Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Thursday, 14 May 2009

TGO Challenge 2009 - Day 6 - Heathery camp to Lumpy Camp by Allt Crunachdain at 430 metres - Arctic Winds on Creag Meagaidh

Distance walked: 21.9 km
Metres ascent: 1289
Time taken including 1 hour 20 min stops: 8 hrs 35 mins
No of People encountered: One day walker from Geordie Land

We woke to clear blue skies - the day was cloudless

We thought we had found a calm spot for lunch. Tea had been brewed and I'd succeeded in opening my small can of mackerel with hot chilli sauce with only a minimal amount of the inevitable spray from the peel-top container. My spork hovered as I held back the saliva.

Suddenly, half the mackerel jumped out of the can and ran down my leg. The chilli sauce tried to follow.

A sudden gust of wind had given the last laugh to the dead fish.

Sue stood up in surprise. Her sitmat blew away...

Luckily we saw only one other person today. He didn't comment on the smell. Some washing will need to be done when we reach Dalwhinnie tomorrow.

The chap we met said it was 't-shirts and shorts weather down below', so we suppose most Challengers will be complaining of the heat. After all, the sun has been beaming all day from a clear blue sky - and it's dazzling me as I write this from the library at the back of the tent - we are pitched in exactly the same direction as yesterday; the wind hasn't changed.

But we spent over 7 hours today on Creag Meagaidh's gusty 16 km ridge - mostly over 1000 metres. Gloves and windproofs were needed for all of that, and anyone spying on us might have put money on us being afflicted by 'TGO Challenge Syndrome' (an affection for whisky).

Sue enjoys temporary respite from the wind on Beinn a' Chaorainn

Above: on the summit of Creag Meagaidh

Below: taking a breather in the most comfortable position available, anchored by my rucksack

Both our right shoulders now hurt from the constant efforts of the wind trying to drag the rucksacks off our backs to our left!

We took, with some difficulty, a blog photo on the main summit. Moments later we lost the signal for the day, so the image should appear at around about the time of this posting. N'ere mind, we are doing our best, and it's not a very good image anyway.

Today's views were fabulous. The visibility remains excellent, with the Cairngorms beckoning and the summits of Knoydart now looking quite distant amongst an array of peaks to our west.

With 4 Munros on this fine (and thankfully broad, given today's wind) ridge has more than doubled our tally to 7 - we couldn't have Gayle and Mick out climbing us, could we? Though we stand aside in admiration for people like Heather, whose impressive tally makes ours seem paltry. We also admire 'low level' Challengers like Carole and Judith, whose challenge is simply to enjoy a two week holiday walking across Scotland. And there are folk like Ian, who will be straining to cross the country despite debilitating ailments.

At least our debilitating ailment today, the wind, was self afflicted and temporary.

The wildlife was mainly hiding from the wind, but there was a bumble bee on the ridge (we've seen a few ridge loving bumble bees!) some busy small birds - wheatears, pipits and the like - and lots of deer, even on the ridge. It was disappointing to see some dashing away from our camping spot (we are camped more or less exactly as planned), and we have already seen a few ticks here, mostly drowned in the soup (the same as last night's) "to add extra protein" says the chef.

Quite a bit of snow was encountered, some hard, some soft and deep. I struggled to escape from one drift. Some was mobile - it seemed as if unseen people were chucking snowballs at us from below the cornices - it was sharp and stinging...

We managed this particular obstacle without too much difficulty!

The only Challenger we had any contact with today was Heather T-S, with a 'lonely in Fort Augustus, where is everyone?' message sent last night. Sorry we couldn't be there Heather - we recall a jolly get together there last year.

We still have no word from Darren, Markus and John. Hope they are ok.

Our campsite down at 430 metres is warm and luxurious, in the lee of the wind by a babbling brook with sun early and late.

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