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Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hallie

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:09 pm
by zatapathique
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Altitude profile, created with GPS-Track-Analyse.NET 6

Finally the big day had come. The Fisherfield round was the reason why I had chosen to come to Ross for my 2018 Munro trip to Scotland. When deciding where to go next after my last trip in 2017, I was again and again drawn to this vast area of emptiness, without roads or settlements, but with 5 Munros and a Corbett: Fisherfield. I also reasoned that I should do the harder walks as early as possible, that is to say as long as my body is still able to follow my mind's ambitions...

The ambition here was not to spend the night at Shenavall, but walk all the way in one go. (At this point I feel I should add a tiny little warning... DON'T DO IT!) :wink:

My mental preparation for this huge undertaking was excellent. For weeks, even months, I spent my lunch breaks at work and many evenings contemplating OpenTopoMap and reading walk reports on Walkhighlands. My physical preparation... well. With a certain hubris, I convinced myself that the distance wasn't the problem here. At the right speed, I could walk "forever". The problem rather was time. Roughly 44 km divided by an average speed of 2.5 km/h, which I normally can do in the hills, is 17.6 hours. With an early start in the dark, this should be possible.

The big day was forecast to be perfect in terms of weather. No clouds, practically no wind (unlike the day before, when the wind really bothered me), warm temperatures. I set my alarm clock to 3:30 a.m. and went to sleep early, wondering if I could make it, and how it would be like.

It would be heaven and hell, pleasure and pain, majesty and madness.

When the alarm tore me from a short and dreamless sleep, I was surprised that it wasn't dark anymore. With a brief moment of shock, I checked the clock - 3:30 indeed. I could have started much earlier! I gobbled down a quick breakfast, grabbed my already prepared backpack and set off. The streets of Ullapool were completely empty, and I saw just one car on the drive to Corrie Hallie.
Even before leaving the A835 at Corriehalloch, the second shock of the day: the low fuel light came on! Given the low fuel tank capacity of my rental Smart, I was worried not to make it back to Ullapool late at night. I decided not to let that bother me until my return to the car later.

At Corrie Hallie, the lay-by was full except for a Smart-sized gap which I could use to park the car. Opening the door, the third shock of the day swarmed in - midges! To save weight, and because I hadn't encountered any midges the two preceding days, I had left all my anti-midge gear in Ullapool ... bad mistake! I quickly put on my boots and hurried away from the car park and the Dundonnell River, crossed the road and attacked the (midge-free) track that would lead me to the real starting point of the tour, the valley of the Abhainn Loch an Nid. It was 4:50 a.m.

It's not how fast you can go
The force goes into the flow
If you pick up the beat
You can forget about the heat

The progress on the track was fast, my spirits were high, the early morning calm and beautiful. At first, the track rose gently, crossing a stream, before climbing up above Loch Coire Chaorachain rather steeply in a few bends. Soon after, the highest point of the approach track was reached at 385 m. At a cairn, the path from Shenavall and An Teallach joined the track.
Soon, I caught the first glimpse of the giant task that lay ahead of me: Beinn A' Chlaidheimh and Sgùrr Bàn were well visible.
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Beinn A' Chladheimh and Sgùrr Ban in the early morning light

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Looking Northwest along the Abhainn Strath na Sealga towards Loch na Sealga

The track descended constantly towards the Abhainn Loch an Nid with a steeper bit just before reaching the valley floor. It was 6:40, still "on schedule". Looking at the river, I saw that I was really lucky. It had not been raining very much for a longer period, and the river level was very low. In fact, locals had told me it was so dry that they had to water the garden for the first time in eleven years... Crossing the river, the water didn't even reach up to my knees. I admit I had been a little uncomfortable beforehand with three river crossings to do on this walk, and I had never crossed any river before that was more than ankle deep. I was surprised that my boots were completely tight - no water entered even from above, most probably because of my gaiters. The dryness of my feet came with a price, however. I had put on the gaiters right at the river bank, and a swarm of black bloodsuckers immediately attacked my lower back as soon as my shirt rode up when bending down to fix the gaiters to the boots. They followed me across the river and a little way up on the other side, but soon gave up pursuit.

Now the real work began, and I considered this moment as the real start of the walk. Beinn A' Chlaidheimh was not easily conquered. There was no path, the ground uneven and heathery, and progress was slow. After some hard work, the slope levelled out a bit, and I took a much needed break in a rocky area where I could sit down. Much to my annoyance, something that had been bothering me the past two days as well still persisted: drinking didn't quench my thirst. No matter how much water I drank, I still felt thirsty. Seeing me weakened by thirst, now Beinn A' Chlaidheimh resisted even more. After a short, lulling section with a lower gradient, the mountain suddenly hit me hard and struck with ever-steepening slopes. The ground was heather strewn with rock, so not only had I to find the best route upwards between the bigger rocks, but I also had to pick my path very carefully because the heather covered gaps between rocks, and you never knew what was underneath. I saw some people struggling higher up and tried to follow their approximate route. Cursing the mountain, I went on, step by step, always feeling thirsty. It dawned on me that this day would be no picnic, if the first mountain already almost defeated me. Five more to go after that...

More than just survival
More than just a flash
More than just a dotted line
More than just a dash

Finally I reached the Northern edge of the ridge and turned left over a section of loose rocks, still climbing. Panting, sweating, and cursing, I arrived on top of the ridge and saw the summit in the near distance, from where the group of people I had seen just left. A few minutes later, I was in their place and sank down next to the summit cairn. And this wasn't even the first Munro yet! I told Beinn A' Chlaidheimh that it served it right to have been demoted to a Corbett. The nerve to make my life so hard!
It was 9:50, 5h on the way, already an hour behind schedule. How could I possible complete this walk in a day? The first brain cells started whispering to me that I should abandon this foolish quest and turn back.
I was hungry and wanted to eat one of my sandwiches, but the first bite stuck in my mouth and sucked all the remaining water out of it, I could hardly swallow it. I put the sandwich minus one bite back into the pack and ate a banana instead, after which I felt much better, but still thirsty... I had already drunk more than the share of the 3.5 l of water I carried that I was "allowed to" at this point. At least I had recovered so much that I could start enjoying the panorama that was indeed beautiful, from An Teallach in the North over Loch na Sealga to Sgùrr Bàn in the immediate South, my next goal.
On Beinn A' Chladheimh, looking towards An Teallach

Panorama from South (Sgùrr Bàn) to North (An Teallach), click to see large

Fifteen minutes after having arrived at the summit, I started out again. Fifteen minutes don't seem long when you sit there, enjoy the panorama, eat, drink - but six summits mean six times fifteen minutes, which is 1:30h to add to your walking time...
Walking down the ridge to the bealach Am Briseadh was very easy compared to the ascent. From here, I could escape into the valley, and go back to the car ... but no, the day hadn't even really started yet, the first Munro was still waiting for me. However, Sgùrr Bàn seemed every bit as reluctant as Beinn A' Chlaidheimh to allow me to come to its summit. The ground was all rocks, which made for slow progress - again, and I was already behind schedule. After some minutes of just dawdling over the rocks, my willpower kicked in and made me go at a more determined pace.

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Going up Sgùrr Bàn

It's a test of ultimate will
The heartbreak climb uphill
Got to pick up the pace
If you want to stay in the race

With some effort and frequent brief stops after a dozen paces or so, I made my way uphill. Definitely not at my best today... I passed what I believed to be the stone shelter marked in OpenTopoMap and mentioned in the walk description - very basic! Finally I reached the stony summit plateau of Sgùrr Bàn at noon. Already more than 7 hours of walking lay behind me. I tried to have another bite of my sandwich, but still it dried out my mouth. The pasta with tomato sauce I had with me weren't much better. One bite of a muesli bar - too dry! I opted for a juicy apple instead, but even this went down hard. I wondered why this would be - I hadn't eaten anything different from usual in the past days, and took the same food and water with me that I always carried for the hikes in Scotland. I had never before experienced that my thirst just didn't get quenched by drinking, and now it was the third day in a row with this phenomenon. My first guess would be missing minerals, but the water I carried was not just tap water, but bottled source water with minerals, and the solid food had minerals as well. Maybe not enough. For my legs, I took some dextrose to prepare them for the descent to Cab Coire nan Clach and the following climb up Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair.
On Sgùrr Bàn's summit plateau, looking towards Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Sgùrr Dubh to the left of it

I was joined on the summit by a young couple from Darwen (I think that's what they said) whom I had already seen approaching at great speed behind me. We had a little chat before I went on, knowing that they would soon catch up with me again. There was a path down to the bealach, so progress was good. The ascent to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (I can now type it even without looking at the map :-D) was very steep on a narrow zig-zag path covered in small pebbles - very slippery. Even though it was steep, it was good to walk on a path, and the distance was much shorter than from Beinn A' Chlaidheimh to Sgùrr Bàn, and I was more than determined now to complete the Fisherfield round.

More than just blind ambition
More than just simple greed
More than just a finish line
Must feed this burning need —
In the long run…

On the way up, the young couple passed me again, and I joined them on the summit a bit later before we said our final goodbyes and they left. It had taken me only about an hour and half from Sgùrr Bàn to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, and my spirits were high again. In the very first moment, I was a bit disoriented and thought that Sgùrr Dhubh (very near) was Beinn Tarsuinn, but I quickly noticed the error. Still, Beinn Tarsuinn looked very close. At 13h15 now, time was almost back on track again to what I had planned.
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On Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Beinn Tarsuinn visible, the "tennis court" directly to its right

Looking back to Sgùrr Bàn, the path clearly visible

The descent from Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair was much easier than the ascent, and I was glad I walked the circuit clockwise. On the way down, I met an elderly couple from Lancashire going the opposite way, with the husband trailing some distance behind. I had a brief chat with the lady who, when I described the path I had come up Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and that they had to go down, termed this kind of surface as "ball bearings". Being a mechanical engineer in my other life, I very much liked that comparison, and it stuck. They had started from Kinlochewe in the morning, had already been on Beinn Tarsuinn, and would continue to Sgùrr Bàn, then go back the same way. Shortly after, a man came walking up the path, this time trailed by a totally exhausted small dog. With the dryness, there wasn't much water available for the dog to drink. He told me that the dog drank from every loch they passed, no matter how stale the water looked. For the man, the last decent water was behind Ruadh Stac Mor - important information for me, as I was beginning to run low on water, too. They went on, and I felt sorry for the suffering creature, wondering why people took their short-legged friends on such an exhausting tour...
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The bypass around Meall Garbh

Looking back to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Beinn Tarsuinn's Eastern slope where I would go up

Soon, I walked past Meall Garbh on a good path and made a little break at the Bealach Odhar. The distance to Beinn Tarsuinn was longer than it had seemed... The climb up its Eastern slope was not difficult, though. Arriving at the summit at 3 p.m. (more than 10h after leaving the car park), I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the view. The panorama was so divine that I was almost overcome by emotion and felt tears swelling up. Given my water shortage, I had to suppress them, though. :wink:

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light
That gets in your eyes
One moment's high
And glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightening
That flashes and fades
In the summer sky

The "tennis court"


A' Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor, the final two Munros

The first three peaks. From left to right: Beinn A' Chlaidheimh, Sgùrr Bàn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Loch na Sealga, the An Teallach Massif

(Panorama with five of the six peaks visible, click to see large)

On this hill in the pleasant afternoon light, I felt like a king throning over his kingdom, seeing that all was good in his realm. I could even eat about half my pasta, but still nothing of the sandwich. As for the rest of the tour, I accepted now the possibility of having to spend the night at Shenavall, even though I wasn't equipped to spend the night in a bothy - but I would manage somehow.
I'd have loved to stay longer and was reluctant to leave, ever taking "just one more" photograph. With high spirits, and very much looking forward to come to the "tennis court", I went on. The walk along the ridge was pleasant, and I was happy to see that the path actually crosses the tennis court.
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On the "tennis court", looking back to Beinn Tarsuinn

I continued on to the point where the path left the ridge to the left to go down to the broad bealach below A' Mhaighdean, at roughly 530 m the lowest point of the whole walk between Beinn A' Chladheimh and Ruadh Stac Mor.

This is where the torture began.

The path was much eroded, narrow, and steep. It was the archetypal "ball bearing" kind of path. I proceeded very carefully and slowly. Not only were my legs already a bit wobbly from almost 11 hours and 20.5 km of walking (not even half the distance!!!), but also my mind inhibited me. Curious thing - ten years ago, when I still lived in the French Alps and went hiking almost every summer weekend to summits of between 1'800 and 2'800 m high, nobody could beat me descending a mountain, no matter on what kind of path. I almost ran down the mountains. Without me being really aware of it, this has completely changed over the past years. Even though I had never fallen, which would possibly explain it (I very often slipped, but always recovered by "skiing" on my boots), some kind of fear must have built up in my head, causing me to think too much before each step down. I had become awfully slow going down a mountain.

I was glad nobody was around to hear me cussing and cursing in English, German and French on my way down, very cautiously. It took me 45 minutes for the short distance... Down at the bealach, my knees were weak, and faltered even more at the sight of the looong slope leading up A' Mhaighdean.
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Sooo far... and going up all the way...

Even though the ground was dry and grassy, progress was slow. The slope looked and felt endless. I had the impression that for every two steps I made uphill, I fell back down one. I was down to my last half litre of water, and thirstier than ever before. "A real slog" says the guidebook, and it really is. On top of that, the broad mountain blocks out the view, so all you see and experience is "up" and "far". A false summit was visible, and I knew it to be a false summit (there was a kind of straight trace below the summit, which I did not see below this false summit). I told myself at every step "This is not yet the summit, you will have to go on much further behind it." No use. When I arrived at the false summit and the still big distance to the real summit was revealed, I was shattered. The one brain cell that had not believed my mantra now dominated and pulled the whole brain down.

There was a clear stream, the first since Beinn A' Chlaidheimh, from which I drank to save on my remaining water. For reasons I never will quite understand, I did not fill my bottles. Bad mistake. The words of the man with the dog ("the last decent water is behind Ruadh Stac Mor") still echoed in my head, and possibly blocked my thoughts.

When I had reached a point where there was no more stream, I realized the missed opportunity, which made my spirits sink even lower. How could I be so stupid? Going back down to fill the bottles was out of the question, I neither had the energy nor the time to do this. Would I make it to the summit with less than half a litre left? I now had to pause every two steps, had to set myself little goals ("Walk to that bushel of grass, take breath, then to that rock"). Weak legs, mind preoccupied with water, mouth parched, I shuffled on. I could see the real summit now. There was a bigger, flat stone some 30 m below it, maybe 20 steps away. This was my next goal. Something to sit on. I must not pause before that stone. I must go on. I must reach that stone! Must. Reach. Stone. Stone. Stone. When I reached it after what felt like an eternity, I just slumped down on it, panting for air, took off my backpack, then fell slowly backwards, and closed my eyes.

Darkness. Nothing but my pulse and breath to hear. I stayed like this for a few minutes, then decided that this was ridiculous. Why stop just below the summit? I drank almost all of the remaining water (Ruadh Stac Mor was not far now), had some more dextrose, put my backpack back on, and stood up.

I will never forget what happened then. Somehow I managed to go up to the summit without further pause, and then all of a sudden the green wall I had seen for the past 2 hours was gone, the panorama opened up. The revelation was so unexpected that all fatigue was forgotten in an instant. It was as if someone had flipped a switch inside me, from "off" to "on". I took photos, made videos, ate some pasta, and enjoyed the panorama from the remotest Munro there is. The prospect of another 19 km to go didn't bother me in the least. 13:20 hours walking time up to here.
(Again five of the six peaks visible. Ruadh Stac Mor to the left and very close. You can see how far it is from Beinn A' Chlaidheimh to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair... Lochan Fada to the right, with Slioch behind it. Click to see large)

Looking out to the sea, as far away from civilisation as possible on a Munro

Detail of all the little lochans and pools

I soon went on, eager to tackle the last hill of the day. Two more things happened then that fully restored my energy. The slope down to Poll Eadhar Dha Stac was quite steep and grassy. I tried to squat down and "ski" down some distance on the soles of my boots, as I had done in the past on grassy slopes. With one difference. Then it was fresh grass. This was all dry and above all it was all combed in one direction by receding patches of snow - down! I accelerated fast, the yellow grass racing past me. I stretched out my feet, tried to brake with the walking stick in my right hand, and threw my left arm out as an anchor. It helped, and slowly I stopped. No damage done, just a few scratches and bruises in the left "anchor arm", and a big benefit: adrenaline! I was now more awake and alert than I had ever been the whole day.

Your meters may overload
You can rest at the side of the road
You can miss a stride
But nobody gets a free ride

The last thing that fully restored me was water. I found a nice little stream emerging from one of the last patches of snow. Ignoring the possibility of a dead deer buried under the snow, I drank plenty, and how did this feel good! The water was clear, fresh, and tasted a bit peaty, but good. I filled up all my bottles and didn't even feel the extra weight on my shoulders. My mouth remained dry, though, for the rest of the day. From the next day on, all was back to normal, and I still have no clue what that was all about...
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The saviour stream

In the present past, I was more than amazed that apparently all my struggles and problems had been mental, not physical. It now was out of the question to sleep at Shenavall, more than ever I wanted to complete the Fisherfield round in one go.

More than high performance
More than just a spark
More than just the bottom line
Or a lucky shot in the dark —
In the long run…

Now the last Munro was waiting for me - Ruadh Stac Mor. Already from the slopes of A' Mhaighdean, I had looked for the gully and scree path leading up to the summit.
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Ruadh Stac Mor. The gully is visible, the scree path's location can be guessed. The summit is then approached from the right (i.e. South)

The gully was easy enough to find, and in my current elated state of mind, it was a delight to scramble upwards through the narrow gully. The scree path above was stable, no ball bearings at all, and I rather quickly reached the summit, just 1h20 hours after leaving A' Mhaighdean. It was exactly 8 p.m., the time I had set myself as the latest time to arrive at Ruadh Stac Mor to get down from the hills and to the path along the Abhainn Gleann na Muice while there was still daylight. All was well.

On this last summit of the day, I felt very much alive, taking dozens of photos, shooting silly videos and grinning to myself all the time. If the panorama on Beinn Tarsuinn had left me awestruck, the one on A' Mhaighdean reverent, the panorama from Ruadh Stac Mor just made me blissfully happy.

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light
That gets in your eyes
One moment's high
And glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightening
That flashes and fades
In the summer sky

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The twin Lochan an Bràghad, looking towards Shenavall

Fuar Loch Mòr in the foreground, then out to the sea, to the sea!

The sun still quite high at 8 p.m.

Reflection in Fuar Loch Mòr

What a panorama... Click to see large

The three first peaks of the day. I was impressed by how far it looked from Beinn A' Chlaidheimh to Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Click to see large

Looking back to A' Mhaighdean

Unfortunately, it was now time to leave. The descent required crossing a boulderfield, which made progress slow. This didn't really improve until I had almost reached the twin Lochan a' Bhràgad. Passing between the two lochans, the ground became grassy, and there was a faint path along a stream. While I was following it, a Scottish guy caught up with me at an incredible speed. He'd go back to Corrie Hallie as well, telling me it would take him 1.5h to get there from Shenavall, and I guess he got to Corrie Hallie hours before me. I soon crossed the stream and started looking for the Clach na Frithealaidh, the "prominent rock" described in the guide book. I found a likely candidate, and then indeed the stalkers path leading down into the valley. Having reached the path, I felt I was as good as home and dry, but I was neither one, nor the other, with almost 15 km to go, two river crossings, and "some of the boggiest ground in all Scotland" according to the walk description.
Loch Beinn Dearg

Progress was good on the path, and I soon reached the Abhainn Gleann na Muice - and its midges. Slowly the sun set, it got dusky, and past the Northern tip of Beinn a' Chlaidheimh, I saw the full moon rising in a still cloudless sky. How could a guy be so lucky? I would even have some light on my way back to Corrie Hallie. It really was the perfect day for Fisherfield.
Full moon rising

At 11 p.m., it started getting what you could call "dark". At this point, I had reached the cottage and trees of Larachantivore. Should I cross the river here and walk across the bog in direct line to Shenavall, or take the long way around the bog? Nah, that would be far too long and take too much time. With the long dry spell, I was not too worried about there being many "deep slime-filled pools" as the guidebook said. I put on my gaiters again and the headlamp, and started crossing the river. I could hardly see Shenavall anymore, so I took a point in the deep dark ridgeline, which was clearly visible against the dark blue sky, as a reference. The river was very shallow and no problem at all to cross.

The bog was relatively dry. I walked quite fast across it, probing the ground in front of me constantly with my walking stick in the spotlight of my headlamp. This method only failed twice, when I sunk up to my knee into the bog. A couple of times, I had to divert from the straight line to Shenavall, which was now visible by some lights people had put up, to avoid boggier sections. Before I reached the Abhainn Strath na Sealga, the lights at Shenavall went out again, and I reverted to my reference point in the ridgeline. I wondered if anybody saw my headlamp dancing over the bog, thinking "what a foolish thing to do at this time of the day"...

At the point where I reached the river, it was divided into two arms. The first arm was easy to cross, as it almost had no more water. Walking across the island composed of big pebbles, I came to the second arm. The light of my headlamp was not enough to see how deep it was. Where to cross? Again, I was lucky. A herd of deer came thundering along, crossing the river at high speed and without hesitation just a few dozen metres upstream of me. Some guys have all the luck...

When I approached Shenavall at a quarter to midnight (almost 19h after my start), a young guy came out of the door. With the light that spilled out into the night through the door behind him, I only saw his silhouette. Looking at him and walking right at him, I saw in the light of my headlamp that he was holding the cup of a thermos in one hand - and his wing wang in the other, peeing against the bothy wall right next to the door! :shock: We both carefully chose to ignore each other entirely, and I walked past the bothy. I wondered - wouldn't it be kind of decent and considerate towards the other occupants to go some distance away from the door? I was glad I had chosen not to stay in the bothy.
Nearly midnight at Shenavall

Now where to go? According to the map, the path followed the Allt a' Chlaiginn, which I found quickly. I didn't find the path immediately, though, only after walking along the rough edge of the stream for a while. The path was quite faint even with my headlamp, the full moon being hidden behind the mountains. I lost the path several times, but luckily found it again quite quickly every time. For some reasons now unknown to me, I had thought it was a track like the one I took early in the morning. Silly me, as I had seen it was just a path when I had walked past it at the junction 18 hours earlier...

When I was walking through a narrow gap between the hills, I saw something very strange at the visible horizon. A white, a red, and an orange light dancing madly up and down, left and right. It was impossible to judge the distance to these lights. They were moving really fast - mountain bikers going down the opposite hillside in the darkness? Someone flying drones? I stopped, not knowing what to expect. I soon found out that I had misjudged the distance greatly, as the lights approached rapidly. It was three Asian guys on their way to Shenavall, with coloured headlights. They asked me if they were on the right path, which I confirmed.

Soon after, the path came to more open ground, and again I lost it a few times. Finally, I realized that I hadn't been on the path anymore for quite some time now, even if the ground looked from time to time as if it were a path. Switching off the headlamp helped a bit in seeing further ahead, as the full moon illuminated the whole area and not just a spot. But still no real path. Time to use some navigation techniques. The ground was rather easy to walk on, so I decided to go in a straight line until I came to the next "line of recognition" (no idea what the correct English term is - if you are off course, you just go straight to such a line, which is a known feature such as a river, a fence, a road, ...). My chosen line was the Allt Lochan na Bràdhan. With the help of the compass, I saw to it that I didn't go too far South, but rather aimed Northeast. I did not want to go straight North to get back to the path directly, because I was afraid I would miss it and just walk across and past it.

I was a bit angry at myself for having lost the path. This would take time, and even though the ground was not too bad to walk on, it was of course more demanding for my tired legs than walking on a path. Eventually, I came to the stream and followed it North, quickly rejoining the path. You can see my detour and the point where I decided to take action quite well on the GPS map in the end of the report.

From the point where the path crossed the stream, it was clear enough not to lose it again. Finally I felt I was safe. But it would still be long before it was over. The path stretched and stretched, and it was much longer than I had hoped until I reached the track again after 21h20 and 40.1 km of walking.

You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don't burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance —
First you've got to last…

Now back on the track to Corrie Hallie. I was really tired by now, and just trotted on mechanically as fast as I still could. At a bend in the track, I saw a man approaching, clad all in black, and with a sort of cowboy hat on. I stopped to let him approach - possibly an early starter for the same tour I had just made. He didn't move. I started wondering if I should be scared or not, when it came to me that what I saw was nothing else but my own shadow, with the full moon now being right behind me. It was time to get back to the car if my mind started playing such tricks on me. Even more so as I fell for the same illusion again a few minutes later... :roll:

The track didn't want to end either and seemed much longer than on the way out, even though I was going down. The question of my car's low fuel level came back to my mind, too, and preoccupied me...

Dawn was already breaking as I finally, finally, finally arrived at the car at 3:05 a.m. after 22:15h, 43.6 km and 2660 m of height difference.

My water was again empty, mouth still dry, most of my food still uneaten, but I was happy as never before. I really made it!

Even though I hurried to stow the boots in the car and to get in as quickly as possible, by the time I started the engine, the car was full of midges. I was too tired to bother and drove back slowly (to save fuel - and because I was really tired and had to pay extra attention) to Ullapool in the early morning light. The fuel lasted, and I arrived at my accommodation almost exactly 24h after I had left. What a day out!

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light
That gets in your eyes
One moment's high
And glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightening
That flashes and fades
In the summer sky

Walking times, all from the start at Corrie Hallie (04:50 a.m.):
Crossing the Abhainn Loch an Nid: 2h
Summit of Beinn A' Chladheimh: 4:45h
Summit of Sgùrr Bàn: 7h
Summit of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair: 8:30h
Summit of Beinn Tarsuinn: 10:10h
Summit of A' Mhaighdean: 13:20h
Summit of Ruadh Stac Mor: 15h
Joining the path in Gleann na Muice: 17:40h
Shenavall: 19h
Back on the track to Corrie Hallie: 21:20h
Back at the car park: 22:15h

Lyrics from the song "Marathon" by Rush, one of my all-time favourite bands, from their album "Power Windows", 1985.

2018-05-28-29 Fisherfield_ACTIVE LOG035013-Erweitert_Grafik2D.jpg
Altitude profile, created with GPS-Track-Analyse.NET 6

Edits: removal of typos

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:00 pm
by arjh
Gruelling and gripping, a great report. Your 'line of recognition' is a technique called 'handrailing' in English.

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:39 pm
That’s some walk! 😂 :clap:

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:10 pm
by Alteknacker
Great report, with some really excellent pics, especially the panos (BTW if you click on the pic to get the enlargement, you can then right click on "view image" and get an even bigger and clearer pic! And click again to get a magnified view to look at detail). It was great to see pics of these hills from slightly different angles, but still wholly recognisable. I'm sure you won't easily forget such a magnificent place.

It was clearly a heck of a struggle in the heat. I did a similar round in the heat a couple of weeks before you, and was unable to complete my planned route due to being too tired.
I find it's not always the case, but sometimes the heat really takes it out of you, and for me that was one of those days!
Well done for keeping going to the bitter end (and congratulations to your Smart also :D ).

I also suffered a bit from feeling constantly "dry-mouthed" - although in my case I didn't really run low on water, because I filled up at every available opportunity. I think this ever-dry feeling also tends to sap energy.

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:28 am
by weaselmaster
That was a great read. The right weather for these hills too, as reflected in your fine photos.

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:24 am
by Coop
Well in :clap:

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:27 pm
by yokehead
Superb report, I felt your pain - and pleasure!

Very well done, great job!

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:19 pm
by zatapathique
arjh wrote:Gruelling and gripping, a great report. Your 'line of recognition' is a technique called 'handrailing' in English.

Thank you. :-) So it's called handrailing. Good to know, thanks!

SAVAGEALICE wrote:That’s some walk! 😂 :clap:

Thank you.

Alteknacker wrote:I did a similar round in the heat a couple of weeks before you...

A month after me, if the dates are right. :wink:
Fantastic report of yours as well, enjoyed reading it very much - could have used it as part of my preparation, but unfortunately not without a time machine. :wink:

weaselmaster wrote:That was a great read. The right weather for these hills too, as reflected in your fine photos.

Thank you. I was really extremely lucky with the conditions - dry, clear sky, full moon, long day...

Coop wrote:Epic
Well in :clap:

Thank you. My feet now have their own definition of "epic", only they call it "torture". :lol:

yokehead wrote:Superb report, I felt your pain - and pleasure!

Very well done, great job!

Thank you. The pleasure outweighed the pain by far in the end - but maybe not at all times during the walk... :wink:

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:37 pm
by ScotFinn65
Incredible. Well done !

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:27 pm
by thand
Amazing - great effort and some amazing panorama photos to drool over!

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:21 pm
by Fife Flyer
Fantastic report, superb photo's and reminded me what a special place Fisherfield is.

I did exactly the same as you 2 years ago, managed to get back to my car at Corrie Halle just as it got dark so didn't need my head torch. I then drove home to Fife arriving back after 2am, it really is a monster round and you will remember it forever - just like I do.
PS: Just checked my report and I also did the walk on 28th May!!!!

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:44 pm
by zatapathique
Fife Flyer wrote:Fantastic report, superb photo's and reminded me what a special place Fisherfield is.

I did exactly the same as you 2 years ago, managed to get back to my car at Corrie Halle just as it got dark so didn't need my head torch. I then drove home to Fife arriving back after 2am, it really is a monster round and you will remember it forever - just like I do.
PS: Just checked my report and I also did the walk on 28th May!!!!

Thank you! :)
Oh yes, you really did justice to your nickname and flew along in just 14.5h - that's an incredible feat, it took me a third more...
Your report was part of the inspiration that led me to try this in one go - I read it again last Sunday and commented on it, and never noticed you also walked on a May 28th.

So hear ye! Hear ye! All hillwalkers intending to do this from Corrie Hallie in one day - tradition demands it shall be done on a May 28th. It's a recent tradition, but a tradition nonetheless. :wink:

@ScotFinn65 and thand:

Thank you! :)

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:14 pm
by Grisu
A breathtaking report! :clap: I hoped for some assurance but now I am even more scared :shock: , but I think I'll try anyway.

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:44 pm
by zatapathique
Grisu wrote:A breathtaking report! :clap: I hoped for some assurance but now I am even more scared :shock: , but I think I'll try anyway.

It's not a picknick, but it isn't impossible either. And it is very, very rewarding. :-)
If you know your capabilities, go for it - you still have Shenavall as a possibility of ending the day early.
And if you only want to bag the Munros, leave out Beinn a'Chlaidheimh. This will save you some effort.
If you do include Beinn a'Chlaidheimh, tell it from me that it couldn't defeat me, I'm still alive. ;-)

Re: Marathon & more: Fisherfield 6 in 1 day from Corrie Hall

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:28 pm
by Mancunian
Was für ein phantastischer Bericht. Da zieh ich mal den Hut vor dieser Leistung! :clap:
But now back to english. Somehow I must have missed your report back in summer when it was published so I reply now. I know all these mountains myself and have been there on 2 occasions and therefore I admire anyone who does the Fisherfield 6 in one go. Just amazing. I'm not sure if I would manage it but probably not. So thanks again for this report from one of my favorite areas in Scotland.

Merry Christmas & Frohe Weihnachten from Germany...