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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:05 pm
by DougieB

Mon 8th Oct – Day one (Nick’s Birthday)

The day started off with Scott picking up the various members of the exped from their homes. First was Gilly, accompanied by his snotty nose and man flu, then Nick and Sqn Ldr Gilling, who for the remainder of this diary will be known as Phil. Once all were in the vehicle the plan was for a quick trip up to Lincoln to pick up our final member, and illustrious exped leader, Dougie. I say the plan was because two minutes after setting off from the Phil’s house Scott’s mobile rang. It was his good lady asking him if he would like the walking trousers that he had left on the radiator in his house! After a very minor detour we picked up Dougie and immediately faced a traffic jam in Lincoln. Instead of facing a slow crawl through the city we diverted to Newark and were soon on our merry way up the A1.
Since it was his birthday and not a weekend Nick had provided cake, cookies and rocky road for all to enjoy, so a quick stop for coffee and cookies was made at Wetherby services, there was no rush. Back on the road and after several renditions of the exped song, Avenues and Alleyways, and a cheer from Dougie as we passed through the border into Alba, we stopped for lunch at Annandale Water services along with 100+ Dutch marines! It was soon time to pick up our final intrepid member, Mike, at Tiso’s outdoor retail centre in Perth. It just so happened it had a coffee shop as well so coffee and cake it was, after all we would need all this sugar to burn on the hills. We set off a little later than planned from Tiso’s because of Phil and Gilly’s need for retail therapy and the metal plate in Mike’s head setting of the alarm every time he tried to leave.
We arrived at Grantown-on-Spey at about 1720 and after a quick look round and bed allocation we sat down for dinner, which as always at Grantown was very good. The plan was to sort out individual admin then go to what is affectionately known as ‘Crazy Bob’s Bar’ for a quiet evening drink. As it turned out after going on a health kick and giving up the drink Bob was not so ‘Crazy’ anymore, much better for him but I must admit a little disappointing for his customers. A couple of pints and a game of pool later it was back to the centre for an early night in preparation for the first Munros tomorrow.

Tue 9th Oct – Day two (Carn Dearg, Carn Sgulain, A’ Chailleach)

Car Park @ Sheppard’s Bridge

After a hearty breakfast at 0730 our intrepid explorers set off for the first day of walking and duly arrived at the start point, the car park at Shepherd’s Bridge to the west of Newtonmore, at 0900. All kitted up, including our heroic support driver Scott, We set off at 0910 and as we left the track and carried on across the glen Scott did an about turn and was back in the van by 0935!

Gilly walking between snacks

The route took us through some stunning countryside and the herds of deer were out in force all along the high ground. As the terrain became steeper and more wet underfoot Dougie treated the party to his wildlife impressions, not sure exactly what it was supposed to be, a Grouse, a Ptarmigan or Mrs. Brown?

We reached our first peak of the day, Carn Dearg, at about midday. It was also the first Munro ever for Phil and Mike and after firm handshakes all round Dougie whipped out his hip flask and gave the first timers a ‘wee dram’.

Carn Dearg 945m (3100ft)

After taking in the outstanding scenery and lunch we set off for the second peak of the day. Having done most of the ascent to the first peak this was more of a gentle route round to the second. Having seen no one else for the whole day we saw two more explorers approaching. Our attempts to engage in conversation with hearty greetings fell on deaf ears and we were suitably ignored. A discussion then ensued as to whether our grumpy fellow travellers were English or Scottish. As our party consisted of 3 Englishmen and 2 Scotsmen it was unanimously decided that they must be German.

On the way to Carn Dearg

The rest of the way to the second peak was largely uneventful until we crossed a rather sodden peat bog and Dougie became stuck. Of course the rest of us, concerned, ran to his aid as soon as possible. Well I say as soon as possible, what I meant was as soon as we had stopped laughing and taking photographs. Mike eventually freeing Dougie and the rest of us eventually wiping the tears of hilarity from our faces.

We finally reached Carn Sgulain at approx 1430. After looking at both cairns to see which was higher it was decided to walk to both to be sure. A short break was taken which included a coffee or two, Dougie blagging more sweeties off Phil and Gilly rummaging around his rucksack for yet more food. Well it looked like a rucksack but in fact it was a portable food pantry.

Eventually we set off for the third and final peak of the day and it was at this point that Gilly, also now known as the monarch of the phlegm, managed to fall over on perfectly flat terrain, must have been an unbalanced pantry! About an hour later over poor ground and a bit more descent followed by the inevitable ascent we reached the top of A’ Chailleach. Only stopping for the obligatory photo we set off merrily down hill for the car park and wheels back to the centre. We met up again with Sherpa Scott en-route and all made it back to the car park at 1710. A grand total of 8 hrs walking and 3 Munros in the bag for us and a grand total of 3 Cappuccinos and 2 Mochas for Scott. A little tired and a little sore we set off looking forward to the evening meal and a couple of pints at ‘Quiet Bob’s’ bar.

Wed 10th Oct – Day three (Speyside Cooperage, Bothy and Snoregate)

The plan for today was to walk into The Lairig Leacach Bothy to pre-position ourselves for Day 4. As the walk in would only take a couple of hours we thought we would take the opportunity for a little tourist time and set off in the morning to the Speyside Cooperage.

All aboard @ The Speyside Cooperage

Watching people making casks doesn’t sound like the most exciting outing in the world but actually everybody found the visit interesting and learnt some useful facts about barrels just in case it comes up at the next pub quiz.

Mike’s not impressed with Phil’s cask

There of course was a café so coffee and cake was taken, it’s the law. Once Phil had bought three planters for Gilling Gardens we climbed into the van and set off for the Cardhu distillery.
At the distillery there was good news and bad news. The bad news being that the distillery was on maintenance and was closed to visitors. The good news being that we still managed to blag several samples of their fine whisky with Scott buying a bottle of their 18 y/o single malt for the surprisingly low price of £19.99, at least that’s what he told me to tell Di. Back to the centre to pick up kit then off to the start point to the Bothy via the worst fish and chip shop in the world in Kingussie and the Commando memorial at Spean Bridge, the weather was glorious.

The Grey Corries from Glen Spean

The Commando Memorial – Glen Spean

The walk into the Bothy was uneventful and took about an hour an a half. The sun was setting fast and it was starting to get chilly.

The Bothy was compact and bijou and people started busying themselves with tasks such as lighting the fire, laying out sleeping bags and cooking. That was except for Gilly whose task it was to find the shovel as fast as possible and search outside for a suitable place to have an Ertha Kitt. With everybody fed and Gilly 5 lbs lighter we sat round the fire with a small drink and chewed the fat and put the world to rights.

We also entertained ourselves where we went alphabet shopping for fruit and vegetables, the list was as follows: Apples, Blackberries, Carrots, Damsons, Elderberries, Figs, Grapefruit, Holly willoughberries, Iceberg lettuce, Jaffa oranges, Kiwi, Limes, Melons, Nuts, O’bergines, Pears, Quince, Rocket, Star anise, Tea leaves, Unnions, Vine leaves, Watercress, Xotic fruits, Yams and Zucchini.

I suppose you had to be there, it was much funnier at the time but now I’m wondering if the fumes from the fire might have had something to do with it!
We were all tucked up in bed by nine, but we didn’t really know why, although no one was going to sleep for several hours. Firstly due to constant banter and jokes for about two hours and then due to someone snoring like a walrus with sinusitis. It was that loud that it attracted a randy stag from the hills that stood outside bellowing to attract what it considered being a new girl in town.

Thu 11th Oct – Day four (Stob Ban, Stob Choire Claurigh, Weather abort)

In the morning several accusations flew around as to the perpetrator of the snore which was soon whittled down to the Snoregate three, Mike, Scott and Gilly. To this day not one of them is prepared to accept responsibility. Up at 0700 with people packing and preparing breakfast except for Gilly, accompanied by Dougie this time, who went to re-use the shovel.
Leacach Bothy in the clag
The weather was poor but having tidied the Bothy and left more supplies behind for the next user 5 set off up the hill at 0830 whilst Scott returned to the van for a day of coffee shops and Jacuzzis, what a great idea that turned out to be.
We made a steady ascent up Stob Ban reaching the summit through low cloud and over boulder fields about 2 hours later. Though the viz was poor and it was windy and rainy the conditions overall weren’t too bad at this point so the decision was made to carry on to the second peak. The going was a lot tougher this time, having lost a fair bit of height only to start the ascent again to the highest peak of the week, Stob Choire Claurigh at 1177m, with the conditions worsening by the minute. We reached the top about midday. We got ourselves into shelter from the wind and stopped for lunch, Gilly once again producing the goods from his portable pantry.
After lunch we set off along The Grey Corries Ridge more in hope than expectation. With the wind increasing and the viz and enjoyment decreasing fast the decision was made to bin the rest of the route along the ridge and plan a safe passage off the hills. We returned back to our lunch point, planned the route back to the van and made our way off the top with the ridge this time providing much needed shelter from the wind.

The rest of the walk off was long, wet but mainly uneventful, apart from Dougie managing to get one leg down a hole, joking aside for a brief moment we thought he’d managed to injure himself quite badly, but eventually he managed to retrieve the bottom half of his left leg and the long slog down continued.
After what seemed hours the van finally came into sight with a sign in the back window which read ‘open me for a morale boost’. Inside the boot was a welcome beer for all bought by Scott, I don’t think it touched the sides. Some people caught up on some much needed sleep on the journey back to Grantown and after a quick shower we all headed to the local curry house for much needed sustenance followed by rehydrating at ‘Quiet Bob’s’. Some beer, rusty nails and chips later everybody had a good nights sleep and the phantom snorer remains a mystery.

Fri 12th Oct – Day 5 (Goes home)

We got up, had breakfast, packed, thanked the staff then hit the road home. Nothing much happened on the way back, apart from a caravan overturning in front of us, Gilly being disgusted at not getting the largest piece of cake at the coffee shop and Mike setting off the alarm at Tiso’s, again! We said goodbye to Mike at Perth and continued on our merry way back to the highlands of Lincolnshire. A good week was had by all, time away from the hustle and bustle of work, out in the fresh air with free exercise and some male bonding was truly appreciated. When’s the next one Dougie?

Monadhliath Madness Walkers:

Phil ‘would you like a go on my pipe’ Gilling
Andrew ‘rocky road’ Gill (Gilly)
Dougie ‘is it time for a sweetie stop’ Bruce
Nick ‘no cameras please’ Petch
Mike ‘babyface’ Irons

Monadhliath Madness Support Driver:

Scott ‘I don’t f***ing snore’ Boothroyd

Diary written by Kenton Bankfoot
Photographs by Kirk Whelpington


PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:28 pm
by mrssanta
that was a great read, when's the next expedition?


PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:56 am
by gyles
Fantastic report, gave me a good laugh!

Sounds like you all had a great time.


PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:25 pm
by DougieB
Next exped in Jun 13


PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:01 pm
by mrssanta
oh no that's too long!