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Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach


Postby Mountainlove » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:30 pm

Route description: Meall Ghaordaidh from Glen Lochay

Munros included on this walk: Meall Ghaordaidh

Date walked: 12/01/2013

Time taken: 4.25 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 885m

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I had suffered from the worst possible illness over the festive season, which can hit any hill walker at any time and is rather serious. :shock: :shock: :shock: The illness called 'I actually cant be bothered to climb a hill- or simply 'Hill Flu':shock: . It had confused me and worried me greatly :( :( ...this has never happened before! Why on earth did I actually preferred a weekend at home...or shock horror a day in the sales, apart from driving up north to bag a Munro. This was so not like me and a horrendeous thought had crossed my mind ...could I be actually fed up with hill walking? :shock: :shock: :shock:

With sweaty palm I picked up my Munro book, to find a cure (hill) which might tempt me out of this horrible illness, but no picture managed to help.

So there was only one way to treat this illness...except it and don’t fight against it. I stayed home and spend time with my neglected friends, ok I probably confused them more than anything else, when I phoned them on sunny Saturdays and asked if they had time...after all hill walkers are never home on sunny Saturdays!
That was followed by going shopping on boxing day (Oh god how much I forgot how busy Glasgow can get - my last time in the city was actually a year ago), but at least I picked up some good bargains and realized the 35l rucksack I had drooled over online, was actually uncomfortable on my back. I even spend sunny days watching movies and reading books. But the thought what on earth could have happened to my love to the outdoors still worried me a lot!

As with any kind of illness the symptoms passed exactly 4 weeks after they started.
The lovely feeling of itchy feed, obsessive reading of Munro books, hours spend looking at old photos of hills, dreaming of mountains, the urge to finally wash and waterproof my gear ,finally returned
and there was nothing which was going to stop me to head up north again

Unfortunately as with any illness, I was vary and a bit worried. Would I still feel the same on the hills?
During summer I had kept a few of the closer and single standing Munros for the short winter months. As Marco wanted to join me, his only requirement had been, that I would not choose anything over 8h and with the memory of my 'illness' I decided to give Meall Ghaordaidh a go. A short and simple walk and only 2h drive away from home.

The 2h drive was more wishful thinking, as a number of busses on windy roads made it impossible to overtake and added another 45min to my journey. :? :roll: :( Having left rather late for winter we were ready to walk up the hill by 10:55...my latest winter start ever!

When we set off along the wide farm track the views weren’t the greatest ones. In fact I had no clue which mountain we were supposed to climb, as I had refused to look at the walk description and map.
A quick glance on the GPS showed me the direction I was supposed to head, but thick clouds covered the hill, so any advance planing was out of the window. We decided to follow the wide farm track as far as possible and turn left when we reached the rivers.
I realized later that there should have been a path, but somehow I never found the start, but it did not really mattered, as the other way was equally great and at least a bit of map (GPS) reading was required (always good practice)

We walked along the burn and by the time we were half way up, the vegetation started to freeze over. A wonderful display of frozen water droplets hung from the grass and made me pick a bunch until they melted in my hand. Huge boulders were scattered on grassy fields and as a bit of story telling is a great way to pass time I told Marco the story of Angus McCumhachdach and the large boulder.

Angus McCumhachdach and the boulder

During the summer of 1648, Angus Mc McCumhachdach had married the lovely Flora and as a sign for his undying love to her, he had carried a boulder single handed off the mountain and placed it outside their home. Flora who was so impressed with the token of love (she finally had a place to attach her washing line to), went up the mountain, to find a matching stone for Angus. Unfortunately, while carrying another boulder under her arm, she realized she was late for the annual porridge making competition in Killin. As she was close to their home, she placed the boulder in such an angle, that it could be seen from their bedroom window. When Angus got home and saw the boulder in the distance, he was overjoyed as he had needed a target for his bow and arrows and thought it was a lovely thought of dear Flora, to keep it at such great distance (she obviously did not daubt his skill with the arrow....and needless to say another boulder would have cramped the garden.

Years passed and the story passed around the Highlands. Many other tried to win the hearts of the loved ones, by carrying boulders down the hill and placing them in from of the houses of loved one, but men and women grew weaker and the art of carrying huge boulders was soon lost.

Instead of the huge boulders people now carried smaller boulders (more like large rocks) down to the garden of loved ones, but unknown farmers soon used them to build stone walls, which annoyed the ones trying to show their love. But the urge to show love and respect by moving rocks down mountains was deeply routed and one sunny day a distant relative of Angus McCumhachdach decided to build a cairn in memory of his long lost love. The cairn was pretty small to start with, but when he returned a few weeks later, he realized that many others had moved stones on top of his cairn. Annoyed he started building another cairn, but people added more and more stones until he set off to find a place were he could finally build a cairn people would leave alone. Unfortunately this did not happen and the remainder of is cairns can be seen all over the country.
The end



Even though Marco slightly refused to believe the origin of my story (cant think why :D ) we carried on and soon the countryside changed into a frozen wonderland. Even though there was no snow, everything around us was frozen and the dampness in the air and strong winds have made the most magical creations. When we emerged into the clouds, the atmosphere was even more spectacular and I have to say that it was the most beautiful day, I have had in a very long time. In a strange way I was glad the visibility was non existent, as it all added to the feeling of walking in a white frozen bubble.

The cloud got so thick that navigation without a GPS would have been impossible. Higher up the mountain there were some large frozen snow patches and walking into a white nothingness, without having anything to keep the eyes focused on was rather eerie and weird on the eyes. I had to keep a close eye on my GPS and more than once nearly walked to the complete wrong direction. But it all added to the experience and by the time we reached the trig point, we saw the first 3 people during the whole day.

We did only linger to eat a quick bite, as the temperature was freezing. We both fancied a different way down the mountain and followed a set of footprints which soon disappeared. But the GPS showed us that the walk down the hill was possible and it ended up being a lovely big round.
Having walked a straight way back to the car, seemed a great idea, until only a 6 foot deer fence separated us from my car....what to do? Walk back along it to find a gate, or climb it. We opted for the climb, which I can not recommend, but made it over with only one scratch on my knee (due to the barbed wire on top) and a decision in place, never ever to climb over any deer fence again :wink:

So am I cured from my illness? Most certainly :D and I found a new past time of making up stories on the way...I am sure you will hear some more in the future.


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The start, looking back

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The boulder of Angus McCumhachdach

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The hill in the clouds

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Frozen waterdrops

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Deer in the distance

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Last edited by Mountainlove on Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mountainlove
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby KeithS » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:43 pm

If you get that illness again I would suggest you take two Munros or a couple of Corbetts. That should cure you.

I never realized that was the origin of cairns. This is a very educational site.

I've been waiting for this report, glad to hear you are back in the hills.

Keith
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby laconic surf » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:45 pm

Funny, I caught the same flu last October. I must have caught it during all that clag that had been around the previous months. I was cured on a snowy hill in Glencoe :wink: :D
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby ChrisW » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:31 am

Lovely report ML and a fantastic tale to boot....I believe it myself ...because I want to :crazy: I suffered the same ailment as you a little while ago and I have the Rockies on my doorstep :roll: Who knows what that is all about but it seems to strike us all at some point. Anyway, glad the 'flu' has passed and I look forward to more tales from the hills :clap:
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby tomyboy73 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:28 pm

nice one ML , glad you got your mojo back :lol: and what a great story of the cairns, still trying to work out if there`s a joke in the name :lol:
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tomyboy73
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby Stuart Angus » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:49 am

Ha ha very entertaining ML................halfway through I'm saying to myself, this might be a relative :lol: ..............tall story aside, love the pics, looks as if it would've been a hard slog though, the snow looks fairly deep.
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby Mountainlove » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:24 am

KeithS wrote:If you get that illness again I would suggest you take two Munros or a couple of Corbetts. That should cure you.
I never realized that was the origin of cairns. This is a very educational site.
I've been waiting for this report, glad to hear you are back in the hills.
Keith

Many thanks Keith...currently I cant wait to get back to the hills...normality has returned :D Will remember your cure the next time!! :clap:

laconic surf wrote:Funny, I caught the same flu last October. I must have caught it during all that clag that had been around the previous months. I was cured on a snowy hill in Glencoe :wink: :D

Oh a snowy hill in Glencoe can do wonders :D Glad to know there are others out with the same 'illness' :wink:

ChrisW wrote:Lovely report ML and a fantastic tale to boot....I believe it myself ...because I want to :crazy: I suffered the same ailment as you a little while ago and I have the Rockies on my doorstep :roll: Who knows what that is all about but it seems to strike us all at some point. Anyway, glad the 'flu' has passed and I look forward to more tales from the hills :clap:

I guess having too much of a good thing...like booze around christmas...sometimes required a detox to enjoy it again 8)

tomyboy73 wrote:nice one ML , glad you got your mojo back :lol: and what a great story of the cairns, still trying to work out if there`s a joke in the name :lol:

Ah...was wondering if someone picks up the hint in the last name :-) :clap: :clap:
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby kevsbald » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:51 am

Some nice shots there.
Glad that you got over your illness and presume you will be immune from now on... 8)
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Re: Hill flu and the story of Angus Mc McCumhachdach

Postby DaveB1 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:47 pm

I think Angus's relative must have strayed south in his quest as Nine Standards Rigg, Wild Boar Fell and Knoutberry Haw have spectacular examples of his craft! :D Great tale and walk, glad to see you back in the depths of Munro bagging obsession. I can only dream of the access to the hills you have! :(
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