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:
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)
My 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.