Monday 12 May 2014

Counting steps

I was doing it in a series of hundreds. Well, I was counting fifty left foot paces to be strictly accurate, then pausing for a good old wheeze/pant/grimace combination. And it's been a while since I found a gradient relentlessly steep enough to have to bother with all that kind of, um, psychological motivation.

Beinn a' Ghlo, in case you're wondering. Specifically, the first stretch up Carn Liath. We'd been doing pretty well over the previous few weeks as well - Goat Fell, and then the Rannoch trip - but this felt like a different pastime altogether. It certainly felt like one I was too old and fat to be participating in.

One was also being overtaken more regularly than one is accustomed to, and that somehow adds to the feeling of exhaustion. As Andy quite rightly pointed out at the time, the first pair to flash past us were about half our age. I found some comfort there. That wasn't the case with the second lot, but he reassured me that they were certainly half our weight.

Thus, vigour renewed through the medium of shame and embarrassment - and the gradient flattening oot - we positively raced to the first of the day's three Munro summits. It's nine years since I'd been up this hill, and in fairness it was the views of that onward ridge that had stayed with me, rather than the misery of the initial ascent - this whole hillwalking lark requires a selective memory sometimes.

It would be idle to deny that it's an up and down kind of day, and I suspect the pair of us were swithering right up until the last moment as to whether we'd head upwards yet again to complete the third summit, but it's stern stuff we're made of. Or something. There had been no doubt whatsoever, of course, that we'd manage Munro number two on the round successfully on the strength of the name alone. It's the upland of the corrie of the round blisters. Or Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, if you want something that rolls off the tongue more easily.

Although there was very little snow left, apart from the patches hanging precariously to the shadowier sides of the hills, there was just enough immediately below the final plateau to give muggins here who was wearing his hillwalking gutties pause for thought whilst in the middle thereof. Sometimes you forget that snow on a slope is kind of slippery.

Still, no harm done; we were able to avoid it on the way down; and although I have absolutely no notion of when, how or why we lost the path on the walk back to the car, it was a top day out in every respect. In fact, the natural wildlife reserve that is Loch Moraig would probably in and of itself justify a return to Monzie.

In addition, given what we got up to this weekend past, there's something to be said for Munros that are less than a two hour drive from the house.


Some more photies...

Happy dugs

Carn Liath summit

The way ahead

Ridges, eh?

That's the thing about Scotland's hills - they get incredibly crowded.

Looking back to Carn Liath

The saddle/bealach between 2 & 3 that can be hard to find in the mist

Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain summit. (They're both on leads for the safety of other folks' pieces.)

Carn nan Gabhar ahoy!

The aforementioned pesky snow slope...

...which the dugs enjoyed enormously.

Carn nan Gabhar summit. 150 and counting!!!

And after all that, there's no denying that when you turn around, it not only feels like a long walk out, it rather looks like one...

Grand day altogether, invisible homeward path or not.


  1. That does look like a belter of a day out, Scott. You've brought back some fine piccies, I do like that "ridges" photie :-)

    Your outing certainly beats my latest epic - a wander down to Tesco and back. All I brought back was a pack of 5 choccy doughnuts for 6p.

    1. Ah well, I was at Tesco the night before to get my hill supplies, and there were no bargain doughnuts, so it's all swings and roundabouts!

  2. A beautiful trek. I'm envious.

    1. It's a great wee part of Scotland - the hills feel really remote, but they're within relatively easy striking distance of the Central belt. A good place to get big views of other parts of the country as well. :)

  3. I did this round a few years back and it most definitely is a looong day. I seem to remember the last one being a little dependant on whether I found somewhere to top up my water bottles or not!

  4. You're not wrong. More & more these days I remind myself to factor in water for the dug.

    PS - Watch yourself if you do Gulvain!