Meall na Teanga and Sron a Choire Ghairbh ’06

I’d got as far as the carpark the previous winter. At 1400hrs I stood there in my kevlar boots and Alpiniste pack and I knew that I’d be coming back in the dark, across snow covered bog and through trees, all on my own and I just couldn’t be arsed. It was my own fault for fannying about that I was late of course. So I went to Ft Bill and wasted an hour or two there, visiting all the regular stops including the greatly missed West Coast Outdoor.

Later in the year, now armed with increasing light camping gear I headed up again. To get to the car park you drive along the Mile Dorcha (Gaelic for “These walls are very hairy”), which is a marvel. It’s a wee glen that never gets direct sunlight and there’s thick spongey moss covering everything in sight. At the end there’s the carpark next to the bridge where they tried to hang Liam Neeson. There’s a fine water fall as well, the Eas Chia-aig and you climb up beside it and into the forest to get on your way. It’s a lovely walk as you rise away from the water on forest trails. Joycee and I were here last year and explored the forest tracks a bit more, it’s a lovely spot. But I was heading for bog central on the other side of the forest. There’s three glens and plenty hills all draining into here, so it’s moist underfoot. It’s also quite enclosed, you can’t see very far, but feels quite remote. Especially as there’s nobody about but me.

The weather was iffy: cloudy, drizzle and bit of wind. Never a favourite combo, and despite me constantly looking for an obvious shortcut up Sron a Choire Ghairbh I soon found myself at the foot of the zigzags to the summit at the top of the Cam Bhealach. Slightly pissed off, I chucked my pack down and ran up into the cloud to get to the top. This took far too long and getting to the cairn was more of an excuse to turn round than the usual meager victory it represents. But on the way back the cloud thinned a little and I could see into Coire Glas which is rocky and wild looking. This brought a grin and by the time I got back to my pack the cloud was really breaking up and I could see the fine curved ridge of Meall Dubh ahead and happy times were here again.

I’m watching for camp sites by now, but it was still early and there was plenty of light, the clouds were higher and the rain was clinging onto them so I hit my usual “see what happens” mode and I soon enough was sitting on the summit of Meall na Teanga drinking my juice looking at Ft Bill in the distance without a care in the world. Knowing that you’re not getting any lower ’til morning and that you’ve got all your stuff right there with you puts a cozy on my teapot of joy even now. There is a very good chance that mountains are just an excuse for me to get the camping gear out and go and look at clouds an’ that. I shall consult a therapist and see what he or she says. A Rorschach test will probably have me saying “That’s a camping stove…Oh, that’s a flaring petrol stove…That’s an old Coleman Alpine…That’s a shredded Akto blowing in the wind…”.

There’s a nice wee ridge with an even wee-er scramble and then the trail cuts across the the ridge above the North facing coire’s of Coire Odhar Beag and Coire Odhar Mor. If it had have been windy, that’s where I would have been heading with the tent, down in there somewhere. It looks great, all boulders and tumbling water. It was getting darker as well so it was all getting a bit more atmospheric. I pitched on Meall Odhar and got down to the serious busiuness of cuppas and dinner. I could see the twinkling lights of FT Bill from the tent now, and it looked like it was a million miles away. All the obvious hills are in sight, but they were all smudged by the fading light, Nevis wasn’t making it’s presence felt for once. It usually looks as if it’s puffing its chest out so that its neighbours know who the local badass is. Aonach Beag might actually be stooping to avoid a confrontation there. Time will tell.

Ping! Somebody pulled the chain on the darkroom’s red light. Which didn’t make any sense so I stuck my head out of the tent and the rest of me followed. A beautiful sci-fi sky to the West. Another cuppa, warm jacket and hat and I sat on a rock for an hour or more watching it all. That stuff’s just better from up there, honest. It’s just my camera was (and still is because it’s the same one) pish.

It got very dark very suddenly, so I thew the main switch and I was out of commission until maybe 0600 where a silent eerie greyness had replaced the other weather. It might be like the bakers van, the new weather gets delivered first thing and yesterday’s empty weather tray gets picked up.

Breakfast, cuppas and away. I picked up the outward trail the edge of the forest in unexpected blazing sunshine. The trees were a relief of coolness in abundance. I was all pleasant thoughts and singing songs to myself as I arrived back at the motor. The usual final cuppa making was abandoned though when the midges spied me and scythed through the air like bucket of garvel emptied off the scaffolding on the sixth floor. I threw me an the kit inside and got the hell out of there.

It’s a nice drive back if you stay on the North side of the Caledonian Canal, takes you back to the familiar just after Neptunes Staircase. After that there is only one thing to consider, Nevisport Cafe (still in original guise remember) or Nevis Bakery?

It was for filming Rob Roy, not for being in the Phantom Menace. That hanging thing.

12 thoughts on “Meall na Teanga and Sron a Choire Ghairbh ’06”

  1. I did wonder how long you’d manage to leave “Blog of the Week” at the top of your page – 5 days, but worth the wait Petesy (who is this Pete they talk of?)

    This is what I tune in hear for. The kit reviews are straight-forward, honest and informative, but the adventures are what it’s all about. The first thing I have to do is reach for the map to get my bearings and I’m right there with you. Yes, regular bloggers you’ve heard me say that before, but the man spins a good yarn and takes a great photo – even the ubiquitous view from the tent – I love it.

    What better way to top the Blog of the Week entry than with a perfect example of why it is just that!


  2. Thing is we or should I say I want to see the adventure with the Big Agnes Seedhouse on top of a Munro, and that long promised review. Saying that I like the one hear and wonder… “boots” PTC. Trail forum lads see that they will remind you non stop.

  3. Oh aye, he tells a good yarn. And full of interesting and sometimes weird stuff which normal folk would never come across, let alone find ways of mentioning in such adventurous tales. A plumber ya say. Hmmm.

  4. Bless you people.

    Work is seriously encroaching on my scribblings at the moment.
    I won’t get near a tent for a couple of weeks. Then I shall be heading in generally NW direction… :o)

    The fine sturdy footwear you can see in my tent porch above is a pair of Asolo Fugitive GTXs. I’m pretty sure this was their last trip, indeed it’ll be the last time ever I wore boots outside of winter.
    I should dig them out and see what my feet say. It’ll be like they’re meeting an ex-girlfriend. It’ll be nice, they’ll laugh and hug and they’ll chat long into the night, but deep down inside they’ll both know it was never meant to be and they’ll be glad they went their separate ways.

  5. Petesy

    Hi, Love the site. I’ve read a few of your blogs and reviews before but only just registered and this is my first post.
    Is that your Karrimor Alpine Lite in the piccie? Interested to see you still use that. I just bought one on Ebay (off kev from OM I think?). Had been looking at loads of options in that size range and couldn’t find anything ‘just right’, but glad I found that as it seems a great sack. I tried it with my Wee Airic in place of the 180g removable back support, but didn’t seem anym where near as comfortable when loaded so I guess the support will have to stay in.

  6. Hi Del, thanks for checking in.

    It is indeed an Alpine Lite. It’s a fine sack, I used it constantly until I got an OMM Villain. The external side pocket for a hydration bladder is a wee bit of genius.
    It’s quite a soft pack without the stiffener in it, I kept it in.
    In fact I ended up using a Karrimor Fformat back stiffener in it instead of the bendy foam thing when I was carrying a bigger camping sized load. It’s a thick foam pad with a wire frame that you bend to the shape of your back. It’s got a bit of flexibility and works very well.

    I haven’t used my Lite for a wee while, I’m away to dig it out…

    Kev’s a good lad, there’s a link to his blog on the links list to the right: “Big Galloot”.

  7. By jings, the interweb is a small place, right enough! Glad you like the bag, Del. Makes braving the horror that is Ebay worthwhile.

    FWIW, The Boy used my other Alpine Lite to carry his gear for an overnighter a couple of weeks ago and declared it “comfy”. Praise indeed.

    Cheers for the plug btw, ptc. That might just tip me into double figures this week. :o)

  8. I check you blog regularly Kev. The ‘Father and Son’ article was really good, keep em coming like that!

  9. Thanks for the kind words, shuttleworth. Makes me want to get out there again and do something worth writing about :o) If only the weather wasn’t so rubbish.

  10. Rubbish weather indeed, but I’m stuck in factory stripping a steam boiler. I was going to say “So I win”, but that’s bollocks isn’t it?

    Good humour will return in a week to ten days… :o)

  11. Cracking write-up *ptc – you manage to make a fairly simple walk very entertaining.

    The developing must have taken you a time if you reckon the camera’s pish – they look great to me.

  12. Ach, keeping them wee keeps them looking sharp!
    It is a lovely wee walk. I do tend to turn day walks into evernighters needlessly, it does split the driving up over a couple of days if nothing else :o)

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