Metres ascent: 1500
Time taken: 11.6 hours including 2.5 hours stops
No of Challengers seen: 4, plus lots at Clova
An early start paid dividends today. The birds were singing as I strolled beside Loch Beanie in the early light, leaving 30 kg man snoozing contentedly.
Lumpy tussocks gave way to easy paths and a short section of road before the gentle climb up Badandum Hill. The views from the summit were extensive, but the experience of being at the edge of a storm is my overriding memory of this summit. Whilst others were receiving a dousing in the middle of the storm, my waterproofs were on and off like yo-yos and at one point I had one wet and one dry side. I was truly at the edge of the bad weather.
The route down to the ruin at Kilbo was rough and slow. Time there for brunch. I could swear I saw the ghost of the Pie Man appear through The Glack of Balquhadar and pick his way down towards me. The gait was his, the deathly black tights as well, but does he have a blood red jacket? He was 200 metres away. I regretted not having brought my binoculars.
My brunch hollow by the stream was actually off the main Kilbo path, which I rejoined at the top of a plantation after taking a shortcut up wheel tracks that I'd misconstrued as the path.
Three likely lads appeared, coming down the hill into Glen Prosen. The third, fourth and fifth Challengers I'd seen. Bill, Alex and John, first timers from Dollar and Comrie, all in their sixties. Well done lads!
Another figure lumbered up from behind me. Steve Gough, who had only seen three other Challengers before today. He was heading towards Clova, but not by my Munro infested route. We chatted for a while before I left him to nip packless up my first Munro of the trip, Mayar. I've been up it a few times before, but after the stormy weather the day had turned out nice, so I just couldn't bring myself to walk past this nearby summit. It turned out that it was Steve who had been impersonating the ghost of the Pie Man.
"This is my 143rd Munro", enthused the young lady on the summit, "I hope to do them all within another five years." I looked at her more closely. 'Is Kylie really a Munro bagger, or are my eyes deceiving me?' I thought. Looking nervously behind me, I saw the deathly shadow of the ghost of the Pie Man...
"Keep off, she's mine" whispered the wind...
My planned route would have left me dumping the rucksack to visit Driesh, my second Munro of the day, then heading down through The Shank of Drumfollow to Glen Doll, followed by a long road walk down Glen Clova. This foolish plan was discarded. The rucksack, pretty light now, with just a few remnants of provisions, could come with me to the 947 metre summit of Driesh, high point of the whole trip, then over the Hill of Strone and down the broad ridge to Clova.
It was an excellent choice, avoiding the foot pounding road walk, despite some rather lumpy tussocks on the final descent to Clova, where the bunkhouse and hotel are fairly brimming with Challengers.
I'm sharing a room with Susan and Brian from Liverpool, and have enjoyed helping in drinking Big Lusty May's naughty bits dry with John and Norma, from Great Eccleston, who I last saw at Lochailort.
Life is good, as on the entire trip. It's sociable now, as well.
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