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 12 May 2018

Creag Bhan and Sgurr an Utha

After waving Mick off on a boat from Mallaig harbour yesterday morning, I spent my day sitting in Bertie, getting rocked violently by the wind. It was about half an hour before sunset when the afternoon's rain finally stopped and I could see sunshine fast approaching, which is exactly what was forecast for today.

Creag Bhan (NM782846; 510m)
Distance: 2.75 miles
Ascent: around 500m
Weather: Lovely!
Start point: layby at NM 78353 83191

I had two route options for this hill: a) to follow the path towards Meoble until I was E of the hill, then ascent reasonably gently from there (2.3 miles each way); b) go straight up the south side (1.4 miles each way).

As it my tendency, I went straight up the side.

Looking back from one of my many short pauses on the way up

After all that sitting around yesterday, my legs really ought to have felt refreshed, but instead they protested. I even started to wish that I'd picked up my earphones so I could have a bit of an audiobook to distract me from their protestations. They did eventually get to grips with what I was doing, but only about 50m from the top.

Another lovely summit view

Tootling back down more or less the same way as I'd ascended, I was back at Bertie an hour and a half after leaving. That was a good thing, as I had another hill on the agenda, and I needed to relocate a few miles along the road, and to have second breakfast, before I set out for it.

Sgurr an Utha (NM885839; 796m)
Distance: 6.3 miles
Ascent: around 1000m
Weather: still lovely!
Start point: layby at about NM87303 81704.

I had this hill fixed in my mind as quite an easy one and I suppose, objectively, when compared to other Scottish Marilyns, there was nothing difficult about it, but it wasn't quite as easy as I'd told my legs it would be. That was made worse by some duff information in the notes I'd made leading me to choose the wrong track at a junction early on and then choosing, rather than backtracking, to just cut uphill to the track that I did want. The only real annoyance in the error was that I got my feet unnecessarily wet, which in the grand scheme of things (i.e. they were going to get very wet very soon anyway) wasn't that big a deal.

Once on the right track (oh, if only I'd looked at the 1:25k map rather than working from my memory of my notes; it would have been so obvious which track to take!), things went smoothly not just until I reached its end, but also as I made my way up to the dip between Fraoch-bheinn and Sgurr an Utha.

Looking back down the glen

A chap, descending, had passed me on the track, wearing shorts and with his top tied about his waist. He carried no pack. In contrast I was carrying a ridiculous amount of stuff (mainly covering the 'what if I fall, break a leg and have to spend a night on the hill, when there's no-one around to sound the alarm?' scenario) and when the breeze hit me on my final approach to the summit, I had to dig my windshirt back out.

It was still warm enough, when sheltered behind the summit cairn, to sit for a decent length of lunch break, in a state of great happiness with the views before me:

Straight ahead of me. The view to the left and right was just as good

My intention had been to continue on over the summit and make the walk a lollipop-shaped one by returning over Sidhean Mòr. However, as I sat there and looked at Fraoch-bheinn, it was calling me to go over it (something I could have done on my way up, but I couldn't see any value in the extra distance/ascent at the time). So, back down to the pass I went, then over the three lumps of Fraoch-bheinn.

Somewhere on my way down from there I crossed over my outward route, before rejoining the track lower down.

Looking over to where I had been...

...and to the descent route I had originally intended to take, I was pleased to have come back the way I had. The rockiness and steepness of my intended way looked much harder on the knees.

Arriving back at Bertie it felt like it was late afternoon, so I had to smile when I looked at my watch and realised it was only quarter to two. Given limitless energy, I would have taken advantage of the weather by bringing tomorrow's outing forward to today, but all sense told me it would be too much to be enjoyable this afternoon. Let's hope the forecast for the morrow holds true, as it's not bad at all, even if it isn't predicted to be another sunny one.

1 comment:

  1. Have fun! You are visiting some lovely hills. Hopefully Mick is having fun as well. I’m missing the Challenge...