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My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs


Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:29 pm

Route description: Beinn Dearg - the Four Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean

Date walked: 25/08/2012

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It’s easy to be wise after the event. It would be helpful if I could be wise before it sometimes, or at least while I’m in the midst of it. Had that been the case on this I could have avoided the rather interesting, if somewhat embarrassing and quite idiotic end to this particular walk :oops:

MrsR was away with her sister for the weekend, so I had the opportunity for a two day hill walking/camping adventure. The plan was Saturday in the Deargs and Sunday tackling Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Liath Mhor, with a night at the Broomfields campsite in Ullapool on the Saturday :D :D The execution was, well ...... almost :lol: :lol: as plans for the Sunday were revised following the effects of the Saturday

5 a.m. Saturday morning and I’m in the car ready to head Norf :shock: Engine warning light comes on :thumbdown: Lots of sweary words :lol: Needed to fill up, so drove to the petrol station on my way, hopefully the light would go out on the way. It didn’t, but filled up and on restarting the engine the light stays off :thumbup: Disaster seemingly averted as I head off on my way.

Almost at Aviemore when a realisation popped into my head – my waterproof over trousers were sitting in the house, not in my day sac :oops: The forecast suggested rain. Oh well, how wet can a man get when he’s out walking. The answer, as I was to discover a few hours later was – very :lol: :lol: Thank goodness I’d remembered my waterproof jacket at least :roll:

A few hours driving and I’m parked up at Inverleal. Weather on the way up hadn’t looked promising, but toward Ullapool and things had certainly brightened up. Sun was shining and there was a warmth in the air :D Things were looking good as I set off on the long walk in. Land rover track was replaced by hill path as the cloud thickened. Shame I didn’t see the four horsemen on the apocalypse heading toward me, as I might have turned round thedre and then and saved myself my blushes later on :shock:
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View to the Deargs from the car park

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View to Loch Broom

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Woodland view on the walk in

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View of distant Beinn Dearg

At the fork in the path I met a family out doing the same route as me. We had a quick chat and I headed off toward Eididh nan Clach Geala (I was planning a clockwise, if ultimately not clockwork route for the walk). By now the cloud was beginning to lower and the tops of the hills becoming intermittently shrouded.
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Looking back toward the start of the walk

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Beinn Dearg again

I noticed the family heading up behind me, which was to turn out quite good in the end as we ended up walking together for some of the route.

All good going so far as I headed up the side of Eididh nan Clach Geala just before arriving at lochan a’Chnapaich. Some nice views at this point, even with the cloud.
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Beinn Dearg, but in the cloud this time

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Meall nan Ceapraichean in cloud

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Eididh nan Clach Geala

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Meall nan Ceapraichean and lochan a'Chnapaich

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Heading toward summit number 1 of the day

Cloud was showing signs of lowering still further and as we all arrived eventually on the summit any chance of views on this, or any other of the summits, seemed a forlorn hope :(
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From one Eididh nan Clach Geala cairn to another. Not sure which was the true summit so it was a visit to both, just to make sure

No point hanging about, so we were all soon off. I’m not sure if it was us, but the paths on these hills seemed less than distinct in places and we probably came off Eididh nan Clach Geala in slightly the wrong position, ending up at a small lochan a bit lower down than we should have been. No worries though, as we cut across and picked up the path onto Meall nan Ceapraichean.
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En route to Meall nan Ceapraichean

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Small lochan, where we took a breather and got our bearings

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Meall nan Ceapraichean and more great views

It was now drizzling as we made our way up. By the time we arrived at the first cairn the drizzle was becoming persistent. At the true summit I’d say it was definitely persisting down, so we were not there for long before heading down to Lochan Uaine and the routes up Cona’ Mheall and Beinn Dearg.
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Meall nan Ceapraichean summit cairn

At the lochan the drizzle had turned to rain and was defintely persisting. Cloud was now very low and the wind was picking up too. My companions for the day decided they would shelve Cona’ Meall and just do the Dearg instead, so we said our farewells as I headed off to do the third hill in my planned route.
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Lochain Uaine

At the Lochan Uaine I had referenced the map and taken a bearing in the clag. Unfortunately my map was starting to suffer from water damage at it set about disintegrating in front of me in the persisting rain, so was becoming a bit useless. In retrospect I think I should have headed toward the dry stone wall that marks the route up Beinn Dearg and taken my bearing from there. It didn’t take me too long to realise that in the cloud, persisiting rain and continually strengthening wind any attempt on Cona’ Meall, however easy the hill might usually be, was folly, so I retraced my steps and headed for Beinn Dearg instead. It was here I saw what looked like a path headed toward Cona’ Meall from the famine wall, but by then my mind was set on doing the three, not the four.
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The "famine wall" up Beinn Dearg

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View down the "famine wall"

The wind had really picked up at that point and was getting pretty strong. And my troosers were soaked. And to add to that joy my boots, which I know are pretty much done anyway, were.....well........done :shock: :( :lol: Saturated with water I was effectively doing the remainder of my walk in a pair of leather encased puddles :thumbdown: Despite the gear failure and the worsening weather the route up Beinn Dearg was in many ways the highlight of the walk for me (given I had no views to “wow” me on any of the summits). Lots of nice rocks to manoeuvre over and around and the stone wall for company :D :D

Arriving at the bend in the wall and it was a case of straight up toward the summit, wind blowing, raining persisting down :lol: At the summit it was a case of thank the Almighty, touch cairn, take photo and move on.
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Beinn Dearg summit cairn

It was at this point in the walk that the seeds were sown for my Bear Grylls impersonation later on :shock: I decided on an alternative descent off the hill. Rather than do the sensible thing and head back down to Lochan Uaine and the path back to the forestry track I instead decided to follow the “famine wall” down the ridge and look to find a way off the hill lower down.
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Looking back up the "famine wall" as I made my way down in my leather puddles

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Another view of the wall on the way down. By now the camera was suffering from a little moisture damage

I can well imagine on a sunny summer’s day that this would be a cracking alternative descent, with views out toward Loch Broom and Ullapool. I didn’t have that type of weather though, so I didn’t enjoy it like I might have hoped. I was wet, my boots were flooded and I was maybe starting to feel a bit sorry for myself as the wind gave me a bit of a “doing” on the walk down. Add to that the fact I could barely see a thing. There were though traces of path developing lower down, which I always take as a hopeful sign :lol: :lol: Walking in the cloud, getting persisted on by the rain I was sure plans for camping would be shelved and instead it would be a case of searching out a B&B (warm shower, comfy bed, telly and a cooked breakfast in the morning :D :D). Chances of finding a B&B, even in late August, were probably slim I thought :(

Eventually though (and it did seem to take ages) as I dropped off Meall Breac I dropped below the cloud :D :D At last, I could see where I was going :lol: And toward the West it looked to be a fair bit clearer than where I was :D :thumbup:
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What's this....? A view....?

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Meall Breac from my bogfest route off the hill

And this was where I had my lapse in judgement leading to my Bear Grylls moment :oops: :wtf:

What I should have done was aim for a drop off to my right just before Cnoc na Moine and descend, probably quite steeply but safely, into Gleann na Squaib and the forest track back. Actually, what I should have done was take the standard route down off Beinn Dearg in the first place and enjoy the walk back from Lochan Uaine like what normal people do :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Too late for that now though as I plodded on regardless, not stopping to check my rain sodden map :lol: :lol:

What I actually did was wander across the boggy, undulating expanse of Mointeach a’Bhraighe and descend directly off the hill down to the road. From the perspective of the map (when I had looked at it before setting off on the weekend :lol:) this had looked pretty benign. What I couldn’t see at first was just exactly what I was going to be going through to get back to the road :shock: :lol: Before I discovered that joy though I did take advantage of a quick call to MrsR to let her know I was ok and to put her mind at rest as time was getting on and she hadn’t heard from me for a while. I think she could tell from my voice that I was "having a bit of a day" :lol:

It’s hard to know how to explain what position I eventually got myself in to :? When the boggy plateau ended I started to drop down toward the road. Nothing too bad at first, as I saw the deer fence appear ahead of me. That lifted my spirits, as I knew that wasn’t too far from the road (I'm sure I could smell the sweet smell of exhaust fumes :lol:). It was what lay between me and the road that was the issue :wtf:

I was confronted by an expanse of bracken and large shrubs/come saplings with, as I was to discover a healthy helping of brambles - a veritable ocean of the stuff :lol: The bracken was waist high at first, so not a problem. Then it was up to my shoulders :shock: so a bit more effort was required. Then it was over my head and I was having to swim through it in order to make any headway :shock: :shock: I couldn’t tell you how many times I got tangled up in it, slipping and stumbling :shock: :shock: The same with the saplings (which were way taller than me), as I plunged right through them too. It was a hell of an effort to wade through the stuff. Before I launched myself into the stuff I was thinking I was an idiot to attempt it :lol: And as I struggled through it I knew I was an idiot for doing it :lol: And if you could have seen me doing it, you’d have thought I was an idiot too :lol: Bear Grylls though.........he’d have been well impressed :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Was I really coming down through this!!!!!

Eventually I fell out of the trees and bracken and arrived at an old track. What a sight for sore eyes (and arms and legs) that was :D Headed off to my left, over an old bridge where a right fork took me off toward the road. I could see it, but it was a short walk before I was eventually back on the tarmac :D If I could have bent down I would have kissed the stuff :D , but I wasn’t convinced I would have been able to get back up again :lol: I had the same feeling of euphoria as I clapped eyes on my car :D :D Engine warning light and all :shock:

Driving into Ullapool and it was clear there was no chance of a B&B, so camping it would be. To be fair the weather was much milder in the town as I pulled into the Broomfield campsite and pitched the tent. I know some people (pigeon :lol:) think the 20p for the use of the shower is a scandal, but to me, on that day, it was the best 20p I have spent in a long, long, time :D :D Any plans for a few beers in the evening were soon shelved as my head hit the inflatable pillow and the Zzzzzz’s started soon after :lol: :lol:

It was a shame about the weather overall on the day and the fact it was only three out of the four hills completed. But my judgement on the descent was the main downer for me. I got it completely wrong. That was most definitely not a route down I would recommend to anyone :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: Except the similarly insane perhaps :lol: :lol:

Anyhoo (as MrsR would say), I have an excuse to return on a bright sunny day to right the wrongs and do all four :D :D :D :D
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby simon-b » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:17 pm

Great report, Peter. I'm sure the tale of the descent was more fun to write than to experience! In March, I was lucky enough to be in Scotland when you had those few days of excellent weather and did these four hills then. I hope you get to Cona' Mheall soon, preferably dry and with a view.
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby pigeon » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:38 pm

I bet that was the actual best 20p ever spent pete after that adventure :lol: Pity about Cona' Meall but sometimes it's not to be.Another great report pete well done :clap: :thumbup:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby kevsbald » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:53 pm

Hi Pete,

I did the four yesterday and had a great day :wink: . I looked at the route of the wall and thought it looked fine until it ended. I can only imagine you cursing as you cut a swathe through the jungle!

K
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby rockhopper » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:44 pm

Pity you didn't get the weather as there are some great views over to Loch Broom, Seana Bhraigh and Loch Tuath. You don't half like a challenge ! :wink: I'd wondered about following the wall but very glad I didn't now having read your WR ! Hope you get better weather when you return Pete - cheers :)
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby tomyboy73 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:58 pm

196 munros and still getting lost, there`s hope for us all yet ! :lol: well done, still 3 munros on a bad weather day. like you say it is character building, and damn funny to read too :lol: must remember to take a big knife or scythe whenever i venture up there. :clap:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:02 pm

simon-b wrote:Great report, Peter. I'm sure the tale of the descent was more fun to write than to experience! In March, I was lucky enough to be in Scotland when you had those few days of excellent weather and did these four hills then. I hope you get to Cona' Mheall soon, preferably dry and with a view.


Cheers simon-b. I'll definitely be watching the weather reports for when I return, so I get the views from these hills.
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:06 pm

pigeon wrote:I bet that was the actual best 20p ever spent pete after that adventure :lol: Pity about Cona' Meall but sometimes it's not to be.Another great report pete well done :clap: :thumbup:


Cheers pigeon. Had the water coming out that shower as hot as it would go, just to get some warmth into me :lol: When the weather came in the nature of the day changed completely. Made for a tough end, but overall still a good day out :D Better a soaking in the Deargs than stuck in doors :lol:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby pollyh33 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:10 pm

Pete, I'm so glad I waited until I got home from work to read this report in peace, this is definitely (like all your reports) to be read and re-read.

When you first said that you had company, I relaxed a bit and thought 'whatever Pete suffers, at least he won't have to do it alone :D ' but alas it didn't work out that way :( :(

Can you imagine the look on someone's face if they had seen you crashing through the folliage onto the road :shock: :shock: :lol: It would have been priceless!!!


And you wonder why Mrs R worries about you........
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:11 pm

kevsbald wrote:Hi Pete,

I did the four yesterday and had a great day :wink: . I looked at the route of the wall and thought it looked fine until it ended. I can only imagine you cursing as you cut a swathe through the jungle!

K


Thanks kev. The route down the wall was not that bad, well what I could see of it :lol: A drop off to the right once down onto the bog and the end to the day would have been easy (or easier at least) as I'd have been back on the original path back to the car. As for the cursing........my old mother would have been washing my mouth out with soap :lol:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:14 pm

rockhopper wrote:Pity you didn't get the weather as there are some great views over to Loch Broom, Seana Bhraigh and Loch Tuath. You don't half like a challenge ! :wink: I'd wondered about following the wall but very glad I didn't now having read your WR ! Hope you get better weather when you return Pete - cheers :)


Cheers rockhopper. Challenge is certainly good :lol: I now have an occasional walking partner and he is fast discovering I sometimes choose to ignore standard descent routes :lol:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:19 pm

tomyboy73 wrote:196 munros and still getting lost, there`s hope for us all yet ! :lol: well done, still 3 munros on a bad weather day. like you say it is character building, and damn funny to read too :lol: must remember to take a big knife or scythe whenever i venture up there. :clap:


Temporarily misplaced tomyboy. It's temporarily misplaced :lol: :lol: To be "lost" is to be clueless where you are or how to get back to where you should be. Temporarily misplaced is to not be where you probably should be, but know where you are and how to get where you should be :lol: In this case it also included knowing where I was, but wondering what had possessed me to think what I was doing was anything like a good idea :lol:

As for the scythe. No need, I've already created the path for others to follow :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby PeteR » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:31 pm

pollyh33 wrote:Pete, I'm so glad I waited until I got home from work to read this report in peace, this is definitely (like all your reports) to be read and re-read.

When you first said that you had company, I relaxed a bit and thought 'whatever Pete suffers, at least he won't have to do it alone :D ' but alas it didn't work out that way :( :(

Can you imagine the look on someone's face if they had seen you crashing through the folliage onto the road :shock: :shock: :lol: It would have been priceless!!!


And you wonder why Mrs R worries about you........


Thanks polly. It was lucky I walked through the bracken in a straight line, or else I could still be there trying to find my way out :lol: A little adventure on the way down though is always good, although even I was looking at the ocean of fern in front of me and thinking it probably wasn't the most sensible choice on my part :lol:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby ChrisW » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:19 pm

Great report Pete, but man...this sounds absolutely bloody miserable :shock: the only consolation was that I thought when you said 'Bear Grylls moment' you meant you had decided to drink your own p*** :lol: :lol: I'm glad that wasn't the case mate...and from what I've just read you got a great day on Sunday so at least you go some reward for you determination :clap:
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Re: My Bear Grylls moment on the “character building” Deargs

Postby laconic surf » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:29 am

Such is the life of pioneering new routes - sometimes you discover a lost valley, sometimes you discover 7ft of wet bracken :lol:
Great report Pete, nice one 8)
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