Friday, 27 July 2012

Hills from hell

From a wee niche under the summit tor of Coileachan I could look down the long miles to the road tucked under the bulk of Beinn Dearg.  It looked awful. A short steep slope to a small kettle lochan in the corrie of Meall Gorm, followed by a rough step down into the glen and then a few miles of rough path and muddy slop down by the river.  It did not appeal and I looked around with the abstract thought of finding a better route.  But the shadows had lengthened, it was growing colder and short of growing wings my only feasible route was down in the general direction of the slop. 
At least for the first half hour I had gravity on my side but once I reached the loch at the bottom of the corrie it was all hard. Something of an animal track ran along the steep shore of the loch but it regularly blinded out or stopped short above a steep sided peat hag.  Up and down a dozen times but no easier route appeared for the duration of the lochan.  Once the outflow was reached it only got worse as the route descended into a battleground of monstrous hags rising unseen like brown  waves across the down slope.  Adding to the battle was the sodden underfoot conditions meaning every foot fall  pushed a thick mousse of mud up to my ankles.  Eventually I reached the river and after a further half hour of heather bashing and clambering over the top of eroded banks I reached a vestige of a path. Nearly there.
I sat by a plank bridge and ate the remaining food trying to persuade myself that I was still having fun.  This was supposed to be a fast afternoon raid round 4 Munros with a minimum of kit and in trainers but it had turned into a real fight.  I trogged on in growing darkness and eventually reached the car by headtorch after 7 long hours.

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