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Category Archives: Corbetts

The Fara & Meall nan Eagan Gallery

As the “Tail” of last Saturday’s wee hike with MrP is still a few days away, here’s a taster of the scenery from just north of Drumochter.

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Corbetts, Grahams, scotland

 

“Ice Cold in Arran”

Brodick

I remember the days I used to get home after a walk and churn out another Fatdog “Tail” by 10pm the same evening.  Four evenings since our visit to Arran and I’m still trying to complete the damned thing…soon the writing will be as slow as my walking 😀 .

The Intro found us on the Arran Ferry with a motley collection of dugs and owners…so as soon as we were down the gangway we made our break for freedom from the floating doggy psychiatric hospital…

Once off the ferry we bypassed the buses (on reflection a mistake) and headed north along the Brodick promenade, turning first available right in the general direction of the golf course.  As the road ends a path appears, guiding you between long tidal channels behind the beach and the cropped greens of the wee white ball bashers.

Brodick Bay

Goatfell sneaks into frame

Goatfell is a real poser of a mountain!  So much does it dominate Brodick Bay it’s almost impossible to ignore it.  It elbows out other potential camera subjects and will sneak into the background of shots when you’re not looking.  We did elude it briefly to watch a heron on the other side of a narrow creek.

The Heron and The Ship

The path continued to follow the beach/golf course boundary other than for one slightly inland diversion to meet a footbridge over the Glenrosa Water but once over the path cut an immediate right back towards the shore.  So for the last few hundred metres before the village of Cladach we walked along the beach.  By this time the 3 dugs (mentioned in the intro) had caught up.  While two sniped noisily at each other, the hormone driven “friendly” one insisted in forcing his unwelcome attentions on a puzzled Fatdog.  Despairing at the totally ineffective shouting by his owner I removed him by a thinly disguised death-hold on his collar.

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On the Beach

Leaving behind the choking dog, we left the beach and crossed the main road from just opposite the track to the Arran Brewery.  From here the route is a simple one;  check the information board at the start, then follow the signs.  It’s almost impossible to go wrong…even taking into account our wayward navigation while driving to Ardrossan.

Parched tongues dragged longingly along the gravel path as…somewhat reluctantly…we filed slowly past the brewery, but it was just a bit too early in the day.  Our route was now enclosed by tall trees and rhododendrons as the gentle climb began, the warm air filled with the gentle buzzing of insects and the snarling growl of chainsaws…the rhododendrons were taking a right pasting.  The snarling and growling continued behind us as we gained height – but now it was the snarling and growling of those battling dugs that predominated.  They were catching up.

Not far to the gate...Goatfell in background

The rowan berries are out in profusion these days...looking down to Brodick Bay

It was hot as we left the tall trees for the swath of native planting above the main forestry.  The sun blazed down and the breeze was non-existent and I for one was glad when we reached the gate at the limit of the Forestry Commission ground and moved onto the barren slopes of Goatfell owned by the National Trust.

from here it feels a long slog (if you're me!)

That relief didn’t last long.  That has to be the most deceptively long corrie approach I’ve ever come across.  The small human dots on the path ahead never seemed to get any closer and once we reached where the path tops the east ridge, those same small dots seemed to take an eternity to make any progress up the steep rock steps of the last 270m of ascent to the summit.

We reach the east ridge...but I'm pretty puggled by now! (look for human dots in front)

I’d been struggling over that last 100m of ascent onto the east ridge.  The constant stepping on hard rock had been stressing my right leg.  I contemplated calling it a day at this point as we seemed to be still a long way off the summit but I find it difficult to do the sensible thing…so upward we plodded…my steps becoming smaller and s-l-o-w-e-r.  I think my expectations (of my abilities) are too high as, on reflection, there didn’t seem to be much difference (overall) between the speed of my ascent and that of other walkers in the area at the same time.  I just appeared to be closer to rigor mortis.

Nearly out of steam! (keep looking for those wee dots - they're there...somewhere!

By way of contrast Cap’n Jack, who had been feeling the pace early on, had disappeared onto the big rocks away from the path and was having a jolly old time scrambling all over them…then appearing on the path some 50m in front.  He can be a smug wee so-and-so!  Oh for a fraction of that energy.  We appear to have an oddly symbiotic relationship, Cap’n Jack and I, in that when he is struggling I’m at my best…and vice versa.  It’s almost like we steal energy from each other.  Must be something to do with shared genes.  Sadly the balance is very much in his favour these days though, in fairness, later on he did offer to carry my pack when my back and right leg were giving me problems and I was struggling on the descent.

But for the moment we’re still at the “up” part of this “tail”

The Goatfell Summit

The Arran Flyfishing Championships were already underway when we arrived.

It was hell, but we got there…along with the radio hams, the teenage explorers, the fell runners, the wayward dugs, my fellow geriatrics not to mention a cast of thousands of big black ugly flies and the ever present throng of carnivorous west coast midges.

a totally knackered Fatdog

A' Chir (left) Cir Mhor (foreground) Caisteal Abhail (background)

The Fatdog collapsed, a wallowing, panting heap now lurking in the shade of a big rock, only moving to take a big drink from her water tub.   Meanwhile I shuffled off with the camera to take photos of the stunning ridgelines to the north and west.  The clear skies meant that everything the Arran mountains had to offer was on view.  Cir Mhor, Caisteal Abhail, Beinn Tarsuin, A’ Chir, the Witch’s Step.

Caisteal Abhail (left) and the Witch's Step (right)

L to R - Cir Mhor - Caisteal Abhail - North Goatfell

Cap'n Jack once more indicates his general dissatisfaction with the human race...and my photography

No sooner does Cap'n Jack apply the coconut suncream - than The Fatdog licks it off.

I hobbled stiff-legged across the weathered granite boulders of Goatfell summit.  I had hoped we’d be able to press on to North Goatfell, but my legs had no chance of taking me any further along that ridge…and The Fatdog was looking pretty beat as well.  As I watched with envy those fit enough to march off happily towards North Goatfell and the ridge beyond to Cir Mhor, I regretted the choice of walking from the ferry.

That extra 3km to the start of the hill proper had cost me a kilometre or so of stunning ridgewalk.   Sadly there was no way my legs would allow any more ascent so we took a few photos, had a black fly and midge sandwich, then dropped back down the rock steps and into the corrie.

While the last few hundred metres of ascent had been a killer the descent proved to be a slow, achy, process.  The right leg, overstressed on the ascent, was now at the non-functioning stage.  It was thoroughly pissed off.  It had to lead on all the down steps and was overworked in the extreme.  When I rested I could feel all the muscles pulsating.

We had hoped to catch the ferry at 4.40pm but in reality that idea went out the window due to my slow ascent.  Now that my descent was almost as slow we were left with only one option.

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Catch the next Ferry?

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Of course…but more importantly…

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Visit the Brewery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Ice Cold in Arran"

Much later, as I stood on the deck watching the sun go down over Arran, my thoughts turned to a revision of what The Fatdog and I should be attempting given my current struggles with even the simplest of hill routes…

Sunset over Arran

…but they were drowned out by a sudden snarling and  growling!

“…those bloody dugs!”

My thanks to Cap’n Jack for contributing a good number of photos for this “Tail” 😀

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2010 in Corbetts

 

Ben Gulabin – The Fatdog’s back on Track (all the way to the summit)!

The Fatdog has been taking her customary summer siesta from the hills with only a quick dash up the Meikle Bin that could loosely be  described as hillwalking.  Having refused to go on last week’s walk up CMD and “The Ben”, citing my unacceptable slowness as her perfectly acceptable reason, she indicated that she would be prepared to accompany me up something where I could cause her much less embarrassment.   We settled on an easy Corbett, Ben Gulabin, at the south end of Glenshee.

The SMC book says 1hour.20mins.  We took less than 1hour!

We left the house at 6.55am, arrived at the start of the track at 8.45am and had reached the summit by 9.40.  We wandered a trifle aimlessly around the top of the hill for 20 minutes, had a tea break and then trotted back down, to be back at the car and ready to go by 11am.  We were back home by 12.40pm.  That has to be one of our quickest days out…ever.  Oh yes, Glenshee is 82 miles away 😯 !

In fact today was perfect for us after the mega walk I did last weekend.  This was a chance to make sure the niggles were no nastier than before.  I also needed to see how Maisie would fare after a few months off.  We both appear to have passed muster.  We also did ok weather-wise by going early and limiting ourselves to a short walk – only one 10 minute drizzle.  The forecast wasn’t so good for the afternoon and the rain was pretty heavy coming back on the A9.

This is not an exciting hill and I would suggest saving it for some dramatic weather just to make it a wee bit interesting.  A landrover track will take you to the summit (almost).  If you then walk west from the summit to the crags, there’s a decent view south east down to Spittal of Glenshee and north to the once Munro, Carn Bhinnein, with its characteristic pointy top.

And that’s about it.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2010 in Corbetts

 

A Day in the Perthshire Hail

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I looked up.

First mistake.  Eyeballs peppered with fine shot.

Blinking frantically to clear my eyes I looked back down at my feet again, to find The Fatdog looking up at me accusingly.  She had gone white on one side and was staring up at me through eyelashes heavy with melting hail.  She didn’t look pleased.

I sympathised.  I wasn’t feeling pleased either.  I stopped, turned, and leaned back into the wind for a brief rest.  I wondered if I could lean back far enough to fall over but I was sure that couldn’t happen.   Ol’ Steve was only some 10m behind pushing through the icy blast onto the bealach.

This was the sort of day you wonder “WHY?”

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Ol’ Steve and I have worked in the same office for about 14 years.  Over the past few years, since I started hillwalking. we’ve regularly discussed our plans and exploits, but this was the first time they’d coincided…all because of a misleading forecast.  We had both thought Perthshire was to be dry and if not sunny then at least pretty much clear of cloud.  That was proving to be a load of old b******s!

From the start it hadn’t been pleasant.  As soon as the car stopped at the “parking area” for Beinn a Chuallaich‘s eastern approach, the rain had begun to piddle down driven by a strong westerly.  I loathe having to put on the wet weather gear right at the start of the day…it sets the tone and usually ends up in an undignified wrestling match with rapidly chilling fingers battling with unaccustomed items of clothing.

Although they’ve taken up near permanent residence in the bottom of my pack my waterproof trousers and I are relative strangers.  This became evident as I attempted to pull them on whilst balanced precariously on one un-booted foot.  The subsequent 5 minutes saw a comprehensive demonstration of octopus wrestling as I eventually pulled on both trousers and socks and footwear.  The rain went off.

At least the initial part of the Corbett looked straight forward.

Straight on...and up!

Two unlocked gates and a field crossing later we began our ascent of the bracken clad slope.  Perfect timing, I thought, the old bracken was almost gone and there was no sign of the new.  I reckon this slope could be a lot tougher in summer when you find yourself wading through metre high swathes of tough green fronds.  Today it was a steady grassy climb.  At about the 200m mark we ran out of grass and reached the heather.  This change in vegetation made for slow going.  Where the heather covered smooth hillside it was easy enough, but where it had grown through small boulders the going was less predictable.

Ol' Steve powering up the initial slope

Looking south towads Schiehallion

Rounding the spur through the heather into the corrie

I seem to think we made it as far as the shallow corrie before the cloud, which had been threatening since our arrival, eventually opted to deposit its payload.   Up went the hood as the fine driving hail swept across the heather- brown corrie floor.  It wasn’t long before I had to keep my head firmly pointed towards my feet as the gusting wind whipped up tiny pinpricks of ice, peppering my face.  I tried to look up a couple of times but as the tiny fragments bounced painfully off my eyeballs I reckoned navigation wasn’t really that important anyway.  Ol’ Steve was somewhere behind me but I sure as hell wasn’t going to try and see where.

A few minutes the blast subsided and I was able to see where I was going once more.    I studied the dark grey cloud over Beinn Chuallaich.  Sadly it wouldn’t be long until we were assailed by the next volley from the westerly blunderbuss.  Ol’ Steve and The Fatdog shot past me heading for the corrie end.

A photo blurred with hail and wind!

The short climb up to the bealach from the corrie was made interesting by the need to cross a couple of remaining swathes of snow.  Like the snowfields on the rest of this winter’s trips their crossing proved to be a lottery.  The snow was soft, with deep hollows discovered on every second footfall.  Whole legs had a nasty tendency to disappear.  We tried to avoid them but that proved impossible.  Once more I was carrying my microspikes and unable to use them!  Where was all the brick hard snow I’d slid and wobbled across in previous years when I didn’t have the bloody things!

I kicked steps as I led up the last short band of white, arriving on the bealach, my quads burning.  My God they ached…which was strange.  I don’t ever recall having had that particular problem before but at least I had gained a new complaint to bleat about.

Up until now we had been relatively sheltered from the full force of the wind, now it skelped us good and proper. But it was an easy stroll from the bealach up to the summit…or would have been if the wind hadn’t been trying to blow as away.  At least the quads had gone quiet again.  As Ol’ Steve and I veered left towards the big cairn and the trig point, The Fatdog veered right.

Two startled ptarmigan had been mistaken for big white bunnies.  FD instantly realised her mistake and bounced back apologetically.  Normally she would just wander past these birds but half an hour earlier she had been tracking two mountain hares in the corrie, so I can only assume she noticed the two white mounds and thought “At last!”

A constant blast of cold air from the west meant we didn’t hang around at the summit.  Low cloud chopped off any decent views with the best of a bad bunch the view down Loch Rannoch and across the glen to Schiehallion.  I managed a couple of shots but between the sharp wind and me beginning to lose the feeling in my fingers, photographs came second to dropping back downhill out of the penetrating chill.

Nearing the big summit cairn

Loch Rannoch

An old sheiling

We were hailed on at various times, occasionally rained on and at one point I definitely detected snow sweeping past.  All in all there were very few moments when there was no form of precipitation bouncing off the waterproofs.  Ol’ Steve and I definitely need to sort out our weather forecasting  before the next walk!

Tired, soggy and wanting lunch!

Schiehallion from our lunch spot

Sun on the bracken with a hint of rainbow

Then the sun came out.  Ten minutes from the car…the sun came out!  We met two walkers just having set out from their car.  They were smiling in the sunshine.  I told them how bad it was on top.  I can be spiteful.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2010 in Corbetts

 

The Weather Thieves

It was hard to believe, as the light faded to darkness and saturated horizontal sleet slapped into my face, that a mere 24 hours before The Fatdog and I had been standing under clear blue skies, gazing at a stunning 360 degree panorama of white clad mountains from the summit of Mam na Gualainn.

Now we scuffed through thick heavy slush as we trudged a world of dull dreary housing estate grey, only a stones throw from the roaring of the M876 motorway. At least FD was waggy-tailed happy, this was her sort of weather.

Sunny walking days in February are neither common nor predictable. The probability of being able to take advantage of one comes into the category of slim to remote. Managing to grab two could, I suppose, justifiably be defined as theft. So yesterday, that’s precisely what we did…we stole a sunny day!
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Rannoch Moor was spectacular at -10C. East towards Schiehallion lay a frozen plain of ice and frost covered scrub. There was not a trace to be seen of the dun coloured bogland with its short stunted trees and stagnant pools. Rannoch Moor was sparkling pristine white. Glencoe was also white, but that was a massive sort of white, even more dramatic than its usual dark foreboding self.

The ascent of the hill was fairly uneventful. Once past the narrow band of native woodland the path from the car had difficulty making up its mind whether to be grassy, icy or snowy but in the end magicked together a frustrating combination of all three.


Looking across Loch Leven to Beinn a Bheithir

We had taken what we hoped was a shortcut by following a track directly from the lay-by, as opposed to walking back along the road to the signposted right of way. Later than I had imagined, past the old brick ruin, we eventually came across a post marker confirming we had joined the correct route but not before the map had been hauled out…just in case.


Closest I’ve ever been to one – and that was on the wee cameras max zoom

One of the burn crossings proved interesting. At the crossing point we were faced with a sheet of ice with no stepping stones. There was no way I was going to try to step on that. I slid the poles across then crabbed my way over…until I reached the half way point and was making no forward progress, feet slipping away from me. I inelegantly bum-slid the rest of the way.


Iced-up


Traditional Fatdog pose

By the time we reached the bealach between Mam na Gualainn and Tom Meadhoin we were into proper snow. We had a choice. We could either follow the path as shown on the map, which meant dropping down the far side of the bealach for a way before ascending again, or we could head straight up the slope. Given that we couldn’t see the path for the snow it was a no brainer. I set out in front following a clear set of prints which provided a sensible trail up onto Mam na Gualain’s west spur. The fact that the prints weren’t human seemed unimportant.


Upward from the bealach

Up until now the weather had been relatively benevolent but, as we gained the ridge, the biting east wind picked up. The effect on my mouth was similar to that achieved by a visit to the dentist surgery, cold and numbing. By now we’d gained enough height to see a bit of distance in most directions.


Looking down Loch Leven


Ardgour


The Fatdog wonders why Cap’ Jack keeps falling so far behind!


Cap’n Jack’s patience is beginning to wear thin as the camera is waved in his direction


FD and I pressed on

Then we found the gate. The bulk of the tracks seemed to go through the gate so we followed the rest of the flock. A couple of hundred metres later I wasn’t so sure. The outcrop on the opposite side of the fence was definitely higher than what we could see on our side. The Fatdog was unceremoniously picked up and tossed over.


The Gate


A big nasty mountain sneaks up on Cap’n Jack


Stob Ban and Devil’s Ridge


Cold hands and Stob Ban


The Mamores

We were almost at the top of the rocky “summit” when I looked back across the fence to see a trig point and a cairn! “Oh b****r!” The wrong side of something two walks in a row! The Fatdog was picked up once more…

Between the fence and the true summit lay a deep pocket of huge ice crystals. It was akin to wading in a tank of polystyrene beads. Oddly enough the icy breeze, that had terrorised us for most of the ridge, had dropped to the tolerable…but we didn’t hang around at the top…only long enough to take a few photos.


Ice


The Summit with Schiehallion a dot in the distance


The Fatdog

We short cut a bit on the way back following the ridge to its western limit and made unnecessary the trip back to the bealach. This dropped us just below the icy burn crossing (of which earlier I’d made such a dog’s dinner). The sun stayed with us as we walked back down our upward route back to the car.


Pap of Glencoe (right)


The Fatdog’s lunch arrives!

There was a noticeable change in the weather as we drove back over Rannoch Moor. Gone was the bright sunshine and blue skies. The cloud was building with some determination from the east. I knew from the forecast that snow was on the way but my goodness when it did arrive that night it was impressive in its intensity and volume, managing to shut nearly all the roads north. We’d stolen our day out by the narrowest of margins, but with this new snow I was wondering when we would be able to steal another!
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The Minor God of February Sunshine was in a foul mood. He squeaked in indignation as he described the unbridled cheek of that pair of ungrateful reprobates to his friend acquaintance colleague, The Revered Custodian of Unguarded Lunchboxes.

They had actually stolen one of his sunny days! They hadn’t been allocated a second…they’d actually STOLEN it! His tiny waxed moustache twitched in sympathy with his mood. Not only that! That…that…black hairy…THING…had in all probability stolen his lunch as well! He hadn’t a clue how it had done it…it wasn’t even theoretically possible…but he KNEW!

But he’d paid them back…oh yes he had! They were wallowing in sleet, snow and wet gloop so thick they’d never see another sunny day until the next millennium…and maybe not even then…certainly if he had his way!

The Revered Custodian of Unguarded Lunchboxes didn’t have much time for The Minor God of February Sunshine, who was considered by the other Gods minor with an m so small as to be considered an underscore, but it had been the only seat left in the canteen. However somewhere in that endlessly boring tirade he heard something he hoped he would never hear in his lifetime…and he was immortal.

“Go over that part again, the part about your lunch” he asked.

The Minor God of February Sunshine sat with his mouth open staring in disbelief at The Revered Custodian of Unguarded Lunchboxes. Not even the cleaner had deigned to speak to him before. He stammered his way through the events of the previous day, The Revered Custodian of Unguarded Lunchboxes listening with increasing intensity.

At the second mention of “…that…black hairy…THING!” the colour drained from the Custodian’s face. His exalted position had made him privy to one of the most terrifying secrets known to the Immortals (who knew practically everything bar how long to boil rice for) and, assuming he wasn’t mistaken, it wasn’t just the contents of a few lunchboxes that were at stake here…but the fabric of the Time and Space itself!

He slowly got to his feet and motioned The Minor God of February Sunshine to follow.

In a lead lined casket in a lead panelled room in a lead walled library lay a small piece of dog chewed paper. The casket carried a label with the following warning.
“Do not open until the end of All Things…and not even then!”
The Revered Custodian of Unguarded Lunchboxes reckoned the time had come to open the box. After a quick read he handed The Minor God of February Sunshine the piece of paper.

http://fatdogwalks.com/Telleroftales/totintro.html

“You didn’t do anything to upset it I trust?”

He turned to find The Minor God of February Sunshine squeezing himself through the keyhole of the lead lined casket. If the end of the universe was coming there was no better place to be than a lead lined casket…all the best comic books said so. All sorts of things survived without food or water for eons…as long as they were sealed in a lead lined casket.

The Revered Custodian of Unguarded Lunchboxes shook his head in disgust and bent to pick up the casket. Half way down the desk calendar caught his eye. For a couple of seconds he looked thoughtfully at the lead lined box, before tossing it into the waste basket and striding out of the room. February was finished…they could find another petty bureaucrat for next year, he had another…more pressing problem… to deal with.

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My thanks to Cap’n Jack for a number of the photos in the past couple of posts 😀 .

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2010 in Corbetts

 

The Long Way to the VETS

We made a sorry sight as we struggled our way up the relentless north approach to The Brack.  Cap’n Jack was suffering from a lack of hill time and was finding the upward grind hard going.  I was battling a reoccurrence of my back problem which meant the return of the concrete legs and The Fatdog was out of sorts with a flare up of her perennial ear infection.  As I said…a sorry sight.

FD and I hadn’t been on this craggy Corbett (2500’ – 3000’) at the southern end of the Arrocher Alps for some two and a half years and it was a first visit for the Cap’n.  This was likely to be our last adventure for 2009 and we were racing against the clock.  The Fatdog had an appointment at the dreaded VET for 4.30pm so this was to be a 6 hour (maximum) walk.  I had the vague notion to do both the Brack and the Graham, Cnoc Coinnich (2000’ – 2500’), to the south.  I knew it was a non starter as soon as we reached The Brack’s east ridge.  The knobbly intervening terrain suggested that a separate visit would be required while my legs suggested that I ought to “bugger off “.

The Fatdog watches traffic head up the "Rest and be Thankful"

"Wonder what's taking him so long?" thought The Fatdog

"A hip flask of Lagavullin" was the obvious answer

It was remarkably warm considering it was mid December.  Cap’n Jack had done most of the ascent in his base layer and only pulled on his “hoody” as the chill north wind began to whip up near the ridgeline.  Mind you the next layer went on fairly quickly as the breeze began to bite, so in short order our Rab Generator smocks and hats and gloves were pulled on.

Minutes later the whole reason for this trip came into view.  Here it is…and worth every slogging step up the hill.

The wee lochan near the top of The Brack

Ice

The knoll of Chruach Fhiafach with Ben Lomond behind

We had lunch at the top and then dropped down the craggy south ridge towards Cnoc Coinnich, joining the Cowal Way at the bealach between the two hills.  There was no way we could tackle the two hills within today’s timescale so we turned east and followed the “Way” down the forestry road towards Loch Long, arriving back at the car 5 hours after starting.

Another Corbett for Cap'n Jack - the cloud has now moved in.

Skirting the crags as we head for the bealach - Cnoc Coinnich in the distance

The Giant's Foot

Looking up Loch Long on the walk back to the car

With impeccable timing I dropped off Cap’n Jack at his house and arrived at the VETS 5 minutes before our appointment – not bad planning huh?  The Fatdog enjoyed her visit as much as she ever does – not at all – but is now happier that her ears are feeling a bit better.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2009 in Corbetts

 

Cobbled Together

cobb01

Yet another blank page…and yet another cup of tea.

Sometimes I think I would like the keyboard to start the story of its own accord. That way my brain wouldn’t hurt as much and I wouldn’t have to join up the dots of the day to see what the completed picture looks like. The combined arithmetic power of my fingers and toes has calculated that I’ve been writing The Fatdog “Tails” for 3 years now. That’s a lot of “parked car”, “walked up hill”, “took photos at top”, “walked back down hill”! Don’t you wish the story could have been a bit different?

I quite like the idea of “arrived at summit by helicopter”, “took photos”, “left again by helicopter”. To be fair I’m probably suffering a bit from the effects of uncharacteristic over-exuberance. For the past 7 weeks my gym work and the loss of a stone of blubber have resulted in hugely improved fitness levels. Confidence levels are also running on max. So when I returned completely exhausted on Saturday from the 12 hour Tyndrum epic did I think of having some time off? “The hell I did!”

Tuesday night I was back at the circuit class. “He” had devised a torturous “step” class which I have to say was fairly testing for one of my limited motor skills. The effects on my legs from Saturdays prolonged exertion were still with me and by the end of the evening even stepping onto the “step” was becoming a mighty task.

Still, I told myself, I’m made of tougher stuff these days…so the next day myself, Cap’n Jack and the Fatdog were to be found below a cloud topped jagged monster that is one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains…”The Cobbler”. Did I take the easy stroll around the back, up the beautifully formed steps and then across a fairly nondescript slope to the summit? “The hell I did!”

Straight up the steep rocky path into the corrie we climbed…none of this namby-pamby easy stuff for us. Cap’n Jack’s views on the matter are still not clear…the unintelligible muttering drowned them out. The Fatdog’s views were also unclear, but as she’ll follow a potential rucksack to the ends of the earth for the chance of the odd morsel it was difficult to assess preferences in her particular case. Nonetheless straight up we scrambled giving FD’s rear end an occasional punt up as we clambered through narrow water scoured gaps between rocks. The cloud still swirled around the mountains 3 tops…would it clear for our arrival?

Cap’n Jack was beginning to look a little edgy. I don’t know why…he wasn’t the one perched on a sloping ledge that plummeted into nothingness below. Well, it might have been nothingness but I wasn’t getting close enough to the edge to find out. The last remains of the swirling cloud had gone so I couldn’t use a lack of visibility as an exposure shield. Did I climb onto the very top of the narrow top…”the hell I did”. Climbing through the eye of the needle onto the ledge was fine but once up on my feet there was no way I was shuffling up that ledge. I could have done it on my bum but that would have been unacceptably undignified. I settled for a photo suggesting I might have had the courage to get there and dived back through the eye a.s.a.p. to the safety of less exposed ground. Fair play to the Cap’n though, he made it up to the eye for a squint through which, considering he generally avoids that sort of thing entirely, was a big step forward for him.

I don’t recall ever seeing a summit as shattered and broken. Huge faults ran westward slicing the southern part of the top into thin segments, with treacherous narrow crevasses a constant danger to those failing to show proper care. This was a real mountain. We sat up there in sunshine, munching lunch and admiring its decaying glory all the while nodding appreciatively at its efforts at holding itself together.

We left by the near uniform back steps, possibly the fastest and easiest descent I’ve ever come across and strolled down to the dam for our final break…and to let The Fatdog have a paddle. I checked my watch. It had been a very easy relaxing day and we would be home by 6pm.

You would think the story would end there, wouldn’t you?

It’s now 7.45pm and my legs are on their last legs. I’m slumped over in the saddle just like the fourteen others. We’re supposed to be “hovering” with bums just off the seats but in reality I’m using my folded elbows to prop me up. I’ve been pedalling for three quarters of an hour now and “He” is showing no sign of letting up. Never mind only 15 minutes to go.

After Saturday’s exhausting 12 hour Tyndrum round, Tuesday night’s tough “step” class and Wednesday’s steep scramble up The Cobbler did I consider for 1 minute that it would be really stupid to do a “spin” class on the Wednesday evening?

“The hell I did…!”

Aaaatchooo !  Hello, Mr Cold.”

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Posted by on September 20, 2009 in Corbetts