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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 2: All Dressed Up And No Place To Go (1)

Well, after the night I'd had, I didn't finally get out of bed until 10.45! The wind was still howling and the rain was still pouring. I had insufficient water to make up any milk for my cereal, and I didn't fancy going out into the storm to get any. So I just had a few handfuls of trail mix for breakfast. Then I dressed up in all my waterproofs, put my camera in my rucksack where it would be safe from the rain, and spread the waterproof cover over my rucksack.

I figured that it probably was not wise to plan on sleeping under canvas tonight, so I decided that I should only attempt to get as far as Glanpean bothy today. That would mean I had to make a fair old yomp along Loch Arkaig tomorrow, and I'd have to hope to get some mobile signal (or find a working phone in some other way) before Challenge Control put out an emergency call ... but this seemed like the best plan I had! So I made a further entry in the bothy book saying that this was what I now planned to do, left the bothy book open in the middle of the table, and headed out into the storm at 11.30. However, I did not get all that far! The river looked angry and swollen, and as I walked up beside it I wondered if I really was going to be able to ford it ... but long before I reached the fords, at 12.45 I encountered THIS little lake at NM 884895 or thereabouts. And I really did not like the look of the thing. How deep was it? Waist deep? Chest deep? Neck deep??? Neither did I like the look of the rocks to the right. There MIGHT be a way through them ... and I MIGHT be able to find it in the howling wind and rain ... and if I did I MIGHT be able to cross the river and continue into Glen Pean. But I decided that, on the whole, the odds were heavily stacked against my being able to continue through to Glen Pean. So I had my lunch and then turned back to Oban bothy.


  1. I'm getting nervous just reading this, Jeremy! Will our intrepid hero make it to his AGM?
    More importantly, will he manage to get a call through to Challenge Control?
    I shall read on....

  2. I have an almost identical photo. I must have been about an hour ahead of you. I scrambled over the rocks to the right which was easy compared to some of what I was to face that day. Yes, I pushed on into Glen Pean, but the River Pean was unfordable so it wasn't possible to cross to the track on the north side which leads to the bothy. There followed a desperate few hours fighting my way down the south side of Glen Pean with an increasingly painful leg.

    I'm not sure you didn't make the best decision by returning to Oban. There were times when I cursed myself for not seeking the shelter of Oban bothy, but like you I was aware of phone calls to be made.


  3. It follows from that, John, that the river WAS fordable higher up, enabling you to get into Glen Pean! I hadn't thought it would be!

    Out of interest, why didn't you stick your head in to the bothy in passing?? You knew I was in there ...

  4. The river (Allt Glean an Obain Beag) was no problem really, but I was an hour ahead of you I would think. The real problem was first the inability to cross the River Pean, which meant following the south bank, and that meant a difficult crossing of the Allt a Choire Dhuibh, and then an impossible Allt Coire Chaisil. To get round this last I had to ascend to point NM 947 888 - an ascent of 1000' into the corrie. Why not camp? Too exposed and the ground was sodden. Why not retreat? Where to?

    Having made the detour I made my way down to near the confluence of the Allt Cuirnean and the River Pean and camped. I was too whacked to go on and a camp spot had appeared. My 1:25000 map showed a bridge a little way up the river so I knew I could get back on route the next day even if the rain kept falling. Imagine my despair when next morning I found there was no bridge! Luckily the rivers had dropped and another detour allowed me to ford this river higher up.

    As for looking in at the bothy, I was camped to the east of the bothy so didn't pass it, but how I wished I'd gone there instead of Glen Pean. I'd started at Morar, done the North Morar ridge and dropped back down to the head of Loch Morar, so I didn't pass the bothy on either day.