Suffering from Scottishness on Ben Chonzie (number 51)

3 11 2015
Planting (we probably could have planted it) the Finding Your Feet flag on Ben Chonzie

Planting (we probably could have planted it) the Finding Your Feet flag on Ben Chonzie

Ben Chonzie has the distinction of being generally accepted as the most boring hill amongst all the Munros. That’s up against some stiff competition, and I’m not one to argue with its status.

Dennis and I brushed away the memories of last nights premature fireworks in Howwood with an easy walk. With the memories of his over exertions on Colonsay still fresh in the mind, I looked for a nice easy, short and uneventful day. I found it in the dullest hillwalk in Scotland. Dennis loved it tho’. And that I suppose was what it was all about.

Dennis having a shake out at the top(ish)

Dennis having a shake out at the top(ish)

In the car heading for Chonzie, we listened to Dumb Instrument. I had been to the most amazing house gig on Friday with Arlene. Christine and John had kindly invited us along to see one of my current favorites – and also a band we have the privilege to be playing with in December in Glasgow. I listened again to all the familiar tracks as the journey in the bright Scottish autumn sun unfurled. We stopped at a layby to let Dennis out to relieve himself, sniff about a bit and get a bit of a shake out. It was a beautiful day indeed. Then on came Suffering from Scottishness. I left the car door open to enjoy the song in full.

And as we dawdled our way up and down the flat featureless expanse of Ben Chonzie, with not a sign of a single mountain hare and one solitary buzzard hang gliding in the blue sky above, this song rang so appropriately in my ears.

It saved the day for me…..

The stunning vista....

The stunning vista….

and just to prove I suffered it all the way to the top….


And on the way down, we shared a couple of wispas, two humous sandwiched and a wee paddle…..

Haw! your drinkin our pish.....

Haw! your drinkin our pish…..

Well, that’s that one oot the road….


I’ve been away, but I’m back with 3 more summits avoided – 48 and counting..

6 09 2015


Its been a wee while since my last post, however in the interim I have managed another 3 avoidance excursions. Here they are:

Sgor Gaoith

On the way back from a work visit to Balvenie Distillery, i nipped up and blagged Sgor Goaith in the Cairngorms. A rather uneventful walk as it happens, had hoped for company on this walk as the Glasgow comedian Gary Little had arranged to join me the night before only to call off in the morning when he realised that it was HIS birthday and he didn’t think his girlfriend would take too kindly to him missing the meal she had organise to celebrate! Next time Gary.

Gaoith FYF

Stob Coire Sgreamhach

A soaking wet day in Glen Coe with great company, Ewan and his two boys Luke and Frazer joined me in a soaking. A wet walk up through the path leading the the crossing of the river below the zig zags, saw us coming a cropper early on as the river was in full flow and absolutely no chance of getting across (See picture at top!). We made a detour through woods on the right hand side and dropped into the Lost Valley. The famous disappearing burn was making no attempt to live up to its name, I have never seen so much water in the Lost Valley!

Lost Valley and the Disappearing Burn

Lost Valley and the Disappearing Burn

Anyway, what was looking like a wet walk into the Lost Valley turned out to be a summit attempt after all. Entirely due to the enthusiasm and fitness of my fellow walkers it has to be said.

Ewan, Luke and Fraser

Ewan, Luke and Fraser




Carn Mor Dearg

The North face of Ben Nevis from Carn Mor Dearg

The North face of Ben Nevis from Carn Mor Dearg

So, another trip to see my distillery friends in Dufftown, followed by a wee trip in to see Andy and Al at Scottish Mountain Rescue to discuss Big Hex attempts in September, found me driving west to get to the North face car park for about half three. I decided to take a walk in to look at the North Face, I figured that if I got to the CIC Hut early enough, I might even take a wee trip up to Carn Mor Dearg and blag another munro. On the walk in, just shortly after crossing the fence at the MR Car park where it meets the Alt Na Muillin I noticed a rather boggy path heading off to the left. It was apparent that it was an approach path for CMD. So I decided to take it. Always good to try something new! If I’m being honest, I had no real intention of ticking this one, it was late and I was tired – I’d been up since quarter to six. If I could see the North face in all its glory, that would be enough for me today.

And, hey presto, I made it to the top.

Nearly at the top....

Nearly at the top….

The sun setting on the way down.

The sun setting on the way down.

The North Face of The Ben

The North Face of The Ben

I arrived back at the car at 8:00 and headed home. The car broke down just south on Bridge of Orchy. Pitch dark and with no mobile signal I left the car to start walking towards Tyndrum. it was 9:15. I heard a car draw up in the lay by behind me and a very kind Aussie couple offered to drive me to Tyndrum. When I got there i called the AA and they got a truck from Lix Toll garage to come for me, take me to Killin and give me a car to get me home.

I arrived home at 1.35am having left the house at 6:00am the previous morning.

I had a beer and fell into be exhausted!

An evening walk – 44 and 45 Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire Leith

21 06 2015

IMG_4578I had planned to make it an early morning one on Saturday. Get up about 3.00am and head to the far end of Ben Lawers region, park the car, get up and down and head home to get some work done on Saturday afternoon. That was the plan. With that in mind I packed my rucksac and made up some sandwiches about 8:00pm on Friday night. I went to bed about half ten. Before I even had time to drift off I got a call from Calum.

“Dad, where are you?”

“I’m in my bed, where are you?

“I’m on the train from Glasgow, can you pick me up from the station?”

So, up I got, got dressed and got my car keys. When the kids call, there’s nothing you can do but go get them. That’s what dads are for, isn’t it?

And in that moment my plans for the day were scuppered.

During breakfast in the morning, I checked the weather forecast and it looked much better later in the day. I decided to leave later and do a night time walk. If I left around 5:00pm I could be up and down and back home for around 2:00am.

I text Pete to see if he fancied a walk. He did, and so did Dennis.

We set off at 5:00pm. Left the car at 7:00pm, avoided both summits in great weather and got back to the car for 10:00pm. A bit of a bog trot, not too bad though. We followed the route described in the Paul & Helen Webster Guide and encountered some still impressive snow slopes for this time of year.

Pete and Dennis find some amusement in the snow....

Pete and Dennis find some amusement in the snow….

The first one....

The first one….

The second one...

The second one…

Looking down.....

Looking down…..

If you’re new to this, I don’t go to the top. I go nearly to the top. I have been to nearly the top of 45 of Scotland’s munros now. I intend to do them all. Its a cantankery which only those like me can understand. bear with me please……


The Munroblagger

Number 37 – Sgurr Eilde Mor. A clearing of the head

8 01 2015
Sgurr Eilde Mor from the approach walk in

Sgurr Eilde Mor from the approach walk in

Another early start for us, and an new addition to the climbing/walking team in the form of a different set of wheels. I decided recently that the old trusty Big Hex Merc had done enough mountain miles, and in truth, with or without winter tyres, it still wasn’t exactly perfectly equipped for winter driving conditions in Scotland. Luckily I haven’t been caught out in bad driving conditions in the Big Hex mobile so far, but I figured that it was best not to push it. So a Land Rover was purchased, and is now the new Munroblagger vehicle of choice.

So, as I said, an early start. To climb, perchance to walk… perhaps just a clearing of the head after the events of the festive period which saw me lapsing in my vegan diet and pigging out on cheese and crackers and crisps, drinking too much beer and, sadly, trying to keep myself together for my kids on the news of the tragic death of my son Calum’s friend in a terrible accident in Manchester on New Year Day. Calum and his friends had been down in Manchester to spend four days doing what boys do, nightclubs, drinking and generally being lads. Sadly, a tragic accident on the very first night, Hogmanay resulted in death of Kyle Doherty aged 19. I had the dreadful task of driving to Manchester on the 2nd of January, in the newly acquired Land Rover to pick up four broken young men and five pieces of luggage. The boys thanked me for coming to collect them, I told them I would have driven around the world to pick up my son and bring him home, it was my pleasure to do so, unfortunately Kyles parents would not be so lucky. Their journey home just does not bear thinking about.

As you may gather, I needed a clearing of the head.

Binnien Mor

Binnien Mor

We left at at 6;30am, Pete and me. Struggled behind a car on the Loch Lomond road which was being driven at 20mph. “Drunk driver” Peter suggested,  just as he mounted two wheels on the grass verge before correcting himself.


I saw. He was, we got past him quickly and his lights disappeared rapidly in my mirror. Before too long we were at the “good good” shop next to the Green Welly in Tyndrum. A wee stop for some coke and crisps and the warm “good good” welcome from the cheery chap shop owner. Always a delight!

Glen Coe looked gloomy, the snow line was high. Even the Zig-Zags above the Lost Valley were stripped bare. The only climbing would be in SCNL. Pete wasn’t too keen on the trek, I wasn’t either. We headed on to Kinlochleven, Plan B – we walk to Binnien Mor. It was a Munro Pete still had to bag, and one I had still to blag. Seemed like a plan.

Our plans rarely come together.

We readied ourselves at the car park, this place was becoming familiar, even to me. And off we set. The weather was promising, the skies looked to be clearing in the direction we were going in and the clag which enveloped Kinlochleven was distancing itself from us every step we took. We got to the wee bench at the end of the initial rise and joined the Land Rover track as it wound around the hillside below the buttress which leads to Na Gruagaichean. The path gradually met the snow line, and pretty soon we entered the bowl between Binnen and Sgurr Eilde Mor. It was breathtaking.

Milky Lochans

Milky Lochans

The skies were clearing and a beautiful day developed in front of our eyes. Both of us were beginning to feel a bit fatigued by now, and both with one wet foot as we had simultaneously, and with impeccable choreography, fell through the snow into a burn. A quick consultation, and we decided to head for Sgurr Eilde Mor which was the nearest option. Sadly for Pete, there would be no new ticks for him today. A kind gesture bud, it would at least mean I could Blag a summit. We had some grub and headed upwards. A scramble up a small boulder field saw us almost at the top. Another summit avoided. And beautiful conditions too.

Another summit blagged!

Another summit blagged!

So we didn’t climb today. There’ll be another chance this winter. We had a walk, it wasn’t death defying, it was in beautiful daylight, it was a lovely walk. Nonetheless, it was what was needed, with my good companion and outdoor buddy Pete.

Peter with his intended peak in the background. Another day bud.

Peter with his intended peak in the background. Another day bud.

On the way back down we retraced our death defying steps.

“Look! that’s where you fell down on the way up!” says Pete, pointing to the 2 foot deep footprint in the snow with his Leki.

And then proceeded to fall straight down the same hole. Cameras are just not easily to hand when you need them.

Pete having some grub and a rest while I tread carefully on the frozen lochan...

Pete having some grub and a rest while I tread carefully on the frozen lochan…

Note: I’m doing this for my friend Corinne’s charity Finding Your Feet. Any donations would be extremely welcome at my Just Giving page

You can find out more about Cor and FYF at

Thanks for reading my blog!





Its a dogs life (at times) – Beinn Chabhair No 36

7 12 2014


View towards An Caisteal

View towards An Caisteal

With every intention to let circumstances conspire to scupper my plans to go out and avoid another summit, I woke and prepared to faff enough until the notion to go out in the rain got the better of me and I could put my feet up on the sofa and listen to some music. I really couldn’t be arsed. As misfortune would have it, every minor mishap – misplacing my iPhone charger, finding sandwich material and locating my gators (they would be needed!) – resolved itself and before I knew it Dennis was safely in the boot of the car and we were heading to The Drovers on Loch Lomond to park up and head up Beinn Chabhair.

I had been warned that it was a bogtrot of a hill and that it was a relatively easy walk. That being the case I decided it was a perfect walk to take Dennis as company. A bit about Dennis here. Dennis has only 3 legs, I’ve had him for about 3 years now. I rescued him from the cat and dog home where i saw him and fell in love with him. He was obviously lame and I was told that an amputation was inevitable and if I wanted him, I could pick him up in a couple of weeks minus a leg. I didn’t have to think twice. He is my companion and I love him so much, a more beautiful dog you could not imagine – and after Elvis’s death some years back, I never thought I could say that about another dog.

So, we unloaded at the Drovers, I got dressed, he got excited, and off we went heading towards Beinglass Farm which signals the start of the sharp rise up past Beinglass Falls, which are the waterfalls visible from The Drovers. Falls which I have viewed from the roadside in winter on my way to Nevis or Coe to climb, and wondered how they would climb when frozen? I hope to answer that soon now that I’m familiar with the access to them.

As we arrived at the Beinglass farm, we were greeted with a huge “No Dogs” sign. Not even a “Dogs should be kept on a lead”, no it was quite apparent that Dennis was not welcome. Equally as aggrieved that the guide book made no mention of this, I decided that I would keep him on a tight lead and continue. I passed through unchallenged, and before too long we were on the steep and eroded path beside the falls. There were a couple of times when I had to pick up Dennis and lift him through cattle fences as I climbed the high stiles, and a couple of times where the steep rock was too high for him to jump off his single back leg and needed a my help. Before too long, it opened up and we were on level if somewhat boggy ground. Dennis was now in his element, with his paws now finding soft wet ground he reveled in the new soft conditions. Never straying too far, he was free to explore his surroundings. Any time he disappeared from view due to the high bracken and grass, a sharp whistle would prompt the white flash on his tail to appear above the grass like a flagpole on a dodgem car, and he would come sprinting towards me. Any burn we crossed which offered a pool deep enough to lie down in, he would wade in then ease himself down on his belly for a cool down.

Dennis finds a pool big enough to swim in

Dennis finds a pool big enough to swim in

The weather was kind for us, we had a lovely day, I worried how he would cope and if it was to much for his back leg, but he was showing no signs of fatigue. We walked for 5 hours and for 15km. we ascended 940m. It offered me the perfect opportunity to memorise the words for my gig on Friday. I repeated them over and over, singing with gusto as the landscape unfolded before me offering both inspiration in its beauty and also reassurance of its solitude. Having satisfied myself that the words were now pretty much committed to memory and that any memory failure on the night would be entirely down to nerves, I moved on to some “proper” singing, well it would be proper singing if I could do it. Nonetheless, it is something which I am enjoying more and more. You’re never too old Bobby!

Lunch break at "almost the top"

Lunch break at “almost the top”

So, we arrived back at the car. I opened the boot and Dennis looked at me. I could tell, there was no way he was making it up into the car. I picked him up and sat him in the boot. He immediately curled into a ball. I got changed, and we headed home. I am so used to seeing his head in the rear view mirror excitedly pacing up and down in anticipation of a “walk”, but there was no sign of him, he was curled up cozy and sound asleep. I parked the car in the driveway at home and opened the boot, he hadn’t moved. He had no intention. I lifted him out and sat him on the driveway. He was going nowhere.

I had broken my dog.

After getting him into the house, he slept for about 4 hours in his bed. He could not get up onto his legs. I was worried.

An exhausted dog....

An exhausted dog….

He stayed downstairs as I went to bed, another bad sign! However, the night seemed to do him good, and when I woke in the morning, he was back to normal and looking for his morning walk. Phew!

As you know, I am doing this for my friend Corinne’s charity Finding Your Feet. For more information, you can go to and go and like the Facebook page too. Any donations for my Munroblagging will go to Finding Your Feet and this is my Just Giving page

Thanks! Catch you all soon.



OK Pop pickers, a late entry in at number 35! Aonach Mor!

8 09 2014
Stuart on Golden Oldie

Stuart on Golden Oldie

It must be old age. I forgot I that I had actually not got to the top of this one. Its no real surprise these days as I regularly walk into the bathroom and forget whether I’m in for a shit or a shave, which in itself isn’t really a conundrum as I don’t shave. But you get my drift.

Anyway, how could i forget to include this, a glorious day with Peter and Stuart, early climbers Gondola, beautiful walk in which gave great views of Carn Dearg Meadhonach (another route I need to include as part of an attempt at Carn Mor Dearg). Route finding wouldn’t prove difficult, it was Start finding that proved difficult. Having established what looked like a start, we headed up. Peter was suffering from pains in his knees and urged us to go on without him and he would catch us at the cafe in the top of the gondola later. Stuart and I pushed on. I wasn’t convinced we were on a route, never mind Golden Oldie – our chosen route for the day.

With the winter conditions thinning, there was a fair bit of snowed up rock for us to encounter, we moved quickly and unroped, Stuart taking everything in his stride. Well done Stu! A truly memorable mountain day (which I had forgotten) in good company and stunning views.

Ben nevis from Aonach Mor

Ben nevis from Aonach Mor

I only now wish I had the energy, as Stuart did to take the walk over to Aonach Beag, I was knackered tho’. Stuart headed over and I got chatting with a group of Irish climbers as the arrived on the top from and adjacent route. I had watched their progress up the rocky ridge and thought, “that looks like Golden Oldie they’re on”, we obviously were way off route. I was pleased then to hear one of them greet me with the comment “Saw you guys on Golden Oldie how was it today? We climbed it a few days ago and it was very good, thought we’d try something different today”.



I waited on Stuart to return from Aonach Beag, we picked up our gear and headed back to catch up with Pete at the cafe. Not one of his best days on the hills, a long walk in for nothing and a long walk back with a sair knee.

You know what they say, the mountain will still be there next year.

Towards Aonach Beag...

Towards Aonach Beag…

The cornices were unbelievable!

Buachaille Etive Beag – Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach 33 & 34

8 09 2014


The bealach at Mam Buidhe

The bealach at Mam Buidhe

There would be no scrambling today. No bike trip to Glen Coe – I had planned a trip to Beinn a’ Bheithir and a grade 2 scramble up to Sgorr Dhearg – as the weather was dank and dreary. I headed to Glen Coe non the less as I had an inclination to visit the wee buachaille for the first time.

I consider Glen Coe to be my climbing playground, Buachaille Etive Mor in  particular. With an abundance of incredible routes, one could spend the rest of your life playing on the Buachaille every weekend and not get bored. Hence the reason I had never ventured to the wee buachaille, no need, no climbing.

almost at the top of Stob Coire Raineach

almost at the top of Stob Coire Raineach

So I went there today. An empty car park the sign of clagged hillsides. I readied and set off. The book said 5-6 hours. I was back at the car in 2 hours 40 mins. I’m getting fitter obviously. A decent walk, I’d return on a better day to take in the views that were absent today.

Almost at the top of Stob Dubh as well!

Almost at the top of Stob Dubh as well!

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