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Thursday, 29 September 2011

A fine autumn day on Schiehallion

So I've planned my route, and measured up the distances, and made changes to take account of the problems I'd been warned of at the South end of Loch Ericht, and sorted out all my FWAs and one or two FFAs. And all that poring over maps got me pining for Scotland once more.

And it's a long time until May, and I don't even know I'll be there.

And it occurred to me ... well ... why don't I pop up for a little bit of walking one weekend?

So I took Friday off, and I decided to do Schiehallion because ... well, I've never been up the famous fairy mountain; and I'd been looking at the maps which cover Schiehallion; and I don't see any sensible way you can ever work it into a Challenge route (cue long list of comments from Challengers who HAVE been over Schiehallion on their way across, just to prove me wrong).

I nearly didn't go, because MWIS was promising me a cloud base of 900m with sporadic rain and winds gusting at 40 - 50 mph. But then I thought ah what the hell - I was on the 2011 Challenge - surely a wee bitty of rain and wind and poor visibility isnae gonna deter me.

So I spent Friday driving up there in the camper van, spent the night at the Tummel Bridge caravan site, had a good night's sleep, a satisfying fried breakfast (egg, bacon, sausages, mushrooms ... wonderful things, camper vans!) and drove to the mountain. I started at about 10.30 and took two hours to the summit.

And you know what? I didn't have ANY of the things the MWIS promised in their forecast. Sunny with broken cloud, light breezes, no rain ... perfect mountain weather. Although to be fair to them, looking around it seemed pretty clear that other parts of the region WERE experiencing the weather forecast (or, at least, the forecast weather ...)

I left my pack and my poles at the foot of the final summit ascent, and returned there after posing for a few pictures at the top to enjoy a spot of lunch. Then I returned to the car park, had a long natter with some John Muir Trust volunteers and the chap who built the wonderful pillar cairn at the top of the made-up path, then drove back to somewhere in the region of Musselburgh where I parked up by the shore, went for a paddle in the Firth of Forth (brrrrr) and had another very good night's sleep before trundling back down South on Sunday.

It occurs to me though that maybe, if I am going to do a weekend in Scotland, I should take the Friday AND the Monday off for the journey. Then I can get in two days of walking and maybe knock off three or four tops rather than just the one. Because, let's face it, 900 miles of driving is an awful lot of diesel to burn for the sake of just a single ascent ...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

My route for 2012

Well, it may need a little bit of tweaking and find tuning, and I need to check distance and ascent figures, and sort out the odd FWA or two (hopefully not TOO odd!) but I reckon I now have a viable crossing route for 2012 which allows me to take a day out in London to attend my union AGM and annual dinner. Not bad, huh? AND if we are blessed with good weather I may manage a High Level crossing. But I wouldn't hold your breath on that one. It only takes a couple of days when the weather keeps me down, and the total could drop below twelve.

Here's the basic outline of the route:

Saturday 12 May. Lochailort to Corryhully bothy via Prince Charlie's cave, Slaite Coire, Gleann Taodhail, Oban, SGURR NAN COIREACHAN (Munro #1), Sgurr a' Choire Riabhaich and Glen Finnan.

Sunday 13 May. Corryhully to Corran via Callop River and Cona Glen.

Monday 14 May. Corran to Mammore Lodge Hotel via Corran Ferry, Gleann Righ, Lundavra, Blar a' Chaorainn and the West Highland Way.

Tuesday 15 May. Mamore Lodge Hotel to Corrour Station via Allt Coire Na Ba, STOB COIRE A'CHAIRN (Munro #2), An Garbanach, AN GEARANACH (Munro #3), Water of Nevis, Tom an Eite, Abhainn Rath and Creaguineach Lodge. If I arrive at Corrour in plenty of time, there is always the option of a light out-and-back ascent of LEUM UILLEIM (bonus Corbett) while waiting for the train.

Wednesday 16 May. Travel to London on the overnight sleeper; attend union AGM and dinner; return to Corrour on the sleeper.

Thursday 17 May. Corrour to wild camp by Allt Ghlas opposite Ruighe Ghlas via Peter's Rock, Meall na Leitire Duibhe, CARN DEARG (Munro #4), Mam Ban, SGOR GAIBHRE (Munro #5), Sgor Choinnich, Carn a' Bhealaich, Lochan a' Bhealaich, Allt Tom a' Chogaidh and the tracks round the south end of Loch Ericht.

Friday 18 May. Allt Ghlas to Old Struan (making a wild camp beside the River Garry, just behind the kirk) via Allt an Luib Bhain, Allt Cro-chloich, Allt Shallain, Duinish, Creag a' Mhadaidh, Trinafour and roads to Old Struan.

Saturday 19 May. Old Struan to Loch Mairc via Calvine, Bruar, Falls of Bruar, Glen Banvie Wood, Ruichlachrie, Cuilltemhuc, Bruar Lodge, BEINN DEARG (Munro #6) and Loch Mhairc.

Sunday 20 May. Loch Mairc to Loch nan Eun via Braigh Sron Ghorm, Aonach na Cloiche Moire, CARN A' CHLAMAIN (Munro #7), Glen Tilt, Falls of Tarf, Fealar Lodge, Stac na h-Iolair and CARN AN RIGH (Munro #8).

Monday 21 May. Loch nan Eun to Braemar via Mam nan Carn, BEINN IUTHARN MHOR (Munro #9), AN SOCACH (Munro #10), Sgor Mor, Carn na Drochaide and MORRONE (Corbett).

Tuesday 22 May. Braemar to Glas-allt Shiel bothy via Glen Calalter, CARN AN t-SAGAIRT MOR (Munro #11), Carn an t-Sagairt Beag, CARN A'CHOIRE BHOIDEACH (Munro #12), Cac Carn Mor and CAC CARN BEAG of LOCHNAGAR (Munro #13) and the path down the Glas Allt.

Wednesday 23 May. Glas-allt Shiel to Tarfside via Spittal of Glenmuck, Allt Darranie, Shielin of Mark, Glen Lee and Glen Effock.

Thursday 24 May. Tarfside to Fettercairn, via Keenie, Hill of Wirren, East Wirren, Hill of Corathro, Little Tullo, Lochside, Edzell, bridge behind the post office, Bogside, Inch of Arnhall, Drum and Meikle Strath.

Friday 25 May. Fettercairn to St Cyrus via Dowrieburn, Mill of Barnes, South Barns, Burn of Malmakelly, Hill of Garvock, Sillycoats and Hill of Morphie.

It looks challenging ... but fun. Can't wait to get out there and do it!!!