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Day 49 - 52

May 21 2023 - Day 49

“It has been proclaimed from on high that today is a rest day, and no labour shall be done.” In other words, no mountains shall be climbed but rest just means that no stats will be published.

Cr282 spent the night on a “tent pitch with electric” since there were no camper pitches left despite this being a very large modern campsite. The proximity of the iconic Ben Nevis and a wide range of adventure and leisure activities make this a very busy and lucrative site. Its popularity was also reflected in its rates, the highest by some way of the tour so far. A day of rest as has been described before means watching clothes finish a spin cycle or observing how ingenious Euan can be as he fashions a clothesline using a rope, walking poles, a tree and a picnic table. The commander, meanwhile, made coffee and offered design suggestions on the construction of the clothesline which were invariably ignored.

A comprehensive shopping list had to be compiled since a visit to Fort William with its choice of large supermarkets was planned for the afternoon. The commander’s Coop loyalty card was not going to benefit from this shop. The list did not alter much from earlier ones except perhaps in quantity of specific items and did not take account of the yellow label products – damaged packaging/ imminent sell by date goods – which attracted Euan like a bee to honey. The commander, to be fair, did enjoy large slices of carrot cake which had a yellow label. He also wondered, since malt whisky had been added to the list, if Euan had noticed his mark showing the level of remaining malt in the bottle had mysteriously lowered into the red, empty zone during one of his overnights in the hills.

Cr282 seems to have a stalker during its varied travels across Scotland. Wherever the van went, so a cuckoo followed. At first, Euan and the commander thought it novel how many insistent cuckoo calls were heard at all times during the day. Even while parked recently in one of the regular parking spots in a carpark in Kinlochleven its calls were heard. The commander thought that although it was not an unpleasant sound, it became ever so slightly unnerving. “Where exactly is this bird? What is it trying to tell us? Why us?” (Obviously a rest day with too little to do has led to these paranoid thoughts – the Editor)

Shopping done, lunch out and washing drying without being closely watched, Cr282 then had time to dwell on maps and schedules for the weeks ahead. Immediate rendezvous points for the next two days were fixed, changeover dates discussed and longer-term routes towards the West and Skye debated. There was time for a barbecue – the first of the trip – which was excellent…and it kept any midgies at bay. The commander went to be bed tired – for no particular reason – but ready for the week ahead. Euan continued to fidget for a little while later by packing and checking everything was ready for Ben Nevis and much beyond.

'The Commander...'

May 22 2023 – Day 50

Euan was up early and had a substantial bowl of muesli, granola and loads of fruit including the obligatory banana – he knows bananas are good for him. He then makes up three filled rolls which the average mouth would just be able to cope with – think slabs of filling rather than afternoon tea slices. He’d already packed hydrated meals, custard packs of his own design and more fruit and chocolate in various forms. The custard concoction was trialled on the commander who approved the mixture not “bake off’ standards as regards presentation but good wholesome food. Shopping for chocolate biscuits involves selecting multipacks from across the range. In what is not unusual it appears, the local Morrisons has a very long aisle with only sweets, crisps etc on display. So this is why household shopping takes so long, thought the commander.

Today’s Munros

Ben Nevis – Venomous, Evil or Cloudy Hill

Carn Mor Dearg – Big Red Hill

Aonach Mor – Little Ridge

Aonach Beag – Big Ridge

Sgurr Choinnich Mor – Big Mossy Peak

Stob Choire Claurigh – Bawling or Clamouring

Stob Coire an Laoigh – Peak of the Corrie of the Calf

Stob Ban – White Peak

Total Munros – 154

30k covered in 10hrs 35mins; 10500ft of ascent; 9000ft descent

Ben Nevis, known to all climbers as “The Ben”, has rather confusing names despite it being recognised by early map makers and geographers as “nevis” in some form of spelling. Some think it reflects the cold and stony glen at its foot which early farmers struggled to make a living from. The mountain is a bit of an enigma since on one side it has some of the finest climbing routes in Britain while on the other, it caters for a vast number of tourists who want to climb Britain’s highest mountain with all the pressures which that brings.

Euan’s brother, Neil and dog Obi joined him for the first two Munros with a tricky ridge between them – Carn Mor Dearg Arete. There is a path just below this ridge which avoids the airy ridge. The arete was safely negotiated by the two climbers and Obi. The writer cannot help thinking that Sgurr Choinnich Mor – Big Mossy Peak – is sure to have his name shortened to just “Mossy” amongst his friends and neighbours obviously.

Euan continued to bag 6 more Munros before he stopped for the night at Lairig Leacach bothy where he was joined by some students on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition and two others who all camped outside while Euan along with unseen mice stayed inside. Nocturnal noises and missing spilt rice were the only evidence of these rodents. The commander, meanwhile, carried out necessary van duties for the first part of the morning taking on clear fresh water, carefully disposing some grey liquid in one drain and some yellow liquid in another. Actually, the yellow liquid is really blue coloured from the sweet-smelling additive measured out into in the container at every emptying – the commander knows that his readers like to know such details and strives to be accurate in even such menial tasks. (120ml to be precise) Domestic duties complete, he took to the hills as well – the Corbett, Beinn Bhan was his target up lovely Glen Loy overlooking both Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig. Much smaller than previous glens on this trip, it was still picturesque in the intermittent warm sun. Cr282 was also able to find a parking spot in the nearby Glen Loy Forest with views of Ben Nevis and in sight of a telecommunications mast so contact with the outside world was easy. A restful night was had after some food and an excellent couple of beers from a hip sounding Scottish brewery based in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. (Even subtle product placement is unlikely going to work either – the Editor)

The reaching of the hallway point in Ch282 was marked by a regular reader with a very generous and symbolic donation. Thank you for your donation and supportive comments.

Nevis top

Ridge to Carn Mor Dearg

Ben Nevis

May 23 2023 – Day 51

Once he left the bothy and its hungry, noisy mice behind, Euan quickly went up the first two Munros before reaching the waiting Cr282 at Fersit. He was able to cover the 12.6k in 3hrs 23mins with 2798ft of ascent and 2523ft descent. A relatively short mornings work with plenty in the tank to proceed to complete another two.

Stob Coire Eassain – Peak of the Corrie of the Little Waterfall

Stob a Choire Mheadhoin – Peak of the Middle Corrie

Stob Coire Sgriodain – Peak of the Corrie of the Scree

Chno Dearg – Red Hill

Bothy night

Total Munros - 158

Before the afternoon Munros, lunch included some specially delivered croissants from the Rain Cafe in Fort William. To be more exact, the commander, after a morning call from Euan about an earlier than planned meet at Fersit, saw the prospect of a coffee and croissant at the café disappear. Not so easily thwarted and a visit to a supermarket in Fort William necessary anyway, the commander bought some takeaway croissants to be enjoyed with homemade coffee in the fine setting of Fersit. Flexibility and a smidgin’ of self interest are vital for a happy life as a commander of Cr282.

It is worth noting, according to one writer, that Chno Dearg – Red Hill may be a mistake by the Ordinance Survey. It should be Red Nut, a much more interesting name given the plethora of red hills on this journey.

While Euan was completing the Munros for the day, the commander took a stroll to the dam at the end of Loch Treig where he met a Highland Council Ranger who informed him that the loch had been dammed to provide water by tunnel for the now closed aluminium smelter in Fort William, a considerable distance away. In an engaging chat, he also pointed to the illegality of the “No Campingsigns on nearby gates which had been erected by the local estate. The “right to roam” legislation allowed camping in reasonable circumstances which this estate was denying. Campfires are a different matter, he stressed. Another meeting with a local resident – there are not many people living in the 7 or 8 houses at Fersit – was also informative in that she welcomed walkers and felt most were responsible visitors. She also told the commander that their picturesque home had no internet. How could they survive?

Euan thought that an easy bike run through Glen Spean Forest from Fersit to Moy Lodge on Loch Laggan was the end of his day. The bike ride went very well – 45 minutes – but no waiting Cr282 or the commander at the agreed meeting place at the layby on the A86 road. After a wait, he went all the way back by road this time to Fersit to question anyone around about the van’s whereabouts as well as calling the commander with no response. An increasingly tired and worried Euan made his way back to the A86 to the Glen Spean Lodge Hotel where he was supplied with a phone charger and then as time passed a three-course meal. He had only his minimal bike gear and two small snacks to sustain him. Anxious phone calls to the commanders home alerted them to the problem – Cr282 and its driver were lost! More calls were made with no response. Where was the commander and the van?

Of course, they were at the agreed rendezvous point but with no signal to receive all the calls. Cr282 and Euan had missed one another and crucially the commander had stayed too long at the meeting point with no signal waiting for a long-gone Euan. Lesson learned and rendezvous protocol reviewed. The commander and Euan eventually met at the Glen Spean Lodge Hotel with much relief all round. Thank you, the hotel and staff, for the food and support to Ch282 in time of need.

The relieved duo went back to the layby for a late bedtime after a traumatic end to their day.

May 24, 2023 - Day 52

Cr282 spent an uneventful and peaceful night at the layby with the commander for one taking some time to get his mind to rest. Plans for the day were discussed and most importantly the meeting place agreed. It was not difficult – yes, the same layby was the best. Euan had several Munros on the day’s list –

Beinn Eibhinn – Delightful Hill

Aonach Beag – Little Ridge

Carn Dearg – Red Hill

Geal Charn – White Hill

Beinn Chlachair – Stonemason’s Hill

Geal Charn – White Hill

Creag Pitridh – Petrie’s Rock

Total Munros – 165

It must be said that today’s list of Gaelic names is a real hotchpotch of old favourites and interesting newcomers. Our regular readers will surely have noticed how Geal Charn just keeps coming back – 2 today and no less than 24 in this area alone. I suppose that you cannot get enough white (of that clear and bright variety) hills. We’ve seen 3 Carn Deargs, 2 Aonach Beags and a partridge in a pear tree… (That’s just plain silly and it’s not even Xmas! – The Editor). Finally, there is a suggestion in one hill names book that Beinn Eibhinn – Delightful Hill is a reference to a past romantic liaison in a local sheiling which was so memorable that a local poet named the mountain after the event. Just think what would happen if every such memorable liaison had a place or mountain named after it – what fun reading the index in an atlas!

Euan used his cycle to obtain quicker access to these hills. He cached or rather camouflaged the cycle near a track. He has probably had practice in this subterfuge in his day job. He might post a photo?

The 7 hills are grouped in a 4,2,1 formation with the possibility of opting out of the 1 or the 2 later in the day. If past performances are anything to go by, Euan will go for all-out attack. No continental defensive tactics here! This forecast by the commander proved to be correct and the 4,2,1 formation wilted under the superior firepower of the experienced and relentless Euan. (Can we stop the football analogies now? – The Editor)

The commander thought that he would benefit from a quieter day after the previous day’s events, so he opted to go to Spean Bridge for the all-important signal, a laptop charge and a double shot americano in that order. Suitably charged up – both the laptop and the commander – a 2 hour walk in the environs of the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge was ideal in terms of length and interest. Besides the inspiring statue itself, the walk overlooked the ruined High Bridge of General Wade design which used to span the river Spean primarily for government troops. The walk also used part of the spectacularly unsuccessful Spean Bridge to Fort Augustus railway which closed in 1940 with only one coal train a day running. The commander enjoyed the trail through the silver birch and oak woods in the warm sun.

Euan arrived back at the now infamous layby after a 9hour 30min day with 7 Munros covering 41k. A seat in the sun with a refreshing cup of tea was needed as the day’s photos and events were reviewed. Euan had only met two fellow walkers on his route but was dismayed by some of their comments when they heard what Ch282 was all about. “Do you know about a climber who did all the Munros in Winter?” Are you doing all the Munro tops as well? (Tops are another 226 mountains over 3000ft which are not classed as Munros). To be fair, these comments are very much the exception since walkers have been very impressed and interested in Euan’s efforts and as you will see from the JustGiving page, many also contribute to the listed charities.

A small glass of a Speyside malt – Cardhu – was enjoyed before a meal and a good nights sleep.


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