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, 8 May 2018

Sgorr Mhic Eacharna and Beinn Bheag

Monday 7 May

Sgorr Mhic Eacharna (NM928630; 650m) and Beinn Bheag (NM914635; 736m)

Distance: 6.8 miles
Ascent: around 900m
Weather: Heavy rain for the first hour, then mainly dry, but with variable cloud base.
Start Point: On the bit of old road at the foot of the glen (NM 97848 62920)

It's often said that there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. I've never believed that to be true, but today we conducted an experiment into bad weather combined with inappropriate clothing. The result was a miserable, uncomfortable climb.

The inappropriate clothing came about based on the last weather forecast I'd seen, combined with the day starting with all of our tops visible above a thin layer of cloud hanging in the glen.

Taken just as we set out. Doesn't look a bad day, does it?

With the benefit of hindsight (such a wonderful thing, hindsight), when it started raining within two minutes of leaving Bertie we should have turned back and either waited an hour or changed into full Paramo. Thinking it would amount to just a few drops of light rain (per the couple of showers that had already passed through), we continuted on our way until, about five minutes in, we donned waterproofs. Those were our lightweight we're-not-expecting-rain-today waterproofs, that aren't massively breathable. Plus we'd put them on over slightly damp clothes. Then we walked steeply and sweatily up hill. And it rained heavily on us for about an hour. I'm sure I have been that wet and miserable when walking up a hill before, but it's such a rarity that I can't bring an occasion to mind.

Things had dried and brightened by the time we reached our first summit, two hours into our day...

...but as we paused, just a few minutes later for elevenses (which we then rolled into lunch) the decision was made that we weren't going to be doing our third top today. Garbh Bheinn is a hill that is best kept for a good weather day (which, for much of the UK, today was; the forecast at home was 25 degrees and wall-to-wall sunshine. By the time we finished lunch, I was wearing four layers and winter gloves, and still didn't overheat on the next climb).

Our second top was so close that it would have been silly not to go up it. Alas, we didn't get any views from this summit...

...which cemented our decision to cut short our intended day. Such a shame, as the third top would have only added just over a mile and around 350m of ascent onto our day.

So, instead of heading onwards to do a circuit of the glen, we backtracked to the pass between our two hills and made our way down into the glen, where we found a very soggy path to lead us back to our start point.

Arriving back at Bertie I did something I would ordinarily never do when parked at a roadside:

It felt vaguely excusable, in that we weren't drying washing, just everything we had worn and carried today.

Post-Blog Note: it wasn't until 5.30pm that the weather finally came good. If only it had been like this 5 hours earlier:

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