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Day 18 - 20

April 20 2023 – Day 18

Euan had cycled to the previous day’s start point at Glen Lochy for the solitary Munro; Beinn Bhuidhe – Yellow Hill. It is yellow as in a dried grass colour. There are no less than 22 Yellow hills, a sign of the number hills with dried grass, the “Smith” of the mountain hill names world. Setting off at 8.00am, Euan had a long hike before reaching this Munro on Glen Fyne. It started positively through well managed forest but soon the route became steeper and rougher. Distracted on the way by a lizard basking in the sun and some mountain violets and wood anemone, the latter identified by a blog reader, Euan eventually reached the summit and then descended into Glen Fyne. This loch and Glen is famous for its oysters and more recently Fyne Ales brewery. Neither delicacy was sampled by Cr282 in these straightened financial times. The commander thought this was a “fyne” example of self-denial. Euan was able to capture an image of a Highland cow during the day. He had wisely avoided getting too close to others with calves at foot since they are very protective of their young.

It had been, in Euan’s opinion, a long way to travel for a single Munro. The figures would support this view. 24k hiked in 5hrs 50 mins with 3923ft of ascent, 4015ft descent, total of 45 Munros. He noted that his heart rate only reached a max of 130 on the day, it usually climbs to nearer 170 on even longer steeper climbs. The commander thought a low heart rate was a good thing but what does he know!

The overnight campsite at Arrochar allowed the obligatory showers and some hand washing of clothes – no washing machines/dryers. This was not unexpected since it only charged £20 per night for electric hook up and water and appealed to the frugal Cr282. Yet another Dutchman engaged the commander in a conversation – think Jehovah Witness but not as intense. He represented an organisation called the Fourth Musketeer which encourages men in particular into the mountains for strenuous exercise and later to contemplate and reflect on the experience around the campfire. The commander listened politely and returned to the van to ask Euan how he found the days experience. Too late, tea was ready. There was a character on the campsite, who in a largely one-way conversation informed us of impolite Germans – not his words, his very negative opinion of cross dressing campers and what he has found down the toilet drains as part of his daily tasks. One day, he found …. (Deleted in deference to readers of a sensitive disposition – the Editor). The campsite or rather a nearby mobile home featured a large, illuminated cross which was lit up every evening. It may have been 4 or 5 metres tall. Cr282 slept soundly despite or maybe, just maybe because of these experiences. The reader can decide.

April 21 2023 – Day 21

Cr282 left the campsite with some memories, perhaps not all of them which should have been shared. Given the scarcity of campsites in this area and very restrictive wild camping sites, we may return to Arrochar. Will the illuminated cross still be there? Will the Fourth Musketeer have enlisted any new followers? (This is increasingly sounding like a trailer for a soap opera which is not what we hope to produce, we have standards – the Editor.)

The van made slow progress over the Rest and Be Thankful which is receiving serious buttress work to avoid future landslips. Euan made a prompt start at 8.05am to the first of 4 Munros:

Beinn Ime – Hill of Butter

Beinn Narnain – Hill of the Notches

Ben Vane – Middle Hill

Ben Vorlich – Hill of the Bay

For once, COHN seems to have made logical choices for these hill names but in the light of the Editor’s last mild remonstration about blog standards, a historical reference may seem fitting to raise the tone. In the past, it was the custom for women and children in the area to live in shielings in the lower hills during the Summer months. As well as tending grazing cattle, they produced cheese and butter from the cows there. Hence the name Hill of Butter and the nearby Butterbridge. The menfolk stayed to work on the crofts or whatever took their fancy at lower levels. The commander wondered what role he might choose in this division of labour, gender aside. He imagined the idyllic life in the hills in the Summer sun or the casual work on the croft free of child care or wandering cattle. He was attracted, as you might guess, to the less arduous life on the croft but then thought who would be there to cook? (The commander still has difficulties with 21st or even 20th century roles – The Editor)

Euan met a few other walkers on these hills which are often called the Arrochar Alps. A donation later that evening was received from one such walker who was impressed by the challenge which Euan had set himself. He found the descent from Ben Vane and then ascent of Ben Vorlich a tough one at the end of the walk – not a route which naturally are linked. Today’s figures – 23.85k in 7hrs10min, 8126ft of ascent, 8825ft descent, 4 Munros. Total 49. He then travelled on his bike down Loch Lomond to the next day’s start point where a suitable point was eventually found to launch his kayak for a crossing of the loch. A return to the Arrochar campsite then beckoned to prepare for a very different type of day.

Brief update for readers on the features/personalities of the campsite – no sign of the 4th Musketeer group, perhaps contemplation was complete and all issues resolved; the vexatious caretaker, was nowhere to be seen, not even in the local pub but then he wouldn’t be there because he had been banned several years ago; the large illuminated sign at a nearby mobile home shone throughout the night, a guiding light for all campers for an alternative reason – it was close to the toilet block in the unlit campsite. The commander had followed Euan at a much slower pace and climbed a Corbett near Euan’s first Munro and then retired. Both he and Euan slept well in probably their last visit to Arrochar campsite.

April 22 2023 – Day 20

Today was going to be a day of transitions – kayak – walking – kayak – cycling. No stage was huge in terms of distance but energy sapping with the number of changes and muscle sets to be used. Despite a late change to the kayak launch site, Euan glided across a very smooth and calm Loch Lomond. Cr282 took 45mins to cross over to the other side of the loch by a circuitous road, Euan took 12 mins for the 1.8k crossing! He had time to find and guard a very convenient parking space before the van arrived at the bottom of Ben More. Such was the speed of the crossing, Euan had time for a cup of tea before striding to the top via the “tourist” path. He bypassed many charity walkers and others, young and old, attracted to this popular hill near centres of population. At the bottom, he was able to rest briefly again with Munro no. 50 in the bag.

Ben Lomond – Beacon Hill – completed – 12.46k in 1hr 57min, 3261ft of ascent, 3166 descent. Another transition began as Euan eased into a dry suit and was zipped up. Unfortunately, he had to ask the commander to retrieve his mobile phone from inside his zipped dry suit. Fortunately, this was achieved successfully without embarrassment to Euan or the commander. This time in choppier waters, Euan still took only 12mins 47secs to reach the other side.

Meantime Cr282 sped around to meet him on the other side but not before a planned stop at Balloch – the Coop where else! The commander was given responsibility to purchase from an agreed shopping list – bread, rolls, custard, choc bars, muesli, cheese, custard, choc bars, fruit, yoghurt, custard, choc bars, etc. Reunited at the loch side, the van got the kayak on the roof and the bike from the hold so that Euan could travel the 12.46k to another campsite at Beinglas Farm, Invernarnan. This is an excellent site with grass and hardstanding which caters for the West Highland Way travellers. Euan made another reconnection with Scotland on his bike ride when suffering from a short-lived energy gap, he stopped at Inveruglas where he had a can of Irn-Bru and a slice of millionaire shortbread. There is nothing to beat traditional Scottish food and drink. Is there?

Euan is following in the approximate footsteps of Hamish Brown who was the first person to complete a continuous round of the Munros under his own steam. Hamish Brown completed the round in 114 days in 1974 when it was a different world. Euan would like to better that time but acknowledges Hamish’s achievement and expert homework in linking the Munros in the most expeditious way and veers from his route only when he can use his bike for example to make travel quicker. Hamish also used a cycle but not the lightweight one Euan can deploy. Euan also benefits from the superior light weight equipment and supplies. Hamish Brown, however used a ferry from Mull to Oban when you’ll remember Euan made a 7hr kayak crossing very much using his own power. There were calculated to be only 279 Munros at Hamish Brown’s time whereas there are now 3 more. It’s different times especially when you consider where Hamish Brown spent his overnights – 62 in 47 different sites, 19 in 10 youth hostels, 7 in 4 huts, 10 in hotels/homes and 13 in10 bothies. Sometimes comparisons across different times are just plain not possible.


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