Not having bagged any munros since 2nd June I was looking forward to getting a few more munros under my belt. I poured over the maps I had and picked out the Glen Lyon hills as being just about accessible for a days return drive and walk. Weather was still looking promising if I could get away early enough depending on which forecast you went with of course. Having looked on google I wasn’t sure how much parking there would be so decided on an early start even making the sarnies the night before and filling the water bottle to save time. So I was very happy when I left the house at 6.30am on the dot although with one of those niggling feelings that I’d forgotten something. No I’m sure it was just my early start making me doubt myself. Food, water, waterproofs yes all there.
It wasn’t until half an hour later sitting at the traffic lights at Loch Awe it came to me, Boooooooooooots! I didn’t even have to look in the back of the car I could picture exactly where I left them! As I turned the car back to Oban many thoughts went through my head (1) sod the walk and watch the tennis (2) re-route for a shopping day in Stirling (3) attempt the walk in trainers! I tried not to think about it and decided any proper walker would just get on with it. So trying not to think too much about my dilemma I about turned and headed back through all the little villages, picked up the boots and before I had time for second thoughts started my journey again all over again. Take 2! A two hour drive turning into three hours eventually arriving at 9.30! By the time I got there the last of the parking spaces had just been taken so I squeezed my car into the side of the single track road next to the telephone box (although I needn’t have worried as on my return there were 7 cars behind me!).
Wanting to try and make up some time I quickly changed into the precious boots thanking my lucky stars I’d remembered them before opening the boot to No Boots! I adjusted my pack and set off for the start. I’d only just walked through the gate when I was stopped by a male figure sitting under a gazebo looking as if he was about to hand me leaflets for a religious retreat. I was about to walk past pretending I hadn’t seen him when he shouted me over in a very polite voice. So feeling guilty I went over to say hello and realised he was asking me to participate in a deer survey. Thinking I was a bit rude earlier I took the information and promised to record anything I saw. Which as it turned out was 0!
Finally getting started on the hill I set a good pace slowed down by various awkward to open gates. A bit of lift and pull helped. A second pair of hands would have been an advantage. Fortunately the path was very well sign posted making it easier to catch up a bit of time and less need for map and compass. After leaving the hydro track the path crossed a stream on a rather rickety bridge and started the long hill climb up Carn Gorm.
I had one check of the map to make sure I was heading the right direction. Two people way on the horizon also confirmed this for me. After a few hours I reached the first top and was very happy to get the first munro of the day under my belt after a slow start.
By this time I was catching up on the two walkers ahead of me. After a quick bearing off the first cairn there was a nice long line of fence posts leading down off the first hill and back up towards the second munro of the day. It was pretty much rusty fence posts all the way apart from a little shortcut straight across towards the next hill. The wind was really picking up by now and I was starting to wonder if shorts was a good idea. The surrounding hills looked a little gloomy and I wondered how long it would be before the rain set in. But I easily reached the second top which was a very windy one so I placed a stone quickly on the top and hurried down the other side for a bit of shelter. The line of fence posts continued off the top. I even noticed a couple of buckets along the way which looked like a half-hearted attempt to pick up some of the wire fencing littered across the plateau.
The third top seemed to take much longer to reach. I climbed to what I thought was the top but turned out to be the summit plateau of Meal a Bharr. After double checking my map I realised the next munro was across the plateau ahead. I could see some walkers sheltering from the wind behind some boulders so I made my way across the plateau towards them. I sat down for a better look at my map and could now confirm where the two munros were I had still to do. The next munro looked more interesting than the first two so I headed off again across the plateau and ascended the gentle slope to the summit, realising when I got to what I thought was the top it was actually behind me! The wind at least was starting to die down a bit by now and the clouds becoming a bit less grey.
I could see the walkers in front looking for a way down as there were some crags blocking the route. They seemed to head down a perpendicular looking path so I decided since I’d made up a lot of time to follow my WH instructions and head off east for an easier path. When I looked back at the route I realised it had been a really wise choice with not much difference in the overall distance. The weather was improving all the time so decided I would reward myself with a leisurely lunch at the final munro of the day. It didn’t take long and before I knew it I was on the summit. I turned around to great views of the days traverse. The sun was even starting to come out and so as I sat down to my lunch finally the mornings hiccup was all but forgotten. By this time there was about 6 of us on the final summit all looking pretty happy with our days achievement.
It was even a pleasant walk back down the hill. No long bracken just nice springy short grass and heather with a path all the way. A kind one on the knees. It was about an hour and a half back to the start meeting the original path close to the end. With great views all the way back up Glen Lyon and to the 4 munros climbed. I even saw the Lint Mill I had missed on the way up. Although not sure how I could have missed it.
As I reached the hydro track I got chatting to a fellow walker and so had an extra pair of hands for the awkward gates and a good laugh about the day I nearly gave up on. As I drove home along the side of Loch Tay the drive seemed so much more pleasant. A great finale to a slow start.
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