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Day 77 - 79

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

18 June 2023 Day 77

From Torridon, Euan made the short but steep cycle ride to below Beinn Alligin at Torridon House passing through small communities on the way. Cr282 would make this busy carpark the base camp for what would be a relatively short day. This was just like a campsite where the multifarious walkers, runners, mountain bikers and other’s made preparations for their activities.

One such visitor to the car park was Luke who approached the van with the question, “What number is he on today?” Euan had met Luke several times during their individual round of Munros. Using only his bike as transport, Luke had completed 221 out of the 282 Munros so far but he had a more leisurely approach. He trustingly kept his bike under a tarp in the carpark. His bike was very much a one off – hand painted in white and intricate blue motifs – think willow pattern colours without the Chinese garden scenes and flying swallows. Luke would likely take a break from his endeavours soon and start again in Skye in September – the relaxed approach. The commander was intrigued by the approach to a walking activity followed by two Americans who arrived. They doused themselves first in suntan lotion, then sprayed anti midge/insect repellent all over themselves and half the carpark – to be fair it was a small carpark. After anointing every bare part of their bodies with oils, they then bafflingly put on long trousers over their shorts, long sleeved shirts over T shirts and finally put on caps and in one case a head net! All bases covered then…

The Munro book suggests that it would take 2hrs 10mins to reach the first Munro on Beinn Alligin – Tom na Gruagaich. It took Euan 56 minutes. He then went on to the second one and missed out the Horns of Alligin before quickly returning to Cr282.

Today’s Munros – 2 Total Munros – 249

(Beinn Alligin – a Jewel or a Darling)

Tom na Gruigach – Hill of the Maiden

Sgurr Mor – Big Peak

Both he and the commander had to beat off the increasing number of horseflies or clegs as they are known in Scotland. It’s been discovered that mosquitos inject an anaesthetic into their victims before they bite and suck blood. Clegs don’t bother with such niceties. They just land and bite and suck. As a result, their bite causes a sharper pain and some swelling or reaction to the bite depending on the individual. You can kill the much bigger cleg with a satisfying splat if you’re quick, but it does leave watery, bloody debris on the skin.

Cr282 made slow progress to Kinlochewe because the Highland Cross awards ceremony was finishing at Torridon, and a long caravan of competitor’s cars and support vehicles dispersed along the single-track road. As has been noted before, Kinlochewe is a bit of a mixed bag for visitors to this admittedly small village. The welcome at the campsite was decidedly frosty at first because of their fixed 1.00pm opening time. At 12.55pm, Cr282 arrived at a large wooden gate across the entrance. Because of its length, Cr282’s rear end was dangerously close to the busy main road as it stopped at the gate. The commander opened the gate to allow the van to get off the road and Euan stopped the van at reception – 10m from the gate. The manager remonstrated Cr282 for opening the gate, ignoring signs and arriving 5 minutes early. He clearly was having a bad day because he later apologised for his “hasty” response, and all was fine thereafter. The visit to the Kinlochewe Hotel was also a disappointment and it did not improve during the visit. Food could only be had if meals were booked, the local draught beer was just OK and the atmosphere in the tired hotel was a bit dreary.

With prior approval from the Editor who extracted a promise from the writer that this would be last reference to socks, singular or otherwise in this blog. While necessarily using the laundry room at the campsite, the writer discovered that the manager has a similar sense of humour – perhaps humour is exaggerating it a bit. A wooden sign with two pegged singular socks was on the wall above the washing machines and driers. The notice read – Lonely Socks seeking Sole Mates…… (The Editor did not approve a reference to socks AND the use of a pun.)

19 June 2023 - Day 78

While in their respective maggots, both Euan and the commander were aware that it had started raining at 4.00am. This was about 4 hrs later than forecast. Neither could decide whether this was a good or bad sign since a longer day was planned along some challenging ridges. The forecast suggested that there would be rain for most of the day. Even though it was forecast and expected, after such a long period of mainly dry, sunny weather, the steady rain along the road between Kinlochewe and Torridon was not a welcome sight neither was the heavy clag and brisk breeze which was all too evident. These two Torridon ranges – Liathach – pronounced “leagach” and Beinn Eighe – pronounce – “eea” are formidable giants in this area of big hillsalong with the

Previous days Beinn Alligin.

Today’s Munros – 4 Total Munros - 253

(Liathach – The Grey One)

Spidean a Choire Leith – Peak of the Grey Corrie

Mullach a Rathain – Summit of the Row of the Pinnacles

(Beinn Eighe – File Hill)

Ruadh-stac Mor – Big Red Peak

Spidean Coire nan Clach – Peak of the Corrie of Stones

Stats for the day – 20.8k covered; 6hrs 38mins; 7142ft of ascent; 6873 descent with a 10k cycle at the end of the day back to Kinlochewe.

A local bodach – an old man in Gaelic terms – said of Liathach, “She is not to be tampered with.” This statement certainly encapsulates wise words for walkers of little experience since progress along this range involves some scrambling in one part especially. Scrambling is where you use your hand/s for better balance on steep ground or on a narrow ridge. Euan was able to negotiate these areas quickly and safely and travel down into the glen before climbing once again to Beinn Eighe. He met a group of female walkers who were being guided through the area as well as some Americans and Dutch. The National Trust owns the 16000 acre Torridon Estate where these popular mountains are, and it tries to accommodate as best it can the steady flow of visitors with carparks and toilets. It also does much restoration and environmental work.

The commander went along to Torridon village for a good signal, a better local store than many and unsurprisingly an excellent café staffed by welcoming locals. Fresh rolls, milk, fruit and strawberries were purchased along with coffee and a freshly baked scone. This was his first one that week. (This is Monday – The Editor). He then moved to the previously visited Beinn Bar carpark where equipped with their wifi code, the commander was able to keep a track of Euan via zero/6/zero as well as updates from him via text.

Cr282 returned to Kinlochewe where a quiet, flat site was found next to the start of a future start point on the Letterewe Estate. An informative and welcoming signboard was another example of how some estates work with visitors to advise and inform them to their mutual benefit. It included safety advice, sensible stalking dates with tel. number, good camping/litter information and ended the sign with “but above all, Enjoy Yourself”.

This estate was integral to the Letterewe Accord which sets out how “visitors and all those who live and work on land and water must cherish and safeguard the area’s wildlife and beauty”.

It also ends with an anonymous quote –

“Let not say,

And say it to my shame,

That was all beauty there,

Until I came.”

20 June 2023 - Day 79

The day started for Euan with a 16k cycle ride up and over the hilly road from Kinlochewe to Achnasheen in dry conditions despite the threatening rain clouds overhead. He would have to return on this same route after climbing the solitary Munro of the day. It could hardly be described as a “rest day” but it seemed like that. The climb up and down was more of a routine one compared to recent exploits if a little boggy in places – see the explanation about the hill meaning. There were others on the hill, all hoping that an early start would avoid the imminent rain. Just in case, Euan ran down! It did hold off until some drizzle on Euan’s return cycle leg.

Today’s Munro – 1 Total Munros – 254

Fionn Beinn – White Hill

Stats – 19k cycle x 2; 9.3k climb; 1hr 47min; 2463ft of ascent; 2529ft descent.

It is thought that Fionn Beinn got its name from the light-coloured grasses on its slopes in comparison to the dark moors of neighbouring hills. Given the boggy nature of the ascent, it’s little surprise that bog cotton flourishes here and its white tufts also add to the “white” nature of the hill.

The commander was based at Achnasheen station where he was not waiting for a train – just as well as only one passed in one direction all morning – but for what turned out to be Euan’s swift return. After a glowing recommendation from Neil, Euan’s brother, both Euan and the commander were looking forward to a light lunch at the Midgie Bite Café barely 100m from the station. To much disappointment, the café does not open on Mondays/Tuesdays or this week until Friday! It is astounding that a café on the busy summer tourist route could limit opening at this time of year. It may be staffing or other unknown issues, but it is a financial loss to the owner obviously and a hole in the areas scarce places to stop for refreshments. It appeared to the commander to be a busy station for reasons other than rail travel. Two of the three buses which stopped were European tourists who swarmed around and over the quaint wrought iron bridge and many pictures were taken of the traditional station building. The open toilets were another “attraction” in this sparse area of towns and villages. The community information board was another area that received a lot of attention. This railway was extended to include the Kyle of Lochalsh in 1897 and has been threatened with closure ever since as it attracts few regular travellers.

Cr282 ensured that it did not arrive too early for the must be obeyed 1.00pm opening of the campsite. All went well until Euan strung a short washing line around the van. This is not allowed according to another manager for no reason except it’s in the rules. Euan suggested that other users had large whirly gigs – these were within the rules! This is just the second of two visits to a Camping and Motorhome site, both are managed by the rule book. A BBQ is planned tonight so the commander has agreed to read the relevant rules before it is light.

Post Script: The bbq was light, food cooked and ashes disposed of according to the rules as displayed in reception, laundry room, information hut, toilets etc but the rules may have been contravened when “the person in charge of the BBQ should avoid alcohol.” If any reader wishes to “clipe”, sorry inform, the relevant authorities, they are free to do so.

This hill was much more fun on the way back..


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