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Published: September 15th 2013
Once more I was lucky enough to be invited up to stay at my friend Maureen’s house up in ‘Wee Bonny Scotland’ for some late summer roaming in the gloaming, or rather some more Munro Bagging after I began the challenge last year.
And for those who aren’t in the know, it isn’t some kind of parcelling up of Marilyn lookilikees but rather collecting peaks in Scotland which are over 3000ft high (here’s the geek bit: A Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 ft (914.4 m). Munros are named after Sir Hugh Munro, 4th Baronet (1856–1919), who produced the first list of such hills, known as Munros Tables, in 1891). There are a grand total of 282 of these Munros and so I’ve got a few to go having bagged only three so far, hmm, I might not get them all at this rate.
Arriving once more at Inverness airport, Maureen, myself and another ‘M’, Melissa, picked up the hire car and headed south down to Foyers which is located on the eastern shores of the great Loch Ness and our base for the next couple of days before we headed north to the
town of Ullapool for a couple of days walking. First on the agenda was a bit of relaxing and an evening with the wider Clan of the McGuires who were also up in the village for the weekend, I had been warned they might be quite lively..
Once decamped from the car we headed down to the falls of Foyers for a nice stroll and some lunch at the local café, I opted to try the Scotch Pie as I had never had one before and jolly nice it was to, spicy and made of mutton I do believe. Once I had eaten all the pies we took another walk around the village to enjoy the lovely sunny afternoon, well walking was what we were here for.
Post dinner we headed down the road to the cottage where Maureen’s wider family were staying to find that once it was dark there had been a challenge set between the boys (there are a lot of them) and the men folk (one who is ex-Army) as to see who can hunt each other down with BB guns out in the woods. I can just hear the cries of the Wandsworth
Yummy Mummies now in fear at letting their precious darlings out at night, let alone in the woods with guns. Seems the Scottish are made of much sterner stuff after all. It was quite impressive too, they were out hunting for a while and all returned in once piece as well, it seemed like a lot of fun too.
The next day after a Scottish breakfast feast (black pudding and square sausages) we drove north to Ullapool for a couple of nights to do some walking. I think it is the furthest north I’ve been in the UK and it was feeling quite isolated and of course the scenery was always going to provide us with a spectacular drive.
Ullapool is a quaint little fishing town much as you expect in Scotland, rows of white fisherman’s cottages along the harbour and trawlers lining the quay, yum, that can only mean one thing, fish for dinner. We checked in to the Caledonian hotel, it certainly had a unique charm, very, how can I put this, ‘coach trip’, then off out for some dinner. I took advantage of the locality and enjoyed a fine feast of langoustines and crofter’s beer,
The falls of Foyers
or Eas na Smùide is you are of the Gaelic persuasion
tasty. However due to a long walk planned for the next morning it was an early night ready to get up for our deep fried breakfast the next day, but it was nice to have some haggis in the morning.
Our first planned walk took us south of Ullapool and would take us about 22km over three Munros, just a small stroll then. The three peaks in question are Meall a' Chrasgaidh (933m - hill of the crossing), Sgurr nan Clach Geala (1093m - peak of the white stones) and Sgurr nan Each (923m - peak of the horses). We parked the car, kitted up and began our walk into the wild. The first part of the walk seemed to go very quickly as we passed through a small forest and loch and began our first climb, although it was a bit boggy, I am not so keen on boggy.
Slowly the legs woke up and the shock of the climb seemed to lessen and it wasn’t long until we had reached our first peak. The weather was still holding and the views were immense, having only seen one other walker that morning, the mountains were ours alone.
Still no Nessie
My third visit to the shores of Loch Ness and the monster still eludes me, I'm almost starting to believe it might not be real..
After a brief rest, it was down a bit and up a bit more to the second peak. This did involve walking alone a rather steep ridge and I had a bit of a vertigo attack, whoever said ‘don’t look down’ was a wise man. Battling on though, we soon reached the second peak and found a nice spot out of the wind for some lunch with a view. The clouds had other ideas though so we had lunch in the mist; still it was a welcome break. And then it was time once more for a bit of ridge walking down then climbing up to the third and final peak of the day, woo! That’s six Munros bagged for me now, I’m sure I’ll have them all done soon…
So 11 km up, that meant 11km down, piece of cake. Well, it might have been a little easier if Melissa boots hadn’t decided to commit suicide just as we started on the way back, some quick thinking and inventive use of hair bands managed to hold them together for the long march back. After a very long and slightly boggy descent to the valley floor, the sun came
out and we enjoyed a late afternoon walk back to the car and then headed back to Ullapool and our classy hotel, it only took 10 minutes for my shower to produce hot water, lovely, still we had a delicious dinner once more, I enjoyed some tasty Cullen Skink and venison sausages and mash, they do have some good food up north if you ignore the deep fried Mars bars.
The plan for the next morning was some more Muros near Beinn Eighe however due to Melissa’s booticide the previous day and the fact we had to wait for the shops to open for her to buy some new ones and the inclement weather, the plan was changed slightly and we opted out of the climb and just decided to walk along the valley by Beinn Eighe up to Coire Mhic Fhearchair. Sadly no more Munros to add to the list but the valley was amazing especially in the rain, it felt very much like being in Lord of the rings or something, very atmospheric indeed.
The valley is an amazing U-shaped one (even echoes) and in the mist and rain it looked incredible, if a bit damp,
but I didn’t mind so much as it adds a different atmosphere to the sunny days. The path takes you up past a waterfall and finally you reach a small loch which is famous for the triple buttress high above it. We didn’t see the triple buttresses though, too much Scotch mist yet again, ah well, you can’t always have the views I guess, it was still a beautiful walk in the rain.
Once we made it back to the car we drove home along the stunning coast of Wester Ross and headed back to Foyers in the gloaming, the usual task of deer spotting in the car kept us all alert on the way home.
Sadly for me the next day was my last while the other two were staying on a few days later, but one last activity was in store for the morning before I caught my flight, art class dahlings! I haven’t really done much in the way of art since I was at school and so I think my level is still that of a 13 year old, but we’d booked in with a local artist for a lesson, the aim mainly being
...enjoy the silence.
to have a bit of fun. I think I excelled in the ‘drinking straw blowing’ technique, I’m not so sure about the other pictures, I might make the Turner Prize next year though.
Well, all too short a trip but always nice to spend some time in the mountains, just hope I get invited back, there are plenty more Munros that need bagging.
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