Wednesday 24 September 2014

Sometimes you eat the bear

At 6:15am last Saturday, gazing out the back door to heavens that had not only just opened, but seemed to be doing their best to deposit their entire fluid content onto darkest Lanarkshire, the plan to head towards Glencoe and sample the delights of the Munros behind the ski centre was...diminishing in appeal.

If I had been on driving duty, I could easily have been tempted to forego my Weetabix, and settle instead for a morning chez moi and a leisurely-prepared full-on cooked breakfast. Happily however, Andy was responsible for transport arrangements and he's made of more robust stuff than me. Accordingly, a few local diversions and consequent delay notwithstanding, two men and one wee black dug arrived at the Glencoe Mountain Resort carpark, ready to roll up the hill just after 10. The skies had stayed resolutely wet and overcast for maybe an hour after we set out, but - as is sometimes the way of these things - during the latter part of the journey the weather gods elected to stick to the forecast after all, and the end result was one of the more memorable hills-with-unexpectedly-fine-views-days that the pair of us have had for some time.

I've been up Meall a' Bhuiridh twice before, with visibility rather limited, to say the least. On the maiden visit we never even tried to continue onwards to Creise; on the return (partly necessary because we realised we hadn't walked the last 10 yards to the actual summit of Bhuiridh the first time!) I can remember precisely nothing about the second Munro, or how I got there. I can remember the view from it, which was nowt.

It's maybe a combination of that, and the fact that these hills don't get a lot of love in the guidebooks - probably because the most straightforward route takes you straight up through the ski tow and chairlift clutter - which means that the extent of the vista from higher up genuinely reduced me to muttering "remarkable...remarkable" for a fair wee while during our summit pauses.

It was one of those days that photos can't really do justice, but that doesn't mean I'm not sticking a few up anyway.

Note to dog owners - it's a good hill from an absence of livestock point of view, but it's relentlessly stony and boulder-strewn pretty much throughout, and Jorja was certainly feeling the effects in her joints by the time we got back to the car. In other terrain related news, the ridge that forms the link between the two Munros looks a lot steeper/awkward than it actually is, and with the mildest of coaxing on a couple of big downward steps on the way back, the dug didn't have the slightest issue with it.

You can't really miss the path, one way or another

But lest there was any doubt.

Ah - cliffhanger!

Nose of Creise in foreground, big Bookle behind

Nose of dug in foreground, etc

Summit of Meall a' Bhuiridh

The onward route to Creise

Looking back the way

And looking back the way again, after the ever so slightly scrambly bit onto the Creise plateau


And once you're up there, it kind of seems you can see every hill in Scotland.

Even the full size OS map doesn't cover 'em all!

Heading back requires that you retrace your steps up and over Meall a' Bhuiridh, but it's no great hardship, reascent or not.

Once we were up and over that again though, the views kept on giving. A nice wee burst of sunlight striking the Big Buachaille...

...and then Ben Nevis finally clearing it's head from the clouds in the distance...

We had left Bellshill at 7:45am, and I was back in the house - and had a beer opened - by 7pm. Factor in those views, and that's a good day oot on the hills.

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