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5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby simon-b » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:18 am

Route description: Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhòr

Munros included on this walk: Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich, Lurg Mhòr

Date walked: 28/06/2016

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 39.3 km

Ascent: 1720m

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It was 20 June 2011 when I climbed a misty Ben Macdui from the Cairngorm Ski Centre to bag my first Munro. At least it wasn't raining! A few other people were at the summit, including a Scottish father and son. They assured me that the Highlands do sometimes get good weather and views. Moving on towards Cairn Gorm, I dropped out of the cloud and there were things to see, but my second Munro was also in the mist. Moving back down to the ski centre, one or two views did open up.

Descending from Cairn Gorm, looking back at the northern corries

Next day (midsummer) was cloudy and wet, but I stuck to my plans, went over the Chalamain Gap and the Lairig Ghru, and came back over Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Braeriach. Returning over slippery Chalamain Gap boulders, I came to the end of the toughest day I'd ever had in the mountains up to that point. The following day I had a rest, pleased to have been successful so far, but feeling a little disillusioned, considering the conditions I'd dealt with. I was to learn that the Scottish mountains may challenge and intimidate you, but stick with them and they will reward you.

Onto the next day, and I was ascending Aonach Beag from Glen Nevis. The weather was dry, but the tops were in cloud again. Then the mist began to lift, and I recognised the CMD arete and the lower part of the Ben's north face appearing. By the time I reached the summit, it was clear. At last I discovered what the magic of the Highlands is all about. The panorama was superb, with range after range of mountains. Then it was on to Aonach Mor, with more great views.

Ben Starav, Bidean nam Bian and Ben Cruachan from Aonach Mor

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg from Aonach Mor

The last day of the trip, and it was time to complete the big nine with Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. The weather was fine and the views great again.

CMD Arete from Carn Mor Dearg

On Ben Nevis

So that June, I went home feeling very happy. My initial target had just been to climb the nine 4000 footers, and the job had been done. But then I fancied making it the highest ten. I didn't feel it was worth coming up from Yorkshire to Scotland for Ben Lawers only, so I came for a week that August and climbed 14 southern Munros. Now it was game on, and in March 2012 I headed for the Far North of Scotland. After getting the 3000 footers there and seeing those amazing landscapes, there was no looking back. I wanted to compleat!

Fast forward to 20 June 2016, and I was sailing to Knoydart with a group of friends from WH I'd met during my walking days in the Scottish hills. Over two days, we knocked off the three Munros there, then made our way to Skye. Five of us still had four of the hardest Black Cuillin mountains to climb (including the In Pinn). We met our guide, Paddy and my friend, Pam, who had been a walking companion for many years in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. She was joining us for those Cuillin peaks; her first four Munros! I thought I'd done OK starting with the big nine, but this was something else. Thanks to Paddy, the Skye mission was a total success.

I said goodbye to my friends and left Skye on Sunday 26 for Lochcarron, where I had six nights booked. This had been arranged for attempts on hills including the Torridon Munros, but late May's good weather in the west meant I'd climbed them ahead of schedule. So now my count was up to 280, with just Lurg Mhor and Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich, often nicknamed 'Cheesecake', left to climb. But the forecast for the whole coming week looked bad. Monday didn't look good, so I had a day in Inverness, where things were a bit brighter. Tuesday wasn't looking much better, but the forecast was no worse than for any other coming day, so I went for it.

Track_2016-06-28 183438.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

My Lochcarron B and B did a reasonably early breakfast, and with late June daylight hours, I was confident of managing these two remote mountains in a single day walk from Attadale. It was pouring with rain as I made the short drive there from Lochcarron, but when I reached the car park it wasn't so heavy. There were still grey skies and low cloud as I walked past Attadale Gardens and set off on the long track. There was hydro construction work going on along the track towards Bendronaig Lodge. The drivers and machine operators were always willing to give way and let me past, and the work going on didn't spoil the walk. At one point, the driver of a pick-up truck said he was going some way along the track, and asked if I wanted a lift. But I'd made it to 280 Munros without cheating, and wasn't going to start now. So I thanked him but declined, despite the dismal weather. Then again, if I had accepted, I don't think I'd have felt like getting out of the truck when the time came! I saw the hills ahead, and they didn't look very inviting.

Heading ENE towards the hills

So, Scotland's mountains can challenge, intimidate and disillusion you. But as I'd learnt back in 2011, stick with them, and they will reward you. And that's what happened on this day. I'd been walking about two and a half hours as I came to Bendronaig Lodge.

Approaching Bendronaig Lodge

By the time I reached Loch Calavie, things were grey and damp, but with no heavy rain. As I began to ascend alongside the Allt Coire Calavie, conditions were tolerable.

Allt Coire Calavie

Loch Calavie in retrospect

On reaching the bealach, I could see that Sgurr Choinnich and Sgurr a' Chaorachain were below the clouds. But mist still clung to Lurg Mhor and Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich :( I turned right to head up to Lurg Mhor and soon entered the clag. Making the move on my penultimate Munro felt like grinding out a result. The summit cairn was reached with no view, but as ever I was pleased to get there.

Then it was time to return to the bealach, ready for the last assault. I'd decided the final selection from the Munro menu might as well be a cheesecake! Descending, I anticipated dropping out of the clag. But the mist seemed to have got lower. Finally I approached the bealach, and things began to clear. Views appeared on the horizon, and there ahead was Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich, cloud-free :)

Clouds clearing from Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich

Beinn Tharsuinn behind a cloud

A new level of enthusiasm kicked in, as I sensed the finish line was getting near. Conditions were improving, and I really began to enjoy the walk as I made the pull up the hill from the bealach. Looking back, I could see Lurg Mhor had now cleared. But that didn't matter; it was the view from Sheasgaich I wanted. Onwards up the south-east ridge, and then a turn north-east onto a narrower ridge, and there it was! The summit cairn was in sight a short distance ahead. Up I went to the cairn and touched it, and stood on the highest point of the mountain. And what a great time and place for such an occasion. A lovely summit on an attractive little ridge, the ground falling away below, with a steep corrie to the north-west, and great views all around.

Loch Monar and Lurg Mhor from Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich

Inner Sound, Loch Carron and Loch an Laoigh from Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich

Sgurr Choinnich and Sgurr a' Chaorachain from Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich

I was now particularly glad I hadn't accepted that lift, as an earlier arrival could have meant missing out on this fine vista. But the day was by no means over; there was still that long walk back to do. I set off down the south-west ridge.

Beginning the descent SW

Further down I went, aiming for Sail Riabhach.

Moving down towards Sail Riabhach

Achnashellach hills from near Sail Riabhach

Looking back, I could see what a magnificent mountain I had just climbed and left, with Coire Seasgach now in view.

Bidein a' Choire Sheasgaich in retrospect

I dropped down, back towards Bendronaig Lodge.

Descending towards Bendronaig Lodge

After reaching the lodge, the walk-out was much more pleasant than the walk-in had been during the morning.

Uisge Dubh

On the bridge over the Uisge Dubh

Looking back at the hills

When I first planned this walk, I'd imagined a very late finish. but I seemed to be making good time, and the possibility of getting to the pub while food was being served was very much alive. Maybe there would be no need to delay celebrations for a day :o The new hydro roads gave short cuts to the original track, and I moved along at a pace. Eventually Loch Carron came into view ahead.

Approaching Attadale and Loch Carron

I now had all the experience of 282 Munros and was not far from Attadale, but there was still time for one last navigational blunder :lol: I'd got onto one of the new hydro roads running parallel to the original track, and overshot the turn right to the bridge across the River Attadale by over 500 metres :oops: That cost time, and now my mind was set on finishing early enough to get a meal and a pint at the Lochcarron Hotel. So when I reached the final tarmac section of the track, it was 'joghighlands' back to the car park!

So, the job was done, five years and eight days after starting. Quite a few of us seem to be compleating this year, or have compleation imminent. But each one of us will have our own way of doing things. For me, the whole round of 282 was taken on as a series of day walks from a car park, transport stop or accommodation base. No bike, no bothies and no wild camps. So it can be done, and you can have a proper bed before and after each day's walking. But that comfort is hard-earned!

That evening, I celebrated at the Lochcarron Hotel with scampi, a pint and a couple of drams. And for dessert...


...maybe just a slice, but to me it was a compleat cheesecake :D
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby Petr Dakota » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:01 am

Well done Simon, big congratulations !!! :clap: :clap: :clap:
Great story and I like the way you got it...by your attitude & the special effort.
I am sure each ofthe mountains means a special experience & memories for you to remember 8)
All the best and many more trips with safe returns ! :clap: :D :wink:
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby ancancha » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:28 am

Many congratulations Simon :clap:
Your report is inspiring :clap:
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby Borderhugh » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:22 am

Well done Simon on compleating. Good effort! :clap: :clap:
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:18 am

Well done Simon :clap: :clap:

A great report and kudos on walking every yard of every hill. There's no way I'd contemplate some of those walk-ins without a bike :lol:
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby AJNicholls » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:13 am

Excellent stuff Simon, you've earned every single one of those blue flags with enthusiasm and a smile. Hope to catch up with you again soon when your bagging adventures take you elsewhere. Good lad!

:clap: :clap:

PS: Your cheesecake in the pub looks more terrifying to a cheese-dodger like me than Cheesecake itself. :)
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby Guinessman » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:30 am

Congratulations and a great pair to finish on.
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby Sunny Speyside » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:10 am

Congratulations Simon...a pudding and a pint well earned :)
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby martin.h » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:42 am

Huge congratulations Simon, many great adventures to look back on, well done sir :clap: :clap: :D
All the best,
Martin and Denise. :D
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby kmai1961 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:56 am

Well done, Simon, congratulations! :clap: :clap: I've enjoyed sharing some of your Munro adventures.

And a great report, too.

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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby PeteR » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:14 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:


Two good hills these two (did them on a cracking day last year), but quite a walk in and out for a day isn't it. Much better than using a mountain bike though :D
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby abbruce » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:45 pm

Congratulations on compleating Simon. Was a pleasure to join you if only for 6 of the 282.
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby PerthAlly » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:55 pm

Well done Simon :clap:

All 282 in 5 years is some going. And from home in sunny Yorkshire! :lol:
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Jul 04, 2016 3:46 pm

Well done Simon :clap: :clap: :clap: a great report and what looked a fine reward at the end.
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Re: 5 years, 1 week and 1 compleat day

Postby dav2930 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:00 pm

Congratulations Simon; a fantastic achievement and a terrific report :clap: :clap: :clap:
So glad you got the views from Sheasgaich - it just had to be cheesecake for dessert didn't it? :lol:
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