Monday 25 July 2011


A single word title seems appropriate, because this is a hill that stands alone in more ways than one.  It's miles from the road, and its summit seems to afford a view of the whole of Scotland. Splendidly isolated, if you will.

The first bizarre fact to note is that some translations give the name as hill of faeces, and in a shocking coincidence, no sooner had we drawn up at the relevant layby to park than the Wee Black Dug was assailed by a fit of the dihorheea-hyhay. Most unlike her. She's the perfect food processing machine, usually.

Anyway, with that in mind, and the knowledge that it was going to be a richt roasting hot day, and the concern that Jorja might just dehydrate on me, it was with some trepidation on my part that we set off to follow the inch perfect walkhighlands route description.

As things transpired, the heavy going was nothing to do with the dug. This has to be one of the hardest "single Munro" days I've done. I suppose a sense of perspective is gained when you look at the book once you're back home. Ben Nevis via the Pony Track involves 4494 feet of ascent and 9.2 miles of walking. Gulvain - the minx - requires 4593 feet of ascent and 13.5 miles covered. The real problem though is that about 4000 foot of that uphill feels like it comes in the space of one of those miles. Steepish, one might say.

Most of the route descriptions say that on the upside, the views back down the glen open up quickly. Bollocks to that, say I. There's plenty of time to look at the lovely glen on the return journey, when you're not engaged in a battle with gravity that's sucking the air from your lungs and the sinew from your thighs. Zig zagging like a dervish - or something - still only helps a little. Make no mistake, this is proper "walk-up-a-hill" hillwalking.

For those of you who have dugs, it's probably worth noting two things.

1. If you take enough spare water - and a bowl, obviously - to see your faithful companion up the steep section, to the bump before the Munro Top, you'll be fine - there are a few (muddyish) pools between there and the summit, parched dugs for the use of. 

2. There's a big random ram that's currently lurking in the bealach between the Top and the summit ridge. The good news is that it seems to be immune to the panic-bolt fear that most sheep display when confronted by a surprised, excited dug. In other words, "it won't take a chasing". The slightly less good news is that it clearly has the wherewithal to compose itself and then launch a counter attack on the dug in question. I mean, on neither occasion did they come within 10 yards of each other, but it adds a level of tension to the day that one could do without.

Once you're up at the first Top...well, you're up. It's a fantastic walk (in the glorious sunshine, certainly) from there down to the bealach and then up and over the ridge to the summit. For the avoidance of any doubt, the descriptions in some books that the ridge "narrows considerably" after the bealach are technically correct, but even a fully paid up member of the Don't Do Narrow Ridges Club like myself didn't have any concerns about the thing when I was there. 

The views from the summit are genuinely almost overwhelming on a day like last Sunday. You can see everywhere. If I ever get two weeks to myself I'll maybe try and work out all the visible landmarks, hills, lochs etc. A great walk. My muscles are finding it hard to agree, but a great walk nonetheless.

Six hours driving, seven and a bit hours walking. Well worth it, say me and the WBD.


  1. Looks like a glorious day oot! I normally dislike putting in too much effort in the heat but those photies look enticing!

  2. Looks grand!

    I'd be right in thinking I could get a wee tent pitched up on the ridge somewhere nae bother would I?

  3. A tent would be the very thing. Either on the ridge, or even at the summit itself - it was flattish and not all that stony.