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]

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Stob Breac

Wednesday 12 August

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After quite a bit of driving (for Mick, at any rate; for no good reason, I was battling to stay awake) and quite a reasonable smattering of stops for tea-drinking and meals, we arrived at Inverlochlarig, at the road end in Glen Voil, at around 2.30pm, whereupon we neatly positioned Colin into one of the free spaces in the car park, with no intention of moving him again for a couple of days.

More tea was drunk and another snack eaten whilst Mick watched a Royal Navy Sea King land about 100 yards away and I looked at a map, specifically at the Marilyn whose summit lay just 1.25 miles (as the crow flies) from where we were parked. The way I was going to take us up (and down) it looked steep on the map and even steeper looking out of the window, so I reckoned with a total distance of 5 miles and with 1750’ of ascent, it would take us around to 3 hours to complete the outing. Perfect then to squeeze it in before tea-time!

At 3.15 we set out and a handful of minutes later I looked at the map and saw that we were walking along the wrong track. Mick, very helpfully, suggested that looking at the map before we set out would have been wise, and around we turned. Trying again in the right direction, the extra distance from the error was soon recovered by opting not to follow a meandering track to cover the first 80m of ascent, but to take a direct line. The only downside of the direct line (other than the gradient) was three extra deer fences, only one of which had a crossing point. The fourth deer fence we would have had to negotiate anyway, and as it happened we hit it at a point where a section was down, allowing someone with legs about an inch longer than mine to step over it relatively comfortably.

Steep. That’s what the ascent was, although we didn’t really appreciate quite how steep until we’d visited the summit, admired the surroundings (really quite lovely!) and set off back down the way we had come. Jeez, that was a steep descent! Not in a ‘slip and you’ll die’ sort of way, but in the way that made the knees complain and the thighs scream (even after all the practice we’ve had recently on GR10 descents).

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By the time we made it back down to the track (the one we’d shunned on the way up) we’d both slipped over on the damp grass. In my case, both feet slipped oh-so-gently out from beneath me to deposit my rear end straight into a pool of water. The fall was harmless; the resulting wet pants uncomfortable.

Thinking that the knees would never forgive us if we continued on the direct line down the hillside, we did take the meandering track for an indirect return to Colin, where we arrived at 18.10, our appetites well and truly worked up for tea. We had covered 4.6 miles with the expected 1750’ of up.

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