Ben Aigan (NJ310482; 471m)
We could have started this walk from the small forestry parking area by Balnacoul, but Google StreetView suggested that the acess lane was narrowed by overgrown gorse, so instead we set out from the large layby on the A95, establishing en-route that the gorse has recently been cleared and that there would have been no impediment to driving Bertie up there. Still, a mile extra of walking in each direction did us no harm.
Mick is blurred because he was moving so fast, not because I’m an incompetent photographer, honest.
Information that was either duff or that I had misunderstood had us taking a slightly longer than necessary route to the top, once we had popped out of the forest. My version of that route was slightly short-cut as, when I was blown off the path I decided that, as the wind seemed to be blowing me in the right direction, I may as well go with it.
The highest point of this hill isn’t the trig point, but a tussock 50m away. I’m standing on the most likely contender in this shot:
Mick put his glove slightly over the lens in this shot so as to give me competition in the ‘incompetent photographer’ stakes.
We did, of course, wander over to the trig too…
…before hurrying out of the strong, biting wind and back down to our exit point from the forest, via a more direct line.
A retracing of our steps had us back down on the A95 having walked 5 miles with just a smidge over 1000’ of up.
Knockan (NJ351464; 372m)
With a soreness of his hip, Mick decided to sit this one out and thus offered to drop me off a mile up the road. I wouldn’t have been fussed about knocking that distance off the outing, except that it saved me a walk along the pavementless A95. There turned out to be somewhere to park just up the track I’d opted to use as my route, although being as slopey as it was, it wasn’t particularly comfortable for Mick as he sat with his book whilst I marched off upwards.
Hampered only by the presence of a couple of electric fences across the track (I say ‘track’ but at the point in question it was a track on the map only, not on the ground), all was straightfoward and it didn’t take long to reach the top edge of the forest.
From there I expected to have to yomp across country, so was surprised to find a gravel path had been put in to link the forest track with the windfarm track above:
Beyond there, I did have to yomp, but it was all easy going to the cairn which either marks the top or a spot close by (I had conflicting information as to the summit feature for this one, and suspect that the cairn has been moved to the highest point, as it matched the 10-digit grid reference I had, and I couldn’t find anywhere else that looked a contender for the high point). Unfortunately, I had another attack of photographic incompetence up here and this snap is the only direction in which I managed an unblurry shot:
Many wind turbines were to be seen in this direction, but hopefully the snap conveys the excellent air clarity
The weather hadn’t seemed threatening at all during the entire outing, so it was a suprise to hear pitter pattering upon Bertie’s roof within five minutes of my return. What good timing!
This outing also came in at 5 miles (unless you want to go to two decimal places, in which case it was 4.96) with just under 700’ of ascent.
As an aside, there later occurred a bit of a panic about our gas situation. Colin’s gas tank had a capacity of 16 litres. Bertie has a gas capacity of 48 litres. Generally, a full tank on Colin would last us at least three weeks, but we can’t compare like with like, as Bertie (and our usage of his gas-driven appliances) is very different from Colin and we knew he would be more gas-hungry. Having set out on this trip with no idea how long his supply would last, I thought, late yesterday afternoon, that I would see how the bottles were faring. With the gauges being in a unviewable positions, a camera came in handy, and in reviewing the results this gauge had us concerned:
The gauge on the other bottle was reading just over 2 litres remaining. Was this one really empty already? Or was it full beyond its scale? If the former, then we were burning through gas so fast that we would run out during the night (a matter of concern, given it was below freezing by 5pm, and we really didn’t want to have to drain down his water system).
Just after we’d reasoned that 48 litres split between two bottles meant that we could expect the gauge to be reading off the top end of its scale, coupled with further reasoning that we couldn’t possibly have been going through 4 litres of gas per day, I remembered that I’d seen the manual for the gas installation somewhere on board. A bit ferretting around, followed by a bit of reading and a further trip out to the gas locker for a photo of a bit more of the equipment reassured us: after eleven days of use we had just over 26 litres remaining. I think. I hope…