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Day 66 - 72 "less the 50 to go!"

Day 66

Today’s Munros – 7 Total Munros – 208

Creag nan Damh - Rock of the Stags

Sgurr an Lochain – Peak of the Little Loch

Sgurr an Doire Leathain – Peak of the Broad Thicket

Maol Chin Dearg – Bald Red Head

Aonach air Chrith – Trembling Hill

Druim Shionnach – Ridge of the Fox

Creag Mhaim – Rock of the Large Rounded Hill

It goes without saying that the translation of Maol Chin Dearg needs some explanation. It appears that this red topped hill is bereft of plant or “hair” like cover and only has some tufts of grass further down its pate – around its ears? Hence bald red head. This is better than one translation which describes the hill as having a “scabbed head”! Aonach air Chrith – Trembling Hill - is not a nervous hill or one feeling the cold but it refers to the scree slopes which makes it appear to “tremble” as you descend.

Euan made short work of this string of Munros along the south of Glen Shiel. He was joined by Josh and Gary on the last one. Some wisps of mist at the start of the day before the sun burnt them off made a great ridge walk. As Euan has said this challenge gives him a chance to reconnect with Scotland which it certainly has done in many different ways – the places, the people, the food and drink and its culture. On a smaller scale, today he viewed from some considerable distance a bridge beside Loch Hourn which he crossed several days ago in the glen running parallel to Glen Shiel.

In a chance meeting the previous day at Plockton, Euan and Josh met two former Plockton residents – on a sailing trip - who were interested in St Mungo’s and the Ch282. As a result of this conversation, James and Charlotte gave a very generous donation to the challenge. Thank you both.

Day 67

Today’s Munros - 7 Total Munros - 215

Ciste Dubh – Black Chest

Aonach Meadhoin – Middle Hill

Sgurr na Ciste Dubh – Peak of the Black Chest

Sgurr Fuhran – unknown

Sgurr na Carnach – Peak of the Stony Place

Sgurr a Bhealaich – Peak of the Red Pass

Saileag – Little Heel

These Munros lie to the north of Glen Shiel and Euan plans to do them in one traverse. They include the “5 Sisters” but the Gaels never referred to these hills as sisters nor was it named by such English travellers as Dr Johnson and Boswell who visited in 1773. It seems that someone called them that – because they were close? They looked alike? Or they like ships or other inanimate objects are given a female gender and so sisters? You choose because no one else can decide.

The ominous sounding Ciste Dubh – Dark Chest, could mean something darker in that in some translations, it can mean a coffin. Even more of a mystery is Sgurr Fhuran since one expert argues that it is the hill of wells or springs but an early climber, Sir Hugh Munro – yes that Munro – complained about the lack of water on its slopes. We hope that Euan doesn’t suffer from such a lack.

June 9 2023 – Day 68

Today’s Munros – 4 Total Munros – 219

A Ghlas bheinn – Grey Hill

Beinn Fhada – Long Mountain

Mullach Fraoch – choire – Summit of the Heathery Corrie

A Chrailaig – The Basket

The first two Munros are not naturally linked but they do leave another three which can be tackled together so Euan managed to “clear them up” these four today. The writer cannot help thinking that if only Maol Chin Dearg – Bald Red Head could have had a “heathery corrie” like Mullach Fraoch – choire then its appearance could be adjusted to read something along the lines of Monk’s Head Hill or Receding Hill?

June10th may well be declared a rest day and given the relentless, but very successful days in Skye, a long cycle run to the mainland and then no less than 17 Munros in Glen Shiel, that would be no surprise. It would also allow the smooth changeover of support with Josh leaving for home and the commander back refreshed from some home leave. Thank you, Josh for the support and contribution to the challenge.

10 June 2023 - Day 69

As was previously planned, this was a rest day for various reasons – rest because it was needed for the body and the mind, some respite from the long days, refuel /reset Cr282 and manage a changeover of the support team for Euan. He was able to visit his mother’s home and enjoy some home comforts as well. The commander noted that on his return that Euan had found time to spruce up Cr282, leave the kayak behind along with all the water travel gear and repack the van for the final push to complete all the Munros.

Donations to the JustGiving page continue to come in. Thank you, the Gordon Highlanders Associations, fellow walkers, Emma and Dave and Janice and Alistair. The last pair, readers will remember, were the “victims” of the overzealous collection of drying clothes from a communal campsite washing line by the commander. Now he is going to borrow again from these two since, as part of their donation message, they aptly used typical commander talk by describing their chat being about “life, laundry and Munros”. A fitting description of what it’s like inside Cr282.

Post script

The commander has found another odd sock which was lurking in his quarters on his return to the van. Just in case readers get the wrong impression about the extravagant use of the term “quarters” and have ideas of a wardrobe, armchairs and dressing table, the odd sock was found in the one item of furniture besides the bed – an above the bed locker. This woollen black sock flecked with grey, only lightly used is looking for a new home – think of this as an “adopt a sock” initiative or perhaps readers can conjure up imaginative uses for this singular sock. (Readers should also note that the use of the term “odd” has been deemed none PC and been replaced forthwith by the term “singular” – The Editor)

It also appears that one reader is still wrestling with the collective name for a group of young gamekeepers riding electric bikes. (an aborted competition launched a month or so ago.) Although heartened by such enduring interest in what was, after all, a frivolous challenge, it’s maybe time to move on? Life is too short! Consider the “singular sock” the new challenge to keep blog reader’s brain cells engaged.

11/12 June 2023 – Days 70/71

It was very much back to business for Cr282 after the previous day’s rest. The van spent the night in quite a crowded parking area next to the A877 at Loch Cluanie. Nevertheless, Euan was able to manoeuvre the van into an area overlooking the loch without cramping the space or spoiling the view of other campers. The midge was mercifully scarce in the evening but with overnight rain, they seemed to have woken up in droves and anti-midge lotions and head nets were the norm.

A 2 day expedition north of this site was planned with an overnight camp for Euan somewhere near Loch Mullardoch while the commander went nearer the “honey pots” of Loch Ness for a good signal to keep in touch with Euan. Actually, this blog is being written on a picnic table at Drumnadrochit close to a very large sign pointing to “Nessieland”! If Nessie is literally on land, then the tourists will, at least, have a better chance of spotting it. (Keep it factual – The Editor)

Days 70/71

Daily Munros 6/5 Total Munros – 225 / 230

Carn Ghluasaid – Hill of Movement

Sgurr Nan Conbhairean – Peak of the Keeper of the Hounds

Sail Chaorainn - Heel of the Rowan Tree

An Socach – The Snout

Sgurr nan Ceathreamhan – Peak of the Quarters

Meall na Dheiragain – Summit of the Kestrels

Distance – 38.16k; time – 10hrs 48min; ascent - 8421ft; descent – 8097ft.

Carn Eige – File Hill

Mam Sodhail – Hill of the Barns

Beinn Fhionnlaidh – Finlay’s Hill

Tom a Choinich – Hill of the Moss

Toll Creagach – Rocky Hollow

Distance – 23k; time – 7hrs; ascent – 5748ft; descent – 6253ft.

The Hill of Movement is similar to another recent name – trembling. This time as you descend the scree on this hill, there is movement but maybe not trembling. The keeper of the hounds refers to the legendary Fingalians - they get everywhere, the Fingalians as well as their hounds – this time the fierce hounds used for hunting the not so legendary deer. The Peak of the quarters is an interesting one since it concerns a disputed piece of land and how it was shared out. File hill may refer to the peat cutting tool or just the edge of this long-ridged mountain. Thinking how obscure some of Gaelic translations and pronunciations are the writer came upon a revealing piece of local history concerning the Gaels. In 1757, General Simon Fraser of Lovat formed the Fraser Highlanders and two hundred of them volunteered for service in Canada where they became known as the Lovat Scouts. They served with distinction in the Boer War and both World Wars. In World War Two, they were used as radio operators. They used Gaelic as a “secret” language as the Germans could not understand it. Let it be clear, the writer is certainly not inferring that present day Gael speakers are attempting to keep the rest of us in the dark, but it is a devilish language to understand as the Germans found out.

The meeting place for today was Loch Mullardoch which at 10 miles long makes it the largest in Scotland. Created in 1951, it flooded an old drove road and right of way which the then Hydro Board was legally obliged to restore. 60 years later, it hasn’t been reinstated. Maybe they are waiting for the centenary of its creation!

On day 1, Euan met very few other walkers but saw some wildlife besides the inevitable herd of deer – 2 ptarmigan chicks, a fawn and a nightjar which he wants to verify by its call (in the middle of the night). He also heard three cuckoos in proximity to one another. The commander heard none.

The commander was able to venture twice into Glen Affric, one of the best and most accessible glens in the area. Cr282’s route did not allow a longer stay there but it is worth a visit to sample its various signposted walks in glorious scenery. Historically, the glen symbolises what has happened to many Highland estates over the centuries. From 1500 to 1800, it was owned and ruled by the Chisholm Clan with tenant farmers and extensive timber operations. The desire by the Chisholms to modernise and become part of the cash economy led to the eviction of the tenant farmers to make way for the more profitable sheep – the Clearances. The forced eviction of whole families and communities to the coast where they thought farmers could become fishers overnight or overseas with some assisted passages to the New World was not a happy period in the Highlands. In the 19th century, Affric became a sporting estate with Affric Lodge as a “gentleman’s shooting lodge”. In the 1950’s, the dam brought hydroelectricity to the glen and in 1951 it was bought by the Forestry Commission – now Forestry Land Scotland – which has opened Glen Affric for the enjoyment of all as well as carrying out regeneration schemes.

Euan completed the Munros just as the heavy rain showers started which cleared the air and an excellent overnight was had with a view of the dam, a lochan and surrounding Scots pines. It was just as well that Cr282 had time to enjoy the setting since the next morning was shrouded in heavy mist although the midgies were using their own radar to home in on any warm body.

13 June 2023 – Day 72

Euan set off at 7.15 for another 2-day expedition, starting from the top of the Loch Mullardoch Dam. He disappeared quickly into the mist along a track for only a short time as he would soon start ascending Carn Gobhar. Euan was carrying the usual selection of dried meals, generously filled rolls, snacks (nuts and chocolate bars) and emergency rations. He was also carrying some small pouches of water, necessary for the dry ridges which he would be traversing. A more recent addition for breakfast has been dried apple flakes which look like pale yellow cubes and which he adds to his morning porridge. These are hydrated in hot water before being added to the oatmeal.

Following thunder and lightning, there was no shortage of water overhead which soaked Euan even more than he was already since he had waded across a river. He camped for the night near a waterfall – hope he’s got earplugs.

The commander was similarly parked in the heavy mist at Mullardoch but he could afford to delay his start in the hope that the clag would soon burn off. As soon as he had finished his second cup of English breakfast tea, the sun broke through for the rest of the day. The nearby Corbett, Sgorr na Diollaid - the Peak of the Saddle – was his target in warm and humid conditions. Coupled with heather and grassy tussocks, this hill proved tougher than expected – 13k with 770m of ascent in 4hours. He did have a planned 2-night stay in Cannich Campsite to recover along with Euan on the second night. Cr282 was well settled on a good pitch before thunder, lightning and heavy rain struck. The site became busy as many campers sought shelter from the downpour in this small woodland area. One unfortunate couple had to erect a small but seemingly complicated tent in the heavy rain. Worse still, the tent inner had to go up first and got thoroughly wet before the outer skin could be organised. One piece of the essential outer frame was lifted and laid down on the wet grass many times before it was put to good use. The heavy rain blocked any commentary during the construction but since they left very quickly as the tent became wind and watertight, the commander thought the local pub would have some guests to dry out.

Today’s Munros – 4. Total Munros 234

Carn nan Gobhar - Hill of the Goats

Sgurr na Lapaich – Peak of the Bogland

An Riabhachan – The Grey or Streaked One

An Socach – the Snout

This is the second Carn na Gobhar and An Socach in the area proving either how common goats and mountains looking like snouts were or just a lack of imagination from the decision makers. An Riabhachan, according to one expert is close to the Gaelic for the Devil – An Riabhach Mor which gives this mountain an ominous allure. Coincidentally, grey is the colour most Gaels associate with “dark things”. It would be interesting to discover if the current fashionable use of grey in house and other designs is equally popular in Gaeldom.

Euan’s progress would take him into Glen Strathfarrar for tomorrow’s Munros and a planned pick up in the afternoon. Vehicle access to this glen has been very restricted by the estate for many years. This is done by a locked gate at a gamekeeper’s cottage which limits access to 25 vehicles per day. Access during the summer months is restricted to times of the day as well – 9.00am – 8.00pm and no access on Tuesdays or Wednesday until 1.30pm. Ch282 has to work around these times and as luck would have it, Euan is there during a Tuesday/Wednesday.


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