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Bear Back with a Bump (and an Idiot) in Strathfarrar

Bear Back with a Bump (and an Idiot) in Strathfarrar

Postby KeithS » Sat Aug 06, 2016 5:28 pm

Route description: Glen Strathfarrar Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Carn nan Gobhar (Strathfarrar), Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais, Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, Sgurr na Ruaidhe

Date walked: 28/07/2016

Distance: 26 km

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It was time for one dog and his man to have their next adventure so I thought I would share it with you.

When The Fat Man told me were we going to have a smashing time together in Strathfarrar I didn't realize how true this was going to be, and neither, I suspect, did he.

We had dropped The Pushover off at Inverness Airport as she had to get back to Sheffield to work, and made our way to the gate at the start of the private road into Strathfarrar. As it was a Wednesday afternoon the gate was not open, so our plan was to stay in the car park overnight and then go up the road at 9.00am the next morning. We took a quick walk together to the gatekeeper's house to check we could stay in the car park. We spoke to the lady there who confirmed we could and she clarified the gate times for the next day. She was friendly but made it quite clear that we would have to be out of the gate by 8.00pm. When asked what would happen if we were delayed we were told that we would be out of the gate by then. How about if there was a problem? Then Mountain Rescue would be called. If we were just slow and failed to make it in time it appeared that, as Flight Director, Gene Kranz said to the Apollo 13 crew: 'Failure is not an option' (The Fat Man and The Pushover put television on for me when they leave me to go out and I watch a lot of films). We concluded that if we were late the vehicle would be confiscated and we would never be seen again.

Having tucked the motorhome out of the way in the car park we settled down for the night. In the morning we lined up with a few other vehicles at the gate, which was dutifully opened on the dot of 9.00am. It was at this point that things took a horrible turn for the worse. It appeared that, when The Fat Man put my bag of dog food in the bathroom of the camper (technically shower room as it doesn't have a bath) he forgot to shut the door. He noticed it swinging around as we were waiting for the car in front to move off. It was then that he lost use of his senses (even more than usual) and forgot two very basic concepts. The first was discovered by Sir Isaac Newton and involved falling apples, and the second has been fitted to every car since well before the days of the Model T Ford and Austin 7, namely gravity and the handbrake. Not noticing we were on a slight gradient, he stupidly left his seat and made his way to the back of the van to close the door, grumbling as he passed me in my place under the table. As he reached the furthest point from the front there was the sound of hooting and then things all seemed to happen at the same time. The Fat Man initially looked confused (nothing unusual there then) looked out of the window and it took him a fraction of a second to realize that the world was not actually rolling forwards but we were rolling backwards. He let out an almighty “Nnnooooooo!” and started running in slow motion with arms and legs flailing hopelessly as he tried to make his way towards the front of the van and back to the driver's seat, which he should never have left, and the handbrake which he should never have left off. It was obvious that he was never going to make it in time and sure enough there was more hooting followed by a crunching sound as we hit the motorhome behind us!

The Fat Man looked mortified at his own incompetence and got out to speak to the occupants of the vehicle we had bumped into who, in order to protect the innocent, I shall refer to as Mr and Mrs H. As we were all heading to the same place they agreed to exchange details up the road. The Fat Man and I drove down the glen in an awkward silence, he thinking how stupid he had been and me agreeing with him for once. Arriving safely at the parking place we met up again with the other van. Mr H and The Fat Man checked their van, which had a nasty dent on the bonnet and they exchanged details. Mrs H looked a bit cross at first but gave me a sympathetic look for having to live with such a moron.

We were the last to set off and followed the other walkers as they made their way in ones or twos along the zigzag track up the hill ahead of us. We went much faster than usual as The Fat Man was still in a bad mood with himself and I followed behind with no chance to sniff the ground as I like to do. We soon caught up with Mr and Mrs H which was a bit embarrassing at first and he even tried to blame me for his stupidity as it was my dog food, but they were very kind and talked about other things than the bump. Had I been The Fat Man I don't think I would have admitted to having worked for a time as a Police advanced driving instructor but I'm not, and he did. We walked together for a bit but then pulled ahead as we turned up the hill after a boggy section and a side stream coming off the hillside.

There was a faint path to follow as we continued up the hill on a constant slope, The Fat Man stomping his way up, still chuntering and cursing at himself all the way as I followed behind, cursing at him also, for racing away. There was a lone figure working her way steadily up the hill ahead and at our frustration induced pace we soon caught up. We started to talk and, at last, slowed to her pace which, to be fair, and by her own admission, was not exactly running. How sensible. At my age of nearly seventy in dog years, I don't do racing either. Fortunately she started to admire me and tell me how gorgeous I am. As they talked, this did make The Fat Man continue at our more usual sensible sedate pace and we actually continued the rest of the round together. She seemed quite nice although unfortunately she did keep using the 'C' word, when talking of her pets, which I do find quite offensive. As a result of her language I shall call her 'Cat Lady'. Before we knew where we were we had arrived at the first summit. I was persuaded to climb to the top of the peeing stones for photographs but we didn't stay long as there was time pressure on the day and we were worried about the possible consequences of being late at the gate.

The going was really soft and good underpaw and progress was easy as we dropped down and then up over the second peak and onwards along the ridge towards the next.

As we arrived at our third peak of the day I was overjoyed to see there was not only a concrete pillar but also two very big piles of stones. This was a luxury peeing spot indeed.

There were a couple of walkers just leaving the summit in the opposite direction to which we were going. After the usual human niceties upon meeting (they don't tend to go in for sniffing each other's backsides, at least not on the first meeting) one of them asked if we had heard about the campervan crash at the gate. The Fat Man went very red and tried to look small, not easy for him. “Oh dear, was it you who got hit by the idiot who left his handbrake off?” they asked. The Fat Man went even redder and had to confess that he was that idiot.

At this point Cat Lady made it quite clear that she was not with The Fat Man although she did feel a public duty to keep an eye on him for his own safety, and that of others, until she could find some men in white coats to take him away. Unfortunately I was attached to him by my lead so I was unable to disown him so easily but did receive a sympathetic look for being stuck with him.

There was a strange ritual whilst The Fat Man and Cat Lady wandered about between the three human made objects on top of the mountain touching the top of each as they tried to work out which was the highest. As we were in the clouds at this time, they were obviously all high but it was hard to see which was the highest although I couldn't really see the relevance. They had an argument as to what point the hill could be classed as climbed, The Fat Man said he counted it as soon as he touched the top, Cat Lady wouldn't count it until she was safely back down. This confirmed my incredulity as to the strange hobby of Munro bagging of which they partake. I thought we were just out for a walk. Hey ho, humans do the strangest things.

We were then joined by Mr and Mrs H, which compounded The Fat Man's humiliation. They were kind enough not to mock him too mercilessly (that's my job) and fortunately there were no nearby cliffs for them to throw him off, so they just chatted for a short while and sat on top of the big pile of stones and I joined in as they all posed for photographs.

As my companions decided to use this as their lunch stop, I was given my biscuits and Mr and Mrs H, who obviously couldn't stomach watching The Fat Man scoffing his food, left us at the top, probably thinking it was safer not to be too close.

When we were done eating the two of them had a discussion as to which way to set off and opted for the most difficult route underpaw with lots of wibbly wobbly boulders. The Fat Man has all the poise and elegance of a drunken hippopotamus at the best of times and I made the mistake of standing too close to him as he tried to jump from rock to rock and he stumbled into me and stood straight on my paw causing me to yelp as it hurt, clumsy sod. I gave him a dirty look but didn't make a fuss and we all continued down what turned out to be the most difficult section of the day on rocking rocks, with me keeping my distance. Fortunately we soon hit grass again, came out of, and back into cloud which was the story of the day, weather wise, and having gone over a top arrived at the fourth and final, or so I thought, peak of the day. After their usual ritualistic touching the top of the rocks we headed down.

When we reached the fairly obvious start of the path down at the col, for some strange reason they both decided to visit another nearby top, for the stunning views it promised. I was therefore dragged reluctantly along and we soon discovered the stunning views of the inside of a cloud, great!

Time was pressing and we did finally start the long descent back to the valley, with The Fat Man complaining about the state of his ageing knees. We made steady progress, passing a spectacular waterfall on the way down making us all want to pee. Not a problem for me although the humans felt they had to hide as they did. Strange, they don't mind being seen eating but don't like to be watched peeing.

As we neared the road at the bottom of our track we could see a car had stopped and appeared to be waiting for us. Sure enough when we got to the car the occupants spoke to us and kindly offered us a lift back down the valley. What nice people. I gratefully accepted, wagging my tail and prepared to get in the car for our ride back to our starting point and the end of our exertions for the day. I was therefore horrified to hear The Fat Man and Cat Lady thank the man but turn this offer down, preferring to walk back down the glen. In Cat Lady's defence she probably thought that it was safer to keep The Fat Man and cars as far apart as possible. The Fat Man has no defence other than his mental state. I had to watch in dismay as the car drove off into the distance without us in it.

It also appeared that the millions of midges who had also been watching from their nearby hiding places, waited for the car to get out of view, passed the point it could be recalled, and then pounced on us all with their teeth sharpened and their itching powder at the ready. My two human companions were able to coat themselves in repellent but I had no such luxury and had to endure the little blighters for the long road walk home.

It was a race against the clock to get back to the gate before whatever unknown cataclysmic event took place at 8.00pm but fortunately we made it back to our respective vehicles and back down the road (without hitting anything) with about half an hour to spare. For what it is worth the day enabled me to double my Munro count to eight, although for some reason The Fat Man said I had only done seven, maths was never his strong point, there truly is no end to his lack of talents.

The day had certainly started badly but we agreed that the circuit of the Strathfarrar Munros was a worthy trip.
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Re: Bear Back with a Bump (and an Idiot) in Strathfarrar

Postby Jaxter » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:33 pm

You two are absolutely barking!! :lol: :lol:

Fantastic report :D Mind you keep that handbrake on eh :wink: :lol:
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Re: Bear Back with a Bump (and an Idiot) in Strathfarrar

Postby jamesb63 » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:08 pm

Well documented report :clap: :clap: a pity about the little mishap :roll:
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