Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Friday, 26 April 2019

Wild Haggis

Wild haggis. Click on the image for a better resolution version
In response to Wuxing Nick's recent comment, here's the fleeting glimpse I got of a brilliantly camouflaged wild haggis, rushing through the deserted tussocks of Creag Mac Ranaich last Monday.

This was the ‘tail end Charlie’ of a veritable flock banquet of haggi, caught on my camera just in time to avoid it disappearing, unrecognised, into the mists of eternity.

It’s amazing what you come across!

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

20 to 22 April 2019 – A Trip to Scotland


This posting is by way of a pictorial overview of last weekend’s ‘Parcel Delivery Trip’ in preparation for the TGO Challenge in May, as mobile postings only work with a maximum of five images.

If you click on any one of the pictures, you can scroll through good resolution versions without being subjected to my commentary.

Starting with a parkrun in Penrith on Saturday morning got the trip going efficiently on a quiet motorway. Some 378 runners and walkers took part in the regular 5 km event. I had a good run (results here) then met with Mike P for half an hour or so, taking delivery of a package destined for a B&B in Blair Atholl.


Polly’s boot was full, but she wasn’t heavily laden as:

1. Our fairly southerly Challenge route doesn’t fit with the routes of other local Challengers, and
2. Certain individuals had failed to get their acts together.


After dropping off my first parcel at some dubious looking accommodation in Bridge of Orchy, I headed up through Glencoe and on to a fine welcome from Ali and Adrian in Newtonmore, the destination for several more packages.

En route, and as usual, I paused in front of Buachaille Etive Mor. The poor air quality and lack of a good zoom lens led to this very average depiction of the mountain that greets those entering Glencoe.


A bit closer, the hills above Glencoe Mountain Resort still hold enough snow for a few metres of skiing…?


Saturday's mobile posting is here.

Overnight rain didn’t clear the air, so on Sunday morning, after dropping the Blair Atholl parcel off, my cross country route to Bridge of Gaur offered only hazy views towards Schiehallion.


After a pleasant interlude with Eddie and Heather, whose fine accommodation on the Challenge will make up for any Bridge of Orchy deficiencies, the drive beside Loch Rannock was a pleasure. Here’s Schiehallion from another angle.


It’s a pleasant view up Loch Rannoch from Kinloch Rannoch, where the next two pictures were taken in opposite directions from the same spot. The bird life and red squirrel life beside Loch Rannoch was nothing short of ‘rampant’, and that adjective could also be applied to the loch side campers.



More country lanes saw me through Strathtay, with a package dropped off at what looks like a nice B&B (Dundarave), then on to the Clova Hotel, recipients of my final package. Clova Hotel, at the head of a long valley, is the antithesis of a run down hotel. Today it was smart and vibrant, welcoming all comers. It’s pictured in the distance below. I hope we get this sort of weather on the Challenge!


Polly’s load, apart from a bag of boots and the survival kit that goes everywhere, was now dissipated.


I’d booked into a Travelodge in Dundee by 4 pm, allowing plenty of time for a walk into the town centre. Desperate Dan was marching along in roughly the same place as last time I was here.


The Caird Hall and town square were looking splendid on the warm afternoon sunshine.


Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go into the new V&A museum. That’s a pleasure for the future, but the new museum building, next to the dock in which the magnificent vessel ‘Discovery’ lies, is a truly magnificent structure.



Dundee is a city on the ‘Up’, and visitors arriving by rail can’t help but admire the new station.


Strolling back up a hill to my lodgings, I passed a small park bordered by and containing a series of brightly coloured mosaic squares.


Sunday's mobile posting is here.

An earlyish start on Monday got me to a small lay-by at the head of Glen Ogle by about 8.30. The sun was shining on another hazy day. About 50 metres from the start of my walk I crossed a bridge over the disused railway line that now houses a fine cycleway.



My path was supposedly alongside a wood. The remains of it can be seen on the last but one picture. The wood has been felled, and not yet replanted.

Beyond the vague path beside the debris from the wood was a tussocky wilderness, with no particular objective visible. Hard going for a while. Despite it being Easter Monday, there wasn’t another soul on this hill.


As I rose steadily, the view across Lochan Lairig Cheile to Killin and the Tarmachan ridge slowly improved.


Eventually the northern ridge of Creag Mac Ranaich provided easier ground for the final stroll to the twin summits of that mountain. Those summits can both be seen in the picture below.


Not knowing which summit was the higher, I strolled over to the far top, which I now discover is one metre lower than the first, 809 metre, summit that can be seen across an unseen void in the next picture.


Looking the other way, there was a good view of Meall an t-Seallaidh, which we climbed last September on Cary’s final Munro weekend.


Back at the main summit, another view towards Killin, this time with snow streaked Meall Ghaordaidh on the left of the picture (click on it for a better image).


I then wandered down to a minor protuberance, at 772 metres, shown on the right of the next picture.


From here, a good view down Glen Kendrum to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’Chroin – Cary’s final Munros, and (below that) back up to the summits visited on today’s walk.



A straightforward walk down, with care needed over some rough and steep sections, brought me to this view of the felled forest and the lay-by in the distance where Polly was patiently waiting before continuing on this round trip of over 900 miles.


Here’s my route – 8 km with 500 metres ascent, taking three hours, with the second picture showing it in a wider context.



I got to Bacup by soon after 5 pm. Jessica kindly shared her Easter egg with everyone, after Kate had supplied some tasty spaghetti bolognaise.



An enjoyable trip, despite quite a lot of driving. Monday's mobile posting is here.

PS I hope someone appreciates this (though of course it's mainly for my own record), as 'Blogger' has been particularly obtuse this morning in its unwillingness to accept anything drafted in Open Live Writer. And it used to be so easy... Any experts in switching to Wordpress out there? I'll pay good money!

Monday, 22 April 2019

Creag Mac Rànaich, and an Easter egg

After breakfasting on some of the pile of provisions sourced last night, I enjoyed a scenic drive to Lochearnhead, then up to the head of Glen Ogle.

There's a small layby near a bridge over the disused railway that now serves as an excellent cycle track. Boots were donned - just as well, as despite the dry weather it was squidgy in places, and tussocky. I headed over the bridge and up beside a felled forest. Slow going due to the pathless, tussocky terrain, but only 4 km to the summit. On the way up there were good views to Lochan Lairig Cheile, with the hills beyond Killin melting into the distance. (Top picture.)

The northern ridge offered a pleasant approach to the 809 metre summit. In fact there were two summits. Not knowing which was higher, I went to both of them, the rare 'selfie' being taken from the furthest (but I suspect lower) top.

Views were cloudless but very hazy. The third picture is looking back to the summit ridge from an outlying protuberance of 772 metres which I visited on the way down.

There was nobody else on this hill on this Easter Monday. All I saw on the 8 km, 3 hour excursion with over 500 metres ascent, were a mountain hare, grouse, and numerous small birds like wheatears and stonechats.

There followed a five hour drive to Bacup, including rather longer than desired on the M6 in Lancashire. More the fool me for attempting to travel on a Bank Holiday.

Anyway, I got there in time for a plate of spag bol, and a share of the family egg.

And that's it for this trip...

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Parcel Delivery Trip: Mission Accomplished

The sun returned today. After a leisurely start from TGO Challenge HQ in Newtonmore, M&M's package was delivered to a friendly B&B in Blair Atholl.

Most of the rest of the day was spent on 200 miles of quiet country lanes, starting with those to Bridge of Gaur, with red squirrels running atop fences alongside the car, and numerous campers enjoying the hot weather beside Loch Rannoch.

A happy hour was spent with Eddie and Heather, in 'The Middle of Nowhere'. What a contrast with our Bridge of Orchy accommodation, where our room at the West Highland Sleeper (if the business survives that long) may not be the best, but was the only reasonably priced room available...

I left Eddie and Heather to set up an Easter Egg Hunt and barbeque, and drove slowly, past Schiehallion (featured in the top picture taken beside Loch Rannoch), to Dundarave, in Strathtay. It took less than an hour and a half. In May it will take us three days. Today I paused by Loch Rannoch and observed a wide variety of bird life whilst taking a call from seven year old Jacob, euphoric in his pleasure at having got a PB of 10.05 in this morning's 2km parkrun at Burnley. "I'd have been faster if I hadn't fallen over" he observed. Well done, Jacob.

Parcel duly deposited, I moved on to Glen Clova, where the hotel bears only minimal resemblance to the one I first visited about 40 years ago.

"It bears very little resemblance to the place I started working at three years ago" observed the friendly member of staff who relieved me of my last re-supply parcel. She was well aware of the Challenge, and more than happy to greet Challengers and store parcels, despite the up market ambiance of the place. She agreed that it was a shame for Challengers that the bunkhouse had been converted into steadings (hotel rooms outside the main building), but apparently the bunkhouse was unused for much of the year. Times change - in these more affluent times guests tend to want good en-suite rooms rather than the basic facilities of the past.

The second picture shows the Clova Hotel at the head of Glen Clova, and its backdrop of mountains.

The car boot was now devoid of parcels. Time to make my way to a Travelodge in Dundee. Great value here - a spacious double room, with all facilities, for £22.

The last couple of pictures were taken during a 6 km stroll around town on the warm summer's day. The Desperate Dan statue featured on these pages a couple of years ago, when the recently opened V&A museum was under construction.

I'd planned a restaurant, but couldn't resist the pull of a supermarket, where the components of a fine salad were sourced. Luckily, I found a spork in my luggage - eating using just fingers and a credit card would have been a bit messy!