Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Monday, 17 May 2010

TGO Challenge 2010 - Day 4 - Sron a' 9horra Bhuilg (NM 988 694) to Mam na Gualainn - Life in the High Lane

Distance walked: 29 km
Metres ascent: 1066
Time taken: 10.6 hours including 2.0 hours stops
No of Challengers seen: 0
No of Day Walkers seen: 0
No of West Highland Way tourists seen: 11

Thanks, everyone, for your messages/comments. Keep them coming.

Nick - following your return to Europe (news that Stuart and Maria were pleased to hear) are you up for this (TGOC) next year?

Paul - the view from this camp site is to die for. It matches the one Sue and I had of Monte Viso on our IBR trip (go on - click that label!). You'd be very happy here, as well, Sue.

Susan.... next year?

Lyn - glad you made it home. I was wondering whether you would survive the ash. It was about 3 inches thick on my tent Glad you had a rewarding trip.

Alan - thanks for your comments. It's the usual score re Challengers heading east like lemmings (see below). It's actually good to have a few challenging days in the west and catch up with the rabble towards the end.

It was with some sadness that I escaped from the wild country of Moidart and Ardgour this morning. This is wilderness of the highest order, rarely visited because the hills rise to just under 3000 feet, denying them Munro status. Perhaps this is a good thing. They rise from the sea and are finer hills than many Munros. I commend them. But take your time - don't expect to move quickly.

It was t-shirt weather this morning for my 2 km descent to a bridge and track. Even that took well over an hour - there were all the normal obstacles, plus an unexpected cliff, to negotiate.

Eventually I made it down through the wet tussocks etc, past anxious wheatears and plovers, carefully avoiding the caterpillars and small jumping frogs amongst the lousewort, milkwort and wood anemones, all clinging on to the steep crags.

Lower down, more deer scooted off, whilst bluebells and lesser celandine joined the wood anemones in their struggle to fight a way through the bracken. Butterwort is also abundant, but not yet in flower.

It was a relief to get to the bridge and end the yomping for the time being. My progress east had been slow and needed some inertia. The main road to Ardgour is single track with passing places. Not busy. There were lovely reflections of the mountains in Loch Linnhe.

I took advantage of the phone signal and caught up with some of the other bloggers. Alan and Phil appeared becalmed in Lochailort (but have since resurfaced - bloodied but not beaten), and others seemed to be nervously dashing to the east rather than savouring the delights of the western summits. This dismays me - they are missing out on so much. These are world class summits with fine routes and views. Why dash past? This comment obviously doesn't apply to those who for medical reasons are faced with an extreme challenge in getting across at all. I thought about such folk yesterday when agonising about amending my planned route. That was easy for me to do, but others don't have such options. I admire their tenacity.

I discovered why they want to work on the Corran Ferry slipways when I watched a coach leave the ferry. The back underside of the bus scraped the ground, damaging the rear end.

A pot of coffee and a huge slab of chocolate cake went down well at the Corran Inn. My first human contact since Glenfinnan.

" Why don't you go by bus?" I was asked.
"My pass only works in England; yours will only work in Scotland" I countered.
A plan was hatched. I will become a resident of Corran. He will be resident in Timperley. We will get bus passes based on those residencies. We will travel free throughout the UK. Does that make us dual nationality? And what about Wales? Is it still a suburb of England in the world of pensioners' bus passes?

I continued on my way, along a short section of the A82, fortunately lined by a pavement. Goldfinches flitted in the hedgerow and some goats paused from their munching to watch me go past.

Beyond Inchree, a spectacular waterfall, mewing buzzards and a heron overhead, and an easy track to my planned camping spot at the edge of a forest. It was an idyllic location - flat turf in a sheltered spot beside a gentle stream. But it was only lunchtime. It rained whilst I brewed up. One of those annoying showers from an apparently blue sky. I'd just applied sun tan cream.

I continued on to join the West Highland Way for a few km. Easy going. I counted 11 (I'm sad like that) tourists. Most said hello.

I passed an information board about the Battle of Inverlochy. Inverlochy is up near Fort William, so this board is at the site of the retreating Campbells, defeated by the MacDonalds in 1645, commemorating the retreat of the luckless Campbells to the soup kitchens of England.

Soon my attention was drawn to the magnificent profile of Stob Ban, as I rounded a corner leading to the ruin of Lairigmor. Then it was a final ascent to the 796 metre summit of Mam na Gualainn, about 600 metres beyond which I am ensconced in this brilliant spot overlooking Loch Leven and Glencoe, whose mountain summits are arrayed before me. Brilliant. It's a lovely evening; I'll leave the door open tonight.

(I'm a bit ahead of schedule now; this afternoon's map will follow in the morning. Sorry about that.)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


Anonymous said...

"It's the usual score re Challengers heading east like lemmings"

This is brave. As a mere observer, unlikely to be able to apply for a Challenge place for another four years, I had not felt able to comment but British backpacking, surely is for summits and, above all, for ridge walks to wild pitches next to coire lochans. For pass walking the Pyrenees are superb. Go there or to any other Alpine range. The Highlands, with sodden, messy, tussocky, midge-ridden, tick-plagued going in the glens can't compare. Let's face it, the going on the tops, away from the block scree, is far easier.

Mind you, I have seen some impressive potamogetons in Highland paths.

Incidentally, the word verification is poomosse. You've probably seen plenty of that.

Paul said...

I can understand your regret on leaving Moidart and Ardgour. I'm yet to penetrate the interior of the region, having had a mere skirmish on the borders.

I spent two hours monotonously walking around a large puddle (in the rain and dark) at the end of a minor road near Strontian, on 31st December 1999.

Yes, I know how to have a good time.

This was a tactic to distract me from the cold, and the fact that I couldn't get into the car without the keys with which a person unnamed had wandered off on some mad Corbett bagging expedition. You know who you are *Julie*.

Last visit was on a ropy day Feb 2009, for a pleasant bimble from Corran through the woods to Sallachan and Loch nan Gabhar. Cracking outlook down Loch Linnhe across Inversanda Bay.

Beautiful view you had last night (to Kinlochleven and Ballachulish). When I walked up Gleann Righ a year or so ago (on the way to your lunch stop), I was in a foul mood -- it was wanging it down, the track had turned into sticky, claggie mud, and I kept getting passed by construction vehicles (they were putting in some sort of pipeline by the look of it -- that still going on?) I'm glad you were able to appreciate the beauty of the place better than me.

Have fun over the coming days. Looks as though you could be in for a spell of half-decent weather.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks, Paul. That a brilliant image.
Anonymous (there's no need to be anonymous) - your point is valid, but in truth many folk get great satisfaction from progressing along the ancient Scottish Hill Tracks that take lower routes across the country. I discussed this with a number of Challengers (when I started to meet them!) and the majority probably favoured low routes, leaving their hill bagging for days when they carry a light day sack. The act of carrying 15kg up a steep hill seems to present a psychological barrier to many Challengers, for whom the journey across Scotland is sufficient of a Challenge. Others enjoy a brief skirmish with the summits. Very few of us aim to achieve a sustained high level route.
It's all a matter of personal preference, and depends on fitness levels.