Long hot days

Heading for Creag Mhor...just 12 hours to go!

Heading for Creag Mhor…just 12 hours to go!

When you get a week of really fine weather, you just have to try and make the most of it.  For some that might be having a barbecue or going to the beach but for Nita and me, it’s all about wandering over the hills and using the long day light hours to the full.   We would normally only get out once in a week but with the forecast so good we decided to try and get two walks in instead.  Taking both of our work commitments into consideration we basically had two possible days to get out, Sunday and Tuesday.  Sunday and Wednesday would have been perfect, giving us two days to recover in between walks rather than just one ….but what the heck, you can’t have everything!  So then, Sunday to Glen Lochy and Creag Mhor, Tuesday up to Glen Shee and the possibility of walking a lengthy route over four tops.

An early start required for both days and Sunday dawned …..thick grey heavy cloud and drizzle ….everything in the garden was dripping wet when I let the cat out after his breakfast at just after four o’clock!  Where was the promised heat wave?!  In all honesty though, the MWIS forecasts had predicted these conditions for the west coast and Central Belt but it was still a shock …never good setting out in the rain in the hope of better things to come.

Cotton grass, Glen Lochy

Cotton grass, Glen Lochy

But of course, they did.  By the time we were driving up the side of Loch Lomond the cloud was breaking and had all but gone as we arrived in Glen Lochy …it was after all, going to be a baking hot day.  Dripping, not with drizzle but factor 50+, we headed off on the long walk up the glen to the base of Creag Mhor.

Into Glen Lochy from the top of the steep!

Into Glen Lochy from the top of the steep!

The previous time we’d been to Glen Lochy we’d been very lax with our navigation ….and in fine weather had ended up trying to get up the hill by the wrong ridge ….and were turned back by some very impressive crags.  This time we were going to keep our eyes on the map and make sure we were on the correct ridge. Even so, we had an interesting time getting through the crags on this ridge.  We eventually got to the end of the ridge via a rather steep and unpleasant gully, me swearing rather too much as I groped around in my fuzzy world for good hand and foot holds amongst the very steep turf, heather and rocks.  Nita was fine of course, clambering up with my walking poles in one hand and offering cheery ‘its fine, you’re fine’ comments to give me confidence …and try to assure me that she wasn’t really trying to kill me!  We hauled up onto the broad grassy ridge to see a fine view of Creag Mhor ahead and much to my relief, a very easy descent route for later!  We arrived at the summit of Creag Mhor at about half past three and all the effort was well worth while …big hazy views all around …absolutely stunning.

At last ....almost at the top of Creag Mhor

At last ….almost at the top of Creag Mhor

Having taken six hours to get to the summit, it was going to be a very long day.  After the excitement of the gully earlier in the day, our descent to the track in the glen, was a doddle ….and very beautiful too, but as we’d come down on the west side of the hill, we’d have even further to walk back. With very little breeze now, it was a hot slog back to the car, arriving there just a few minutes over twelve hours after setting out.  At that point we were both asking ourselves whether we’d be up for another long day in the heat on Tuesday.

View of the day!

View of the day!

The answer in short, was ‘yes’, but in even hotter conditions than on Sunday, we quickly down graded our plans and decided instead to do a shorter walk with plenty of stops.  It was a good decision as it was just so hot with just an occasional breeze.  It turned out a perfect walk….the high-light for me being a short detour to see the wonderful Loch Kander, tucked away in a dramatic and impressive corrie at the far side of Carn an Tuirc.  We sat perched on the edge of this steep corrie and just enjoyed the peace and quiet…… perfect, much better than what would have been a forced march if we’d tried to complete our original route.  This time we were back at the car about half past five …and back in Irvine while it was still light …..very civilised indeed.

The perfect lunch spot ..above Loch Kander, the Glen Shee Hills

The perfect lunch spot ..above Loch Kander, the Glen Shee Hills

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