Rainford loop.

I rode fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 30.75mi, time: 01:54:58, pace: 3:44min/mi, speed: 16.05mi/h.
A quiet, flat route with good roads.
Only one week to go, and I’ve hardly been home. Got a ton of marking to complete next week.

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Summer summary.

I rode Fixed with MapMyRide+! Distance: 42.2mi, time: 02:35:11, pace: 3:41min/mi, speed: 16.3mi/h.
Back down, and looking back to one of the most adventurous summers I can recall.


Before cleaning, they are showing signs of wear.

Mountains, in Wales, Corsica and Scotland. Slept in a bivvy bag, a bothy. Burnt 71,000 calories and lost 7lbs (which needed to go).
Today, my body weight is 14St. 5lbs, a drop of 7lbs.
Incidentally, how many calories is each pound of body fat worth?
New mountains are added to my must-climb list:
Beinn Bhan, 896m,
An Rhuadh Stac, 892m,
Benn Arthur, ‘The Cobbler’. 884m.
All Corbetts, often the most interesting mountains.

I am nearly ready for the Hill and Moorland Leader assessment. Currently logged 50 QMDs.

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6 hour delay on the A82.

21°C, brisk SW wind, bright sun, torrential rain in North England.
Picked up two hitchhikers in Glen Coe who wanted Glasgow. A young couple from Brittany who were headed home. I offered to take them as far as Preston. Good start.
Then the A82 was closed alongside Loch Lomond. The most obvious detour was West to the coast road.
That road soon fouled up with the weight of camper vans, coaches and lorries. We were stuck there for over two hours. Eventually, after the longest reverse in memory, I headed back to Tarbet. Stick again. Another fatality blocked to north route and that was escape routes closed. The highways agency people said the only way to Glasgow was by ferry.
So, that’s it; eventually we eased passed a pub food place and stopped for early supper.
My hitchhikers were lovely, and obviously, very much in love. She was cheeky too, she asked the waiter whether he was naked under his kilt. He misheard her strong french accent, so I helped; ‘she wants to know, are you commando?’. He grinned and said ‘of course’. Thus the tone for the day was set. I bought them lunch.

Eventually, the road was opened after a period of single lane go slow. 6pm, the route was open south.
Underway, we settled into the 300 mile trip. Other drivers seemed reluctant to use the 60mph limit. Is there an unwritten rule, out of respect? We were going home alive and well, several other drivers would not do so this night.
Into the borders, the rain began. Torrential by Gretna, and a mad dash into the services. Road markings were invisible under the depth of water on the M74. Large drops punched bubbles on the surface water.
The picture above shows my two hitchhikers dropped off in Preston. Safe, relaxed and well. Actually, I was quite sad to see them go, both were delightful company on that long journey. I hope life is sweet for them both.

Thoughts go out to the families grieving from this night.

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Gairich, 918m.

14°C, falling breeze, run but rain pm hill fog too.
A very boggy approach, especially near the start, by the dam. Gairich has quite a long, gentle lead-in with steep schist rocks near the top. It took me about 5.5 hours round trip, including distractions. Scotch mist disorientated me for a short while, just at the track became indistinct.
Worse was later, without checking, I headed off on the wrong direction. A simple compass check would have prevented a 150m diversion. Embarrassing.

I was not alone on this climb, a German couple, who were not well equipped and turned back before the first steep section. They were probably dispirited by the bog anyway.
Another couple of retired teachers who probably have done all the munros but never kept a list. Some they have climbed 20 times or more. They recommended the Severn Sisters Of Kintail. Severn munros in one day!

I was delayed by that mist and the false turn, but a red car was finally visible next to mine in the dam car park. I thought a flash of headlights was visible, so I waved okay. That was kind of them to wait and check.

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Falls of Glomach,

13°C, SW breeze that brought heavy rain later.
Rainy day walk; it’s quite logical to use a wet day to walk low level to waterfall. This one is supposed to be the highest single drop in Scotland.The walk starts after a 6 mile drive up a single-track road. There follows a Glen walk and the waterfall is up a side Glen. The side Glen is steep but to only 150m. This is also the stage where the rain started.
Beforehand, in the valley is a track that is easy walking for about 7km along a Glen that is very attractive. You can admire the clarity of the glacial features, drumlins, nunateks and various moraines.
Then you can look forward to see the most enormous Highland cattle. The adults must weigh over 2 tons, and they had calfs. Admittedly, the calfs were probably 1 year olds. But still, their curiosity was strong, as was my desire to take a wide detour.
Eventually, I got to the falls after climbing over gneiss boulders. Their grip was plenty despite the water everywhere. More frogs too.
On the return, the herd of cattle had become two, but the divisions were easier to find this time.

I have found another mountain to add to the ‘must climb’ list: Benn Bhan, in the Applecross region. It has 4 fantastic looking spurs that loom out of hill fog in an intoxicating way.

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Part 2: Maol Chean-dearg, 933m.

Rain cleared before dawn. 12°C, building breeze.
Woke before 6 and fixed breakfast. Re-packing the bag took a while but I made time for sweeping out the bothy.
My sleep in the night was good but had a strange interruption. From deep sleep, my mind was penetrative by a sound. At first like an approaching steam train, all thundering and chuffing. The sound got closer to the bothy, the thundering deeper and deeper. And an unearthly grunting and chuffing. It was a herd of deer, maybe in stampede. I have been spooked by deer before, at Glenfinnan for example. Still wary of them.
Anyway, back to my ‘adventure’. I left the bothy at 8am and got to the bealach by 10. The climb only took an hour and a half. It starts over brittle, sharp quartzite. More quartzite, loose and steep, then to more friendly sandstone. Quartzite seems less likely to be consolidated by organic matter, and much looser on steep slopes. The summit is found after several ledges of pillow like sandstone. It has the best cairn I have seen. It has six shelters arranged like an asterisk.
The summit was a bit cold to spend long there. The strong wind saw to that.I met and chatted to few people on the way down, but I was definitely the first up.
Something caught my eye on the way back to collect my stash. The Mountain opposite. It lifted from the same bealach as MCd. But the curves, textures and shapes in the quartzite captivated me. The way the inclined layers blended into the bealach reminded me of those fascinating forms you can find in comes. I will have to spend a day with this mountain.
On the walk out, I took my time. The loch beneath the day’s summit has beaches. I couldn’t resist washing my feet in it’s pure, clear waters. Lovely.
The day drew to a close with improving skies and stronger wind.

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Part 1: Sgurr Rhuadh, 966m.

Bright sun and stiff breeze to start. Ended with rain set-in and building wind. 12C,
I lie alone in a bothy with roaring wind outside. Here’s what I have done:
Sgurr Rhuadh, a fairly remote munro that requires a long walk-in. Thus, I hatched a plan, make the summit from Torridon, and stop in a bothy. Then wake up and climb Maol Cheam Dearg, from there, return to Torridon.
I committed to the approach from the north because I stashed my heavier kit under an overhanging sandstone boulder. So my route had to be an out and back. So far so good.
Despite there being no indication on the map, or the guidebook, there actually is a decent path up the ridge to the summit. I found it on the way down.
Today’s walk was characterised by sharp, brittle clinking quartzite boulders. They are more slippery than they look. It’s not the quartzite at fault, it’s lichen. Oh, and frogs everywhere. Big ones, tiny ones but all with similar colouring. The colour scheme is the same idea, at some are more black than others. All keen to jump out of my way, all elbows and knees.
Eventually, I made it to the bothy. On the way stood an isolated sentinel stone, bright white with lichen. In that light, the owns in the structure could have been crafted by a 1960’s sculptor. It is far older than that. The bothy is an old crofters house, now owned by the estate and used as a mountain hut by the Mountain Bothy Association.
Nevertheless, it looks like a good place to make up ghost stories. A few trees have been planted nearby, and as I plodded to towards, I was convinced that they were people by the house.
The place was empty. In good condition outside, even the windows were tidy. Inside was all wood clad, in dark brown. These places are very sparse, Capel  any furniture, not even bunks. You have to choose room and sleep on the floor. I picked upstairs facing the river.
Now to settle in and find how well I have packed.

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Torridon rest day.

16°C, fine summer’s day.
Some breeze has kept the midges under control. However, though I feel the enthusiasm, as soon as any walking turns uphill, then my legs complain. Therefore, cafes, drives to interesting places and general slowness is on order.
Thinking, talking on the summits yesterday turned to those without a head for heights. I announce that I have a theory: it runs in parallel to motion sickness. That’s when  our inner-ear balance organs disagree with what you see. The comparison is valid in my little theory, one I dreamt up while traveling along a ridge.
Normally, you walk along and the ground appears to move beneath your feet. Also normally, the apparent movement in your peripheral vision matches that under don’t. Walking on a ridge breaks that rule. The ground under your feet, moves at about 4mph. That in the periphery, does not, it’s 2,000 metres away so looks still. A disconnect that your mind may not handle.
That’s my theory. Does it sound okay?

Atmospherics: it’s a shame, in a way, to rest on a day like this; the weather is ideal for a few summits. The sun is now down, but it has triggered some interesting effects. There are clouds forming abut 300 up, they don’t extend much higher. So the peaks here all show their summits.
The plan; to hike tomorrow and do an overnight stop in a bothy. I want to make one munro summit tomorrow and another on Thursday before returning here. They are both quite remote and no phone signal apart from on the tops. I left a route card with the mountain rescue here at the SYHA in Torridon.
I still prefer to travel solo. What rubbish do people talk about when they’re in a party? Wouldn’t it get irritating? How about not saying anything?

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Beinn Alligin.

13°C, milky overcast and zero wind.
2 munros, Sgurr Mor, 986m, and  Tom na Gruagaich, 922.m. The Horns (Na Rathaoan) is a Corbet.
Start 9.00 and back at camp at 19.15 including walk in and out time.
The horns of Beinn Alligin: started off at 9am, and walked to the start-point. It was a mistake, because the hour that took, was time off the summits.
The ‘Horns’ are pinnacles which are fun scrambling places. I  went up the first one and part of the last one.
After these, the two Munros loom ahead. The  are not that hard, it’s just something about their ‘mood’ that is intimidating. The whole mountain group is old red sandstone, a good snag for walking. The grip is always good and there are springs not far below. That was the only problem I had, the last summit was a much because of thirst. Oh, and the midges.
The still air was perfect for midges, even at 1000m altitude. I had to eat my food pacing about to stop them building up.

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Maol Chean-Dearg orbital.

Improving weather, 14°C, light SW and sky breaking up during.
Small summit, Bealach an Rhuadh-Stac, 603m. 7.5 hours walk, probably 12miles.
It was only supposed to be a rest day jaunt, maybe 4 hours or so. It turned into seven. In short, I did an anticlockwise circuit around Maol Chean-Dearg.
This really is the heart of the Torridonian hinterland. More old red sandstone layer cakes and iced with quartzite caps. The high point, Bealach an Rhuadh-Stac was all crunchy white quartzite, hard and sharp.

The tracks were bereft of human footprints, but mountain-bike tracks were continuous. Incidentally, there were horse’s hoof marks and a dog’s paw prints too.
There is a bothy further south, which I may use if my plan works. I’d like to do a multi-day trek to take in a few munros and wild camp too. This looks like the place to do it!
The forecast looks great for tomorrow, but duller on Tuesday. So to make the best use of tomorrow, I hope to go up Ben Alligin to the west of here. That will be a full day with at least two munros and views of the Atlantic.
Today confirmed that my fitness is plenty, as long as I have enough food.

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