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Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1


Postby Graeme D » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:10 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Meall a'Phubuill

Date walked: 04/01/2019

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 11.8 km

Ascent: 940m

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It was the annual Winter bothy meet up with Kev and this year we had decided to go North after 3 years of going South (Burleywhag in December 2015, Over Phawhope in November 2016 and Brattleburn in January 2018). The target was Glen Suileag Cottage but as always, it was not purely about the bothy itself. There would be hill plans too, on this occasion involving the Corbett Meall a'Phubuill and the Grahams of Meall Onfhaidh and Aodann Chleireig.

We arranged to meet up at Fassfern at 11am on the Friday and I set my sights on an early departure and a smash and grab raid somewhere on the way. I opted for the A9/A86 route and targeted the Graham of Creag Ruadh near Dalwhinnie. I was a little more sluggish in my attempts to escape Perth than I should have been and as a result, I knew I was going to be pushing it to get the Graham done and still be on time to meet Kev. I set off anyway from layby 94 and onto the track alongside the aquafer towards Cuaich Power Station. As I approached the station, I was aware of something behind me and turned to see a person approaching on a quad bike. It passed me just before the bridge, being driven by a woman wearing rather tired looking army style fatigues. I shouted a cheery "good morning" but got ignored. Perhaps she hadn't heard me over the noise of the engine. As she disappeared round the corner behind the power station, I checked my watch, jumped over the gate and surveyed the options ahead. To be honest, the hill itself was looking less than inspiring this morning and I was well and truly short of time, so after a moment or two, I turned back towards the gate. At this point I saw the quad bike across the burn and through the trees on the main track and by the time I got back to the gate, the woman was off the bike, engine still running as she stared down the track towards the A9 as if expecting someone. As I approached her I asked quite innocently what was happening this morning - it just seemed a little out of the ordinary, and there was something about her and her uniform that intrigued me. Military looking and yet NOT military looking at the same time! "None of your business!" was the rather curt response I got. "Fair enough" I responded without breaking stride, before shouting "Have a lovely day" with more than just a hint of sarcasm.

I returned to the car and quickly headed back south then through Dalwhinnie onto the A86 towards the Fort. I pulled into the car park at Fassfern just before 10.30 and Kev made it about 15 or 20 minutes later. We shouldered the overnight bothy packs and headed out of the car park and over the bridge before taking to the track up the east side of the burn marked as a Public Footpath to Glen Loy.

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Meall a'Phubhuill from the car park at Fassfern

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Start of the track into Glen Suileag

We were each carrying full packs with all the essentials for a successful overnighter in a bothy - beer, whisky, fuel, food. We had also given up precious pack space to a couple of luxury items, namely sleeping bags and thermarests. I can't vouch for Kev, but I had taken extravagance to a whole new dimension and had even taken a toothbrush!!!! And toothpaste to put on it!!!!!! :lol: :lol: :shock: :shock: I was also carrying my Diabolo open fire toasty maker which the MOs of Over Phawhope, Kenny and Beth, had introduced us to during our night there a couple of years ago.

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Approaching the end of the forestry and the start of the descent down towards the bothy

Even with big packs and me with an additional carrier bag with some additional wood and peat in it, it didn't take us long to grind out the 4 or 5 kilometres or so to the bothy. We arrived shortly after 12 o'clock to an empty bothy but signs that there had been folk in the previous night and that very morning in the shape of a few red embers still glowing in the fire. After getting set up and grabbing a quick bite of lunch, it was off to the hills and the ascent of Meall a'Phubuill. Not only would this be the first Corbett (or hill of any description) for each of us in the fledgling 2019, it would be number 111 for Kev, meaning that barring any future tinkering with the Corbett list, he would have hit the exact half way point on the round. As for me it would see me hit 98 and move ever so slowly and agonisingly closer to the big 100.

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Meall Onfhaidh from the bothy

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Meall a'Phubuill from the bothy

We travelled light, carrying only phones/cameras and the clothes we were standing up in. The weather was set and navigationally speaking, it was a straightforward pull up and drop back down.

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The western end of the Druim Fada

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Druim Gleann Laoigh from the ascent of Meall a'Phubuill

Kev spent much of 2018 preparing for and doing "ultra" hill runs but after finding not only that stopping to take photos was not conducive to a successful placing or even a vaguely mediocre placing - he was coming last in the 40s age category but was also being routinely and roundly humiliated by guys that could conceivably have been his grandfather - he decided to get back to "enjoying" the hills in a more leisurely fashion. In any case, since when did these people do nights in bothies with bottles of Single Malt whisky and cans of Chew Chew????? :lol: For my part I have never been as daft as to take part in any such ludicrous pastime, but for the last decade or so I have been a regular hill goer, albeit with steadily declining frequency. Kev's level of hill fitness is still therefore relatively sharp, even if he himself doesn't get out as much as in days gone by and he admits to feeling that he has lost just a little bit of sharpness. As for me, I was taken aback and horrified at how much my level of hill fitness has declined over time. Sure, I had started to notice that it wasn't quite what it was back in the days before fatherhood, or even up until a couple of years ago, but today was a real eye opener. I had felt not too bad on the walk in to the bothy, despite the heavy load. It was relatively flat, but now that we were ascending steep ground, I felt like it was a real struggle, even without carrying anything in the way of a load. :o :(

Eventually however, after much panting and frequent breather stops, I made it not too far behind Kev and the first hill of the new year had fallen. :D

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Half way point for Kev, crawling towards the century for me

Rather than retrace steps, we decided to descend west and then south west below the huge bulk of Gulvain and then swing round to the broad 380 or so metre bealach between our Corbett and the first of the two Grahams, Meall Onfhaidh. That would give us the option of skipping (or perhaps labouring would be a more appropriate term in my case) up the Graham today before returning to our digs for the night.

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Descent in the face of Gulvain

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Gleann Fionnlighe between Meall Onfhaidh and the slopes of that bloody Corbett from last July!

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Meall Onfhaidh

In the end we decided to leave both Grahams for tomorrow. Kev was feeling more than just a little peckish, erring more towards hypoglycemic having not eaten enough since breakfast, and we were both keen to get back and get the gogglebox on and crack into our stash.

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Headin' for home!

We arrived back without incident to find that we had the place to ourselves. A quick perusal of the bothy book showed that there had been quite a bit of life about the place over the previous couple of weeks, including a local couple from Corpach the previous night who had been visited by the local deer herd. Prior to that though it looked like about only one visit per month on average was the norm.

We settled down to an evening of bothy TV, a selection of fine ales courtesy of the Fallen Brewery (not least a few cans of their delicious Salted Caramel Milk Stout, the aforementioned Chew Chew), a few drams of Talisker, cheese and tomato toasties with green jalapeno chillies, and toasted marshmallows.

Rather disappointingly, we had no visit from the local deer herd - maybe they reserve that for locals!!!! - but had a grand old bothy night nonetheless. A good night's sleep was had, even allowing for Kev's ultimately fruitless attempt to reinvigorate the fire at some time around 4am.

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What's on tonight then?


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby PeteR » Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:29 pm

A nice bothy and a nice hill.

You do seem to attract some aggressive sorts when you're out on the hills Graeme :lol:
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby Graeme D » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:05 pm

PeteR wrote:A nice bothy and a nice hill.

You do seem to attract some aggressive sorts when you're out on the hills Graeme :lol:


Yeah, good point. I hadn't thought of that. This one was thoroughly pleasant though by comparison with Mr Jolly of Turin Hill! :lol:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby Sgurr » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:51 pm

Graeme D wrote: had even taken a toothbrush!!!!


Got so worried about the weight I was carrying that I chopped most of the handle off my toothbrush and put the paste in an old film canister.( In retrospect, it seems to verge on the ridiculous.) Looks a superb trip.
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby Graeme D » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:57 pm

Sgurr wrote:
Graeme D wrote: had even taken a toothbrush!!!!


Got so worried about the weight I was carrying that I chopped most of the handle off my toothbrush and put the paste in an old film canister.( In retrospect, it seems to verge on the ridiculous.) Looks a superb trip.


Aye, there's very little in the way of handle on my bothy toothbrush. It's more a case of shove it in my mouth and chew for a bit! :lol:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby kevsbald » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:04 pm

:lol: enjoyed this. I think I was pretty wasted at night, I even said I’d vote for independence at one point...until the next bothy trip 👍
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby malky_c » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:54 pm

Looks a bit grey, but I like this area and the bothy is great :D . Stopped off here on my cycle to the Kinlochleven meet a couple of years back. I have a strong dislike of shite larger, but I quite happily worked my way through 4 cans of Fosters that had been previously abandoned by a certain Mr Birdsey that evening :lol: .

Anyway, looked like you and Kev had a good trip 8)
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Re: Just a shadow (of my former self) - Part 1

Postby kevsbald » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:33 am

I remember a conversation about Cameron McNeish and how my dad noted that he doesn't actually do much walking in his programmes anymore - he's pretty good at eating cake though. Maybe you're the natural successor Graeme? Dewar's days out - I think it has a good ring to it - just don't go asking folk 'What's happening here then?'
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