#92: completing the Glen Lyon loop

1 02 2022

Finally managed to blag Carn Mairg on the Glen Lyon four. This was one that had eluded me after three previous visits. Took in the whole horseshoe summiting Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh and Meall nan Aighean.

We picked our day well and had a fog bow (white rainbow) accompany us for most of the morning. A great day on the hills with Warren.

Nearing the century now.


Inversions – Creag Meagaidh 3 – #89 – 91

5 09 2021
Inversion from the Window

Inversion has been a regular feature recently on my trips to the hills. Until recently I had very rarely seen a cloud inversion, then this year, well they’re everywhere. And not just the hills. Everything seems inverted. Last years peaceful awareness now replaced by noise and busy.

Roads full to bursting again, inconsiderate individuals in a rush, reflection and collection forgotten. Crowded streets, busy bars and stadia; it’s amazing how quickly they rushed back to their ‘normal’. I’ve been a bit phased by it all and know in myself that I have no rush to be there with them. My work has been frantic these last six month and I am thankful for it financially as last year was scary at times, but I can’t in any way be thankful for the stress the bottleneck of all these converging conditions have brought with them. My time on the hills in my own company is crucial to my mental wellbeing, I know that. Not that I struggle mentally as other I know do, but I am only too aware that if I get to the point where I invite negative thoughts in, or allow them to outbalance my creative and positive thoughts, well the damage can be long-term and difficult lodger to evict.

So, it was with this firmly in mind that I decide to combine some work with some hillwalking therapy – and the chance to add three hills to my tally in my summit avoidance project. I was carrying out a noise survey in Spean Bridge on the Wednesday night through into Thursday morning (11:00pm – 02:00am). A night time noise survey can mean many things depending on the location, but with little to worry about here in regards to risk to my equipment, I set everything up and sat in the car reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (my first cowboy book but having read The Last Picture Show only recently and read the recommendations I was so keen to read this Western tome). I packed up about 2:30am and headed to Creag Meagaidh Nation Park, where I parked up for the night and jumped into the back of the car for few hours sleep. I woke about 7:30; had a fair battle with the midges as the clag had settled and the wind was elsewhere, and got my days needs together wih regards to food, energy and hydration. I had previously never been one for making a fuss of my sustenance for a day on the hills, but recent experiments in dietary and hydration regimes which Warren had advised on had made such a positive impact on my day, and made easy my tired and ageing legs, that I knew this was the best way forward for me in my attempt to revive any hill fitness. By eight o’clock I had begun my walk in.

My memories of Meagaidh were winter climbing ones, I would not be going onto the crags of Coire Ardair today, but I was looking forward to revisiting them in daylight and in ascent rather than in speedy retreat as before. We had climbed many years ago, Eric, Kenny and I on these winter crags, and in failing light and worsening conditions I remember running (well it seemed like running at the time) down one of the easier gullies, crampons biting crisp neve and axe shafts correcting slips as we went. On arriving at the base of the crags, relief my main remembrance, we turned around to see it lit up like a Christmas tree with climbers headtorches, gear ringing like bell chimes and tinsel. As we walked out it shrank behind us, the lights on it gradually going out, but I knew that some poor souls would be benighted on it and I was relived that I wasn’t one of them. I remember arriving at the bunkhouse with my well kent “well skelped arse” face on show once more.

And today, as I arrived in the coire, the mist began to lift, and I was introduced once more to this crag.

The morning Clag lifts

I stopped to take in the majesty as it revealed itself to me, and to fill my water bottle and add a hydration tablet – this would be the last water I would get until my descent in around 6 hours time.

The rest of the day was spent above the clouds in glorious sunshine. When getting to the plateau which overlooks Coire Ardair, I took a diversion to go look over the cliffs, the summit of Meagaidh is some distance back from the cliff edges, but I wanted to get near to these gullies which I climbed up and ran down all those years back, just… well just because.

Looking over the edge of Coire Ardair towards Cairn Liath

For whatever reason – I put it down to an insufficient breakfast and an extremely hot day – my food and hydration regime seemed to fail me at the midpoint on the five kilometers ridge walk between the second and third summit. I was struggling, mostly with thirst (“the minute you feel thirsty, it’s too late” Warren had warned me) but tired legs were also causing me some pain and restriction in speed and movement. I had also taken to wearing my Munroaming bandana on my head to protect my sun roof against the intense Scottish heat.

I walked for around seven and a half hours, completed 3 hills and found a way off the last hill which was neither correct nor comfortable to descend. Small boulder fields tested my ankles and my patience intermittently between soft heather. Tired legs failing me at times and my language resorting to the industrial variety as I rained expletive after creative expletive into the late afternoon expanse. Swearing was my pain release. I would need to strengthen these legs I noted, if the Matterhorn is to be serious consideration next year.

I arrived at the visitor center, desperate for water and a wash. I got both in quick succession, ignoring the ‘Not Drinking Water’ above the sink and throwing it in great handfuls over my head and into my mouth. I would have drank the water from the toilet cistern given the chance. I don’t know what I must have looked or smelled like at that point, but fortunately, like most of the hours previously, there was no one about. I was back at the car and my sore limbs and feet were thankful for it.

The hills allow me, as I have said, to balance my life perspective. It is also a wonderful way to reorganise your thoughts, remembering that you can ignore the negative and concentrate on the positive ones. I had, on the way up the path earlier in the morning, imagined a design concept I had never considered before for our midge management projects we are working on. In the hours on the hills I fleshed it out and concluded that it has potential, so much so that I should really develop it this winter.

And what struck me was that in these moments, we can see our work clearer than when we are immersed in it.

Taking time out, refocusing and inverting repetitive patterns, is what we need most at times.

Meagaidh from Liath

Ben Cruachan and Stob Dhaim: #87 and 88

3 08 2021

More soon I hope as I eye the first 100


11 08 2019

It has been well over a year now since my last post. Not an awful lot has happened in the way of munroblagging, however, life has delivered it’s constant ebb and flow of highs and lows in the interim. I have no need nor inclination to go into all of the detail as most who know me know my stories through real-life or social media, but I will reflect on some of these moments in future posts as more posts arrive in the future.

I have made new friends, revisited old friendships, and I have lost some dear friends and family too. The normal sequence of life and it’s everchanging landscape continues in perpetuity. Everything is in flux. What comes into being will soon cease to exist, impermanence; our one and only constant.

But now to the summit avoidance. I have added only four in these months, I have also added a couple of new partners to my Munroblagging; my old climbing buddy Danny has now joined me and will no doubt feature in future attempts, George also. George and I have had some days in the hills in the past and also started to climb indoors at the climbing academy in Glasgow. My son Calum and daughter Ceri have also kindled an interest in climbing and it has been a thrill to be able to climb with them and share what little knowledge I have accumulated.

So, here are the last four:

Inn Pin on Skye

Beinn Eunich

Beinn Bhuidhe

Stuc a’ Chroin


Inn Pin George and Danny


Inn Pin me Danny and me


Beinn Eunich


Danny, Beinn Eunich


Us, Beinn Eunich


Beinn Eunich FYF Flag


Danny with the flag


Danny on summit Beinn Eunich


Beinn Bhuidhe


Us on Beinn Bhuidhe


Danny Beinn Bhuide


Danny lunch at the bealach


Arlene and George on Ben Vorlich


Stuc a’ Chroin and George


Stuc a/ Chroin FYF flag


Stuc a’ Chroin george


George on the rampart at Stuc a’ Chroin


us two, Stuc a’ Chroin


Walk out, Stuc a’ Chroin

And here are some pictures.

Speak soon.

The Munroblagger

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

9 06 2018


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.

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

7 06 2018


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.


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.


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?”



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.


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.


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


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.



#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


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.


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


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.


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


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….


The MunroBlagger

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