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]

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Beinn nan Cabar and Sidhean Mor

Thursday 10 May
Beinn nan Cabar (NM765865; 574m) and Sidhean Mor (NM729866; 601m)

Distance: 8.9 miles
Ascent: around 900m
Weather: Sunny intervals, with three showers (one sleet, one hail then sleet, the other rain)
Start point: Layby on E side of road at around NM71596 85098.

That was hard work! Although, perhaps only because I'd left Mick in a location without a mobile phone signal, which meant that I had no ability to update him on my progress as I went, and thus I really had to be back within my estimated timescale to save worrying him unduly. Naismith had said that the outing as plotted (involving straighter lines than I could possibly achieve) would take 4 hours 10 minutes. I thought the terrain looked slow-going, so told Mick that he wasn't to worry until I'd been gone 5.5 hours - but I also knew than in all likelihood he would start fretting somewhere between the two. That knowledge had me very conscious of the need not to waste time, which is not the most fun way of enjoying what was actually a rather lovely circuit.

Having opted to go anti-clockwise, my first 3.5km were along Glen Beasdale, which wasn't as fast going as I might have hoped, with the old path there being variously under water or very stony. As I got closer to Bealach a Mhama, I became conscious that the path seemed to be going in the wrong direction, but managed to convince myself that it would swing back around any moment. I told myself that a few times, before I took the trouble of looking at the map in detail and realising that the path I was following was no longer the one marked on the map. In fact, having cut across to the pass and had a look around, I suspect the one shown on the map no longer exists on the ground.

Looking back down Glen Beasdale

With quite a distance still to go from the pass, I decided that I didn't have time for detailed navigation to try to avoid all of the lumps and bumps that lay around me in this complex landscape. Thus, I just went up and over everything that lay in my path. It was a relief, from a timescale point of view, when the summit came into view just under 2 hours after I'd set out.

Happiness is a Pain au Raisin in the sunshine with a summit view like this

A line of old fence posts had guided me up the last bit to the summit and a look at the 1:25k map told me that if I now followed them they would take me a very good way towards my second top, on a route that looked pretty sensible, and would clearly be quicker by saving me the need to navigate. Thus I kept them in view, whilst trying not to get too close (I reckon the fence used to have 5 strands of wire; most of that wire is now lying as trip hazards, camouflaged brown against a shades-of-brown backdrop). The only place where perhaps I should have forged my own path was when I went right over the top of one lump that I could sensibly have skirted.

Finally leaving the fence just before the final climb, I started heading in the general direction of the top (hidden from my view at this point) and had made good progress towards it when a violent shower of hail and sleet blew in. At least being a bit of a breezy day, none of the showers lasted long, and by the time I made the summit, I was able to remove my hood and fully enjoy yet more magnificent surroundings.

Now four hours into my walk, I had an imperative to make haste, which often isn't an easy (or advisable) thing to do on a wet, grassy, steep descent. It all went smoothly, except for the bit where I found myself cut off in the V of two converging streams, both of which were running in gorges, and the bit where I found myself bashing through heather. Incredibly, I managed to stay on my feet until I was back on the track at the bottom of the glen, and about 100m from the road, when I stepped on a slippery tree root and had my foot shoot out unexpectedly from under me.

I got back to Bertie just a smidge over 4.5 hours after I'd left and more than ready for a sit-down.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you are aware of the dangers of old fence wire.