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The Horror! The Horror!

The Horror! The Horror!


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:43 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Aonach Buidhe, Beinn Dronaig, Faochaig, Sguman Coinntich, Sgurr Gaorsaic

Date walked: 29/07/2019

Distance: 94 km

Ascent: 4633m

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In Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness", Mr Kurtz utters these words "The horror! the horror!" with his dying breath, a reflection on his own life, actions and those of "civilized" humanity as a whole. Or perhaps, as his life flashed before his eyes, he was thinking back to a weekend spent in Kintail... :wink:

After a week away from the hills, Allison was raring to go. I'd planned to get some Kintail Corbetts under the belt - some slightly awkward hills requiring long approaches before stalking season kicked in. Beinn Dronaig firstly, then the Killilan Three: Sguman Coinntich, Faochaig and Aonach Buidhe. We did have the hottest day of the year to contend with: driving up through Fort William on Thursday evening, my car told me it was 30 degrees - this being after 7pm. We pulled up at Attadale and set off up the track at 9pm, intending to get to Bendronaig bothy. This was to be where we encountered the first "horror".

It's a four years since we've been up this way and the new track makes access so much easier underfoot. Which was at least something - the conditions were challenging enough otherwise. Firstly the heat - baking hot despite the sun having dipped down, not much breeze as we plodded along. Then the "flying torments": we had chosen a day that flying ants had also chosen to unleash themselves on Attadale - they were everywhere; underfoot, on clothing, in your eyes. Not that they were unpleasant in themselves, they didn't seem to bite, but there were clouds of them. The lack of irritation from the ants was more than made up for by the clegs, which were out in force, piercing your skin through clothes. And the midges. And the keds. In fact, all we seemed to be missing was a plague of bloody locusts :lol:

Setting off
ImageP7250282 by Al, on Flickr

Just before midnight we arrived at the bothy. No-one home. We saw a light off to the north, up by Loch Calvine and wondered if someone else was coming down, but the light didn't move, so we had it to ourselves. Tired and hot we got the bedding sorted out and crashed out - sadly I didn't get the sleep I was hoping for - I never seem to sleep well in bothies. Around seven am we heard the door creak open - I thought someone had come in and gone to the toilet, for a very long time. Allison said they'd gone out again right away but I wasn't so sure - especially when I got up and found a frog sitting in the corner of our room. I'm thinking "shapeshifter". I placed the frog, who was looking a mite dry, in the stream outside as we got breakfast and prepared for our hill. :lol:

Bothy breakfast
ImageP7260283 by Al, on Flickr

Bendronaig Lodge sits right below Beinn Dronaig, surprisingly. Although there's a suggested route, it's just as easy to cross the fence by the stile and head straight uphill, following the path of a stream. The sky was slightly overcast - patches of blue sky in a hazy white cloud. It was still very warm, though not as incandescent as yesterday. Progress was therefore leisurely. Great views north to the Torridon hills; An Teallach visible beyond. We got up to the back of the hill and wandered along to the trig point summit. Last time we were here we'd also done Cheesecake and Lurg Mhor - quite a long day - but today we were taking it easy and doing one hill only. We descended by much the same route, back to the bothy where we'd left our gear. Mysteriously, one of the chairs in the room we'd used had completely gone - not like moved into another room - disappeared! There is talk of the bothy being haunted...

Bothy
ImageP7260285 by Al, on Flickr

Cheesecake and Beinn Dronaig
ImageP7260286 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7260288 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7260289 by Al, on Flickr

Torridon hills
ImageP7260291 by Al, on Flickr

Descent to the bothy
ImageP7260292 by Al, on Flickr

We sat and had lunch out of the glare of the sun. I noticed that the comy chair I'd been sitting on that morning had disappeared - not moved to another room in the bothy, just gone...nothing else, including our kit had been touched I was now more puzzled. We were joined by a couple of Belgian lads doing the CWT, plus a Czech called George they'd picked up along the way. George looked about 19 and utterly exhausted. We had a lengthy talk with the Belgians, not least about river crossings. They were planning to get to Craig by the end of the day. We packed up and followed after them back along the track, noticing George was falling behind quite badly. After a time they stopped to ask a stalker, who'd driven up the track, directions - they were looking for the path to Achintee. A little while later, the stalker drives past us and offers a lift back to Attadale. Not needing asked twice we jumped in and enjoyed his banter. He told us that an old guy had been staying in Bendronaig Lodge the previous night and was looking for his fishing rod cover, hence the mystery of who had opened the door at 7am without staying. Presumably he'd also moved the chair back to the lodge (it was an unusually comfortable chair for a bothy).

I had thought we'd get back to the car about 4.30, meaning that we could have something to eat then drive round to Killilan and walk some of the way in to Iron Lodge. However, our unexpected lift, which saved 5 or 6 kilometres had brought us back to the car earlier than planned. We had something to eat anyway :lol: Parked up at Killilan and readied our packs - still very hot and the air filled with even more clegs than the previous day. I reckoned we should be able to walk past Iron Lodge, camp there and do the three hills on the way back to the car the following day.


kililan3x.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



We set off around 5pm down the long track to Iron Lodge - one we've walked a number of times now. Clegs were the main horror, with the occasional cloud of midges. Still a reasonable breeze most of the time. Passed a couped and decidedly dead sheep on the track near Carnach - unsheared, presumably the heat was too much for it. Flies were in abundance around its wooly corpse. We passed Iron Lodge, remarking that the closely cropped grass in its garden looked a good tent pitch :wink: before finding a suitable spot just south of the path. We pitched, the midges wasted no time in finding us, ate our tea and crashed out. This time I did sleep well.

The forecast for Saturday wasn't very good - clag and rain, with a reduction in temperatures. It had rained a little overnight - we packed the wet tent away amid the attentions of the midges, and set off up the track by the An Crom-Allt. There's an ATV track with leads off to the left up Aonach Buidhe, just after the cairn marking the highest point of the track - this wound its way up the shoulder of the hill. Cloud inversions over Loch Mullardoch. We steadily rose to the large cairn marking the summit, stopping for lunch. From here we had a there-and-back to the Simm of An Creachal Beag (the little rocky surface) - which is a good description as this side of the hill is much rockier than the one we'd ascended. Back to the main summit, where we'd left our packs, then back down the track. It was raining heavily now, a good soaking for us, the streams swelling and gushing.

Morning
ImageP7270294 by Al, on Flickr

Inversion over Mullardoch
ImageP7270296 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Aonach Buidhe
ImageP7270298 by Al, on Flickr

Summit An Creachal Beag
ImageP7270299 by Al, on Flickr

Back on the main track we continued on for a little way before turning west up a stalker's path for Faochaig. After a boggy start, this takes one up nicely to the top of Faochaig, past waterfalls. Visibility was intermittent until we reached the top, when the clag descended - we were to have no views for the rest of the day. Although I didn't need Faochaig for my second round, having been up here twice before, I did want the two Simms out to the north west. This involves a round trip of about 5k, with a loss of more than 200m elevation which has to be regained on the return. Sometimes I can see Simms far enough... We diddled about in the mist, failing to find the right direction for some time then crossing the aptly named "Bealach Bog" to reach the first Simm of Carn nan Searrach (possibly the cairn of the foal) before the longer descent to Cadha Raudh. All was enclosed in mist. We plodded back to our rucksacks at the summit of Faochaig, ate some food and prepared ourselves for the long haul over to Sguman Coinntich.

Faochaig
ImageP7270300 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7270301 by Al, on Flickr

Faochaig summit
ImageP7270302 by Al, on Flickr

Oh this went on for ever! When we'd first reached the summit of Faochaig, I thought we were doing ok for time, but the punishing walk out to the Simms had taken a while. Here we were, stepping on into mist without really seeming to gain much height - indeed it felt a bit like we were trapped on an Escher staircase, endlessly repeating our strides to no gain. Eventually we found ourselves near the summit, feeling as full of life as the collapsed wind turbine we passed by. The trig point reached (with its unique spindly legs) it was time to start the descent. After all the rain there had been I thought it might be wise to cross the Allt a'Choire Mhoir a bit higher up than the standard route suggests. Therefore we aimed more directly down the hill. The river runs though a gully, which is steep walled in places - the mist didn't help us with planning our crossing very much either. But we managed across and onto track, thank the Lord! However, even then we were not free from horror, as I missed the turn off that leads straight by the river to the phone box, keeping on the track instead at the cost of another kilometre or so.

Wind's been too strong for this fellow
ImageP7270304 by Al, on Flickr

Sguman Coinntich
ImageP7270305 by Al, on Flickr

River crossing
ImageP7270306 by Al, on Flickr


By this time it was after 8.30 - we'd been walking for nearly 12 hours and were knackered - the heat of the day before having taken its toll. Reaching the car, we decided to eat first - I used the wall at the parking area as a makeshift kitchen worktop to cook up a pan of pasta & pesto, which we ate in the car on account of the many midges that had appeared. Some cherry pie and custard followed and some life was restored to our bodies. Where to camp? was the next thought. We looked in on Shiel Bridge campsite, which was hoaching, so drove up the road a few miles to a wee spot by the old bridge - fortunately no-one else there, we got the tent pitched amidst the wet grass and a million midges. Tempers were slightly short given the combination of tiredness, heat and midges.

Woke at 7am with the sun streaming into the tent, virtually cooking us. I hesitated to go outside, not wanting to face the hordes, but there was actually a bit of breeze to make them bearable. I hadn't expected to have a whole day left - my cunning plan was therefore to do Sgurr Gaorsaic (the Hill of Horror). Allison has particularly bad memories of this hill, having fallen whilst descending last time, punching herself in the jaw and breaking her pole, then putting her back out on the cycle back to where we were staying (the one and only time we've used bikes on a hill route). I broke the news to her gently.

I'd intended to do this hill along with Beinn Fhada, taking in two Munro Tops and a Simm on that mountain. However, that was too big an outing for today - we'd just do Gaorsaic. I have no idea why it has this name, "the peak of horror" - I wonder if there was a battle in the plains around the loch below the hill - but I can find nothing on it. "Gaorsaic" doesn't appear on Gaelic translations either. Well whatever, today we would be approaching by the very straighforward approach from Morvich and going up the southern side of the hill, rather than a somewhat insane route up the northwest as we did before.

A pleasant morning, mist on the hilltops, but cooler at track level and enough breeze to be comfortable. Met no-one walking along to Bealach an Sgairne, then were delighted to find a good track continues down the other side to Loch a'Bhealaich. Wet in places, but stepping stones over all the stream crossings. We paused for lunch in the only spot that seemed to be out of the breeze, meaning that we were soon mobbed by midges. A couple of guys coming presumably from Altbeithe walked by. Rain came and went.

ImageP7280307 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7280308 by Al, on Flickr

Bealach an Sgairne
ImageP7280309 by Al, on Flickr

Gaorsaic (partly hidden in cloud)
ImageP7280311 by Al, on Flickr

Gaorsaic
ImageP7280312 by Al, on Flickr

From here we walked along a little then followed a fence line up Gaorsaic. Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan loomed over us to our right. We reached a dismantled cairn, which isn't the highest point, then walked on a little to the unmarked summit. No horror today! Not even on the descent, which was unremarkable. Back along to Morvich, quite enjoying the afternoon, rain having dried up and the sun making efforts to break through. Back at the car we met another couple of walkers, including Benaden887, who'd been off doing the Kylerhea Grahams. We chatted about routes and other stuff - always nice to put faces to names.

ImageP7280313 by Al, on Flickr

Ceathreamhnan behind
ImageP7280314 by Al, on Flickr

Horror summit!
ImageP7280315 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP7280316 by Al, on Flickr

The drive home had its own little bit of horror. We headed down to Balachulish for something to eat, noticing a sign saying the A82 was close after Tarbert. Some accident in the early afternoon had closed the road in both directions near Luss - my app suggested heading down the 814 by Faslane - that should be fine. Except that when we got to the junction at Tarbert, there were road guys sending all traffic, from the A83 as well, back up Loch Lomondside. I decided to press on with the Faslane plan, but there was a van there too - apparently there was an accident on that road now. Allison suggested the ferry from Dunoon, which seemed preferable to driving all the way back to Crianlarich and trying to battle down the Callendar road. I was concerned we might not get on - and had visions of getting the tent out again and camping over at Dunoon before getting the mornign boat - at least we were prepared! We made it in time for the 9pm boat - but it was packed to the gunnels, so we got on the next one. A scenic end to the weekend if nothing else.
Last edited by weaselmaster on Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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weaselmaster
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby Jaxter » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:21 am

I feel bad having a wee bit of a chuckle at all your misfortunes - it's always the case that everything goes wrong at once though isn't it :lol: :lol: We had the worst midges I've ever experienced last week at Loch Loyal and then a vicious cleg attack at Arkle so I feel your pain :shock: :shock: Least you enjoyed yourselves even if it was Type 2 Fun some of the time :roll:
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby nigheandonn » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:52 am

Haunted by a chair??

'Gaorrach' appears to mean 'gory' (a borrowing from English?), so it might be another form of that.

I was on the 5pm Campbeltown-Glasgow bus which was sent round by Crianlarich, but the diversion roads were fairly clear by that point, just long. It must have been bad earlier on, because the bus that should have reached Tarbert from Glasgow about 5 finally got into Inveraray while we were there just after 7:30...
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby Sgurr » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:10 pm

Climbed Sguman Cointich 11 years ago and thought then that the trig was about to topple. Ever since I have checked its lack of progress on TRs and it seems to be not only surviving but thriving. Have you thought of this (I keep recommending it)


https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/20/why-the-zebra-got-its-stripes-to-deter-flies-from-landing-on-it
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:17 pm

Jaxter wrote:I feel bad having a wee bit of a chuckle at all your misfortunes - it's always the case that everything goes wrong at once though isn't it :lol: :lol: We had the worst midges I've ever experienced last week at Loch Loyal and then a vicious cleg attack at Arkle so I feel your pain :shock: :shock: Least you enjoyed yourselves even if it was Type 2 Fun some of the time :roll:


"Type 2 Fun" - Jaxter, that's a cracking expression! I shall remember that and quote it freely to Allison... :D
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:24 pm

nigheandonn wrote:Haunted by a chair??

'Gaorrach' appears to mean 'gory' (a borrowing from English?), so it might be another form of that.

I was on the 5pm Campbeltown-Glasgow bus which was sent round by Crianlarich, but the diversion roads were fairly clear by that point, just long. It must have been bad earlier on, because the bus that should have reached Tarbert from Glasgow about 5 finally got into Inveraray while we were there just after 7:30...


I wrote a bit about the chair in my head and forgot to type it I think! Have edited it in now.
"Gory"- that might be it, although it still begs the question as to why the hill should be called that.
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:26 pm

Sgurr wrote:Climbed Sguman Cointich 11 years ago and thought then that the trig was about to topple. Ever since I have checked its lack of progress on TRs and it seems to be not only surviving but thriving. Have you thought of this (I keep recommending it)


https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/20/why-the-zebra-got-its-stripes-to-deter-flies-from-landing-on-it


I think a zebra suit camouflage would look great on the hills, thanks :lol: I can just see Allison with the pointy black and white ears...
Funnily enough Allison had been noting the preference for clegs to land on the black rather than the grey sections of my walking trousers, so there might be something to it
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby prog99 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:20 pm

I knew before even clicking on this it was bound to be about clegs! The worst I have ever seen were also in Attadale last year although curiously there were none at the carpark.
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:41 pm

I guessed from the title that this might involve close encounters of the fourth kind with insects. But midges that eat your food, and then have the temerity to fall asleep in front of you - "...the midges wasted no time in finding us, ate our tea and crashed out." - that's really something else!!! :lol:
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:04 pm

Alteknacker wrote:I guessed from the title that this might involve close encounters of the fourth kind with insects. But midges that eat your food, and then have the temerity to fall asleep in front of you - "...the midges wasted no time in finding us, ate our tea and crashed out." - that's really something else!!! :lol:


😏 yep they were quite forward in their actions. I think I’m in need of an editor 😅
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby rockhopper » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:22 pm

Aye you have my sympathies. I remember the clegs, horse flies with their green eyes and midges only too well on the other side of the loch from the bothy en route to Beinn Dronaig. Still to find a lightweight long sleeved top for summer through which clegs can't bite :roll: Thanks :)
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:08 pm

rockhopper wrote:Aye you have my sympathies. I remember the clegs, horse flies with their green eyes and midges only too well on the other side of the loch from the bothy en route to Beinn Dronaig. Still to find a lightweight long sleeved top for summer through which clegs can't bite :roll: Thanks :)


Check out this week's report from Strathconon for just the item!
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby rockhopper » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:49 pm

weaselmaster wrote:
rockhopper wrote:Aye you have my sympathies. I remember the clegs, horse flies with their green eyes and midges only too well on the other side of the loch from the bothy en route to Beinn Dronaig. Still to find a lightweight long sleeved top for summer through which clegs can't bite :roll: Thanks :)


Check out this week's report from Strathconon for just the item!


:) Missed you by a few days. Was there at the start of last week but your weather was a lot better than mine :roll:
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Re: The Horror! The Horror!

Postby dogplodder » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:19 pm

I'm with you on the horror of biting insects. They seem particularly bad this year leaving itchy weals in places they've no business getting to. :evil:
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