Chillblain Crag

Back down to Loch Conagleann I went, this time crossing the dam to head through an active bit of the construction site. From there I could have headed straight uphill, to my last summit of the day, but it would have been steep and very heathery, so instead I skirted around to another eyesore of a new track which seemed to be heading in the right direction. I joined it just as it went through a gate in a deer fence ... and stopped dead. It was a big track to have been put in going nowhere!

The lack of an onward track meant no gate or stile at the top of the woodland, so that deer fence had to be climbed - easier said than done in that the lower half was chicken wire, meaning my first step had to be over half way up. I'm not elegant at getting over deer fences at the best of times, and this was definitely not the best of times!

Fortuitously, I came out by a series of rock slabs which gave me easy passage to quite near the top, whereafter only a bit of yomping was needed to take me to the cairn.

Summit photos taken, including further evidence of the bad hair day (there's more than one reason why I usually wear a hat!)...

... I didn't retrace my steps as planned, as I could see yet another new monster of a track to the north, and a nice spur which would take me there. That cut some distance off my route and saved me walking through the most operational bit of the works. I got back to Colin with 8.75 miles walked and around 550m of ascent.

Incidentally, I forgot to pick up my walking poles on this one and didn't realise until I was, oooh, all of a 400 yards into the walk. Who knows why I didn't go back for them, but at least it saved my pulled tricep from any more stress.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Rest Day

I blame the weather! The last ten days have been so incredibly fine that I didn’t want to waste a single one of them, hence in that period I have visited the top of 22 hills, totalling over 28000’ of ascent.

The tendon behind my left knee has been protesting for days (yesterday was made possible by the power of ibuprofen) and today I have a nasty pull in my right tricep and two aching calf muscles.

There’s one last Corbett that’s calling my name before I leave this area, and I’m having a rest day in a couple of days anyway, so one part of my brain has been telling me to go and do it. For once, however, I’m going to try to do the sensible thing, to listen to my body’s protestations and have a day off.

Of course, I still have to go for some sort of a walk, because my Fitbit doesn’t allow me to have a day off (and my unbroken chain of achieving my step target currently stands at just over 500 days), but that doesn’t have to involve a hill. A gentle lochside stroll will do nicely.


Panorama shot of The Saddle, taken from the lower (NW) top of Sgurr na Sgine yesterday, shoved in here just to pretty-up the post!

Biod an Fhithich, The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine

(Note: I know I’ve wittered on far too much in this post. I was minded to write a short version for the blog and a long version for myself, but as I use my blog as my main resource to remember stuff that I’ve done, I’ve decided to post the long version. For those who want the short version, here’s a one sentence summary: A walk in which I thoroughly exhausted myself visiting the three Marilyns named above (two of which are also Munros) on the most perfect of mountain days.)

Saturday 14 May


Biod an Fhithich (NG951148; 644m), The Saddle (NG934131; 1010m), Sgurr na Sgine (NG946113; 946m)

Waking too early and peeking out of a window, it was immediately clear that my planned 3.5 hour outing up a nearby Corbett was going to be a waste of another fine day. A replan was had over breakfast with the decision that I would go up The Saddle (a very striking Munro which we had passed at close quarters on our Dover to Cape Wrath walk in 2011) and either the Marilyn of Biod an Fhithich (which we had also come very close to in 2011) or a second Munro (Sgurr na Sgine).

By twenty to eight, I was out walking, and took to the Loch Quoich path assuming that there would be a trodden line taking me over to the path I wanted, a few hundred yards distant. If there was such a trodden line then I missed it and thus what was already to be quite a demanding day was made more so when I found myself yomping uphill for half a mile, finally joining the path after half an hour/1 mile/230m of ascent.

At the col between Meall Odhar and my Marilyn of Biod an Fhithich, a decision had to be made as to which two hills out of the three I was going to do and as I was standing so close to this one it would have been silly to pass it by. I have no idea what the definition of a Graham is, but this hill is on that list as well, which perhaps explains why there was a surprisingly well trodden line leading up to its summit.

Up to this point, not a soul in the world knew where I was (and, in fact, as I type this they probably still don’t, because Mick doesn’t appear to have found any phone reception yet on his TGOC route), so I paused to text Mick with my plan for the day (assessing the chance of me going up Sgurr na Sgine as ‘probably won’t’), before heading down to rejoin the path up to The Saddle.

The Forcan Ridge is apparently a fine scrambling route with plenty of exposure. I don’t do exposure if I can help it, and I definitely don’t do it when I’m by myself and not a soul in the world knows where I am. So, past the Forcan Ridge turn I went and the long way round was taken to get me up The Saddle. With snow lying over the upper reaches of the path, it was a steep by-passing route in places, and I must have been using my walking poles too much to heave myself up, as I managed to pull my tricep. It was, and still is, quite sore in certain movements.


Atop The Saddle, with part of the Forcan Ridge behind me.

My heart did fall a little on reaching the trig point at the top to realise that the pointy bit at the top of the Forcan Ridge looked higher (I’ve since checked and I was right), so over to it I had to go. It was easy enough, except for a couple of steps (one bypassing a snow patch) where the drop sent me all weak at the knees.

By the time I was on the descent (oooh, that was a bit of a knee-killer as I bypassed the snow again at the top), I was eyeing up Sgurr an Sgine and talking myself into it. It was only 250m of extra ascent, after all (ha! Completely overlooked the extra ascent which would be needed to get back to Colin from there!), and it was only just over a kilometre from the Bealach Coire Mhalagain (which lies between it and The Saddle). Lunch was had at the bealach, then upwards I plodded.


Atop Sgurr na Sgine, with The Saddle behind me.

Reaching the top, I was really quite fatigued, and to get down I needed to go back over the hill’s NW summit then ascend the gorgeous looking Faochag ridge (which is actually a lovely gentle slope for most of its distance).

Five people were met at the top of Faochag. I’d seen various people up on the Forcan Ridge as I’d lunched at the bealach, and a whole group (who I think were probably TGO Challengers, and probably American by the way they were whooping about reaching the col) who reached my lunch spot about ten minutes after I’d vacated it, but these were the first people I’d seen close enough to talk to. The weather featured in conversation, and justifiably so on such a glorious afternoon.


Squeezing The Saddle and Biod an Fhithich into one slightly elongated photo.

Somehow, I’d pictured the descent route as a nice gentle stroll, which was a bit naive of me considering it drops the best part of 900m in 2km. By half way down I was so fatigued that I just wanted to be teletransported back to Colin, moreover as I’d run out of water a while before (crossing a good stream on my way up The Saddle I’d thought ‘I’ll fill my water bottle on the way back down’. I forgot and didn’t pass another opportunity until ten minutes before Colin). In the absence of a handy teletransportation machine in my pack, I had to walk, promising my poor weary legs that their ordeal was almost over.

Finally the road was before me, and Colin awaited just a minute away. Reaching him with my legs shaking with muscle fatigue, my first priority preparing myself a litre of electrolyte drink, followed swiftly by the inhalation of half a bag of jelly babies.

The distance for this outing wasn’t that far – 10.2 miles. It was the 5600’ of ascent, on top of the efforts of the preceding 9 days which put it into the ‘quite tiring’ category. However, I have no regrets about tiring myself out so. The conditions I enjoyed really were perfect for that outing.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Carn nan Iomairean and Sgurr an Airgid

Friday 13 May

What a change in the weather from the last week! It did dawn bright, but by the time Mick was setting out from the Dornie Hotel clouds were building and it was very noticeably cooler than the rest of the week had been.


Off he goes, for his seventh TGO Challenge

Carn nan Iomairean (NG914352; 486m)


I didn’t hang around for long once he’d gone, so I pointed Colin’s nose in a direction with which he is becoming familiar and took myself back up to Gleann Udulain. I knew from Wednesday’s walk that it would be possible to drive Colin a mile and a half along the forest track into the glen, but as I only had one hill on the agenda today I thought I may as well have a longer walk and save Colin the ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ test by leaving him in the same parking area as we’d used two days prior.

The information I’d read about the path through the last kilometre of the forest no longer existing matched my experience; I found no sign of it. That could have led to the outing being aborted, as I’ve (surely, by now) learnt my lesson about trying to bash through commercial plantations, but happily my punt on following a stream came good. It came incredibly good, in fact, as almost the whole way to the edge of the forest I was on firm, cropped grass alongside the rock-bedded stream, and where the good surface switched side, it was a simple hop across on rocks to get to the other side.


A deer fence at the top of the forest was the only fly in the ointment, and once on the other side I checked the map and reset my altimeter accordingly – or as it turned out when the summit came into view and I checked again, I’d accidentally set it 100m too high(if I’d put any thought into the matter, I would have realised that having left the forest track at 250m and ascended constantly upstream, I couldn’t still be at 250m at the top of the forest!). Always a boost when you think you’ve got 200m left to climb and it turns out it’s only 100m Smile.

As you may gather from the summit photo, it was a bit nippy up there. Twenty four hours earlier I’d been overheating in just a t-shirt, and now I managed not to overheat whilst wearing three layers, a hat and gloves:



Retracing my steps (the majority of which were along those forest tracks again; pleasant but not the most inspiring walking ever), I arrived back at Colin with 10.4 miles walked and 1800’ of ascent.

Sgurr an Airgid (NG940227, 841m)


This Corbett something of an accidental hill. Remember what I said a few paragraphs ago about only doing one hill today? Well, after that hill I returned to Dornie and frittered away a couple of hours, then I moved down the road to the parking area for Sgurr an Airgid, intending to spend the night there ready to go up it on Saturday morning.

That intention persisted a while, but I couldn’t help but notice that the heavily overcast and cold morning had become an increasingly sunny and warm afternoon, and it seemed silly to leave the hill until the morning, when it might be cloudy, when I could just go out and do it immediately … even though it was now knocking on for 3pm.


It might have been the biggest hill of the trip so far (841m, from a start point at 9m), but a good path took me up so gently that it was easier than any of the smaller hills I’ve done in this area.


The path was equally good in descent, being of such a nice gradient (yep, lots of switchbacks) that I fair trotted down some of it.

The stats for this one were 6.2 miles walked with 2800’ of ascent.