Lucky to be feeling the pain: Ben Lui and Beinn a’Cheibh #60 and 61

16 08 2016

Having watched some of my mates from Finding Your Feet cycle around Arran the day before, a combination of guilt and a compulsion to add to my tally saw me head toward Tyndrum in search of Ben Lui and its pal.

The weather forecast was for a cloudy and patchy day, clearing later. With this in mind, I set off later than usual, hoping for some clearing in the afternoon. No such luck. On arrival at the parking spot just off the A85 I was greeted with midges, a water crossing requiring the boots and socks to come off, and a scramble commando style under a railway viaduct in around 2 feet of water. Magic, soaked before I had even started!

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I made my way uphill, following a party ahead of me who were making slow progress early on. We bottle necked at a pichpoint in the overflowing burn. A tatty rope and spindly birch tree made for a makeshift bridge. I waited as they crossed, then followed behind. The next granny stopper was a “bit of a leap” across the burn between to boulders. My compatriots warily body swerved it and forged off to the left. I stepped across the gap – it was no leap. From there I made my way up an overgrown land rover track till it was crossed by a proper road. I turned left and followed it to the bridge from where the path finds its way through the forest.

It was a bog trot!

On clearing the forest, I took a right and headed up the grassy expanse which leads to the northwest ridge of Ben Lui.

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Ben Lui – yes, I know about the flag now!

I headed back down to the Bealach between the two summits. That’s when the pain started. A shooting pain up the outside of my right knee. No matter which way I tried to go down it was agony with every step. I cursed myself and punched my knee as if in some way that may relieve the pain. As I began to feel sorry for myself and questioned whether I should just do one and leave the other for another day, an image came to me of Becca on Arran the day before. Becca is one of my climbing buddies from FYF and she has a prosthetic leg. I thought of Becca peddling all the way round Arran yesterday. 90 odd kilometers, over hills and through a blowing wind she did it, completed the whole bloody course, and here was me, with a sore leg, one of two perfectly good legs, ready to take the easy option and opt out. What a loser!

I shamefully descended to the bealach between the two summits, ignoring the pain. I dumped my rucksack and headed up the other side, carrying only my phone and the Finding Your Feet flag. I got to the top in jig time, meeting a wonderful wee dog called Archie on the way helped no end.

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Beinn a’Chleibh

I turned and headed back down. The pain returned. This was going to be a long journey back to the car.

And it was. But I’m #grateful

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I’m raising funds for Finding Your Feet, if you can spare a couple of quid, you’ll find my just giving page under the Munroblagger.

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