Fresh from a draughty overnight camp in Drumochter( viewtopic.php?f=9&t=72019 ) and a trip to the co-op in Muir of Ord, we arrived at the Strathfarrar gate around 5pm. We did not want to be racing against time to complete the four before 6pm so we had planned to cycle in on Saturday night, camp overnight, climb the four Munros on Sunday and cycle out on Monday morning. So far so good. It was a lovely evening, if a little breezy, but the breeze was behind us as we cycled up the beautiful glen and found a good place to camp midway between the start and finish points of the walk, by which cunning plan we ensured a nice warm up before the ascent and not such a long walk out at the end, at least in theory although it did not work out that way in the end.
We were warned about it being a bad spring for ticks, and sure enough after spreading out the karrimats on the ground and putting a few pegs in I had at least a dozen tiny nymph ticks crawling up my hands. they were easily brushed off and a band of smidge on the hands and wrists put paid to any more thankfully.
We enjoyed a leisurely tea, and went to bed at a decent time and had a very cosy night.
Next morning we were up good and early and got a decent start before the gates were even open. We were a little bit smug but it was not long before we saw people coming up behind us and when we stopped at the burn crossing for a rest and to fill up with water we were overtaken by two ladies who were going at a good pace.
Paul says in the WH route description that this is a longer climb than it looks and he is not wrong. It is not too steep but it goes up and up and up. As we ascended we were aware of freshening wind and by the time we reached the top of the first Munro Sgurr na Ruaidhe it was quite fresh.
Coming down the other side however was completely sheltered and we were walking on lovely springy short green moss which was a pleasure.
As we climbed from the bealach towards Carn nan Gobhar the wind was freshening again and by the time we reached the bouldery bit at the top it was really hard going bit like Gollum with hands and feet on the rock.
We were hoping for a bit of shelter coming down the other side but it was not to be and needed a lot of concentration to walk in a straight line. We came to the Bealach Sneachda where there is a wee lump with a spot height on the OS explorer map and on the leeward side of that there was a big rock where we stopped to catch our breath and have a think. We didn't dare crack out the stove for a brew in case it all blew away. Rudolph went out to have a look and see how windy it really was and coming back his right cheek looked like it was being blown right across his face in front of his mouth. We decided the next part of the walk was more "ridgy" and we did not want to get blown off. It was very disappointing but once again we bailed out.
There were some heated discussions on the way down about whether we were turning soft or developing a habit of giving up. We took a straight line down the side of the corrie to meet a quad bike track we had seen coming up the way and joined this for an easy route downhill, crossing the burn without wet feet although I was poised to take a photo of Rudolph if he fell in.
We stopped near the parking area at the bottom of the hill for a brew at last, and the two girls who had passed us earlier came past in their van. We were relieved to hear that they also had come down after two summits. We were more relieved in the days to follow that several other people we met had come off these and other hills on the same day because of the wind.
Anyway, what we needed now was a weather forecast. Would the wind be moderating or would we forever be condemned to doing half-walks in these parts? A weather forecast at any price!
Our cunning plan to do half the walk-out as a walk-in now meant we had to walk back along the road to our campsite.
We packed up the tent, and got on our bikes to cycle out against the wind in search of phone and internet signal. Reaching the gate after closing time, we were pleased to find that the Cnoc Inn was only a stone's throw from the gate, and it didn't take us long to decide we could afford a night of comfort and proper nosh. The forecast was for two lovely days with insignificant wind so we made the decision to return the next day by car to finish the job. And that is another story.
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