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.

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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

 





It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Number 69 & 70 Stob a’Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar

27 04 2017

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On days like this, you treasure every moment.

Having just arrived home from visiting my wee girl Ceri in Australia and New Zealand, emotional from the physical distance once again restored between us and raw from the news that a great man and good friend had been tragically killed in a biking accident when I was away, I took to the hills for some meditation and contemplation.

Calum and I picked up John, Peter and Ritchie at the Drovers; we had booked in the Beinglass campsite for the night for some beer, chat and an overnight stop; I dropped them all off at the entrance to the Tyndrum campsite. Their plan was to walk the West Highland Way path back to the Drovers, whereupon I would meet up with them after my solo day on the hills Blagging some munros to add to my tally. I headed for Inveroran, the weather looked good, the peaks looked clear and it looked like how it would eventually turn out, a great day. The best of days in fact.

And then there was Ewan.

I had been sitting in the departure lounge in Queenstown Airport, traveling with Arlene, Calum, Ceri and Louie back to Melbourne for a few resting days at the end of our holiday. I had been in negotiations with the airline staff to get my guitar on as hand luggage and it was looking like they were going to insist it went in the hold. I was not pleased at all and ready to go off on one if they refused me taking it on board with me. As I sat waiting, I checked facebook. Ewan had been tagged in a post which announced that he had been killed on his motorbike on the A82 that day. I read it three times before it sank in. I could feel my whole body shake. I looked at Arlene, “Ewan Smith’s dead” I mumbled. I watched her burst in front of me.

The cabin staff walked over to me. “I’m sorry but your guitar will have to go in the hold”.

I nodded numbly and looked at Arlene, “Fuck it, its only a guitar”.

Ewan was a wonderful guy, a great friend and probably never knew just how much of an impression he left on people, he certainly did with me. We had some great adventures together, we climbed munro’s with his boys Fraser and Luke (go back in this blog the ascent of Stob Coire Sgreamhach via the Lost Valley), we holidayed in Spain on a Trailblazers off road trip and, we shared a bunk for 7 days visiting St Kilda which turned out to be the most incredible experience of my life. We shared the best of times.

I posted this on facebook:

Today we said goodbye to a great guy and good friend. I got to know Ewan some years back when he was working at N G Bailey. Noticing he had a motorbike calendar behind his desk, we hit it off with a common interest. We soon became good friends. He had worked on St Kilda a couple of times and I listened to his stories with interest – he knew it was a place that I had long wanted to visit. I got a call from him one day asking if I fancied joining a diving party to St Kilda he was going on. I jumped at the chance and what transpired was the most incredible trip of my life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend this trip with Ewan. I’m sure he knows it, I told him often enough, but I am forever indebted to him.

I will miss your chat and your good company bud, I will miss your advice on all things Land Rover and bikes and life in general. I have the lowering kit for my bike still here waiting for that day you would help me fit it – it won’t happen now sadly. The last text I have from him is when I said I couldn’t make the last bike trip as I was in Oz. It said simply “don’t worry bud, always be time later in the year, enjoy Oz”.

Ewan was a gem, he talked fondly and often of his two boys Fraser and Luke, and of his wife Marie. He loved them all dearly and was a proud dad and husband. Your family did you proud today bud.

You are sorely missed.

As we were about to fly to Spain last year we were walking through the duty free shop when Ewan says “I’m gonna get a bottle of Monkey Shoulder, you getting something for the room?” I suggested that we’d probably find a place in the village where we could get a bottle, to which he replied

“I’d rather be looking at it than looking for it!”

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You will be sorely missed indeed bud.

So I had to get to the hills. For various reasons, but mostly for mediation and making an attempt to get my tally into the 70’s. I pulled up at the car park before the Victoria Bridge and got my stuff together and ready at 10am. The book time gave 8-9 hours for both, so I knew this was going to be a longish day. I bumped into John about half way up the steepening to the Odhair summit, he was nursing a blister. We got chatting and after a few minutes we set off together on what would become a really magic day on the hills. As we approached the first top I took the opportunity to mention to him that I wouldn’t be going to the top, that in fact I never go to the top. He laughed and shook his head. “Brilliant, well that’s a new one on me”.

Its really hard to do this walk justice, in words or in pictures. The greatest compliment I could give it is to say that I would definitely go back and walk these two hills again. The route was never boring, offered a range of terrain and levels of walking difficulty and offered the most spectacular views across Rannoch Moor and over the the Buachaille and further to the Ben an the Mamores. Good company helps, but it was simply stunning.

Here’s some pictures:

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We got back to the car park in a surprisingly quick time of around 6 hours and 45 minutes. My Brother in Law John had called me when we are at the top of Stob Ghabhar to let me know that they had popped into the pub in Crianlarich and there was a distinct possibility that they would not be walking the last few miles back to the Drovers as the beer was flowing and a pool tournament was in progress!

I asked him to text me what he was doing and, if need be, I could pick them up on the way back. As I got myself out of my sweaty clothes, thanked my new found walking partner John for his company and chat during the walk and said our goodbyes, my phoned buzzed. Message from John from two hours ago “We’ve left the pub, see you at The Drovers!”.

I picked up a bag of chips from Tyndrum on the way home and headed to the campsite. The first Guinness was wonderful, the last was at least one too many and our walk back from the Drovers to the campsite saw us finding a locked gate to be climbed!

Not before we took the night stars in on a black sky.

“Friends and family are everything, Music is the glue, You know who you are, Tonight I’m with you.”

The MunroBlagger

I’m doing this for my friend Corinne’s charity Finding Your Feet. https://www.findingyourfeet.net/

My Just Giving Page is here

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

 





Number 68 – Stuchd an Lochain

2 01 2017

Did this a while ago on a lost day. more to come in 2017 hopefully.

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Ben Oss an Beinn Dubhchraig number 66 and 67

25 09 2016
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Finding Your Feet flag on Ben Oss

As I plodded through the boggy but beautiful pine wood, Peter’s words were ringing in my ears “its a bit of a walk in Bobby!”. It was, and as I cleared the pinewood, muddy and wet to my socks, I notice a couple of lads walking down towards me.

“Bobby!” one of them shouted. I looked up, screwing my eyes to put a name to the face. I couldn’t.

“I’m Ethan, Calum’s pal, he has just text me to tell me you were walking on Ben Oss today” A very nice coincidence, we stopped and chatted, two lovely boys.

“Next time, can you persuade Calum to get out onto the hills with you?” I asked them all to aware of his obsession with football and beer. Maybe one day?

A beautiful day, two stunningly contrasting hills to the previous two I’d done earlier in the week, and a detour on the way back took me to the gate at the Gold Mine and a lovely walk along the river Cononish in the evening sun finished the day.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

 

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Until the next one…..








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