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Day Seven: The Demons Left; Eventually

It is fair to say we were shagged after the previous day. A big pack, a big mountain, a lot of beer and shoddy sleep make for tired people.It was a long day ahead, meandering from Dalwhinnie into Glen Feshie, so obviously we had a very big breakfast, said goodbye to Pongo (who was going whisky taking) and set off, up tracks, past dams, following rivers, crossing rivers, along glens. On and on, quite fucked actually. 
Up Allt Bhran I think we felt tired. So 7km behind schedule we called an early camp on beautiful level grasses by the river surrounded by gentle rolling hills, the sun bright, sky blue, chuffing beautiful big complex clouds. We chose to imbibe and dip feet in the river, eat by the river, lie in the tents in the sun. Recharge. Big day tomorrow as we head to Braemar with a wild camp on Devils Point. Or we might abandon that and take the direct downhill route to Linn of Dee.

(Warning for Cano) Some waffle follows.

A few things I like:
Lying in my tent I realise bringing this one, the Z Packs Duplex was the right thing to do. For one it is so roomy. Tonight it is so taught. I’ve seen so many other tents flap like beasts in a panic that this thing, although light, gives a lot of comfort in its rigidity and room, all for about 650g – and as the name suggests it is a 2 person tent. Just like I am now a two tent person. Ignoring the Wendy House tent as that’s not really mine. So thank you for helping me chose this one. You know who you are!

Now the Z Packs pack is another story…
And music in the hills, seeing the sunset, a blue sky, writing this, headphones on, whisky or wine in hand. Are there many better things?
My favourite albums so far include:

  • Depeche Mode – Spirit is a great album, anthemic and very relevant to the bullshit of the world as we slide like a turd down a helter-skelter into who knows what.
  •  Gas (Wolfgang Voigt) – slow and big and stripped bare
  • The National – sorry! I like them!!
  • Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky is 8 minutes of genius and joy
  • Thurston Moore’s new album is one of long songs that twist and grow and take you on a journey. Mostly a smooth joyous journey.
  • Oh, Slowdive. An album of beauty. 


Day Six: The Day the Demons Came

A very long day. Involving a wonderful breakfast with coffee and feet in the Uisge Labhair, in preparation for taking the immense Ben Alder from behind. Straight up it. It was all a bit much for Nick who sadly vommed on a multitude of occasions as we struggled up the stream that came out of Ben Alder’s gaping rear. 

We won’t mention the other Munro Pongo was due to take as she had no bloody idea where it was. First it was ‘that hill’ (and having been on Ben Alder before, on a vile cold wet day, I can’t remember there being a Munro where Pongo pointed, but being dim witted and of shoddy memory I just had a vague thought of I’m sure that’s not the second Munro and failed to communicate this. And it wasn’t. Indeed it measures 903 metres so isn’t too far off, other than approximately 4.5 miles. 
So we parted and Nick and I slowed to fight the nausea and Pongo shot off to bag her hills. Which she did (the right ones too).
And so the day was long. From the summit we traversed round to the col and descended on (eventually) good paths, past the easily pronounced Loch ã Bhealaich Bheithe and down past the apparently ‘closed due to asbestos’ Culra bothy (I say apparently as it was rammed the night before), and onwards to Loch Ericht and eventually into Dalwhinnie, where the bunkhouse people took great care of us – like washing and drying our clothes free of charge and letting us camp outside.
And so shagged out (might as well maintain the theme) we were to bed. It wasn’t the best night as it was noisy but it was fine to have a shower and a lot of chips and beer, and clean clothes after a sweaty day in lovely weather. And Ben Alders rear is very sexy.

Day Five: Bloody hell its cold

Bloody hell its cold; I’m in bed under a down quilt wearing a down jacket a synthetic jacket and a merino base layer. Fuck it’s cold. But I’m watching golden clouds float by, against a blue sky, watching the river flow by; I should be listening to the river flow by but it’s music that fills my head: The Lovely Eggs, Slowdive, and WALL. All joy. Shivering.


Tonight feels like this is what being in the hills is all about. We are behind Ben Alder, to the west, having walked from Meanach Bothy, 16 miles, slowly uphill. Surrounded by hills, mountains, heather, rocks, water, rocks, moss. No trees here as people chopped them all down and deer eat anything that tries to grow. Too many deer and too many estates building roads in the wild places. How they get away with it these (closest in the U.K. anyway) wilderness areas I don’t know.
It was windy. It rained. It was bloody windy. The sky, the clouds have been amazing: grey black white, now orange. Its been bloody windy. The sun shone. The sun hid. The sun ran like fuck from the bad cold winds chasing. Then the sun won the day but the bloody wind persevered until the clouds turned golden. 

Right now it’s chuffing cold.

Its been a lovely day walking with Pongo and Nick. Pongo lived up to her name in a spectacular way close to the mighty angular and almost sinister Corrour Lodge. But we won’t mention The Fart. We are gentlemen. Especially after Pongo bought us a lovely lunch and a welcome shelter from the weather at Corrour Station (cafe/restaurant/B&B); one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had.

And later after walking for a few hours we put up tents in the shadow of Ben Alder, then we ate dinner by the river perched on rocks partaking in various things until it became too cold. And here we all are, happy as this is what it’s all about. But bloody hell its cold.

The source of The Fart:

Day Four: from Pong to Physcho via Princess

Time creeps up then kind of jumps out like a bear in the forest, just to make you aware that shit happens. Like time going so fast. 

So day four. We called Mission Control to say we were good and on course the morning of day 4; ooops, it should have been night 3. Alas the pub had prevented said call so a we got a junior bollocking BUT also were asked to cheer up Louise AKA The Bid. Louise was going solo hardcore style but the 50+mph winds were causing her thoughts that needed banishing, and it was our responsibility, the fundamentally inept us, Pine and Pathetic, Piss Head and Stoner, to cheer her up and bring hope. Which we naturally did with aplomb, sharing the best banter (The Bid may have thought otherwise) and a whole fruit cake and tea,  as we travelled along Glen Nevis and through lush woods and past waterfalls and then into a vaste, wide featureless Glen, surrounded by the Mamores and the Grey Corries, that became a bog trot in shite weather. Yet strangely enjoyable – it felt like the first time we were in the wilderness. 

We left The Bid in the safe hands of her friends who caught us up as we ate more cake and continued up the Glen to Meanach bothy, my third visit (previous visits included abandoning mountain bikes due to excess coal and snow with Jut and Sarah, and the infamous Geoff arse bearing chaps incident that will remain a myth; but George knows Geoff’s arse better than most; nuff said). In the mist drizzle and winds it remains a dark shelter, one that needs a fire to feel welcoming. So we put up the tents and waited, and waited.

For today was the the return of the Pong. Pongo was to meet us at the bothy. But Pongo was late having eaten beyond her 3000 calories and done a Munro and quite a lot of miles. It was ace meeting again. Tomorrow her Physcho tendencies involve a mere 26km, preparation for 30 or so km the next day, when we will allegedly ascend Ben Alder. 

All this without whisky. Bollox I forgot to put some in my re-stock box to Fort Bill.

Oh we found a funky gate too. And it was the return of the Pongo. Jennifer joined us. Blimey. Pongo is now Physcho woman.





Day Three: Incompetence

After our camp in a forest, not the best, not the worst, but woken by a dog and walker; pleased to  say Nick smelt more than me as the dog made a be-line (sp?) to him.  

It’s insane; yesterday morning I was sat on a rock, it seems so long ago. It feels the challenge is no longer a challenge and that has led to complacency. And we cock up. But cocking up is fine as we know how to deal with it. And that leads to more complacency like wet down sleeping bags which is dumb.

Anyway; a day of joy and a very friendly farmer and dog, until we hit the West Highland Way for two hours: ye gods… culture shock. So many people. Shit scenery (well, the forest had been cut down).

Oh yes, we took a short cut and it was a bit hard. Some trees seemed to have fallen over. A lot of trees. 


Oh, took a shower in the Hostel; we had both failed to see the women’s sign. A woman was showering but we both naively thought ‘how cosmopolitan’. 

She fled. 


And then we sat in the sun and drank beer and partook, watching the clouds gather over Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries. 

Day Two: Glen Gour

Glen Gour is chuffing ace and to be returned to. A big glacieted valley with beautiful trees, huge pools, drama everywhere. It was a joyous journey. I had tea and Nick had something else. 

Then it rained and we walked a lot of miles and camped somewhere odd and one of these photos is the view from my tent door. But good day, very chilled, low mileage. Whisky weed and pork pies.

Oh and I look deep and meaningful  but don’t worry, I’m not, as you all know I’m a shallow git.

Oh and we are camping immediately beneath the loudest owl on the planet. Ye gods.


Day One: Acharacle to The Strontian River

A good start, a fantastic breakfast with the best granola ever (lots of nuts and sticky oats), and off, on a road, through a beautiful wood, up a hill, down a hill, up a hill and down a hill then a rather shite experience trying to get through myriads of fences into Scotstown which resulted in knee deep bog action and pretty blue air. 

I met Nick at a very nice spot 2 miles from camp and we had a lot of unplanned food and a couple of beers before heading of to camp. We bypassed some TGO wankers who I’d sort of met the night before but hadn’t really as they were too busy telling each other how great whoever was speaking was. 

A fine first day with no tales of depravity… but with a pork pie finale.






Day Zero point five

Once I got to the Loch Shiel Hotel I set off for the coast blessed with sunshine and more importantly two tins of Stone IPA, brewed in Berlin, a fine city.

Anyway it took longer than I thought but I dipped my toes and drank my beer and retreated for a night of what I thought would be faffing. But I couldn’t be arsed faffing so it was more beer and a lovely three bean spicy casserole with possibly the best chips I’ve ever had.  And the best sleep in ages: for the first time in a week I didn’t wake at 5 thinking about what to pack for this trip in minute ridiculous detail.

My road to the coast at Kentra Bay:


The sea!


And a bit earlier in the day, from the Corran Ferry terminal, if it can be described as a terminal:


And me in my room looking sexy:

Day Zero

Owing to complications I will be going solo on day zero.  I like solo action and am very familiar with it.  Nick will be joining me a day late. Nuff said.

I felt nervous this morning, I’m not sure why, you worry about the little things… like what have I forgotten and why is my bag so light and this tends to be a cycle, one being the result of the other.

Anyway, here is the beauty that will be my sweaty companion for 2 weeks.

And that phalic shaped thing you can see through the bag is sadly something to do with my arse.