Delighted, surprised, relieved: these words give just a hint of my reaction when the Bongo passed – albeit belatedly – its MOT a couple of days ago. So it may seem perverse on my part to go hill-walking and take the car, rather than good old Freda.
Thursday morning, I nipped off to South Ballachulish, parked in the woods and went up Thunderclap Mountain (a loose translation of Beinn a’ Bheithir). There was indeed something in the air: the road down from Inverness, via Loch Ness and Fort William, had been subject to patches of thick mist and by the time I arrived at my destination the air was cold, damp and verging on spooky.
There are forestry works on the lower slopes of the hill and there was a certain amount of disagreement between the map and the situation on the ground. However, after some only partially-useful signage, good forestry tracks, an almost invisible “path” which involved a few sinkings up to my ankles in mud and fighting my way through dense pine I broke into the open on the hillside and found not only was I out of the woods but also out of the mist.
A climb up to the bealach at about 750m provided some lovely views where the mist took on a much more picturesque quality.
There are two tops to Beinn a’ Bheithir and both of them are Munros, which explains why I almost called this post “Bogof”: incidentally, if you can’t work out why I chose the current title, then you weren’t around in 1969. Google may help you out.
I chose to go up Sgorr Dhonuill first, then came back to the bealach and ascended Sgorr Dhearg. Octobers aren’t what they used to be: there I was, just over 1000m, 1st of October, in a tee shirt and wishing I’d put on shorts (as opposed to the longs I was wearing!) When I were a lad, there’d have been cold rain at the very least…
Near the top of Sgorr Dhearg, nestling in the rock, I spotted a tiny pine sapling. I salute its bravery, but don’t give much for its chances, unless global warming has a bigger impact, and sooner, than predicted.
I decided not to retrace my steps to the bealach yet again and instead headed north from the summit of Sgorr Dhearg, along the ridge, following another faint path, and eventually turned west and descended back into forest. There was more bog, more scrambling over, under and round trees and reacquaintance with the mist, which had never lifted all day down in the glens.
Eventually I hit a good track and headed back to the car.
The drive north was again frequently in mist, but it had been another superb day on the Scottish hills.