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]

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Cruach nam Fearna and A'Chruach

Thursday 4 May

Cruach nam Fearna (NM823151; 332m)

I was torn this morning whether to cycle to this hill from where we had spent the night (which would have involved one heck of a climb on my way back) or whether to chance finding somewhere to park in Kimelford, to cycle (more flatly) from there. I'd not been able to find any suitable parking area via a journey on StreetView, so was pleased to find a 'daytime parking only' sign on the church car park, thus confirming we would be okay to settle Bertie there for a few hours.
Off I set for a 3-mile cycle-in (soon passing two more viable parking options), mainly along Loch Melfort, whereafter I faffed excessively about where to leave the bike, before heading off on foot.

It was a glorious morning and the vista in front of me, as I made my way up the lovely grassy track, was glorious too:

It was also worth a look behind:

I'd not long entered the forest on the higher reaches of this not-very-high hill when I came upon a clear break above me. It was steep (in the extreme) but it took me swiftly up to the top:

The notes I'd made from other people's logs about this hill said "circuit is worthwhile", and thus I made vague attempts to drop off the hill to the SW to pick up the track further along, but it wasn't clear whether I could get through the trees that way (yep, could have if I'd looked closer). Skirting back around, it was a steep drop back down the way I had come, before having to regain some height to continue on the obvious circuit.

The only positive thing I can say about the circuit is that a circuit theoretically has more merit than an out-and-back. In practice I strode along nice grassy tracks which were completely hemmed in by mature trees, thinking all the time about the excellent views and sunshine I could have had by retracing my steps.

Finding my bike exactly where I'd left it, a ride back along the lochside returned me to Kimelford where Mick sat patiently waiting. I had cycled 6 miles and walked 3.5 miles (360m ascent). It had been a fine way to start the day.

A'Chruach (NM854110; 368m)
I am a novice cyclist. The couple of miles I used to commute each way in my mid-twenties, and the riding I did as a child and a teen taught me little and much of that has now been forgotten.

This afternoon I stopped a couple of times to check my brakes, before learning that even cycling on the flat is hard work when there's a brisk head wind.
Nevertheless, I did make it the 3.5 miles to the start of my track, where I took to my feet, following the track to its end at 230m. Heading off to my right from that point felt wrong, as my objective was in clear sight right ahead of me, but I knew that in between me and it, just out of sight in a dip, lay a forest plantation.

ATV lines through the tussocks were helpful for much of the way to the fence junction I was seeking, and from there deer trods led me almost to the top.

The 'excitement' of the outing came a matter of paces before I got back to the road, and my bike. The same herd of cows (with young) was loitering either side of the road there, as had been there when I'd passed through earlier. I talked to them as I walked, telling them they didn't need to get up, I was just walking on by (i.e. my standard walking-past-cows patter) and most of them listened to me. It was a youngster who took me by surprise, by suddenly leaping up and leaping over the cattle grid.

Oh horrors! I now had a youngster on wrong side of the cattle grid and its mother on the right side, both now in a panic. I clearly needed to open the gate to allow them to reunite, but with the impediment of having a panicked young cow in the way.

I was just retreating along the road to try to work this one out when the youngster, still obviously in a panic, decided its best move was to leap the gate, and I watched in even more horror as it cleared it with its front legs, but got a back one stuck. A split second of picturing a broken leg and needing to run to find the farmer, and the youngster bucked, taking the gate clean off its hinges (thank goodness it has chosen to vault the pedestrian gate, not the big one) and happily reunited with its mother. All that was left for me to do was to return the gate onto its hinges (covering my hand with cow poo in the process) and enjoy cycling with the wind behind me.

I didn't have to pedal so far on my way back, as having recce'd the road on my way in I'd called Mick from the hill to give him the all-clear to drive up to Loch Scammadale, saving me 2.7 miles.

I've two more hills to do in this valley tomorrow. I do hope the cows are better behaved as I pass...

(Stats: 4.3 miles cycled, 3.3 walked, 300m walking ascent)


  1. I have several cow anecdotes, but wouldn't dare to rain on your parade after that story.

    1. I thought of you, and your marauding bullocks who ran straight through a fence, at the time. This was definitely my worst cattle incident to date (and I very much hope it remains so).