Monday, 23rd. August, 1982:
Today was the fifteenth consecutive day that my brother Nick and I had been engaged in our (slightly eccentric) unsupported trek south and, demoralised, dishevelled and very wet, we'd reached Shiel Bridge from Glen Affric on the previous day. Today, the plan was to start the final leg by climbing The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine before continuing over as many Munros as we could on our way to Glenfinnan. We only had food left for about four days - but our sacks were correspondingly lighter - and it was with some ambition that we packed up early and left the camp site in Shiel Bridge. The weather, however, disn't seem to be letting up after its onslaught of the last few days and, as we headed up alongside the Allt Undalain, the familiar heavy rainfall and low cloud blotted out whatever optimism we might have been feeling. Accordingly, we plodded steadily up the north west ridge of The Saddle without being able to see anything, descended from near the top of the Forcan Ridge to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain (notable for a line of fence posts bisecting a lochan) and continued steadily up Sgurr na Sgine. At the next col (Bealach an Toiteil) conditions were, if anything, deteriorating and we decided to bail on the South Glen Shiel Ridge and descended to Kinloch Hourn in driving rain and strong winds. The place was desolate and we plodded on up the road, finally pulling off it just below the crest of the pass to spend the night camping in the rain again...
We had, by this stage, had about enough and the weather seemed to agree with our state of mind - continual and prolonged downpours of misery - so it was time to get out! Forsaking our dreams of wandering the Rough Bounds of Knoydart and standing on summits like Ladhair Bheinn and Sgurr na Ciche, we ran for Glenfinnan over three more days of appalling weather. On the first day we traversed the western shore of Loch Quoich - Nick nearly drowning in two testing river crossings (the Abhainn Chosaidh and the Allt Coire nan Gall) to camp at the foot of the Allt a'Choire Reidh. On day two we hit the col between An Eag and Sgurr Beag and worked our way south west over a col into Coire nan Uth and then down Glen Dessary to camp in lower Glen Pean before, on day three, we headed over the deep cleft between Streap and Sgurr Thuilm in time for a lunchtime beer in Glenfinnan. It had been a testing trip - 18 self-contained days on the hill, rain at some point during every day, around 180 miles and 42,000 feet of ascent covered and, by the tables of the time, 24 Munros and 18 Tops climbed, all bar six of them carrying loads of food, sleeping bags, a stove, a tent, etc, etc. We'd only met one other group of people on the hill in all that time - a group on the Fannichs on day two - and, in addition to the memories of the corries, glens, ridges and summits, we would take with us for ever some of the intangible loneliness of the highlands. It was a pity that we hadn't done more - but that left the door open to future trips...
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