Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Torridon 6

Wednesday 24th August

Ruadh-stac Beag NG 972 613 - about 9 miles - 9hrs!

I could see from the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) Corbetts guide that this could be a tough one. If the SMC even hint at any difficulty beware! I have met severe ridges and paths on Munros that don't get a mention, but in the Lake District would have reputations on a par with Striding Edge and the like. So I was off at 8.20 from the Pony Track at NH 022 628. It was a long hot walk, fortunately with some breeze to within a few hundred metres of its finish. I branched off keeping to the higher but pathless rough ground until eventually reaching some way up the river on the south-east of my hill. There was then a path which was narrow which often climbed quite high above the tumbling river with some quite exposed moments. The route then swings round to ascend by the south ridge. This is very steep composed entirely of boulders ranging from tennis ball to refrigerator and bigger sizes providing a really dicey and strenuous 200m ascent. On reaching the rim the summit is still half a kilometre away across an undulating boulder field, again hard going.

I lunched on the summit and views were superb but I was apprehensive about descending that steep jumble of boulders. I met a guy from Derby heading for the summit as I walked back across the boulder field.

I found the only way I could descend with any confidence was by reverse climbing, i.e. facing the rock and using boulders as hand and footholds. There was a sort of intermittent scree path but for me it seemed too steep for safety. At one point I managed to bash my shin on a rock which with my history is the last thing I can afford to do. The Derby guy then caught me up and he seemed to be able to descend fairly quickly on the loose scree stuff. Obviously he was younger than me and I now accept that I can no longer handle this kind of terrain competently. It took me a long long time to make that descent.

Rather than follow the tricky path just above the river I crossed the river and followed the higher ground all the way back to the Pony Track - the best part of three kilometres of concentrated boulder field with a number of ups and downs crossing ravines and streams. Halfway across this lunar landscape I managed to break one of my walking poles ( I do have a spare in the car).

Even then it took me another two hours to get back to the car. This has been one of the toughest mountain days I can remember - I know there have been many others, but the memory dims. From a stamina aspect I felt fine and fit, but on a route with such technical attributes I am not travelling quickly enough, or safely enough and I reckon in future I will avoid that kind of hill combined with that kind of distance. Any readers who are not familiar with mountain walking may think that nine miles is reasonably modest, but over that kind of terrain it becomes more serious.

I am writing this up in the caravan after downing a beef curry and tomorrow I may go on a nostalgic visit to the gardens at Poolewe - last time was with my late wife Ann not long after we were married and before our children arrived.


TV here is provided by a booster aerial lead and is restricted to BBC1, BBC2 intermittently, ITV, and Sky News. Unfortunately for me many of the BBC1 programmes are in Gaelic, so I'm getting a bit of reading done; currently I've nearly finished The Places in Between, by Rory Stewart whose epic walk across Afghanistan in 2002 makes me feel like a real wimp, and shows us all how to write with continuous interest about such experiences, but more of that later when I have finished reading it.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Torridon 5

Tuesday 23rd - August

Meall Lochan Chleirich NG 872 716 - 403m. - 4 hours there and back.

For Gimmer - I think this one is in Wester Ross.

A slightly unpleasant start this morning. One look through the caravan window revealed a density of midges. All preparations were made so that I could exit quickly with all my gear in one go and jump into the car. That included finally donning my midge shirt. On the spur of the moment I decided to blow my nose - my handkerchief was accessible from trouser's pocket, but my nose, unrealised by me, wasn't, and I blew into midge shirt rather than handkerchief which of course was outside the shirt, ugh!

A twelve mile drive north got me to the track at NG 856 721 which I followed for a bit less than a kilometre then set off across rough ground north-east, then up steep slopes where I picked up a meagre path. That eventually lead very steeply right to the base of the summit crags and a twenty foot rock pitch of perhaps "moderate" grade, but hairy enough for me. That was followed by a steep alternately grassy and rocky open gully and over more bare rock and grass to the summit - a real mountaineering feel to this little Marilyn; I certainly had no intention of returning the same way.

There were splendid views of Loch Maree with her islands and then out to the sea. I spent half an hour there. Looking the the map there were crags barring the route north-west direct back to my start so I headed for the road just over a kilometre to the east of my start. That was ok but there was the inevitable deer fence about two hundred metres before the road. I scaled that - it wasn't pretty. The two hundred metres to the road was over felled forest terrain, by far the worst stuff you can ever encounter; it took me about half an hour to get across.

I am now the only person in the Loch Maree Hotel having a pot of tea. It is surprisingly quiet up here in north-west Scotland, the Caravan Club site is only about half full.

I'm off back to the caravan now for a shower and to hunker down from the midges.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

Torridon 4

Monday 22nd August

Raining - walked to toilet block in shorts - back in the caravan my legs felt as though they are being pricked all over by a million needles, but head.and face ok - the little blighters must be lurking in dense battalions at ground level.

Yesterday pm and all evening my strong 3/4 bar EE signal disappeared - "no service". This morning it is inexplicably back and I even found I could open my blog and reply to comments with only three bars and no 3G! Here's hoping I can publish this comment, otherwise it will be a walk, through the "insectation" to the Kinlochewe Hotel for morning coffee. It is only about four hundred yards... I could drive?

I mentioned my love hate relationship with tech in a comment reply. My hopeless determination to press on with this relationship is impaired by a mind more inclined to the arts than science, hence my desire to overcome the problems of tech in order to strive for a better standard in my writing.

Examples of my woeful grasp of science are many, and often at a basic level - here this one sums it up.

Recently my camera ingested dirt on the sensor. Talking to Gimmer, my friend from schooldays who has a chemistry degree from Oxford I suggested that the dirt had been ingested as the telephoto lens retracted. Gimmer pointed out that it would be the other way round, the lens would suck in as it was extended, and blow out as it retracted. I'm not likely to get a job at NASA.

Rain still persists so it looks like book reading today - I have plenty to catch up on.

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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Torridon 3

Sunday 21st August

Just got back to Kinlochewe Hotel to pick up wifi after climbing:

Meal Ghiuthais NG 976 634

6 hours - hard going. Partial clearances, no rain.

It took me half an hour to get on wifi with BT Hotspot ( can't get on with the hotel wifi). Everything is so slow, and now every time I do anything Google wants me to enter email and password. I have had a good day, but this has really cheesed me off. Thanks for comments, I have tried to reply, but the problems have caused me to say much less than I wanted, and I have now run out of patience. Sorry folks, but I desperately need a shower and a lie down.

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Torridon 2

Saturday 20th August

Two- thirty and I've just landed in the Kinlochewe Hotel for tea and wifi after a five and a half hour up and down of another Marilyn:

Bidein Clann Rainaild NH 053 591

The start was straight from the caravan site. A rough rocky path lead up the edge of a forest onto open ground. There is a path marked on the map but it was intermittent and difficult to follow, and then had to be forsaken to strike for my summit over heather, bog and tussock. Good weather turned into hot sunshine and I am sitting here in the hotel bar with my shirt wringing wet. I asked the girl about their wifi. on 9 to 6 and 9 to 11 - she said almost apologetically, "we don't have it on for dinner, people must talk", so there you go.

I'm having to take my chances when I can to get wifi, and I don't have time to work ages over a more interesting report, but will keep trying; off for a shower now.

By the way I mentioned the new verb, to medal - for ages I have been using the verb, to summit.

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Torridon 1

Friday 19th August

I arrived yesterday at the Caravan Club site at Kinlochewe.

I have a good EE phone signal but no wifi. The pub a few hundred yards away has wifi but for a reason unknown has it switched off between 6:00pm and 9pm, and I am self contained here and have no reason to go to the pub so posting on here and comments on other blogs will be intermittent at best.

Today I climbed Beinn a Mhuinidh NH 032 660 (Marilyn) from the car park at Incheril. From leaving the Loch Maree footpath there were no paths. First a short climb through chest high bracken then continuing very steep on rough ground up to the rim. After that endless undulations and rough going to the summit - three hours, return two and a half hours. The views of the Torridons, Slioch and further north to An Teallach were overwhelming, and I do not use that word lightly. It is a while since I have been in the Highlands and I was taken aback by the scale of things. I had an unrealistic feeling knowing that I had climbed many of the peaks I could see, that is the ones that are Munros, and I found it difficult to accept that I had the energy and motivation to press on and complete them all, most of them within a short period of time when I was in my sixties. It was pleasing to find that I can still do the odd hill like this at age 76, and I was once again uplifted with that Scottish Highlands magic tonic the weather was perfect, and although tough this was a little classic - no Marilyn pushover.

Back at the caravan midges were at about 8 out of 10, and it had started to rain heavily. I wanted a shower, but knew I would be eaten alive on the way back from the CC Club heated toilet block, so I used the one in my caravan which I rarely do. It works fine. Time now for a sundowner and catch up on the Olympics.


What about the new verb: to medal? It has come under some criticism, but language is a living thing continually developing, and I like this new addition.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dales Way - Last few miles to Bowness-on-Windermere

Tuesday 16th August 2016

NB - title says "last few miles", but I still have one unwalked section left - from the start at Ilkley following the river Wharfe to Bolton Bridge, just over five miles.


My eyes detect something huge and red in my peripheral vision as I approach Levens again (you may remember it was at Levens a couple of days ago when I decided to return home to retrieve my forgotten camera).  Levens is starting to haunt me.

I react and look left. There is a massive Virgin, red, hot-air ballon perched on the rim of a bright green field a few hundred yards off the road. I do an unpremeditated u-turn and park in a lay-by opposite and get a quick photo, and then a zoom to the basket of people. After a few moments the balloon falls over on its side, still fully inflated, and lies horizontally on the field horizon, and a surprisingly large number of occupants start clambering out. All quite a bonus start, along with the bright sunny weather for this penultimate Dales Way fill-in campaign.

A muddy pull-off on the B5284 overshadowed by large trees and all gloomy provided parking fifty yards from the minor road heading off south to start my walk. After ten minutes down that road I remembered I had packed my boots, day walking rucksack with valuable contents, my Tom Tom satnav and various other items in preparation for my departure to Scotland on Thursday. Normally I don't leave valuables in the car, but today I couldn't help worrying, and envisaging the return to a scenario of broken glass and arguments and frustration with my insurance company. As the walk progressed with the ever changing scenery, old lanes, close cropped footpaths, ancient stiles,and little tarns and streams in this delightful, hummocky, fringe of the Lake District those thoughts were dissipated.

My own devised route took me on a sweep to the south of the B5284 heading east, to rejoin that road at The Howe. From there the climb  through fields and several farms to get back to the point on the Dales Way where I left it last time was fairly hard going, and although there were footpath signs careful navigation was required entailing many stops to look at the map (on my iPhone), and to climb  stiles. At the house of Boxtree I took a wide berth of half a dozen young bullocks resulting in me missing an insignificant gate in a hedge accessing a narrow footpath round the perimeter of Boxtree's garden, and I spent a lot of time finding this essential link to cross a mini wooded ravine next to the house - that footpath was the only way trough barring barbed wire fences and shredded clothing.

The Dales Way continued, always living up to my previous praises, and the distant Lake District hills came into view.

I met a group of six Duke of Edinburgh Gold expeditioners sheltering under the shade of trees. They were full of good cheer with much better organised rucksacks and smarter appearance than the Bronze debutantes one often meets. It is always good to see these youngsters (almost young men in this case) getting this experience whatever stage they are at.

Further on I met a couple with an English Setter dog and we had quite a long conversation. They found my blog on their mobile, but I hope they will look at it in its proper version later on a laptop or pc - mobile phones produce their own format for blogs and other websites which horribly downgrades the appearance.

I haven't a guide for this walk but the path marked on the map ends where the Taramc into Bowness begins so I descended a steep rocky path for a couple of hundred yards to the Tarmac, took a photo, then re-ascended to pick up my return route to the car. As I approached the B5284 I could hear non-stop traffic whizzing by, and this  B road was unreasonably and puzzlingly heavy with traffic even allowing for its function as a secondary route into the Lake Distrrict. The car was thankfully intact.

Please click on first photo to see enlarged slideshow

I saw no bull.
 I'm a bit concerned about that grey patch above the gate, but it doesn't seem to occur on other photos

Old water tanks, rusted right through - for my Relics folder

On the climb from the B5284 back up to the Dales Way
 Scruffy farm contrasted with the pleasant scenery

I know people from abroad view this blog so this and next two give a feel for scenery that fellow UK viewers will be familiar with

Distant Lake District fells

First glimpse of Lake windermere - big zoom

Windermere, above Bowness, looking north



Specially for Alan R after his comment:

Alan - does this help?