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]

Friday 8 May 2015

Cruach Doir'an Raoigh and Meall a Bhainne


Having waved a boat full of Challengers off from Mallaig, for their crossing to Inverie, off I set for my two planned hills, the first of which was not far east of Lochailort (another Challenge start point).

A well used (but soggy) path goes out to Peabmeanach bothy, and I had intended to follow it for a short while before heading straight up hill. That plan got modified when I saw that the hillside was the type of rough terrain that I had expected to find (but didn't) on yesterday's outing. Suddenly, staying on the gently ascending path for as long as could be considered sensible was the appealing option. Leave it, I eventually did and uppity-up-up I went. Well, maybe not quite that far, as this is a sub-300m hill!

It wasn't too long before the top was before me, and so good were the views that it demanded that I sat down for an early lunch.

That I, a confessed cake-fiend, had forgotten to pick up any cake to go with my lunch was a uncharacteristic omission, and it may account for why I took the direct route back to Colin. That route worked well, with only one tiny backtrack when I found myself atop a crag that didn't have an obvious route through.

The shorter return route balanced out the longer-than-intended outward route, such that the outing came in at about the length I had originally measured: 2.6 miles, with 1100' of acent.

Without pausing for more than a slab of cake, off I then took myself to my start point for my next objective (which I overshot on the first pass and had to go an extra couple of miles to find somewhere to turn Colin to head back). There I found a littered layby with the broken glass that looked suspiciously like it had come from two car windows, not just one.

I tried to convince myself that with all of the bikes and support vehicles coming past (the Scottish Six Day Trials were in this area today) Colin would be safe. It was with my boots laced, my hat on my head and my hand on the door handle that it suddenly occured to me that with 26 Marilyns marked on the bottom quarter of Page 97 of my road atlas, I could just choose a different hill and not have to worry about dodgy-looking parking areas.

It took just a glance at the atlas, followed by a quick look at the OS map to see that Meall a Bhainne was conveniently located, had a nearby parking area and an obvious route up. What I didn't notice, in my haste, was that this hill was the southern-most of Page 97 of my atlas...

To my relief there was nothing dodgy looking about the car park to which I then relocated and off I strode up the glen, where it came to my attention that there was quite clearly more than one Marilyn in this area - something I would have noticed if I'd turned the page of my road atlas. Maybe it would have been sensible to combine more than one in a single outing? But maybe, at gone 1pm and having already set out, it was a bit late in the day to have that thought?

A quick check of the map confirmed (by luck rather than judgment) that it made perfect sense to do Meall a Bhainne by itself. Thus reassured, onwards I strode along the glen track for a wee while longer before striking off uphill.


It was another rough ascent through great big beige knots of last year's now-dead grass (through which the green shoots of this year's growth are just starting to show), but it wasn't a steep one via my chosen approach. After four false summits, which wouldn't have come as a surprise if I'd paid a bit more attention to the map, I eventually made it to the right place and what rewards there were for me up there. Even Ben Nevis was free of cloud for my admiration.

After considering a shorter descent route, which I rejected for the unknown of the type of fencing I would have to tackle to get through a field at the bottom, I headed back down on a route vaguely similar to that of my ascent.

Back on the track through the glen, a hop, skip and a few jumps saw me back to Colin, reflecting that: 1) it had been a fine day for these two hills; and 2) I've been really lucky with the weather the last couple of days, as I wouldn't have wanted to tackle any of the last four crag-bound hills in bad visibility. Alas, as the day has gone on the sky has started clouding ominously and I fear I may not have clear tops tomorrow.

(4.7 miles, 1800')

(The piccie is a view from the first hill.)
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