A wake when we wake kind of morning, but knowing we need to get on the road. Surfaced around 5.45 bleary eyed, a few aches and pains from not being in our own bed and in the camper van. A cold September night needing more clothing than needed during the day.
We camped at Blair Atholl Castle, a place to rest our heads and mainly to save us the long drive. Yet we still had an hour drive to go, single lane, winding roads that follow the loch. We see a heard of deer and startle a stag. Both majestic and very scary especially if we’d come across them in the middle of the road.
We make it to the crossroads I was aiming for around 7.30ish. There’s one guy and another couple setting off. The couple setting off are down the road already heading to the station. The single guy, has a Brompton bike, in his shorts very light rucksack and wafer thin cagoule. Also looks like he’s slept in his car. He’s away already, a quick hello. We feel well and truly late to the party despite the early start. I wonder one day if I’ll be the guy who sleeps in the car park without amenities, good to go at first light.
We stick to our routine, our muesli, coffee, boots….sky check, rucksack load. Check the van, and start. My wife gets a good head start on me as I faff with the Garmin that sits on my bike. There is a good 7 miles to go and last thing I want to do is make a fatal wrong term. Eventually I get the thing to work and I catch her up. The cycle a great track…definitely not suitable for a Brompton bike….but he’s made it to the first ford well before us. We see it stowed behind a rock.
Leaving the bikes at this point isn’t our route and I do a double check on the map….hmmm. Straight up from here which makes sense and fair play to him in terms of steepness. My route though is the one that got away, the one from Corrour station, more a gradual hike up. We want something from the well trodden path. We hit a couple more Fords, thankfully nothing like the first where I had to jump and lift the bikes.
We make the connection with the original route for 10, 10:30.
It’s boggy, I feel my boots are already laden with water within the first 15 minutes. The small path is more a little stream with little avoidance of any damp by having bog either side. It’s part of the walking, I get on with it and breathe. The mist is swirling and it’s going to be one of those days where it’s unlikely to lift. Another day of not seeing the tops. We stop for our first roll just after 11, a rock of requirement presents itself. We are close to the top, and can feel the wind getting stronger. The egg and smoked salmon roll in the dry is a both a spirit and energy booster that we needed.
The first Munro, Càrn Dearg is in the bag around 11:30 and it’s a great top. Folk have a made a real effort with the cairn! There is no view to stick around for and we crack on. A mentle nod to myself that if we make it for 2 at the next one, we will be winning the day.
It’s a gentle walk down to the 750m above sea level mark, before the climb starts again. We get moments of visibility. A glimpse of what we could of won. A pocket of space in the clouds. There’s a call for another roll about 100m from the top. I suggest another 20 mins before we do and we carry on making it to top for what feels like 1.30pm. We finish our rolls, pleased with progress.
Amazed to hear voices coming up the way from the opposite direction. It feels like they are more amazed to see us, than us them. They haven’t seen a soul all day. We exchange stories for a couple of minutes and then leave them to top.
Our pain starts there, quickly we discover the route down is pathless. Either lots of heather or boggyness. I try to shave off the route, cutting corners here and there, my watch getting grumpy with me. There is no path anyway so taking an as the crow flies kind of approach. Fortunately the river we have to cross has enough boulders above the water to hop across. The short cut could have been costly! Then a long flat walk before finding a path that takes us back to the bikes.
Amazingly we meet the party we saw on the 2nd top. A slight hobble on one of the walkers and I feel for her as my knees are twinging away. Ten miles uneven mountain walking can do that to you. They still have a good forty minutes and we have a good fifty minutes of cycle along with 3 fords and the hours drive.
Dinner isn’t booked, but we hit the Athol arms around 18:30. It’s busy and we are just grateful there is someone to take care of us. The menu feels a little large, a jokey vernacular that supposed to appeal to the tourists. I take the special, Venison burger which fills a hole.
A good day out, despite the weather.
These Munro’s are in the middle of Rannoch Moor, and as there are no roads in the normal starting point is Corrour station. Which we attempted in April. Blue sky one day, only to be thwarted by snow the next! We got them this time though.
The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.