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 9 September 2023

Sgor Gaoith (1118m) Repeat

Tuesday 5 September
Start point: Allt Rhuadh car park, Glen Feshie (approx NH853012)
Distance and ascent: 15.4km, 930m
Weather: Sunny, soon warm, barely any wind on the ascent, and none on the summit.

An intentional repeat this time. Just a couple of weeks previously, on 17 August, I was robbed of the reputedly fantastic views from the top by low cloud, and also omitted to do the lollipop route. I said that I would happily revisit it.

When I saw Tuesday's forecast, I clearly had to go up a hill, and preferably a big one. However, I also had a lack of time, needing to be back in Newtonmore by 11am. Having already been up this one so recently, I knew how long it would take me and that I could fit it in.

I don't recall having ever seen a MWIS forecast as good as this before.
Stepping out the front door at 0640, there was low-level mist visible just up the road, but I knew from the forecast that it would be confined to the glens
4 degrees said the car as I set out. As soon as I entered the mist it dropped to 3 and that’s where it still was when I parked in Glen Feshie.
That’s better! My version of this photo on 17 August had the tops in cloud
The mist really was confined to the lowest spots of the glens
The motorway of a path that I paralleled on my way up last time
The view from the summit is stunning, with the hillside suddenly dropping away to Loch Eanaich below, but the sun wasn’t in the most convenient place for me to capture it (my photographic equipment and skills didn’t help either). I’ve bent it out of shape here in a panoramic shot
Summit selfie, complete with photo-bombing fly. There wasn’t a breath of wind.
Looking north along the ridge gives an idea as to how steeply the ground drops away…
…and looking back to the summit shows that those with vertigo will probably not be keen to stand on the highest point.

I dithered for just a few moments on the summit. Given my lack of time, I’d thought I was going to be forced into another out-and-back, but I’d set out 15 minutes earlier than planned and had been 15 minutes faster ascending than previously, which gave me 30 minutes in hand, so I decided to go for the lollipop. On reflection, I reckon the out-and-back might just have more merit. The lie of the land going over Meall Buidhe and Geal-charn means you don’t get the best of the views, and the ground is so rocky for much of the way that there’s more staring at the ground than the surroundings. Last time I ran back down the way I’d come; this time I picked my way carefully and more slowly. The final bit of the descent was the slowest going, through deep heather and long grass that concealed the holes.

Just a sample of the stony terrain.

Heading down, before it got steep

Even with the slow-going, I got back to the car park comfortably inside my deadline, whereupon I retrieved my missing bun from under the next-but-one car (I’d realised soon after setting off that one of my two buns was missing, but went on without it, not having time to go back. When it wasn’t in the car on my return, I had a little hunt around and found that it must have dropped out of my pocket within three paces of me setting off.). With clouds of midges in the now-busy car park*, I curtailed my stretching efforts and freed up my parking space for someone else. 

(*There was one van in the car park when I arrived, that I would guess had been slept in (misted-up windows), but I didn’t see the occupant. Thanks to my early start, I didn’t see anyone out on the hill until the final 1km back to the car, when I passed three couples and a singleton.)

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