|The Firth of Clyde|
|Things of great beauty can still be injurious to your health|
Sunday was the wedding day, and it was everything a Glasgow wedding should be; kilts and a piper, plenty of Stellas at the reception and a wedding band that did ceilidh numbers and Auld Lang Syne next to the Glee theme and Deacon Blue's Dignity. By the end, men in kilts were doing one armed push-ups on the dance floor. I don't know why but it all made sense as these things do at the time. It was cracking wedding for a cracking couple. Have fun together guys.
|Matt, former MRT member, is disapproving of Ed's alternative approach to hill walking gear|
|Arrochar, now minus the worst pub in the world|
Blustery showers and utter darkness meet me on getting out of the car. My tiny headtorch doesn't light much beyond the sign at the trail head saying something about fatalities having occurred in the canyon ahead, but I shoulder my pack and head up into the dark and dank forest. I've only been on this path once before, as I remember it, going the other way with skis strapped to my pack after Matt and I had done a telemark traverse of the Aonachs then skied down into Glen Nevis in stormy weather. It's warmer this evening but otherwise the weather isn't much better. After a km or two the path comes out of trees. Pitch black wet forests provide plenty of fodder for the irrational mind to play on, but coming out of the shelter of the trees it is the rational mind that starts to worry as driving rain soaks you. I needed to find somewhere to camp pretty sharpish but with the wind barrelling down the glen and not being able to see more than a few metres with my little torch, this isn't the easiest of operations.
Eventually some flatish non-soaked ground with a small rock buttress giving some protection appears, beyond that I'll worry about it in the morning. I get my little tent up in record time, pull its scant guylines as tight as I can, double peg the corners and then dive in, zipping myself away from maelstrom outside. I don't get the best nights sleep, wind and rain wakes me once and I remember the story of an old UKC mate with the same tent as mine. He said he had to break camp in the middle of night once when the weather threatened to destroy the tent. Mine was working impeccably, but still every time it flexed in a gust, Douglas' story came back to me.
The next time I woke up it I was sure the roar of the river nearby was louder. A relatively scary experience in the Indian Himalayas taught me long ago how fast rivers can rise, it didn't make any sense as it hadn't been raining that much in days before, but the noise was definitely there. I got out of my bag pulled on my headtorch and went out to look. The wind was blasting around, but the river looked relatively placid and low, so were was the roaring sound of water coming from? I went back to bed and tried not to think about it. In the morning, on unzipping my tent to some sunshine, I was greeted by the majestic sight of Steall Waterfall cascading down the hill side just a few hundred metres away across the river. I had been completely oblivious to both that and the nearby cable bridge that I simply hadn't seen in the dark of night.
I quickly packed up and jogged back down to the car to dump my tent and sleeping bag, wolfed down an excuse for breakfast, then headed back up through the gorge, across the cable bridge to start the "Ring of Steall", a classic hill walk around a series of Munros that ring that side of the head of Glen Nevis. Getting to the start of the ascent included a boots-off fording of one burn (haven't done that in a long time) and then a few hundred metres of boot sucking bog before the ground dries out as you start to climb.
|Raw Egg Buttress on Aonach Beag|
Plans rarely survive first contact with weather in the Scottish mountains. Needing to play on their terms is what perhaps make them so rewarding. My feet didn't dry out on the walk down, nor whilst having a coffee and cake in Morrison's cafe, nor whilst driving back down to Glasgow.
|Sunlight breaks through over Blackmount|