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No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do


Postby dogplodder » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:55 pm

Route description: Fionn Bheinn, Achnasheen

Munros included on this walk: Fionn Bheinn

Date walked: 01/04/2009

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In 2004 gizmogirl and I set off to climb Fionn Bheinn with a bunch of medical students on placement at Raigmore. The cloud was down over our intended target so we diverted to Meall a' Chaorainn which was in the clear. There was much hilarity and heroic leaping over hags and bogs and we got excellent views from the top. No one was much bothered we didn't make Fionn Bheinn and I remember we got to the coffee shop earlier than expected to gorge ourselves on chocolate cake. :thumbup:

In March 2005 I made a second attempt with my son Doug but by the time we reached the bealach my fit young labrador Danny was limping and obviously in pain - so we turned back. We took him to the vet and at first they thought it was his cruciate ligaments but a biopsy and liver scan revealed he had an aggressive cancer which was untreatable.

Danny on Ben Loyal
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On Skye
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After biopsy
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Within three weeks of that climb, to save him further suffering, we had him put to sleep. He was four years old. We were heart-broken and it took another four years before I could face climbing Fionn Bheinn again.

It seems to me that like Ben Chonzie, Fionn Bheinn gets a bad press. You hear it said that few would bother to climb these hills if they weren't over the magic 3000 feet mark. I don't agree. Fionn Bheinn may be one of the easier Munros to climb but the views from it are wonderful, set as it is at a convenient distance from some of the big boys in the surrounding area.

Fionn Bheinn in the centre of the skyline (from Little Wyvis)
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Fionn Bheinn from north shore of Loch Fannich
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From south slopes of An Coileachan
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From Meall Gorm
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It was April Fools Day and gizmogirl and I left the car beside the duck pond at Achnasheen station to start a third attempt on Fionn Bheinn. We crossed the main road and followed the track past farm buildings to begin the trudge up the east side of the Allt Achadh na Sine. On that steep section I couldn't help but think of my uncomplaining dog climbing it when he was so seriously ill.... and I didn't know it.

This time when we reached the bealach we headed over to the right towards Creagan na Laogh to avoid the worst of the bogs and peat hags. It's true to say at this point it's not a very exciting climb, more of a grassy plod.

Fionn Bheinn from south approach
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But the views from the top make up for any lack of adrenalin surge in getting there. The summit trig point is close to the edge of the high corrie Toll Mor.

Faithful companions on Fionn Bheinn summit
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South to Sgurr a Ghlas Leathaid (cornice of snow still hanging on to NE facing ridge)
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North to the Fannichs
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North west to An Teallach and Fisherfield
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An Teallach
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Lochan Fada
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Beinn Eighe and Liathach
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I think gizmogirl's pics are sharper than mine so the next four are hers - which I use with her permission.

View north from summit
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Slioch, Lochan Fada and Fisherfield
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Beinn Eighe and Liathach
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Beinn Eighe zoomed
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The Brahan Seer is said to have made a prophecy about Fionn Bheinn, which unlike many of his prophecies is so far unfulfilled. It states that the time will come when a raven, attired in plaid and bonnet, will drink his fill of human blood three times a day on Fionn Bheinn. The day we were up we didn't see a raven, with or without plaid and bonnet, nor do I recollect seeing any other humans - unlike others who have reported the hill being extremely busy. Maybe it being April Fools Day would deter sensible folk from venturing on to a hill with such a threat hanging over it. :shock: :lol:

No ravens drinking human blood but on the descent my trusty hound Jack had a Yorick moment when he found a sheep's skull. Unlike some parts of dead animal he finds (I'm convinced Jack thinks finding bones is the purpose of going out in the hills - along with scavenging for scraps from other walkers' lunches 8) ) this skull had already been picked clean so I didn't immediately confiscate it.

Jack with his booty
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We adopted Jack from a Labrador Rescue shortly after we lost Danny. He was quite a challenge after biddable Dan, with no recall and a strong hunting instinct. So it was only after some intensive training I could let him off lead on the hill. He's a good example of not writing off a dog too quickly as he's now excellent on the hill - but his one flaw would be a continuing obsession with finding bones and eating them - which can have uncomfortable consequences in the back of the car during the drive home! :sick: So I rationed his time with this skull.

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We got Tess from the same Rescue six months after we got Jack. From working stock she had no obedience issues when out, apart from her obsession with carrying stones (has to be working). This has worn down her teeth so she doesn't get much of a look in on the chewing front. But she does love to roll on dead items - the smellier the better. :shock:

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It looks like gizmogirl is playing the flute - the lost piper of Fionn Bheinn
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An advantage of this hill is that it doesn't take all day and there's lots of time to visit the craft and coffee shop at the station. But the last time we stopped there (in September this year) it was closed. Does anyone know if this is a temporary or permanent state of affairs? It will be badly missed by folk travelling between Inverness and the west coast. :(
Last edited by dogplodder on Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby soulminer » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:04 pm

A sad story about Danny :( Glad it didn't spoil the joy of having canine company. Our first dog was a victim to Liver cancer, so I have a degree of enmpathy. We seem to have a remarkable amount of similarities :wink:
Fionn Bheinn is a great short walk with a fine summit walk along the corrie rim. The views, as you show in your photos, are indeed worthwhile !
Cheers.
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby Graeme D » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:44 pm

What a wonderful report - story (albeit one that is tinged with sadness) and photos. :clap:

As a long time lover of dogs in general but Labs in particular, and the one-time owner of a late Lab who also succumbed to inoperable cancer in her time, this report struck a chord. I have always thought that the ideal company on the hill is a dog, but sadly my current Lab Lucy, who turned 9 this week and is suffering from some arthritis, is finding it increasingly hard to cope with anything other that the smallest hills. You can tell she still has the will but the legs are not playing ball! And I had to laugh at your comments about Jack and Tess. Sniffing out and rolling in the skanky remains of former hill dwelling beasts are Lucy's party tricks on the hill too!

Oh, and yes - totally agree about Fionn Bheinn. A wonderful hill! 8)
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:23 pm

Always a sad loss when you lose your friend,thats the last two TRs where you"ve tugged at the heart strings DP,but another wonderfull TR.
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:47 pm

Had a tear in my eye reading that, but a lovely report all the same. Great views from an undistinguished munro :clap:
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby morag1 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:48 pm

So sad about Danny :(

Many of the Brahan Seer's prophesies came true - just wait, someone will soon post about having a strange experience on the hill involving ravens :shock:
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby dogplodder » Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:02 pm

[quote="soulminer"]A sad story about Danny :( Glad it didn't spoil the joy of having canine company. Our first dog was a victim to Liver cancer, so I have a degree of enmpathy. We seem to have a remarkable amount of similarities :wink:
quote]

Thanks SM. I've had a dog since I was 8 so never last long without one! Losing Danny was horrible and I've found the new dog never replaces the one you've lost.... but it helps life to go on and (like us) they all have their own quirky personalities that make them special. :wink:
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby rockhopper » Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:51 pm

great report to provide such a fitting tribute, DP - also good to see the views from this hill as I couldn't see much past the end of my nose when up here earlier in the year - don't know about the shop as I haven't been up that way since then - cheers :)
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby dogplodder » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:48 am

Graeme D wrote: I have always thought that the ideal company on the hill is a dog, but sadly my current Lab Lucy, who turned 9 this week and is suffering from some arthritis, is finding it increasingly hard to cope with anything other that the smallest hills. You can tell she still has the will but the legs are not playing ball! 8)


Labs seem to be prone to arthritis. Earlier this year I thought Jack (8) would to have to retire from the hills but Glucusamine and Chondroitin with Omega 3 has given him a new lease of life and he's back out walking with me again! :D
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby dogplodder » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:29 am

gammy leg walker wrote:Always a sad loss when you lose your friend,thats the last two TRs where you"ve tugged at the heart strings DP,but another wonderfull TR.


I've been trying to think what my second last report was. :roll:

Whatever it was I didn't mean to tug the heart strings. Sorry about that - I'll be getting a reputation! :lol:
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:12 am

Fionn Bheinn as a menace :shock: Most people consider this hill a boring quickie, up and down in a few hours... But how they are wrong! My favourite view from FB is to Beinn Eighe - my fav hill looks like a big white starfish from this angle.

I lost my dog to cancer as well, so I know the feeling... :(
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby dogplodder » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:12 am

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Had a tear in my eye reading that, but a lovely report all the same. Great views from an undistinguished munro :clap:


Thank you John. :D
morag1 wrote:So sad about Danny :(

Many of the Brahan Seer's prophesies came true - just wait, someone will soon post about having a strange experience on the hill involving ravens :shock:


Sounds a bit ominous - but maybe you're right. :wink:
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby Mountainlove » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:36 pm

Oh that nearly brought a tear to my eye as I had to think about all the dogs I grew up and who now passed away. Lovely story and it shows the strength and courage of a dog! Had to laugh about the bones...my old dog did the same...he would never carry anything in his mouth, but was determent to carry a sheep bone home for 4h after he found it :D
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby Graeme D » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:27 pm

dogplodder wrote:
Graeme D wrote: I have always thought that the ideal company on the hill is a dog, but sadly my current Lab Lucy, who turned 9 this week and is suffering from some arthritis, is finding it increasingly hard to cope with anything other that the smallest hills. You can tell she still has the will but the legs are not playing ball! 8)


Labs seem to be prone to arthritis. Earlier this year I thought Jack (8) would to have to retire from the hills but Glucusamine and Chondroitin with Omega 3 has given him a new lease of life and he's back out walking with me again! :D


Will bear that in mind DP and look into it. She is due her annual visit to the vet for checkup/boosters e.t.c. in January so will be interesting to see what they have to say about her. Strangely though, in the last couple of weeks in the house, she has started behaving like a 2 year old again, leaping around and dragging all her old toys out of the box. Maybe it's a new lease of life that comes with sharing a house with a runaway toddler! :shock: :lol:
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Re: No ravens drinking blood but a skull will have to do

Postby dogplodder » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:46 pm

rockhopper wrote: don't know about the shop as I haven't been up that way since then - cheers :)


It'll likely stay shut for the winter but hopefully reopen in the spring. I imagine they get a lot of passing business in the tourist season.
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