200 left – Beinn Udlamain & Sgairneach Mhor #81 and 82

9 06 2018

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Having spent the day lifting site sizes for the natural ventilation proposals I have been working on for a few years now at Glenfiddich Distillery, I thought it might be just the opportunity to finish off the seven munros which straddle the A9 at Dalwinnie. With my rucksack, boots and poles now a regular feature in the Land Rover,  a clear sunny sky and hours of daylight left, I parked up at the side of the road and headed up these featureless lumps.

Sometimes life takes you by surprise. Lets face it most of the remarkable things in life take you by surprise otherwise they would simply be the humdrum, but today/tonight, I was pleasantly surprised. Not sure if it was the satisfaction of a good days work and being part of a project which fell outside the construction norm – everybody working together for a common solution to provide a building we could all be proud of – or if I had been buoyed by my recent experience on Bynack More with an amazing woman and lovely people with a common goal, or simply that the day was pouring glorious sunshine on my balding head and face and here I was enjoying the meditative solitude of the hills. Whatever it was, an amalgam of all three I’d guess, I have to say, I really enjoyed this day.

I have 200 more to do to finish my list. It’s a long way off at this rate I know, but it is at least a landmark. Sometimes we need them as a nod that we are “getting there”. My next landmark is the century, 100. Lets hope it comes around soon.

Till the next batch.

 

I am the Munroblagger. Follow me on Facebook too.

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Standing on the shoulders of giants. Finding your Feet on Bynack More #80

7 06 2018

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It was to be training weekend for my pals at Finding Your Feet to get some hill miles under their belt before they head off to tackle Kilimanjaro in late September. I’m not going with them but I offered to help organise and supervise a hillwalking weekend along with the very able and accomplished all round outdoor bod and good egg Roy. We plumped for the Cairngorms as Roy knew the hills and surrounding area like the back of his hand – there may be some hands and feet puns in here just to warn you, I’m sure Corinne is OK with it.

We arrived sporadically during the day on Friday, we had two 6 bed dorms to split between us and with 3 call offs from the original 12, we would have more than enough space to rattle around in. We stayed at the Cairgorm Lodge (SYHA), first time there for all of us, and a real pleasant surprise – it was licensed and there was a bar with live music within two minutes walk! By the time it got to 9:00pm, all had arrived and tonsils were duly lubricated and the singing had started.

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A late visit to the beach on Loch Morlich saw us all arrive back at the bunkhouse ready for a small Monkey Shoulder nightcap.

We woke early(ish) and readied for the day. Breakfast done and faffing complete, we set off to tackle Bynack More, a Munro on the outer fringes of the Cairngorm range. Passing Glenmore Lodge, we followed an excellent path winding its way through the forest, passing a beautiful green lochan which Roy informed us was full of leeches. Not content with Roys warning, Laura had to go find out for herself, and true to his words, she came back minutes later with a live leach she plucked straight from the shallow water. Horrible things! So glad Dennis wasn’t with us, he’d have been straight in.

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We set off once more, with a good path and Roy’s knowledge of the area, we were in good hands (see, told you).

“We’ll have a wee break for food at the bridge which is about 150m from here.” says Roy. We all agree and headed toward the bridge which at this point was out of view. After what seemed like two miles later, we came across the bridge. “Are you sure that was 150m Roy?”

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Ian took some time to polish off his first bottle of buckie (he had two) having forgotten to pack water, and dusted off his third wrap of the day. I took a pile of stick for having middle class sandwiches – apparently hummus is “posh” – and “bloody Kettle chips, he’s got bloody Kettle chips!”. We gathered together for a group Finding Your Feet picture. Laura didn’t get the memo about the t shirt, neither did she get instructions on how to create a “wrap”. Maybe it was the fuggy head from last nights Pinot, or maybe it was just down to shoddy wrapsmanship, but her first wrap of the morning was more of a “fold”. This got Ian contemplating a new hipster West End food franchise idea – freshly made Folds for the hipster on the move, constructed with a degree of indifference and served with a shrug – this joke was to run and run during the walk. We all got up and set off once more. It was around about this time that Paul started to sober up and the realisation that the hangover was in the post, sunk in slowly.

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The hill started to rise gradually and as we moved up the slopes, we stopped again to catch our breath, have some water (buckie for Ian) and share in Roy’s Apartheid Jelly Babies – only red and black ones “none of they shitey yella or green wans”. I didn’t know there were such packets of discerning jelly babies. The things you learn on the hills.

It was around about this point that Nicola – on her first and last Munro – asked how far we had walked. the look of utter disappointment on her face when she was told it was only 10km will live with me for many years.

“Ten kilometers? are you sure? really? surely we’ve walked more than that? please somebody tell me we’ve walked more than that?” But no one could because we hadn’t. Welcome to hillwalking Nic, you can always be sure that the next disappointment is only just around the corner, we still had the three false summits to trick us.

As the ground on the plateau leveled out and the sight of the peak which was Bynack More came into view, we were greeted by rumblings of thunder and it seemed that all around us the the clouds were gathering and the rain was falling, not however on us for the moment. It was at that moment that a huge scream made me jump out my skin as I turned quickly around to see what disaster had befallen our party. Fiona had departed the path and was heading toward Braemar as the crow flies. A sufficient distance between us she shouted to us in warning “There’s a frog, a bloody frog, I hate frogs. What the hell is a frog doing up here?” She wasn’t happy. I don’t suppose the frog was either.

By the time we reached the bottom of the final steep rise to the summit, Paul’s hangover had cleared and the rain had introduced itself to us for the final push.

And now to the main point of the story.

In 2013, my pal Corinne almost lost her life. In surviving her battle she lost both feet and both hands. At times during today’s walk, I had to remind myself that she didn’t have both feet to power over rocks or hands to grip walking poles. So adept is she at “getting on with it” that she just appears like all the rest of us. But she is not. She is so much more than the rest of us. She is at times everything we are not. Her determination, spirit and drive is an awesome thing to see at first hand. As we made the final push towards the top, I noticed a silence develop. The rain had came on just to add to the trial, but it had also attenuated the group vibe and I think we all had some inward moments, reflecting not on what we had achieved and were doing, but on what we were witnessing and what we were a part of. It was without doubt, the most uplifting and humbling moment I have ever experienced in the hills. This woman, my friend was battling everything in front of her to show others that it could be done, and that others could take that first step.

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When I had got to within a safe distance of the top, I stopped and raised the flag in triumph.

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I let the rest of them head onward to celebrate a very emotional summit. I watched them file up and onto the top, and I cried.

Only a couple of weeks ago (see my last blog entry), I set off to do two hills near Ben Cruachan. It blew a hoolley and rained incessantly. I did one and then gave up. I couldn’t be arsed. I couldn’t be arsed.

I felt ashamed now standing on this hill, watching these people supporting my pal in her, and their, struggle to get to the top. I was ashamed at how readily I opted out, how easily I gave up. I wanted to celebrate with them, to make amends, to thank them for being an inspiration and for what they were about to do by tackling Kilimanjaro. I waited on them returning down from the summit. I shook hands and kissed each and every one. I hugged Corinne and told her she was an amazing woman, because she is.

Only days earlier, Ricky Mundy, one of Corinne’s friends and a supporter of Finding Your Feet, summited Everest. He reached the top of the worlds highest mountain. I read with amazement his facebook posts and was in awe of his achievement. Today I was watching something very similar at first hand.

In Corinne and in Ricky, in Roy, Nicola, Paul, Ian, Laura and Fiona, I was standing on the shoulder of giants.

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#79 Beinn a’Chochuill

6 06 2018

It blew a hoolley, it rained pretty severely on the top and as a result I couldn’t be arsed ticking its partner Beinn Eunaich. “Couldn’t be arsed”, read my next post for Bynack More just to see how ridiculous and pathetic that statement is.





Glen Lyon, Meall nan Aighean the reluctant return #78

29 11 2017

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It was a few months back that I made an unsuccessful attempt to complete the four munros which make up the Glen Lyon range. Completing only two of the four (Carn Gorm and Meall Garbh) I had planned on returning and reversing the clockwise rotation of the four, picking up Meall nan Aighean and Carn Mairg along the way and finishing the route.

It wasn’t to be. A combination of lethargy, poor fitness due to hill inactivity and heavy snow saw the successful avoidance of just one – Meall nan Aighean (also known as Creag Mhor).

Nonetheless, it was relatively enjoyable, only once did I sink waist high into snow and cursed the air with “why the fuck do I do this!?”. More a day for snow shoes (if your looking for a Xmas present Arlene) than crampons, I struggled to almost the top and took some pictures. Here they are.

I looked across to Carn Mairg. I wasn’t heading anywhere near it today. One would have to do.

I walked off. A clearing of the head and four hours of solitude had done the trick.

Oh and I stretched my old and rusty legs.

Onward.

The Munroblagger

I’m doing this for https://www.findingyourfeet.net/

They’re great [people.





Beinn Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain #76 & 77 A rare retreat revisited.

3 09 2017

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This was my second attempt at getting these two done. Last time, a hangover and a misread approach saw me giving up before I even really got started. I retreated less than halfway up the approach from the farm where Rob Roy MacGregor lived and drew his last breath in 1736, pissed off at my hungover condition and inability to read a basic route description, I put it behind me, headed home and vowed to come back in a better frame of mind.

This I did today (or last week should I say, a bit late with this post), and I felt the better for it. I parked my car in the same place down the far end of the Balquidder road and got myself ready.

“Mr Motherwell” I heard as I dug my boots out of the boot of Big Hex.

I turned around. It was John who I had met halfway up Stob a’Choire Odhair (number 69) a few months back. How amazing it is to bump into friends made while walking on the hills. John was heading for Ben More, taking the much longer route in from Loch Voil end. We chatted then went our own way. On the way up I watched the rigdge he would cross to get to Ben More with interest to see if I could see him and if the days mist was going to clear for him. About an hour into my walk, the mist stared to lift from the ridge he was on and I gave an inwardly cheer, wishing a good clear day for him.

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The old Balquidder road holds many memories for me. My first trip there was on a Buddhist retreat at Dhanakosa which is the retreat centre for the FWBO. It was a welcome experience for me at the time. My mum was dying of cancer, I had struggled hard with the news and like most people when faced with this type of situation, the existential questions arise. Having no belief in God and seeing no likelihood of me ever being convinced to his (her) existence, I looked for answers. I found Buddhism at the right time for me. It seemed like such a simple philosophy and gave me some answers – answers which unwittingly I had already concluded through the years – which supported my beliefs and strengthened them. I read avidly about the Buddha and the Dharma, I meditated and I was a regular at the Buddhist Centre in Glasgow. The retreat at Dhanakosa was tough and required me to suspend some disbelief in the ethereal mysticism and just “go with it”. I’m always grateful that I did, I learned a lot in those days – a momentary hedonistic lapse saw me losing the main plot for a time – however I still return to it when I need it, and without the knowledge at the time, my mothers illness and death would have been tougher for me to deal with.

I think about her a lot when I’m in the hills. I used to take her with me as I’d solo North Buttress on the Buachaille and downclimb Curved Ridge. I’d take her into the North Face of The Ben, onto Tower Ridge and North East Buttress and Ledge Route we’d go. I’d talk to her and she would talk to me. She was with me for a bit today.

She was saying………… “I remember when you were a climber”.

The Munroblagger

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I’m doing this for my friend Corinne’s charity http://www.findingyourfeet.net

All donations are most welcome, thank you.

 





There are hills and there are hills #75 Meall Chuaich

19 05 2017

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When I started out on this crusade, I knew there would be days like this. We have our fair share of dull featureless lumps in Scotland, and today I managed put another one behind me.

As I arrived at the start of the uphill section just after the lochan and the rather unnerving hunters hut, I met a chap from Newcastle taking a drink and a rest.

“Have you done this one before?” he asked

“I can’t imagine anyone coming back in here to do this twice” I replied

He nodded. I headed up the hill.

I can honestly say that there have been times in the past when avoiding the summit on some spectacular hills has pained me, with this one however, I knew that the moment I saw the summit Cairn I was for turning back.

Blagging Munros can have some distinct advantages.

Lets hope the next ones better.

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I’m raising money for Finding Your Feet. This is my Just Giving page….

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Bobby-Motherwell1

The MunroBlagger





The Hitchhikers Guide to Reality.The Ring of Steall #71,72,73 & 74

9 05 2017

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I saw them too late as I came around the bend on the Glen Coe road. Wally and Ollie, standing at the roadside, thumbs out on arms outstretched in hope of a lift , I was past them before I could do a thing. What to do? I drove further down the glen. I had to go back, my conscience¬† wouldn’t allow me otherwise. If I was to continue on up to the Glen Nevis car park, I knew that guilt would keep sleep at a distance. I turned the Land Rover around at the lay by next to the Clachaig turning and drove back up the glen. They were still there. I flashed as I passed indicating that I was turning round, I heard them cheer.

Wally and Ollie were from Cornwall and Bristol. They had left their car at the B road in Glencoe just down from the Red Squirrell Camp Site. They had just spent a glorious day on taking in the Pap of Glencoe and the Aggy Ridge. They were shot. We chatted briefly on the short trip to their car. I dropped them off and we said our goodbyes.

“You are a superstar Bobby, thanks so much” said Wally as she jumped out the back of the Land Rover.

“Remember to pick up all you gear guys” I said “phones, wallets…. don’t want you losing anything now”

“Really appreciate it mate, thanks so much” said Ollie, and he shook my hand.

I waved goodbye and headed toward Glen Coe village, pleased that I had saved a torturous walk for them and glad to just have been helpful. It crossed my mind that I may be in the same boat and need a similar favour tomorrow on my way back up Glen Nevis.

I arrived at the high car park at the road end in Glen Nevis at around 10:30pm. It was getting dark but the clear sky indicated that a moonlit night was on the cards. I had a beer, had a read and bedded down for the night.

I woke three times during the night. I was cold, not too cold to be uncomfortable but enough to waken me. In the end, it was a blessing. I got up at 5:00am dressed, ate and left at 6:00am.

My plan was to do the Ring of Steall, four munros in stunning scenery. I knew it would be a long day so I carried plenty of water and food for the trip. Almost immediately on the path into Steall Meadow I was stopped in my tracks by two deer watching me. They were just below me, about 20feet away and they watched as I fiddled with my Gopro to film them. I turned around and there on the path, six foot in front of me, was another one staring straight at me. We looked at each other before he lifted his head and jumped down off the path to join the others. What a start to the day!

Minutes later I was in the Glen Nevis meadow with the rope bridge approaching and Steall Hut – a site of many a good night in the past – sitting spectacularly below the Steall Waterfall. The river was easily cross-able, but the rope bridge was far too tempting. I climbed up and tic tac toed across the single wire. Great fun!

From this moment on, it was a day of glorious views and wonderful walking. Here are some photos.

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It appeared that I had the hills to myself for almost the entire day. It wasn’t until just before the Devils Ridge that I met my first walker. By the time I had finished the last one and began my descent into the glen, I was meeting them regularly.

“Christ you must have been up early today mate” said one young guy heading up as I was going down.

“Six O’Clock bud, I’m knackered”

With David MacInness’s words ringing in my ears “The descent is a knee buster”, I began my drop. He was right, after about 20 minutes of steep descent, I went over badly on my ankle. Cursing the clear blue skies, I sat for ten minutes to see if the pain would subside. It did gradually and I began my descent once more.

I reached the low car park in Glen Coe and turned right to head back up the road past the Poldubh crags toward the high car park. As I stepped onto the road, I immediately thought of Wally and Ollie and how they must have felt last night, my feet were sore, my ankle was extremely tender and my knees were creaking. on top of all that, the sun had shone all day and I was burning up. I could imagine how they must have felt, hoping for a lift, a good Samaritan,some respite from their efforts……

I felt good about myself, I had done a good thing last night, I helped a couple out like anyone else would do. I heard a car approaching. I stuck out my thumb. It drove past.

“Surely one will stop” I thought “The car park is a dead end, they can’t be going anywhere else”.

Not one did. Not one. Is that Karma?

The MunroBlagger

 








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