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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 1: Lochailort to Oban (4)

Loch Beoraid soon came into view, beautiful and cobalt blue down below me. It is tempting to head straight for the path along the north shore of Beoraid, and many do. But I'd heard it can be very difficult going, and so I'd planned a different route - down to Meoble, up the Allt Slaite Coire, through the Slaite Coire into Gleann Taodhail and round to Oban bothy. From Oban, I then planned to take the river path and ascend Sgurr nan Coireachan (one of the Munros I had omitted in 2011), finally descending by way of Sgurr a' Choire Riabhaich to spend the night at Corryhully bothy.

As I looked for the path down to Lochan Lon a' Ghairt, however, things began to feel VERY wrong. I was approaching the edge of the woods alright ... but all I could see was tree tops, and it felt as though I was approaching the edge of a very deep precipice. I took a deep breath and back-tracked up, moved across to the left, and tried again. This time I found a path heading down ... which looked more like a deer track than a human track, but at least it was a track! I thought of the mountain goat symbol of the Ultimate Challenge, and followed it: and before long it became all too obvious that I HAD been heading straight for a rocky precipice with a drop of 30 or more metres. I shuddered to think how fatal that drop could have proved, and made a note not to come up here in poor visibility. But my troubles weren't over yet, because my track led me into a deep gully. I had no difficulty fording the stream ... but getting back up the north face of the gully? Well, that was another matter altogether! Eventually, however, I found my way down to the footbridge at the south end of Lochan Lon a' Ghairt, and headed North up the track to Meoble.

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