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Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby KeithS » Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:43 pm

Route description: Maoile Lunndaidh

Munros included on this walk: Maoile Lunndaidh

Date walked: 30/03/2016

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 28 km

Ascent: 1000m

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ImageMe by Keith S, on Flickr

Hi there folks, I thought I would like to keep you up to date with my latest adventure with The Fat Man. For those of you who may have missed my first Munro report (shame on you) you can catch it here:


My first Munro bagging experiences had not put me off and I was now looking forward to being in the hills again. The Fat Man and I were in our camper having just dropped The Pushover off at Inverness Airport as she was heading south. Since The Fat Man has retired we are able to spend much more time in Scotland which really suits me. I have much more freedom here as I can run about in the garden as much as I want. When in Sheffield we are in a top floor flat so we don't have a garden and I have to pretend to be a hamster as dogs are not supposed to live in the flats, and, at my size, that stretches my acting ability to its limits.

To give The Fat Man his due he is making an effort to lose some weight and is telling everyone that he has lost a stone since retiring. I think this stone is more like a pebble and I am sure I am responsible for most of his loss anyway as I insist on taking him out for walks so neither of us are complaining.

We therefore found ourselves in the camper in a small parking area at Craig in Glen Carron for the night. I knew we were in for a walk, possibly of some length, as The Fat Man was getting all our kit ready and making pack ups for us. I had to laugh at his futile attempts to open the fiddly little plastic bags with cold fingers in which he put his sandwiches. He put my biscuits into one of these bags and sealed them up. I hoped he would mix these up so I ended up with his beef sandwiches the next day and he got my biscuits.

We then settled in for the night but all too soon, when it was barely getting light, he got me up and fed me and we prepared for the off.

ImageGetting ready for the off. by Keith S, on Flickr

We left the van very early and I had a feeling that this was going to be a long day. We crossed a road and some metal lines and joined a long track.

ImageMetal lines near start by Keith S, on Flickr

There was a white horse standing by the track who I named 'White Horse'.

ImageWhite horse at start of track by Keith S, on Flickr

We had a quick chat before I was rudely pulled away by my lead and we set off up a long hill through some woods passing some strange pipes near the start.

ImagePipes and train by Keith S, on Flickr

The Fat Man seemed quite determined and we both marched quickly along up the hill, neither of us having time to appreciate all the new smells which should be enjoyed and not raced past.

After a gate the track levelled out and a big valley opened up in front of us.

ImageNo snow there by Keith S, on Flickr

After quite some time we got to a strange structure consisting of two poles on opposite sides of the river connected by two wires, one above the other. The Fat Man called this a bridge and told me we would have to cross it. The river was too deep for me to just walk through and I watched with horror as he started to make his way over, standing on the bottom wire and holding on to the top one. How on earth was I going to manage this obstacle? I paced about on the bank and must have looked very worried because The Fat Man then stopped and looked at me and laughed. He made his way back to me and told me he was only joking and that he just wanted to try the 'bridge'. We were actually staying on our side of the river. Very funny, ha ha! I vowed to get my own back later.

ImageBridge?!?! by Keith S, on Flickr

As we turned a corner round the back of a big hill we were met with more deer than I could have the pleasure of chasing and it was difficult for me not to show my excitement at seeing them. I can't explain my enthusiasm for deer. I'm sure I couldn't catch one if I chased it and, even if I did, I don't know what I would do with it. Deer are much bigger than me and have big sharp pointed antlers which could probably do me some damage. It is just some basic instinct which I can't resist, which is why, as The Fat Man frequently explains to me, I stay on a lead.

ImageLots of deer by Keith S, on Flickr

We then passed a very new looking sign pointing back to Achnashellach and towards Glenuaig in the direction we were going. It looked rather incongruous and I would hope that even passing dogs who had ventured that far into the hills wouldn't need that information on a sign.

ImageUseful sign! by Keith S, on Flickr

After more track walking we came to a small wood on our left and ahead of us we could see a house which was really remote.

ImageApproaching a haven by Keith S, on Flickr

We walked up to the house and there was a four wheel drive car parked outside and a humming noise coming from an outbuilding. We are sometimes met with surly people at these sorts of places who tell us that I must be kept on a lead and are generally miserable looking. I was therefore very surprised to see two people inside who both gave us a very friendly, enthusiastic wave. A nice lady, who I shall call 'Nice Lady' came out and asked us if we wanted to come in for a cup of tea for him and a drink for me. Inside was a nice man who I shall call 'Nice Man'. It turned out that this was Glenuaig Lodge which they had rented for a week and were there on holiday with their sons enjoying the solitude, probably not thinking they were going to be interrupted by a dog taking his man for a walk. I liked this family as they made a fuss of me and Nice Man gave me a biscuit and Nice Lady gave me a bowl of water.

ImageGlenuaig lodge by Keith S, on Flickr

Next to the lodge was there was even a walker's shelter which had an electric heater which runs off a turbine up the hill behind. Very luxurious but not as nice as the break we had just enjoyed.

ImageHillwalkers shelter by Keith S, on Flickr

After about three quarters of an hour's chatting and well deserved rest we left the lodge and picked our way through the wet ground to the river which was easy to cross. Well, it was easy for me, I just walked across and had a good laugh as The Fat Man spent five minutes balancing on wet rocks and making a very undignified attempt to keep dry as I watched from the opposite bank giving him an 'it's not so easy for you crossing rivers without a bridge is it' look.

ImageLooking back at what we had just done by Keith S, on Flickr

We looked ahead and saw the mountain, which it became apparent was our target for the day, disappearing into the clouds higher up. There seemed to be snow high up on the ground. I do like snow and usually try to roll about in patches when I get the chance. We got to a stream and there appeared to be a choice of routes to get to the first top. It was obvious to me that the best option would be to cross the stream and climb directly to the top. The ground was less steep and south facing so would have less snow. Looking up, the other route, more to the right, was steeper, more north facing,and there were more snow patches higher up, although there were a set of footprints working their way up through them. I therefore headed towards the stream and started looking for a place to cross. In his infinite wisdom The Fat Man started pulling on my lead and told me we were going to head up the hill towards the footprints. I rolled my eyes but saw little point in arguing with him so we set off his way.

ImageFirst snow patches by Keith S, on Flickr

As we gained height we soon reached small patches of snow which gradually became larger and we then came to the footprints as the snow became deeper. It was clear to me that these were not new and had not been made that day, probably being one or two days old. A strange object then came down out of the sky which the Fat Man was able to photograph (or so he later told me. I didn't see it, I think he is just a rubbish photographer).

ImageFootprints in snow, and giant finger by Keith S, on Flickr

The Fat Man started kicking his way up the steps, knocking his boot in two or three times for each step. The steps started heading towards the centre of the snow field. I was not very happy about that as it was steep and there was new snow lying on old and the day had been relatively warm. My instincts told me it might not be safe. Fortunately The Fat Man had the same thoughts so we headed to the right of the snow patches and found some rocks which broke up the snow. Even I found the going hard as the rocks were cold wet and slippery with varying depths of snow about them. I kept sitting down to rest as The Fat Man made very slow and ungainly progress. At this time the clouds came in and it started to snow and we lost the view of the valley below. We did have a bit of a dilemma now as it would not have been easy to go back down the way we had just fought our way up.

The Fat Man told me that that the way we planned to get off the hill was not as steep as where we were now and the route down should have less snow so we were better off continuing on our way round. He does often talk to me although I don't think he realises that I understand a lot more than he thinks. We therefore continued scrambling up through the snowy rocks until the ground levelled out and we came to a small pile of stones.

ImageIt's snowing by Keith S, on Flickr

We sat down for a rest and a bite to eat, he had a chocolate bar and I had some biscuits, as chocolate is not good for me, as I am frequently told. There were still snow flurries about but at least there was not much wind so the conditions were quite pleasant.

ImageLast climb to the 'top' by Keith S, on Flickr

We turned to our left and after a fairly flat section we started to rise again, although it was not too steep and the ground under foot (all six of them between us) was easier. There were brilliant views of the surrounding hills and it was a really wintry landscape as the clouds started to clear.

ImageLooking back towards valley by Keith S, on Flickr

ImageIt is spring - honest by Keith S, on Flickr

ImageSurrounding hills by Keith S, on Flickr

The ground then levelled out and there was a continuous covering of snow. The Fat Man does know I like rolling about in snow and I did appreciate the effort he had made to find me the best snow patch I had ever seen, so I took advantage and played about like a puppy. We saw no further signs of the footprints from before and I don't know where the person we had been following, a day or so behind, had gone as there was no more sign or smell of him, or her.

ImageBest snow patches ever by Keith S, on Flickr

The ground completely flattened and we reached the 'top' of the mountain. I should explain that that is not the top of the mountain, that was further on, but is designated as a 'top' of the mountain which is high enough to be called a 'top' but is not the actual top. Is that clear?

ImageLot of snow by Keith S, on Flickr

As the clouds cleared we had a tremendous view of my snow patch which extended for as far as I could see, curving round to the left towards a small pimple in the distance. We set off across the virgin snow towards where it narrowed from both sides. The snow appeared to be overhanging on the edges and The Fat Man told me we had to keep away from them, although I had little choice as we were connected to each other by my lead.

ImageLooking back to cornices by Keith S, on Flickr

ImageDistant views by Keith S, on Flickr

We came to a very slightly higher point where we stood on another small pile of stones looking ahead to the pimple still in the distance (editors note: probably a good thing we did having since read about the debate which has raged where the highest point on the mountain is, which is of little interest to dogs)

ImageMore cornices by Keith S, on Flickr

We then pushed on again across the plateau and I could tell from tracks in the snow and smell, and then from movement in the distance that were some creatures in the distance, which I believe were probably mountain hares. I would love to have chased them but The Fat Man kept a firm grip on my lead so I settled to just staring at them.

As we neared the pimple, which turned out to be another pile of stones put there for me to pee on, the weather closed in again but we were able to keep on our heading arriving at the stones as the snow started again.

ImageThe summit? by Keith S, on Flickr

We only stopped for a minute or so and then turned to our left and quickly made our way down, gradually at first and then steeper and fairly soon the snow started to clear and we were back on firm ground, although it wasn't very firm, even for my four legs.

ImageDropping out of snow on way down by Keith S, on Flickr

The ground was dropping very steeply to our left and I hoped that we didn't have to go down that way. We kept away from that and as we came out of the clouds I looked back and saw a lovely lake behind. I would have happily gone for a swim but I don't think The Fat Man would have been too keen on that idea (Editors note: damn right!).

ImageFancy a swim? by Keith S, on Flickr

We came down to a dip before another hill and turned down alongside a stream where I could get a drink. The ground was quite slippy and even I, with all my feet, was skidding about, although not half as much as The Fat Man. As we were about two thirds of the way down, or it might have been four fifths or three quarters, I was never good at fractions, The Fat Man shouted out and sat down on a rock clutching his leg which seemed to be causing him some trouble. He started rubbing his muscle and moaning about cramp. He reached into his rucksack and got a packet of crisps out. As he leaned across he shouted out in pain again and started rubbing his other leg. He then went into some strange sort of dance whilst sat down stretching out his legs and rubbing them and trying to demolish his crisps at the same time mumbling about salt levels. Most peculiar! It took him a good ten minutes to return to some sort of normal behaviour and we were able to continue our descent.

ImageBack towards Glenuaig Lodge by Keith S, on Flickr

As the ground levelled out it became rather wet with loads of streams to cross giving me a chance to wash my feet as The Fat Man took ages hopping from stone to stone in an attempt to keep his feet dry. The lodge never seemed to get any closer until we finally managed to cross the last river with the Fat Man making a mighty leap across the narrowest part followed by a yelp as he landed and we then squished our way back to the end of the track.

As we got near to the lodge again Nice Lady appeared outside the door and invited us in for a glass of wine and a drink of water. The Fat Man initially made a token refusal but changed his mind immediately and we were ushered in, despite both being very bedraggled. I accepted the offer of a bowl of water and The Fat Man was soon sat with his feet firmly under the table surrounded by a glass of wine, a cup of tea and crisps and other nibbles. It was nice to see both Nice Lady and Nice Man again and I decided that they would make a good new family for me so I allowed them both to pet me for a while and then settled down between the fire and the table and curled up to go to sleep at the end of my long walk, as the Fat Man and Nice Man compared notes on Munros they had climbed. I soon entered into a deep sleep and started dreaming of my new life with my new adopted family, surrounded by hundreds of deer, as I was off lead, running freely around the hills, jumping into rivers and rolling about in the snow before returning to a roaring fire and a bowl full of chunks of steak and finest sausages.

I was rudely woken from my reverie by my name being called out. I opened one eye and noticed that The Fat Man was still there. Oh, I suppose the nice family were going to adopt him as well I thought, a little disappointedly. I then noticed that he was putting his rucksack on and saying his goodbyes. I realised that he was going so I opened the other eye to bid my fair wells with a 'so long and thanks for all the dog food' and 'see yourself out, it's been nice knowing you', and then went back to sleep to return to my dreams of living with Nice Man and Nice Lady.

“Bear, Bear, come on, we've not finished yet” wafted into my dreams as I was dragged back to the real world. With great disappointment realization dawned, and I pulled myself out of my sleep and sadly bid farewell to my new friends. It was another six miles and two long hours of walking on the track, passing loads more deer who were really close to the path, before we finally made it back to the railway crossing, just as train raced past.

ImageTrain near end by Keith S, on Flickr

As we got there I saw my friend, White Horse, from the beginning of the walk. We compared notes of our respective days. I certainly think I had the more strenuous time.

ImageTelling White Horse about our day by Keith S, on Flickr

It was then back to the camper where The Fat Man was able to take a shower, have a cool beer from the fridge and a curry which he prepared for himself as I had my dinner of biscuits. He certainly has 'wild camping' down to a fine art. As he tucked himself into bed I resumed my place under the table to return to my dreams of a long, hard but brilliant day and think ahead to what my next adventure may be.

ImageSafely back by Keith S, on Flickr

ImageRecovering by Keith S, on Flickr
Last edited by KeithS on Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:06 pm

Sounds like a grand day out :D ....look forward to hearing about your next adventure ......
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby KeithS » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:51 pm

Now with pics :)
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby Silverhill » Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:13 pm

Bear the clever dog is back!
I know you feel that The Fat Man doesn't look after your needs enough (no chasing deer, no chocolate, no sniffing out new smells), but those walks must do you good: you look much younger in the last picture and your coat has this really healthy blond glow :wink: .
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby Graeme D » Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:51 pm

Great story Bear. Glad to hear you're keeping that Fat Man on a tight lead! :lol:
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby wally » Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:15 pm

Loved reading your latest adventure, it sounds like you had an exciting time. Look forward reading to your next mountain story. :clap: :)
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby wally » Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:58 pm

wally wrote:Loved reading your latest adventure, it sounds like you had an exciting time. Look forward reading to your next mountain story. :clap: :)
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby dogplodder » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:26 am

This one's been on the radar for a long time now but as they're both pushing 12 I'm thinking I've left it a bit too late for Jack and Tess! :?
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby laconic surf » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:19 pm

Great stuff Bear. I hear the fatman picked up a little injury on this walk, be gentle it's not so easy on two legs :wink:
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby PathfinderPaul » Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:40 pm

Just read your report Bear, hope you are still taking the "Fat man " out. It was good to meet you I think it was that year at Gruinard Bay. We are hoping to do it this year & some of the "neighbours", we have the bikes ready, looks like we'll need them :roll:
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Re: Bear back in the hills on a snowy adventure

Postby past my sell by date » Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:13 pm

If I were you Bear, I'd be pressing for one of those long stretchy leads :lol: :lol:
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