Metres ascent: 1871
Time taken: 12.8 hours including 2.5 hours stops
No of Challengers seen: 0
No of West Highland Way tourists seen: 0
No of Day Walkers seen: 5
No of Backpackers seen: 4
A fabulous day in perfect weather. If only we'd had such weather on Sunday...
I joined the nervous lemmings and headed unerringly east. Didn't see any though. There must be some close by?
After a night without a breath of wind on the high balcony of dry grass with no deer poo to be seen, it was a shame to move from such a perfect spot, but I headed over Beinn na Caillich, feeling sorry for Gayle and Mick who had missed out on this a couple of weeks earlier due to bad weather, and back down to the deserted West Highland Way, which was a surprise on such a lovely morning.
Any lingering cloud cleared as I wandered along the track to the Mamore Lodge Hotel, sadly a dilapidated shadow of its former regal splendour. The tenants had left Ann Ansell in charge as house-sitter, with clear instructions as to how to deal with the 4 kg package left outside their front door a couple of weeks ago. If she hadn't been in, it would have migrated to the back door, but that wasn't necessary, and we enjoyed a chat over a cup of coffee. Thanks, Ann, it was a pleasure to meet you.
This is Mamores country. Five Star Walking Country.
First I met Sandy and Nadia, who were steaming along in the direction of the main ridge, until they paused on a bench to admire the classic view down Loch Leven, with the Pap of Glencoe on the left. Good to meet you both, I bet you had a great walk.
Then there was Elwyn, from North Wales, picking off the two eastern outliers whilst his son was traversing the whole ridge. Elwyn would need to climb just 52 more Munros after today to gain admission to that most exclusive of places, The Munro Society.
Four English backpackers were setting off to enjoy the ridge before descending down that stern prow of Stob Ban and camping near the WHW..
So, after nearly an hour with Ann, and these three encounters all within a few minutes, I was feeling quite sociable.
I haven't seen a single person since then.
My route to Corrour took in a couple of Corbetts and a Graham. Good exercise, despite the extra 4 kg tugging painfully on my (frozen?) shoulder. Anyway, it didn't really feel any heavier than yesterday - probably only about 16-17 kg today.
Boot prints, all heading in the same direction, led me to conclude that other Challengers have passed this way. I may eventually catch them.
They won't have shared my delight in savouring the giddying panoramas from the peaks I visited, as most Challengers seem to eschew Peak Bagging in favour of Glen Slogging, which has its place in poor weather, but not on days like today.
I reached today's planned destination, Meall na Cruaidhe, around lunch time. There were plenty of spots to camp, but you'd have to collect water from a stream on the way up. The Pap of Glencoe looked exceedingly 'Papy' from here.
Glas Bheinn, with a deer studded profile, was an easy ascent, despite the peat hags, and the Graham - Beinn na Cloiche soon followed. The views from these hills are extensive - my 1:250,000 scale map was handy for confirming the identities of various mountain ranges. Wonderful panoramas to feast the eyes. The unmistakable profile of Schiehallion has appeared to the east and will be with me for days to come.
With a prediction from Sue (thanks - v helpful) that a band of rain would arrive overnight, and encouragement from Notchy from his stravaiging on Mull, I abandoned a plan to camp near the bothy by Loch Chiarain and tackled the steep ascent of Beinn a' Bhric. It turned out to be easy and pleasurable. (Most ascents are after a spell in Ardgour!)
I debated continuing until it got dark, but common sense prevailed and I descended gently towards Corrour from the final Corbett, heading off to the left to reach this excellent nook by the stream in Allt Coire a' Bhric Beag at around 7pm. My knees and shoulder chorused "thank you for stopping" even if my head didn't.
A wonderful day. There will be delirious Challengers spread all over the Highlands as they wend their ways east. If they travelled high today they will have enjoyed giddying panoramas that will long remain with them.
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