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Glory Gleaned on the Gulvain Grind

Glory Gleaned on the Gulvain Grind

Postby old danensian » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:05 am

Munros included on this walk: Gulvain

Date walked: 14/03/2015

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 1100m

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I heard the bathroom radiator pipes creak and the imperceptible swelling of the floorboards sound that woodpecker-like tattoo. As I listened to all those little noises that houses make when they wake and come alive, my brain started to function. It broke the news to me: my alarm hadn’t gone off at 5.00am. This was one smartphone that had out-smarted me.

It was now well past 6.00am and any hopes of walking by 10.00am on the slopes above Loch Quoich were scuppered. Plans were changed as a hasty breakfast was gobbled and my objective switched to Gulvain. Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach could wait until Sunday.

Fortunately, the bike and two days-worth of gear had been flung in the back of the car before going out for dinner with friends the night before. The passing of time, a hefty curry, and a partially abstemious approach to the lager, Merlot and malt meant I was confident that my early-morning levels were at or below 50mg. Hills here I come.

The ascent of Gulvain is a classic three part story: it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Gulvain peers down the Gleann Fionnlighe and the cycle in

If you don’t opt for a bike on the approach, the beginning could easily take the edge off the day ahead. The woods are nice, the waterfalls pretty, but you must wonder when some height is going to be gained. And Gulvain sits at the head of Gleann Fionnlighe luring you on. It will definitely cast a shadow over the end of the day with what must be a long trudge out.

A reminder of the pre-Clearance communities that used to populate the glens - near the foot of Gulvain

The middle is simply indescribable. Not because of any horrors, traumas or nightmares, rather it’s just a nose-against-the-slope kind of slog for 750m. There’s nothing to see, just an inverted view of the world behind from between your legs. Get it over with.

The end is magnificent. It bursts into view when the slope eases off, the triangulation point pierces the horizon and the ridge snakes away to the northern summit beyond. And all in a wind-blasted winter splendour.

The first glimpse of the summit ridge snaking ahead - fortunately you've got to go all the way to the end

Trig point at the southern top of Gulvain

A short twenty metre stretch just below the top made me wonder if leaving crampons and ice-axe with the bike down below had been a good idea. The run-off down the slope into the coire below wasn’t an enticing prospect. However, fears were allayed as the snow was just becoming soft enough to take a good kick without thinking it might trigger a slide.

The scale of Kintail and Knoydart in one direction was magnificent, while the shadowy bowl of the Ben’s north face added to the chill in the air. There must have been some chilly feet and fingers on the big routes over there.

Summit pose on Gulvain - thanks to the "Glasgow Girls"

Instead, a leisurely lunch and conversation with a pair of Glasgow girls standing in the sun was much more enjoyable. There was the juicy prospect of returning along a spectacular, but not imposing, ridge before the descent down “that slope.”

The start of the return journey - back to Gulvain's southern top before heading down, down, down

Like the ascent, it’s just got to be done. Yes, toes, knees and thighs might scream. The lactic might burn. There might be the occasional embarrassing slip on thawing grass that hides semi-frozen black gloop below. But, as is so often the case, conversation takes the mind of the effort and pain, so the company from Barrhead was appreciated.

Then, you’re back at the bike, and what seemed like a tough pedal up the glen seemed so much easier as gravity and well-warmed up legs made short work of the return to the car.

Trusty steed awaits - and in the background on Gulvain - snow, what snow?

Despite the start, it turned out a glorious day. Now, how do I make sure the alarm on this phone works tomorrow morning?
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old danensian
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Re: Glory Gleaned on the Gulvain Grind

Postby PeteR » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:05 pm

An entertaining report and some fine photos :clap:

My memory of this hill was a long walk in, tough grind up the hill, zero views in the clag and snow, a steep descent and then a long walk back out :lol:

Your report is far more entertaining and positive about the virtues of this hill :lol:
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Re: Glory Gleaned on the Gulvain Grind

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:07 pm

Another good one Nigel :clap:

Like Pete my memories are about the long walk in and back, a bike is a must :wink:
I also remember the walk from the trig summit, to the real summit, I am probably wrong but I have walked between Munro's that aren't that far apart :lol: :lol:
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Re: Glory Gleaned on the Gulvain Grind

Postby gordon l » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:57 pm

Enjoyed this report, like the idea of a beginning, middle and end. When I did this hill it was on a blazing hot day and the walk out seemed distinctly endless :)
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Re: Glory Gleaned on the Gulvain Grind

Postby litljortindan » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:27 pm

Looks pretty good for a supposedly dull hill.
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