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Scotland: My Ramsay Route - 2009

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Scotland: My Ramsay Route - 2009

Postby edhyatt » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:51 pm

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Date: Late June 2009
Participants: A rather reduced me
Weather: Great

Day One: 9km, 6 miles, 1280m
Day Two: 14km, 9 miles, 1200m
Day Three: 14km, 9 miles, 300m
Day Four: 20km, 13 miles, 1300m
Day Five: 20km, 13 miles, 1650m


A retrospective look at a completely botched attempt to emulate the great Ramsay...which I could not come close to even though using 5 days instead of the 24 hours he took :oops:

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I’m slight. Thin. Hollow. Etched. Ethereal. Dog tired. A little listless.

A good way to be when kicking off a trip – this is a post cancer-treatment backpack from six years ago; my solo welcome back to a world free of chemotherapy drips, canulas, radiotherapy, scans, and the rest. Good now – several years into complete remission.

Time in treatment passes with glacial slowness when harnessed to a drip; diversions are needed from the self-absorbed, the grinding litany of symptoms and woes repeated to whomever will listen. I don’t blame them, but it’s not for me. A laptop, a dongle, and freedom of mind are. And the strange ‘benefaction’ of finding a site called ‘Scottish Hills’ and reading of Ronaldo’s Fisherfield 9...

So to the Ramsay. Or not.

Looked good on paper, screen, in my delusional mind’s eye. Jerry helped a lot with advice as I’d never really hit those hills before. That’s a lie – I had as a climber....but I was a climber with an eye on the line, not so much where I was; time to see what that blinkered fixation had missed.

Day One: 9km, 6 miles, 1280m

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A very late afternoon taxi lands me at Achriabhach car park. Then he’s away.... to discover latterly the leak from my reservoir soaking into his back seat :oops: It’ll be a bit sticky as my diet these days is pretty much liquid – Palatinose and Maltodextrin being the hors d'oeuvres of the day (sorry).

I’m heading for Mullach nan Coirean as the way onto the main ridge. The orienteers have been out to help me – their ribbons leading through verdant (feckin soaking) vegetation until I hit the edge of the forest and break out onto a fence-line and the North-East ridge of the hill.

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I wend my way...

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My memory is poor – and poorer still four years after the event...this is probably looking South-West over Loch Linnhe...perhaps

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Quartzite and sandstone contrasts form the ridgescape...

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A bit of a gasp is required on Stob Ban.

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I’m already looking for a bivvy site as the long train journey has chopped this day about – that said I’m going better than I thought I might; perhaps the fact that I’m 26% lighter than I was three months ago helps :lol:

And there it is – potential camping heaven, tucked under the Southern aspect of Sgurr an luibhair...

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And the day beyond looks very good indeed.

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Time has passed, yet the memory of the quartzite lightly scraping my pack as I squeeze through some kind of ‘channel’ on the descent still endures....soon I’ll be persuading myself I can recall the sound :D

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Marshy morass en route..

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..to a pitch on a bench to the West of Lochan Coire nam Miseach for the night...

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An intrusive ‘reality’ moment of my boxers and socks airing 8O

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Day Two: 14km, 9 miles, 1200m

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An easy lollop along the Mamores ridge to a peaceful campsite by the Abhainn Rath; I’m in no hurry as am booked into the B&B at Corrour Station House tomorrow.

Breakfast (and heaven) can wait. North from the Lochan then hard back South to gain Sgurr an luibhair. Feeling a little queasy from early morning exuberance; a bit of a sit-down and equilibrium resumes – too fast, too soon.

Then a stunningly good swoop along interlocked ridges wending their way steadily East.

On top of this world on this day.

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Now you’ve got to camp on this one day...

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And as that is Leachd na h-Aire I assume I took this from the summit of Na Gruigaichean looking out over the Etive hills and beyond.

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Breakfast has to be done; it’s an unhappy affair.

Onwards to Binnein Mor and some nicely tilted slabs..

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There’s something about this ridgeline escarpment that just does it for me – a great natural barrier against....nothing really, but a great natural barrier nonetheless.

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I’ve been in repose (aka sleeping) on Binnein Mor for quite some time in the hot sun (not a boast many can make I suspect) when rudely interrupted by a swarm of be-Barboured management consultants out on a bonding jaunt. They are loud, ill-mannered and are disturbing my slothful reverie. After treating them to my stone-cold thousand-yard stare and a few taciturn utterances I teeter out along a spur before dropping down to a nameless lochan fronted by Binnein Beag.

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Here I have a ‘Trekpete’ moment :wink:

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Being a tad zapped and never one to actually look at a map I miss the path that circuits Binnein Beag to the North and contour too high. The drop down to a tributary (perhaps too grand a word) of the Abhainn Rath is squelchy and through pretty deeply incised peat hags.

More fatigued than I realise I pitch quickly and eat very slowly. Freeze dried meals come into their own in this scenario – being little more than warm baby food.

Fairly sure that is Ben Nevis in the background...a day or three away for these legs....

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Day Three: 14km, 9 miles, 300m

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Twelve hours of sleep later I contemplate an easy meander to Corrour and a bed for a couple of nights; a rest day was a good idea :D

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A sombre morning awaits...

I’m all monotone(ous) this day..

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The Abhainn Rath is a swirling ribbon of gloppy pitch under leaden skies; its banks cloaked with long grass waiting to deposit their dew.....on me :(

Looks nice – was empty..

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I collect Staoineag too and encounter some French guys as I cross back; breaking into their deliberations about the way ahead – surprising them. Annoyingly they switch to English – in this case not being on a par with my French. A curse on them and their ginormous Deuter packs :lol:

Bobbling around the easy tracks to Corrour is pretty mindless, the Station House appearing ere long.

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Once ensconced I abuse their hospitality with the patented ‘hair dryer’ shoe restorative....

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Dinner is (thank God) venison stew; it does not taste of much as most of that sensation has for me been seared off with radiotherapy – but at least it is swallowable. A breakfast of runny scrambled eggs is arranged. The woman (Kate?) who runs the place is great; I might survive after all :lol:

Rest Day

It’s difficult to rest as I’m so pleased to be out again – so I do a round of this lumpy thing (Leum Uilleim - image from the day after). It is so misty that I actually have to use my map and compass...they were a little dusty. Unencumbered by the backpack and superlight with just the map and compass I feel like I float around the edges.

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Day Four: 20km, 13 miles, 1300m

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Rejuvenation has occurred. I hope. Single hill days have been going well. A three-day test round of the Welsh 3000s with my brother went pretty well too (he’s the porter). But multi-day stamina is being more elusive...as elusive as patience.

Time to stretch the legs a little though.

And time to leave.

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The shores of Loch Trieg are as ever, the track relieved by a rather hot-looking (yeah, yeah) German woman with a mountain bike I think she’d rather was in a ditch. She’d overnighted at Lairig Leacach bothy and was unhappy with the rideability of the route.

It too is into the breach for me; unhappily a breach chock-full of midges :cry: As the gorge opens out the beasts disperse and it is full gurgle ahead...

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I strike up the northern side of the deeply incised – precipitously so at times - Allt a’ Chuil Choirean.

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Paths are chased pretty well all the way up to a large slabby rock platform (NN266728) just shy of Coire Rath which affords...

a) a chance to draw breath before I expire

b) great views over to Sgurr Innse

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Mooch around pretending not to rest while collecting and treating water from an unnamed lochan. I contemplate the Southern spur of Stob Coire Claurigh. This does nothing to inspire confidence.

On the summit a thooosand year old man and his comely (slightly younger) daughter give me all their spare water. ‘You’ll need it if you are going to camp on this ridge’ is his sage advice. I still owe them thanks. How right he was.

And at last, the zebra lines of the Grey Corries :D

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I snap a shot of my benevolent saviours as they drop off the side of the hill...

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Now now now this ridge is what it’s all about....wheeeeee – well if only I had the springy steel legs to romp along its stony excrescences as it deserves; what a rocky delight.

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Reality bites. Fading fast and feeling beyond sick I look down the rocky nose of Stob Coire Easain thinking that enough is definitely enough. First though a crackingly good rough scramble directly down the nose to Bealach Coire Easain directs attention away from frailty.

The tent goes up – with difficulty as it’s rocky as hell at the col.

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Day Five: 20km, 13 miles, 1650m

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Hmmm....

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Hmmmm 2....

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You don’t want to be encountering that with a thinnish snow cover :cry:

I feel bouncy – which is just as well given the day ahead; a camp below the Ben is planned, but not all planned plans go to plan.

Truly bouncy things scamper in Coire Easain.

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Sgurr Choinnich Mor and Beag are stone cold, damp, and intricate. But mere tasters for Stob Coire Bhealaich...now, I’m not too sure I went the ‘right’ way here; cutting up the North side of Coire a’ Bhuic from about NN208705 was certainly...steep and interesting :oops:

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A narrow and exposed ‘prow’ at NN207707 gets me onto the ridge a 100m or so South of spot height 1048m.

Then plain and enjoyable sailing (breezy) over the vast Aonach Beag to a heel jarring descent to the 830m bealach under the East ridge of Carn Mor Dearg; which is followed to the summit by a stonkingly good rocky track.

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Then the CMD arête – which I’d never done all of, just used as access/a way off climbs. What a philistine. Superb. Empty.

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Energy levels high - perhaps fuelled by adrenaline, and doubtless buoyed by the fact that thus far I’d been on my lonesome all day. This was soon to end. The energy grace the scree-fest approach to the Ben, littered as it was with toilet roll and shite, and the solitude by the summit hordes.

No matter, it was great to get there in both ‘colours’.

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All too easy to leave the summit swarms behind....so I thought, but no, my planned bivvy spot looked like Blackpool beach – with almost as much wobbly flesh on display.

Down. Fort William. A B&B.

A late contemplative pint that my adjusted palate discerns as dishwater seems like the ‘right thing to do’ and caps off a fine day; fine trip in fact – it’s good to be back.



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edhyatt
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