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An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain


Postby dogplodder » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:00 pm

Route description: Gulvain, near Kinlocheil

Munros included on this walk: Gulvain

Date walked: 08/09/2015

Distance: 21 km

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As with piling too much on to our dinner plates, when it comes to hills there are times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. I'd had two viral illnesses two weeks apart and was gagging to get out so the combination of a good forecast and Liz and Roger (aka Huff n Puff) being free had me suggesting Gulvain - knowing full well it was a big hill and not stopping to consider whether I might be biting off more than I could chew. 8)

We parked in the parking space on the A861 and were immediately aware of a strong midge presence which had us booting up and setting off in speedy fashion. It was misty, so that, combined with the biting midge, ensured there were no photos taken until we were well up the glen.

We turned up the track off the A830, right by the houses, crossed the bridge over the Fionn Lighe and then left following the route signed for Strathan. This gives about 2k of easy walking up the east side of the glen reaching the birchwoods of Coille Cala where we crossed a ladder stile beside a high gate.

A little after this we got our first sighting of our target for the day, the hill of noise, Gulvain. Not sure why it's called the hill of noise as the day we were there I don't remember any sound at all, other than the crunch of our boots on the occasional patch of gravel and my heavy breathing on the steep bit. :wink:

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First view of Gulvain which is deceptive as you can only see the south top
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Still following the course of the river the now rougher track heads up a wider and more open Gleann Fionnlighe and after another 2k we crossed the Allt a choire Reidh with the steep grassy slopes of Gulvain looming ahead.

Still a way to go
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Shortly after crossing the burn a small cairn indicates where the path forks to the right and after about half a kilometre a path to the left starts the ascent of Gulvain's southern slopes which is described as continuously steep for about 700 metres.

Ascent starts gently but soon steepens
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Looking back down Gleann Fionnlighe - the way we came
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My walking companions - Roger, Liz, Biggles and Bertie
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Ben Nevis and Mamores over Loch Eil (Liz's pic)
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Until the gradient steepened I think I was in denial about my fitness. But as soon as it did my pace slowed right down while the pace of my walking companions carried right on as it had on the level. Humbling is one word for it. I tried to keep up but the gap between us widened alarmingly quickly, Roger disappearing completely and Liz hovering within calling distance, obviously not wanting to lose sight of me. I've climbed steeper harder slopes but don't remember ever feeling so sluggish or having my heart beat so fast. It was warm and there wasn't much breeze which didn't help and at one point (when I hoped Liz couldn't see me) I lay flat on the ground to try to get my heart rate down and recover some strength.

Roger and Liz have two working cocker spaniels called Biggles and Bertie. On previous walks we've done together they've shown no particular interest in me, apart from when it's time to crack open the sandwiches and they show the kind of interest you would expect from any self respecting hill walking canine with a healthy appetite. :-P

So what happened on Gulvain wasn't the normal pattern. I didn't notice it at first but at some point on the climb the older of the dogs Biggles decided I needed his company and he stayed close by me for the rest of the day. Dogs are so intuitive and not having my own pair with me it was lovely to have such a loyal stand in who appointed himself my guardian in such a quiet and unsolicited way. You can't beat having the company of a good dog on the hill! :angel:

If dogs can express concern for humans this was one of those moments
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It was a relief when the gradient eased and we reached the minor top at 855m and from there it was a pleasant walk along the ridge to the trig point on the south summit at 961m.

Gulvain summit now visible beyond south top
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Gulvain summit from trig point on south top
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We lingered here to enjoy the views and take a few photos.

Looking towards Loch Shiel
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The ridge ahead
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At the time it felt like the south summit should be classed as a separate Munro but the drop between them isn't enough to justify it. But the ridge between is an enjoyable walk and soon enough we reached the cairn of the true summit where we sat down for some needed calorie intake - dogs and humans alike. 8)

Lunch on the summit
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West to Streap and Sgurr Thuilm
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South west to Loch Shiel and Moidart
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Zoomed to the Ben
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Spaniels quartering the ground and a glimpse of Loch Arkaig
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Biggles with tail a blur (Liz's pic)
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Returning along the ridge
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When we reached the south summit on the return Liz set up her camera on the trig point to get a shot of us together.

The three of us on south summit
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For some reason I had taken my camera off laying it by the trig point for the photo and then absent-mindedly wandered off down the path without it. If it hadn't been for Biggles in front of me looking photogenic I might not have noticed that I didn't have it. Thanks to him I'd only been walking about 10 minutes when I realised what I'd done and had to return to the trig to find it. Not my finest day physically...... or mentally! :roll:

Roger and Liz waiting while I retrieved my camera
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My shadow waiting in the long grass while I fiddled with camera
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This one Liz took is one of my favourites
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Despite my slowness on the ascent we were back at the car 11 hours after leaving, which including food and photo stops isn't too much over the WH suggested time. I'm grateful to Roger and Liz for their company (and patience!) on what was a superb day - and for lending me the support of Biggles..... who I'm thinking in another life would have made an excellent assistance dog. :clap:
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:35 pm

Climbing hills is tough enough when feeling OK so it takes a lot of determination to complete a hill when feeling rough :clap: :clap:

That looked like a really good day, I don't know this hill but it's now on the 2016 list after seeing those photos.
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby Petr Dakota » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:58 pm

Nice report and beautiful photos...I like especially the one with the three of you on the south summit and then the last one :clap: Well done ! :clap: :clap: :clap: Great day out despite all...
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby teaandpies » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:13 pm

This could be any walk I do. Sometimes I think my heart is going to explode.

I'll be trying to improve my fitness over the winter to be ready for 2016. I need to do something if I ever want to complete.

Some cracking images. This hill looks like a cracker :thumbup:
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby basscadet » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:41 am

Wow, that looked amazing apart from the illness parts :D I did it from the back, but Dougie hasn't been up so have to go up this way sometime.. :D


teaandpies wrote:This could be any walk I do. Sometimes I think my heart is going to explode.

I'll be trying to improve my fitness over the winter to be ready for 2016. I need to do something if I ever want to complete.




Och, if I can compleat, anyone can, my fitness has always been awful :lol:
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby martin.h » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:14 am

That looks like an enjoyable day out dogplodder, we're spoilt for choice as to which mountain to do at the mo' but Gulvain has been put on the "must do soon" list, maybe the 2016 list, but that's already long :lol:
Great report and photos.
Cheers.
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby KatTai » Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:50 pm

Biggles is so sweet! Great report, glad you made it to the top.
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:02 pm

Wonderful day - you were amazing to get to the top of both peaks and get home with your camera :D :D a big thank you for suggesting it.

As for Biggles - he can be an old grump, but he excelled himself that day (he clearly thought your human companions couldn't be trusted to look after you :lol: :lol: )

To those who haven't been, Gaor Bheinn is a beautiful hill and worth keeping for a clear day - the views are just magnificent.
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:17 am

Really beautiful day for an excellent looking walk - some great pics there :clap: :clap: :clap:

Glad you found your camera - I had no such luck when I took mine off and left it lying, sadly :(
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby dogplodder » Thu Oct 29, 2015 4:49 pm

Gordie12 wrote:

That looked like a really good day, I don't know this hill but it's now on the 2016 list after seeing those photos.


Gordie you will love this hill - although I warn you it feels more like two! :wink:
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby dogplodder » Thu Oct 29, 2015 4:51 pm

Petr Dakota wrote:Nice report and beautiful photos...I like especially the one with the three of you on the south summit and then the last one :clap: Well done ! :clap: :clap: :clap: Great day out despite all...


Credit goes to Liz for both those pics! :clap:
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby dogplodder » Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:42 am

teaandpies wrote:

I'll be trying to improve my fitness over the winter to be ready for 2016. I need to do something if I ever want to complete.



Me too. 8)
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby dogplodder » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:07 pm

basscadet wrote:Wow, that looked amazing apart from the illness parts :D I did it from the back, but Dougie hasn't been up so have to go up this way sometime.. :D



Think the way you went was harder so take my hat off to you for that! :D
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby dogplodder » Sat Oct 31, 2015 10:51 pm

martin.h wrote:That looks like an enjoyable day out dogplodder, we're spoilt for choice as to which mountain to do at the mo' but Gulvain has been put on the "must do soon" list, maybe the 2016 list, but that's already long :lol:
Great report and photos.
Cheers.


As long as you get to it some time! It's a great hill. :D
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Re: An unexpected guardian angel on Gulvain

Postby BobMcBob » Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:42 pm

I enjoyed that read, and it's heartwarming when you read about a dog looking out for one of his "masters". Nice stuff :)
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