Sunday, 30 November 2014
Leaving the summit behind, I did not attempt any sophisticated navigation. I simply pointed myself something approximating to East South East (erring in favour of East rather than South East, on account of the rather scary looking outcrops on the map) until I hit the streams. Then I crossed over, and turned South, looking for a way down into the valley. There are no paths shown on the map this high up, and there were none on the ground. It was all rough, wet, tussocky grass with occasional boggy patches to relieve the monotony; but in time the going got better and eventually I found something worthy of the name of "path"; and somewhat higher up the valley than it is shown on the map, too.
In the bealach I found an easy point to cross the All Cuil na Caillich right near its source, and then I started the easy ascent of the ridge leading up to hill 908 and then on to Carn Sgulain, my second Munro of the day.
As I headed up, I soon entered the cloud, and visibility rapidly deteriorated. I could still see which way was "up", though, so that was all good. In due course I managed to cross the stream and angle across the face of Geal Charn, and then I was on the final ascent of A' Chailleach - my first Munro of the day.
My plan was to do a two day expedition heading up over A'Chailleach and Carn Sgulain, then along the ridge to Carn Dearg, before heading down to a wild camp by Lochan Uisge. On the second day I'd make my way along the ridge to Geal Charn, then down Glen Markie to the Spey Dam and out by road to Laggan. However, Ali kindly left the mountain weather forecast outside my door on Sunday morning, and it was VERY clear that this was NOT going to be a night when one would want to be wild camping out on the hills. So after a hurried conflab with Ali I recast my plans: I would do an out-and-back to A'Chailleach and Carn Sgulain, then come back in for a night in the hostel. On Monday, Ali offered to drive me to Garva Bridge, from where I could make the ascent of Geal Charn, then drop into Glen Markie and out by road through Laggan as planned. It would leave Carn Dearg to attempt on another occasion (probably on a Challenge, approaching up the River Fechlin and past Loch Killin); but it would give me the three Munros I needed to get my total to 50.
And it wouldn't leave me camped out on a wild and stormy night.
So off I set, up the beautiful road beside the River Calder in lower Glen Banchor, with the beautiful autumn colours bathing the hillsides, and a gentle rainfall spattering my camera lens (oh I'm SO glad I invested in the weatherproof camera ...)