BC hits her 100th in the Monadhliath
by basscadet » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:48 pm
Route description: Carn Dearg, Carn Sgulain and A'Chailleach
Munros included on this walk: A' Chailleach (Monadhliath), Carn Dearg (Monadhliath), Carn Sgulain
Date walked: 10/03/2012
Time taken: 11 hours
Distance: 36.05 km
Ascent: 2572m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I was excited about this weekend, the weather forcast was better than the past couple of weekends, and I was doing my 100th... A nice round number. Nae chance of getting off work on Friday so it was almost 5.30 before I got on the train round to Newtonmore. At Inverness, there was a chap in the waiting room with a guitar, struggling to play greensleeves from a piece of inaccurate manuscript so I got chatting to him and showed him how to play the easy version in a different key, and as always got carried away playing the guitar. A crowd gathered and I didnt notice until I finished a tune and there was a ripple of applause! I got on the other train, and it was only then that I realised I had meant to get dinner in Inverness and I was now starving
I left the Train at Newtonmore at what must of been about 9 O'clock. It was very dark, and I struggled once I left the streetlamps behind and made my way over what was signposted as the Calder path. The path was marked on my GPS, so I zoomed in as far as I could go, and blindly followed the line on the screen. After tripping over the 10th molehill, I started to lose my humour somewhat! The path led up to a wee road which led to the carpark. En route I noticed a 'no camping' sign painted on a gate next to a cattle grid. Not very welcoming! and by now I was pretty much committed to camping anyway.
A car came along the road, and aware that I looked very much like a camper, and assuming it would be just estate traffic at that time of night, I slipped through a gate and hid in some woods until it passed. Bad luck for me, it was a truck with a search light and dogs The dogs knew I was there and barked at the fence. The search light was shone into the forest and I was very still hoping I wouldn't be seen. It seemed an age until it moved on.
It wasn't far to the car park, and I found a camping spot well out of sight of the road, but unfortunately not very sheltered from the wind that whistled down the glen. The car/dogs/searchlight passed 3 times more. I didn't know what they were looking for, but I hoped it wasn't rogue campers like me! so I daren't switch on a light, but by that time the moon had risen, and there was ample light, even in the tent to make a brew. I didn't sleep well that night at all, and I got up very early so I could get the tent down at first light. I was extra careful to leave no trace I was there except the patch of flattened grass.
So at 7, I headed up the track toward A' Chailleach. It was a breezy but nae too cold day, although the tops were shrouded in mists. I met quite a few dog walkers at first, but soon I was on my own working my way up the glen.
I dont know if it was the lack of dinner the night before, lack of sleep, or the lack of metal (I forgot my MP3 player) but I felt poorly motivated and somewhat lacking in energy Before I would of expected I saw a wee cairn by the track - usually a signal for 'munro baggers this way' so I went down the stalkers path and across a very rickety bridge. The stalkers path continued through bogs moraine and heather passing many rings of hut circles and chambered cairns. It was absolutely steeped in history that glen and I could see why.. Quite bonny by all accounts.
Before I knew it, the bothy appeared before me'. I stopped to make more porridge and have another brew. There was an amusing anecdote written on a lone scrap of paper on the table, and a lot of people had scratched the their name and the date onto the inside of the hut. The wind whistled round the hut in such a way that it took quite a lot of willpower to leave and head onwards and upwards.
There was a steep section followed by the first peat hags of the day, but the path wound nicely through them and before long I was making the final pull to the summit of my 100th munro! The top was cold and windy but the cairn was proper, and I stopped in the wee shelter, ate a hot cross bun and put on more clothes. I felt like I should mark the occasion, but couldnt really think of anything apt, and with no views to be had in the mist, I just took a photo of my rucksack
I followed a path that seemed to go in the right direction, and was soon on the steep banks of Allt Cull na Caillich. Its a bonny wee boggy glen, with good camping possibilities. There were still huge patches of snow on the north side, so I climbed up through a gap in the snow only to be confronted with a peat bog of mammoth proportions I found another path, but it skirted round the bog, and after a while I was getting bored of heading in the wrong direction, so I set off across the hags, taking a direct route to the summit, scaring hares (that were beginning to change their coats) as I went. I grew up playing in bogs in Sutherland, but even so it sapped my strength and I was glad when I hit the line of fenceposts and a semi solid path again. There wasnt much of a climb to carn sgulain, and tapped the cairn, only for me to glimpse a second, larger cairn further on so I went to that one too, just in case
I retraced my steps. I had thought on the way up about just doing the 2 munros what with my motivational difficulties, but I didnt fancy crossing the peat hags again either, and it wasnt even 11AM, so I stuck to the ridge, and following the fenceposts bacame the mantra of the next few hours.
There were a few snowy patches inbetween the bumps, and lots of ptarmagan also losing their winter plumage along the way. The wind was negotiable at 900m, but higher than that, it was a real battle to keep moving in the right direction.
As I battled on over Carn Ballach, the terrain got a bit more rocky and interesting. I paused behind a big boulder, that didn't do much to shelter me from the wind, I heard a voice, and saw 3 other walkers going the other way. The only others foolish enough to brave the fierce winds. Carn Ban was a real fight, and up to Carn Dearg, I was scared of getting blown off the steep sided slim ridge but I battled to the cairn, paused for a photo, and got back down to the bealach as fast as I could.
My plans A, B and C for descent were all out of the question, as in every feasable looking place on the map, there was cornices and overhangs of snow, which in the warmish conditions, I didn't think were safe to traverse. I retraced my steps, investigating every wee path that seemed to head downward, but time and time again, the way forward didnt look safe far a lassie by herself I thought I would never get off the hill! but I found a place that I was happy with eventually. I was very low on energy by this point, but I pushed onward and downward, trying to keep myself above the scary looking peat hags on the glen floor. I knew I was a long way from the bothy I was intending staying in, but it couldn't be helped.
Eventually I made it out of Gleann Ballach and into Glen Fionndridh, but I didnt manage to completely avoid the peat hags I was in sight of the path, when I had a 'sit down or fall down' moment so I stopped and tried to eat. I didn't even have the energy to eat, and what I managed to force down came straight back up again when i tried to stand. i sat back down, dizzy and disorientated. nae good at all but eventually I was so cold i had to push on and it was only a couple of hundred yards to the path. I had come down an awkward route and had to cross the river that was rather large, but I managed, and set up camp at the first patch of ground suitable. Just in sight of the bridge I should of used I made a brew and had dinner and felt a whole lot better. A man stood on the bridge looking up at the tent for a long time. He was in a flat cap and wax jacket so I thought estate worker rather than walker. He stared up the glen for a good 20 minutes - Weirdo! Made me feel slightly uneasy though... It was hardly even dark when I fell asleep. I awoke at 2AM. I'm not sure if it was because the moon was so bright, or if my blisters were throbbing badly, but I felt refreshed, so I went and sat outside, read my book in the moonlight, and chain-drank cups of tea. It was really warm to begin with, but by 4, the wind was gusting down the glen, so I went back to bed and got up at 7 with the sun beating down on me.
The trek down the glen was both easy going and lovely, with many excellent camping spots. I'm not surprised they are anti camping there, as surely they would be full of campers all the time!
I saw a frog laying frogspawn in a pool - the firstof the year - spring really has sprung! There were a lot of frogs spotted in the glen.
As I passed the carpark, there was a red kite hunting, and a little further down there was a buzzard as well. It was a nice sight to see. I was back in dogwalker territory, and there were a lot of folk out on a Sunday Morning.
I arrived at the station with blisters throbbing, feeling like I should of stayed at home this weekend really. Nae views, nae energy, nae welcome on the estate.. Och who am I trying to kid, it was way better than staying at home
by mrssanta » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:59 pm
by quoman » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:24 pm
And well done for pushing through the dizzy and disorientated state.Ave had that a couple of times its no fun.
by gammy leg walker » Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:50 pm
by Bod » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:06 am
by laconic surf » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:29 am
by basscadet » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:18 am
Looking back on the weekend, the whole hiding and camping thing keeps making me laugh out loud at inapproriate moments.. I'll probably nae forget this one in a hurry...
by Steve B » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:37 am
by Johnny Corbett » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:45 am
by basscadet » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:26 pm
by 2dalmatians » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:34 pm
by pigeon » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:59 pm
by jonny616 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:11 pm
by dooterbang » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:16 pm
Well done on reaching the 100 - a great milestone.
You certainly enjoy the bigger routes.
I did these 3 in whiteout conditions and we also struggled to find a path down. When we did i walked across a frozen loch, not my finest moment.
I tip my hat to those who use public transport to do these hills