Is this thing on?

I finished early on Monday. A site visit got moved to the next day, and I couldn’t resist making a dash for some sun and snow.
The Kilpatricks were too easy, 900m was too much, Ben A’an was just nice.

The Road Closed sign at the David Marshall lodge both goads and annoys. It’s just laziness, the road is usually passable with care, and leaving the signs there from November until Easter is going to make folk take a chance on the road or divert them via Callander where they’ll drive too fast to make up time and both versions are unnecessary risks. Electric signs and proper road monitoring is what we need. Plus you can’t see the signs from the back very well, and placed as they are in the centre of the road means missing them at 60mph in the dark is a bit of a lottery.

The climb up is always steep, I don’t know why I expect it not to be, but it heaves you into the forest, which this time had frozen snow for a path. Definitely Microspikes terrain and I crunched by wobbly descenders with a mix of smugness and a distinct conspicuous feeling, being overdressed for such a bimble.
The sky was super blue, ultra blue even, and wispy feathers of cloud drifted over and away from me.

When I got to the top there was another like-minded soul waiting for the end of the day, and not long after another face bobbed into view through the heather covered snow.
We stood and waited for the sun to sink. Gloves were donned, jackets zipped up and although the warm alpenglow spread across the landscape behind us, the cold was biting deep already and we were only two before the sun hit the Arrochar Alps.

The cold pressed on as the sun dragged the last of the warmth the with it over the horizon and I was now alone waiting for something to happen. The clouds burned red for a moment and then all was dark.

The descent was through shades of indigo, silver and black. The forest was silent.
The Duke’s Pass with my full beam bouncing off of the snow cover was like a PlayStation game with consequences other than Play Again? But it was uneventful and short the homeward drive was occupied by visions of phantom food, ghostly sausages, poltergeist pies and undead donuts. I’d spent a lot longer up there that I’d planned.
I stuck the oven on when I got home and jumped over to the harbour where the moon was shrugging off the last of the cloud.

It’s now Wednesday as I re-write this from memory after the blog died, taking this wee story along with it, and was revived by skills well beyond my own. I was right with what I originally said, never play your ace on a Monday. The rest of the week is invariably the three of clubs and the Joker.

Pulling our fat out of the fire

Logistics? That’s just “plan” with a velvet jacket on. But, we had to work to a plan with deadlines, availability and weather standing across the door with their arms folded.
And then of course…it was late by the time I left

The journey up to Kintail was a bloody nightmare. I spent more time on the right hand side of the road than even the farthest travelled commuter on the European mainland. Stupids driving north with the same predictability and sense of direction as a sack of tatties emptied down a stairwell, roadworks on smooth sections of road and none where you’d expect them to be because the surface there means it’s not too dissimilar to driving along a disused railway track.
Still, with white knuckles and clenched teeth I turned right into Morvich and looked at the oh-so familiar sights of the steep slopes and ahead and the pressure began to drop. When I pulled up horrendously late behind the camper van I was looking for at the Countryside Centre and stepped out into the sunshine, one last exclamation of frustration and I was back to normal. Probably a “Hello” would have been better as my first words though.

I was meeting top photographer Tim Glasby who would be shooting our trek, and as it was a bit of a hike North he and his partner were taking the days either side of our trip for a bit of a gad about. His partner is Lucy Creamer, Britain’s top female climber and when we all set off on the trail (also with wonder-dog Kodo) a question a dear friend asked me a while ago came to mind “So, have they found you out yet?”.
I’m a heating engineer in trail shoes indeed.

The walk up Strath Croe and round into Gleann Chòinneachain is on a lovely track through lush grass, bluebells and woodland with the deeply gullied shoulder of A’ Mhuc ahead hinting at more mountainous times ahead.
Once into Gleann Chòinneachain the atmosphere changes, from a wide lush meadow to a narrow and steep sided glen, with a skyline now broken by shattered crags. The first goal is the high pass of Bealach an Sgàirne, and as we walked onwards the wind died, but the sun kept beating down and the temperature rose to the mid 30°C’s and stayed there for the next two days as long as the sun was unobstructed by it’s nemesis, The Cloud Army. Who were very thin on the ground, there could be a convention somewhere, they might be planning new shapes to give meteorologists a chance to think up some wacky new names.

Ice cold water tumbled far below the track, in places deep enough to plunge but there are burns running down the back of Beinn Fhada too, and the water was welcome both in temperature and taste, fresh mountain water free from any man or sheep made evils. I soaked my cotton cowboy hat at every opportunity, the drips from the brim and the slow evaporation soothed where there would have been only sweat and distress. Every spot of exposed skin had sunblock on it, unusually for me I had a short sleeve t-shirt on, and just as well. I had my new Ruggeds (all-black, alright!) on, and I think the only time the vents were closed was when I put them in the washing machine when I got back.
We stopped for a breather just before the final ascent to the Bealach where the Allt Coire an Sgàirne and Allt a Choire Chaoil join forces and rush past on their way to Loch Duich. Fresh rain from earlier in the week mixed with snow melt, bottles were filled, faces splashed and that was the last water we saw that didn’t need to be boiled until the later the next day.

The entrance to the Bealach sees another change, you’re high up and looking higher to rugged peaks and far down to the river below, it’s like standing at a 20th story, high-rise block window to the Highlands. But, when you turn around there’s no woodchip and magnolia, there’s a dusty track meandering through a boulder strewn pass with crags looming over your head.
It’s a wonderful place, the whole track to here is wonderful. I’ll go back with the girls and walk to the bealach on its own for a picnic, like Glen Nevis or Kinloch Hourn to Barrisdale, it’s proof that mountains aren’t the be-all and end-all.
Reaching the high point of the bealach reveals Loch a Bhealaich  250m below, indigo blue and calling to us all. We stood for a while to enjoy the breeze that flowed gently through this notch in the scenery.
The ascent had taken a lot longer than planned, not because of faffing around, or setting up shots, but because of the heat. The constant 3-bar electric fire held over our heads had been sucking the tank dry.
I felt for Tim as he was carrying his overnight kit as well as his camera kit and looking at my watch, my water bottle and my map I started thinking about Plan B. There was no way we were making Mullach na Dheiragain in daylight, or with enough water for comfort or safety.
As we reached the banks of the loch to make a brew and rest up we changed the route and we’d camp on either Beinn an t-Socaich or Sgurr Gaorsaic. I knew that only one of those had guaranteed water on it and I resigned myself to not getting onto Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan that day, but as we climbed the steep grassy slopes from Gleann Gnìomhaidh I didn’t care on little bit. This was different, rather than being annoyed at not making a goal, I was looking forward to standing on the overlooked Corbett of Sgurr Gaorsaic.

Lucy and Kodo had left us below and had headed onwards to take the track round to Gleann Lichd and back to Morvich, which turned out to be an unexpected five-hour adventure. Kodo has lost her pink rubber ball by this time as well, a pink ball she found by the loch-side. Bloody hell, what were the chances of finding a pink rubber ball on the walk into glen Affric?

It was a horrendous climb up steep grass. We were both so hot, I was really hungry by now, and Tim was suffering, we just wanted to stop.
We crept over the edge of the wide south ridge of Sgurr Gaorsaic at the 800m contour and that was when the mood changed.
We both looked at each other and grinned.
By accident we’d ended up in the ideal spot, a skyline of peaks better defined by our meagre height of 839m, a rocky plateau full of camping possibilites and a lochan full of fresh rainwater ready to be transformed in cuppas and dinner. Packs off, cameras out.
It was beautiful, just beautiful.

The tents went upand the sun went down, and by the time we’d done all that we needed to do it was after 2200. I scooped up some water from the lochan and the stove was on. Tim crashed out in his wee Marmot one-person tent and I was on my own.

As my chicken tikka was rehydrating I folded my stove windshield into a hotplate and as the the horizon burned orange and the temperature eased down, I dipped a lightly toasted naan into my foil bag of tastiness. Sitting there cross legged in my sleeping bag I turned over a lot of things in my mind, the trip was working in ways that I hadn’t expected, as inspiration and motivation, as a showcase for the way I head into the hills, as a reinforcement, even validation? All that will be said at another time and in another place, but what I felt when I sat there was a rightness, the balance between wants and needs, and acceptance of what I’d found, it had all returned to normal.
I lay there after midnight with my iPod on as the tent rattled in the strong winds and I was happy.

I woke a couple of times through the night to see a mist fall and the temperature rise, I was roasted in my PHD Minim 300 and spent the second half on the night unzipped with bare arms crossed above my head.
It never got dark and when I decided it was breakfast time the clouds that had descended were breaking up and the sun was streaking through in increasing strength. Tim had been cutting about taking some shots and we had a brew and a bite before setting up some more stuff, breaking camp and heading west back to the loch. There was no question of carrying on to do the original route, there weren’t enough legs or water bottles between us to get the job done. I didn’t give a shit, I looked up at the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and it looked fine, but I had just been there a few weeks ago and I still had no desire to go straight back up. I don’t feel cheated anymore, I remember scrambling that summit ridge through the cloud, descending with frozen hands and with a few weeks gap, the pointless frustration I’d felt at the time has gone.
We had spent the night on a trackless rocky plateau surrounded by mountains, and I think we got more than we would have had we not had to change the plan. Time will tell.

The breeze had kept us cool, in fact I’d been wearing my down jacket until we set off, but heading down the painfully steep slopes in just a windshirt and t-shirt soon became too much and when we stopped at the lochside for rest (and a chicken Cup-a-Soup for me) it was back to cowboy hat, bare arms and sunblock for the rest of the day.
We retraced our outward journey, but in even hotter temperatures than before so we were in no hurry. The light seemed to be better that the day before, so there was photies agogo and when we reached where the rivers meet, it was packs off and heads under the running water. We lingered a while, but the stillness lets the sun fire its beams straight at you and it soon felt like I was sitting under a grill. It was nice to stop, but nice to be on our way again.
We reached the motors about tea time and immediately drove to the garage up the road for some cold drinks as the bottles of steam in my boot did not represent an opportunity to quench our drouth.
When we got back, Lucy and Kodo arrived from their galavant up to the Falls of Glomach, too late for a cold can of Irn Bru but they’d made the most of the day.

We said our goodbyes and I headed down the road, once again really hungry (I didn’t make it to the Real Food Cafe, too far. McDonalds in Ft Bill it was, oh dear…), and I reflected on how lucky I’d been.
I’d been hanging out with great folks whose company I’d enjoyed, a night on the hill with a complete stranger is a bit of a gamble, but it was fantastic. It was all banter and at no point did it occur to me that we were there to do a job, and that was a vital discovery.

When I got home and was taking my shoes off in the porch, I could hear Holly through the door “Oh Daaad, Daaaad…”. It was late but she couldn’t sleep, and I walked through the door like a superhero to save the day.

Come on, let’s go space truckin’

It was late by the time I left…

How many of my tales have started with that comment, Jeez. Planning is one thing, but unless you send a memo round to the rest of the world there’s always a chance that some unwitting soul will call upon your presence, and then with the liberal application of Sod’s Law be in a position that you would become a heartless bastard if you refused to respond.
I’d hoped for an easy day after the long hours of Thursday, but I was up out of bed not long after 0600 and away on a callout midmorning. And, I hadn’t packed anything for a night in the hills that bobinson and I had pencilled in for what looked like the last good night of the weather window.
I got back after lunch and at 1500 I finished packing, that was easy enough, regular kit and a couple of unobtrusive bits of test kit. Ten minutes later, Bobinson was at the door and we were away. Neither of us had managed lunch, so it was stop #1 at the local M&S Simply Food for now food and later snacks. Stop #2 was the Post Office in Dumbarton to get a parcel away Special Delivery, now we could get to the hills.
But time had raced on, and any plans of heading North meant ascending and pitching in the dark. As we reached the road junction at Tarbet we’d already made up our minds that we were going to the Arrocher Alps and not turning right, but not which Alp we were heading onto. It wasn’t until we were at the “temporary” (if they’re there any longer OS will put them on the next map) traffic lights near the top of The Rest that we decided on Beinn Ime, the highest of the Alps at 1011m. Maybe not the wisest choice given that the sun was already slipping out of view behind lower peaks and it gave us the most ascent, but it’s central and a great viewpoint. Maybe we just fancied our chances at beating the sun, and maybe the thought of standing with a cuppa the next morning surrounded by the other peaks while watching the sunrise over an inversion is enough to make you take a wee gamble.

As the above shot courtesy of bobinsons camera shows, it was bright enough as we started up from Butterbridge. Bright and hot in fact, the two of us were soon dripping sweat from the ends of our noses and my eyes were stinging. In the coire it was like high summer, and there was a lot of stopping to look at the view.
Tiredness must have had a part in it, both of us had had a long week. There were no brave faces, just a mutual appeciation of our unexpected shortcomings.

As we crept higher it cooled and an equilibrium of sorts was reached, on the move was fine as we were labouring, but the sun was weakening and it was getting cold on my hands and stopping for a rest was chilling.
Rather than follow the usual line to the Glas Bhealach, we climbed the wide Western face, taking the mostly grassy line to the left of the summit. It’s very steep and rocky, and much drier underfoot than the usual route, an absolute joy and well worth it to pick a route through seldom visited crags. It did save us some time at the cost of plenty extra effort, but seeing the sun slip over the edge of the day was worth the wheezing I was experiencing while I watched it.

The warm light faded to grey and blue, mist filled the glens and drew a flat line right around the horizon, pierced by the shapes of familiar peaks, Cruachan, Lui, Lomond, and lonely Beinn Buidhe (below in the distance) at the head of Loch Fyne looking a little like a Nessie cartoon, or a very lazy Jaws.
The temperature plummeted and a wind whipped up from nowhere. I layered up when we hit the ridge high up and we made it to the summit as the stars started to pop out one at a time, the brightest showing off their superior wattage on the still luminescent pale blue sky.

We paced the summit, now in darkness, trying to find a pitch where we could communicate from the tent doors, not trip on guy lines, see the sunrise and avoid the wind. Never the easiest when you’re packing a side and an end entry tent combo, but we stuck ourselves just north of the summit cairn on the edge of the crags on quite flat ground. The tents went up straight and easy, all the new pegs and guys were a joy and the battered old ‘Comp felt like new.

We paced the summit, catching what we could as the blackness above and grey below swallowed everything up. In Glen KInglas silent cars made cones of light in the mist as they followed each other along the invisible road. To the South, the orange glow of the streetlights was absorbed by the low mist and went no further, leaving a clear sky now flooded by stars.
The mist rippled around Ben Lomond like a slow wave curling around a lone rock on the beach, and not too far beyong the central belt was actually a million miles away.

The tents looked like an oasis in the cold. With my light hanging inside the ‘comp, its unnatural colour and shape should look out of place, incongruous, maybe even offensive to some. But to me it looks just right sitting there. Aye, I’m a soft modern man with my mild adventuring, and it’s a sign that I’m carrying something of my daily comforts with me, but I’m sure just being there anyway is halfway to something, and that has to be better than going nowhere to nothing.
We caught the path of one satellite as it arced overus, and then another running parallel. The sky has its A82 as well it seems, but the occasional shooting star reminds me that the sky most definitely isn’t ours.

A hot dinner of chicken tikka, a Farley’s Rusk and a cappuccino while I lay in my bag felt like the end of the day, and indeed a calm fell upon us and we both slipped away into worlds of thoughts, ipods, occasional biscuits and hopes of a warm sunrise after a good nights sleep.
The wind was unexpected and unwelcome in its velocity and persistence, the tent rattled away with fresh enthusiasm due to its newly found confidence after its revamp, while I lay and listened to Tom Baker reading an old Doctor Who novel. It had seemed like a good idea, Tom Baker’s wonderful voice should have been like a pint of 1970’s cough mixture; I should have been sleeping in minutes. But the producer had apparently told him “Yes, put funny voices on for the different characters, that’ll be great”. No, no it’s not, it’s really annoying.
I’m sure that kept me awake, although I did nod off several times and wonder where the hell the plot was when I came back before I switched to metal and found myself much more relaxed.

It was cold as well, very cold. I nipped out for a pee as it got lighter and the grass was coated in ice, the damp patches in the grass had frozen over and the sky was filling with streaks of mist and layers of fine cloud. Ben Lomond now had a fluffy blanket over it, but the blanket was following its contours, giving it appearance of a mountain pie freshly dusted with thick flour.

Bobinson stirred and popped his head out. He’d had a cold night in his summer sleeping bag and the worsening weather wasn’t the thrilling start to the day that we were expecting. The sun was a distant pink dot that rose from the layer of mist, winked at the world briefly and disappeared upwards into the thickening cloud. This half hearted appearance was a sign, and the gap between the mist and clouds finally closed.
A meager breakfast, a five minute involuntary snooze from me and we were packing. Plans for further exploration were canned and the tourist route down was selected as the prefered target.

The ground had taken on a lethally slippy coating in the night, it was like another hill altogether we’d found ourselves on. There were slips, arse plants and many colourful exclamations as we made our way through the crags. As we lost height, quite rapidly as is normal for any Arrochar Alp, we found a wee cave which of course was explored and noted for future emergency bivying.
Stray from the tracks or the recommended Munro’s guide route and it’s amazing what you can find.

It started spitting, a light cold rain, the little bright gaps having left for parts unknown. It could have been a little sombre, but the hillside was bursting with colour, fresh greens and warm browns and we were stepping purposefully down to the truck.
As we reached the road we could see a broken line of folk leaving the carpark and heading upwards. Looking back up at where we’d been I don’t know if I’d have had the resolve to do that, it seemed like a day for observing rather than participating. But fortune favours the brave, or maybe the optomistic too.
As we sat in Arrochar eating hot rolls and enjoying fresh cuppas the sky did start cracking up and blue was seen, a patch of sunlight drifted over the flank of Beinn Narnain. Maybe folks did find that view up there that can make the day worthwhile.

As we enjoyed the tasy fried fare, my phone rang. It was Joycee “Where are you?”
“We’re back down, at the roll shop next to the garage in Arrochar”
“Ooh, me and the girl are in the Cobbler carpark, we went out for a galavant, we’ll come round”
So the girls came to say hello and have a cuppa and a muffin. Unexpected, unplanned, unlikely, that seemed to fit in with the general theme.

But, there was a price, too many hours of activity and concentration without enough sleep to keep the steam at a usable pressure.
The fire went out and I went down. Worth it, as ever.

A long night

I’d been planning to go to the Glen Feshie hills all week. Snow, different views, a bimble around Aviemore. This lingering cough lowered my sights daily as it robbed me of sleep, and I was getting to the point where my crosshairs were lined up between my big toes. The non appearance of my aluminium Kahtoolas from their wee trip down to Peterborough appeared to seal my fate and I prepared to sit on the couch and tell lies about what I did later should anyone ask.
But a look the weather, and the continuing Tracklogs ponderation galvanised me into some sort of action. It’s not about height, it’s not about distance, it’s about getting out and maintaining that grin. Carpe Diem (once again). Praise be to Jimmy that I did get off my arse.

I have a love/hate relationship with the A82. It’s takes me where I want to go, I’ve got pace-notes tattooed into brain for the top half of Loch Lomond but it’s still the biggest obstacle to any venture up the West coast with random gawping stupids flailing their vehicles around rather slowly all the way up it. Build a bastard tunnel from Balloch to Crianlarich, that’s what I say.
Once on the wide road like the ones you get in towns that folk can drive on, the pace was better and I arrived at the Kingshouse carpark in good time and in bouyant mood. I slung the Villain out of the passenger seat and onto the the tarmac and slipped on a pair thoroughly inappropriate shoes for the conditions. Camo cap on, microfleece zipped right up to wave a finger of disapproval at the cool air and I was off up the boggy trail into Coire Bhalach.
It’s pleasant going as you follow the Allt a Bhalaich, dancing and hopping over the worst of the bog. The water finds itself flowing over wide slabs of pink granite and hiding in a little gorge, making the most of it’s short run to the River Etive. On the top of Meall Bhalach to my right I could hear stags bellowing. I thought they might be replying to my coughing, but something tells me that a young stag appoaching the chief badass of the herd making those kinds of sounds would have to turn round and retreat in embarassment at the general mirth from all assembled group, or possibly get a kick in the balls and told to come back next year when he’s grown up.
The sound continued on and off until I got back to the motor. They’ve got energy those boys.

The path up Beinn a Chrùlaiste from the burn is intermittent and indeed I only found it occasionaly and by accident. Its East ridge is wide and much rougher than the Langranger map makes it look. There’s outcrops, and obstacles a-plenty, so walking in a straight line is just not happening. Wandering in and out of the rocks and finding a line through the wee outcrops on wet grassy steps made the ascent a total joy. Looking around I could see for miles, the horizon being formed from peaks so familiar that the names come easy, as do memories of ascents, some going back so far to what seems like another life.
The sky was grey, a thick grey that looked as if it were cast in a mold, not painted on. I felt a little down hearted, although the cloud was high and the tops were clear, a glimpse of the setting sun is worth its weight in gold, the clear patch of sky that closes down like a shutter as the sun pulls the cloud over the horizon with it is worth every uphill step and every item of manky laundry to deal with when I get home.

Buachaille Etive Mor looks at its most pointy from the ridge, maybe from around 650m, there’s no view of it quite like it. It stood black and white against the grey. Bugger. I had a drink of Nuun and chewed on a Honey Stinger bar contemplating my position. My legs were out of sorts, too much couch.

The view to the north takes in the Grey Corries, and wel,l everything from Ben Alder to Ben Nevis eventually. But it was the Great Corries and the Easins that cought my eye, they bathed in pink light. This was the only light I could see, but it had to be coming from somewhere. I was above the snowline now and started pressing on, if there was something to see I was damned sure I wasn’t going to miss it. My footfalls squeaked into the snow irregularly, I fear my pressing was more of a prodding.
The sun burst throught the cloud behind Stob Dearg, throwing the Buachaille into stark contrast. Alright! Camera oot.

The summit wasn’t too far away, but my dreadful fitness, soft snow and my rotating head which was trying to capture all the scenery as it changed around me made the final 100m an epic journey of sideways steps and many utterances of “Crivvens!”.

My pack down went down on the windbreak around the fine cylindrical trig point and all my insulation went on. It was a little windy here and bloody freezing too. But the sky was making up for its previous hesitation and put of a fine understated display of pastel colours, swirling shapes and grin inspiring wonder.

As I started unpacking the tent, a couple appeared from the West side and came to say hello, they were equally as happy as me to have caught the sun going down. I was also happy to see them while I wrestled with an unfamiliar tent, they tendered welcome assistance as I tried to find some ground soft enough to take a peg. Frozen turf and rock feel very simiar through snow, so it was a process of elimination. However a happy home for the night was found halfway betwen the trig point and cairn. Many photies were taken, and I hope they manage to find me so I can send them some.
As they left for warmer times and places a new visitor arrived, a Kiwi with a camera to catch the sunset. We shot the breeze for a bit and he headed downhill, hoping to beat the darkness back to the Kingshouse. This hill is popular it seems. It’s a Corbett at 857m, and it’s also a stunningly good viewpoint for the more photogenic hills. I wonder how many folk are up there to point a camera, and how many are ticking a list?

I was there to sleep, and as darkness fell and the temperature dropped I slipped into my sleeping bag and got the business of dinner underway. Melting snow is an incredibly innefficient way of making hot water, but seeing the big wedge of white slip down and disappear into your pot to the sound and soft blue light of your stove is worth the gas just for the pure fun of it. It’s easier if you’ve got some water in there as well, snow on it’s own just flashes into steam and you get nowhere fast.
I had dinner, Chicken and Noodle Hotpot and a Farley’s Rusk, and then a cuppa and some confectionary. It was pitch dark outside and it was about twelve hours to dawn. Jings.
This is what iPods are for, and books. I was a buried inside my sleeping bag as the air was so cold in the tent. At 2334hrs and I nipped outside for a pee. It had gotten much warmer and the reason was cloud cover. I got back in and zipped the tent for the night and had the strange situation of ice on the tent floor and me stripping off above as I was too warm. The joys of a good sleep mat.
Winds were light and after I finished the chapter of my book and drank the last of my hot chocolate it was lights-out time. I was undisturbed until 0650hrs when the increased brightness popped my eyes open and sent one hand looking for the camera.

On the Eastern horizon a band of clear orange sky was pushing the clouds up and clearing the way for the sun which duly arrived in its own good time. I made breakfast and wandered around the summit in the clear morning air with my cuppa in my hand. It wasn’t as cold as last night, but I was still well wrapped up. I spend an hour, maybe more, just watching. Taking the occasional photie, soaking it all in, revelling in the simple and utter joy of just being there to see it.

There were patches of ice all over the summit with dry grippy rocks sticking through, if felt like real winter, not an “early dusting of snow”. I kept wishing for it to stay, to consolidate, to be like the old days. We shall see what the coming months bring.
The sun and the clouds played games with each other, the distant peaks of the Lawers group cutting into the suns rays making long dark shadows 20, 30 miles long? The light played on the lochans below like a mirror ball, too bright for me to look at for too long, I just had to hope the camera wouldn’t blink as the shutter opened.

Packing up was quick and easy. It seems I ate a lot stuff in the night, so there was much less going back in my pack which is always nice. The snow was trickier on descent, I think it was softer with the higher temperature so there was a couple of skating moments, but no arse to ground coincidence, oh no.
I think it took me an hour to get back to the motor, and there was no melancholy when I got there. It had been great wee trip and I was happy to be going home to see the girls.
I feel tuned in again, I know what the ground’s like. That might sound daft, but too long away from camping on the hills and if becomes a guessing game for gear, route choice and even safety. Regular trips feed information back and make the next trip easier. Easier=less faff and more fun.

Loch Ba was like a mirror on the way back. I couldn’t resist snapping the snappers. I do need a proper camera don’t I?
Last stop before home was the Real Food Cafe where I had the Breakfast Roll. Not as lame as it sounds, I swear it’s 9″ across and had sausges, eggs, bacon, tattie scone, mushrooms and black puddin’ on it. I cannot express the emotion that holding that roll in my hand brought to me.