Monday, 15 September 2014

My Corbett Journey - some facts and figures...

The Corbetts Journey Some Facts and Figures
136 days, 5 days off
180 hills seeing no one unless they were with me
company on 51 hills
11 days cycling only, 49 days walking only, 7 days sailing and walking, 66 days cycling and walking
1 day walking between hills only
2 days just sailing,
39 days climbing 1 hill a day
54 days climbing 2 hills a day
17 days climbing 3 hills a day
2 days climbing 4 hills a day
3 days climbing 5 hills a day
89 hills climbed in first half, 132 climbed in second
55 hills climbed in 1st third, 76 in 2nd third, 90 in last third
70 hills in very poor or no visibility,
68 nights in tent, 8 in bothies, 18 in friends houses, 2 in strangers houses, 12 on sailing boat, 2 at home, 13 in bunkhouses, 8 b and b's and 5 hotel nights

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Update from my last couple of weeks on them there hills.......

My penultimate day on my corbett challenge.
My last couple of weeks has seen me travelling through Highland Perthshire from Dalwhinnie over the hills around Rannoch Moor, down through Loch Rannoch, Glen Lyon, Loch Lyon, Glen Lochay, Lochearnhead, Glen A????, Glen Vorlich, Glen Dochart, Glen Almond and Glen ...........
I have had a blasting from cold, northerly winds and driving rain, having to escape from Loch ericht the day of Bertha with nothing dry, walking the length of Loch Rannoch looking for somewhere to hide. Meanwhile Rob was trying to bring me a bike and had a 280 mile detour as roads closed around him right, left and centre and he watched a fishing hut float down the Spey, and lots of livestock stuck on little islands.
I have met friends randomly like Laurie on the cycle path south of Dalwhinnie who was just cycling back home from Edinburgh (as one does) and Paul with mad dog Lennie who came to join me and move bikes on the traverse from Loch Rannoch to Glen Lyon. He has no idea just how good the Ghanaian chocolate with caramel and seasalt that he brought me was. My tastebuds are alive and well.
The girls have also been out, with company and support from Clare, Brenda, and Ali on the Dalwhinnie Hills and with Wendy on the hills around Loch Earnhead and a welcome night out at her home in Aberfoyle where a hot shower and a wood burning stove got rid of the chill I had been feeling for a few days.
Peregrine, Kestrel, owls and buzzards are all on the hunt and there have been a few grunts and barks from the deer. Along side the grouse and pheasant, bunnies and hares are a feature of the moorland around here.
As well as the development of hydro schemes and hill paths which have been a constant throughout, there is movement now in the big houses in the glens. Estate life is alive and well,
"the most money the estates have made since the kelp industry"
 was how I heard one businessman put it when I was eavesdropping on a conversation in a bar in Glenfinnan. So the estates get grants to put in hydroschemes then get to sell the power back to the government, am I missing something?
It started with the march of the sheep, then the deer and the forestry, and now it's the march of the Beauly, Denny Line.. At least Applecross are using their local hydro scheme for local people and are planning to come off the grid. More of this please.
Rant over. For now.
There are yes signs and no thanks, saltires and union jacks, people are talking politics and I will be returning to rising passions and heated debate.
Out here the world is purple and I'm loving it.
Only 1 to go ..........................

Friday, 15 August 2014

Folks.....she's got 10 to about giving her fundraising a wee boost in her last week....the just giving link is on on even a few quid will keep her plodding to the finishing line on Ben Y Vrackie next Thurs or Friday.

Monday, 11 August 2014

201 down.....20 to go!!

Big Bertha got me today so I have had to alter my route for the remainder of of the journey and looking at the weather forecast over the next couple of days I may need to duck and dive a wee bit so it is (as always). I am at loch Rannoch tonight where I have a couple more hills to go before crossing to Glen Lyon and then on to Glen Dochart, Lochearnhead, Glen Lednock and Killin before eventually finishing on Ben  Vrackie at Pitlochry on 23rd August.
I hope to see some of you out on the hills and if anybody is handy for logistical support please phone Rob on 07754049809 who will have all the details and know where help is most needed.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Round the Cairngorms.............

Going round the cairngorms has been a time of long road cycles, mountain biking, catching up with friends, big, big distances between each hill, tickless, clegless, hot, hot sun and wet, wet rain.
Rob's heel is at last getting better and he has been out to play at the lecht and on Corriehabbie hill (where he went back onto the hill whilst I was Ben Rinnesing to look for my mobile phone. Needle in a haystack stuff, but he came back with it intact - amazing!). He then joined me for a mountain bike and trekking combo on that miles away from anything hill - Mount Battock. Interesting recent hill path developments taking place here as on many other hills on this journey.
Support has come in all shapes and sizes. Thankyou to Wilderness Scotland for the ice cream and the offers of support on the hill and for Stef for putting me up for the night and cooking me dinner, Oh and updating my facebook page throughout.
I have been joined by Patrick on his local hill Morven then put up by him and his family for the night  in the very bonny Tarland whilst eating them out of house and home and gaining local knowledge of the hills.
John Dunbaven, who climbed all the munros with his German Shepherd a few years back, came up to join me for a few days, move bikes around, climb some hills and eat lots of cake. It was good to share stories with someone who understands all the wee things - the hunger pangs during the night when you wake up and eat everything; being stuck in the tent all night when it's really hot but the infestation of midges means you just cant go outside; not panicking when the weather moves in and you have made a classic navigation mistake like 180 degrees out on the compass; the silly songs that get stuck in your head. Who else remembers this?
 Ma wee schools the best wee school, the best wee school in Glesga,
 The only thing that's wrang wi its the baldy heid heidmaister
  He goes tae the pub on a Saturday night
  He goes tae church on Sunday
  He prays to god to gie him strength to batter us weans on Monday!

I had a big day with friend Steve Willis mountain biking from the punch bowl to Brown Cow Hill and back over Cohnacraig and the twin summits of carn Liath and boy did we underestimate the length of the cycle. Steve has the eyes of a hawk, I saw more wildlife that day than I had all the rest of the journey round the gorms including 3 golden eagle sightings and the fresh tracks of a hare who had been trying to escape. Steve was a guide with Wilderness Scotland the same time as me and was always willing to share his knowledge and his humour.

This had been a big day and it was amazing to finish at the end of the day with some chocolate and whisky sent by Jane from the lake district whom I do not know but who has been following the exploits. It could not have come at a more perfect time.

I have not been meeting many people on the hills but on Ben Tirran i met Ian, the Watch of Barrisdale, after I had walked over the Capel Mounth and all the way down glen Clova to get there and he stated what a short day Ben Tirran was and he was off to do another hill down the valley. the joys of having a car. I comforted myself with the biggest slice of chocolate cake with strawberries and cream in the Glen Clova Hotel after the walk.

A big thankyou to Manny for coming to meet me after a big day walking the 5 corbetts from glen tilt to Glen Feshie. Boy was I ill. I have been lucky throughout this journey but something got to me that evening, having the runs on the hill is not fun - enough said. Manny carried my pack over the last hill of the day while I crawled along behind and he brought me a mountain bike to make the next day easier.
My 2 hills in the Gaick pass were vertical grass slopes, so much so that I did not have to bend down to eat all the blaeberries and crowberries which are abundant at the moment.
A long cycle out to Kingussie ended with a well needed shower, chippy, red wine and bed chez Manny and Brenda. My trip round the cairngorms finished with an ascent of the Fara this morning, I was very surprised to meet someone else on the hill and had to stop for a photo and a wee pic with Alan Chan, it's not often you meet someone on a corbett.
Meanwhile my friend Clare who had came all the way up from Glasgow had to go looking and finding my elusive mobile phone which i had managed to lose yet again on a wee 'comfort break' on my cycle to the hill.
The ling is purple at its best, the deer grass is deer coloured, the asphodel is turning burn orange and there is Devil's Bit everywhere. I'm walking into autumn with 22 hills to go.....

its not too late to share or donate

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Heading east.....

En route east now and so far it's been hot, clegless and purple. Yes the heather has arrived and it is indeed Bonny Scotland. I have come through Loch Lochy, Glen Roy, the Corrieyarrick Pass, Kingussie, Strathdearn and am now in Aviemore.
I have had company on the hill from Manny and Brenda. In 2008, Manny ran all the corbetts in 70 days, ( don't compare, fine race horse and pack mule come to mind!). It has been great to be able to discuss the journey with someone who has been there and to get  a few hints and tips on the route plan.

A couple of days ago when I had come over from Kingussie to Strathdearn a big, big day, Manny and his mate Geoff had cycled in a mountain bike which saved me an extra 12km walking and then Rob arrived with all my camping kit and a picnic. The support is amazing. 
Yesterday I was heading up Meall a Buachille when I came across a motley crew. My team from my work with the Venture Trust were out on the hill. I have wondered from the start if I would come across them somewhere. it was great to see them and catch up on what has been happening. The girls are doing well this year, Holly and Laura have been Hoofing it Home (virgin money giving hoofing it home), a journey they undertook with their horses from Aberfeldy to the Lake district raising money for the Venture Trust, their human charity and World Horse Welfare, their horsey one on the way. A superb journey and one I am looking forward to reading up on.
That's if for now. I am now on my way east and there is a lot of miles in between each of the hills out there. Only 53 to go ..........

Ardgour and Moidart, a turning point

I was on the Ardgour, Moidart peninsula for 8 days in total and it turned out to be pretty tough. One evening cycling from Strontian to Garbh Bheinn in a torrential downpour I lost my map. The next day, I got up early and retraced my steps but could not find it being a Sunday and very misty i thought it may be difficult to get one and so changed my plans to climb 2 hills i did have a map for, Cruach Beinn and Fuar Beinn. On the cycle to start the route my bike chain snapped and I managed to fix it but it snapped again.
Hollie to the rescue - a friend of a friend came out and got my bike while I took the chance of the mist clearing and headed up Garbh Bheinn without a map, the mist cleared as the day went on and I managed to pull something out of the day with the bonus of being invited to stay the night with Hollie, Ishbel and Dugald, dry off for the night and watch the world cup.

The following day Rob and his nephews drove all the way down from Conon Bridge to fix my bike chain while i went off to climb Cruach Bheinn and fuar Bheinn. Torrential rain and strong winds again made the going pretty hard work made even more so when I discovered on top of the first summit I had lost my compass. Not good. I managed to use the wind direction to navigate my way down to the bealach and up to the next summit but do not recommend this as a navigation tool. I was trashed, drookit and feeling pretty drained by the time I came off of here and booked into a b and b to dry out. The next day was a tough round of Beinn na h-uama, Sgurr Dhomhuill, and Carn na Natrach, bonnie but lots of steep ascents and descents and it was a good 10 hours on the hill. A cycle round the peninsula the next day to climb Sgurr Coire A chearcaill, blessedly straightforward once we found the track! I was joined this day by Irene and Janice, 2 women from Perth mountaineering club who had being staying at the b and b. It was a long time since I had company on the hill and the time passed quickly and pleasantly, at least until the girls left and I had to fix yet another puncture in the pissing rain. A frustrating time was spent trying to get the rear wheel back on the bike before setting up camp on the shore of Loch Eil.
There are not too many corbetts where you get the chance to stay on a ridge all day and the round of Sgurr craobh a chaorainn, sgurr guibsachan and bealach an Sgridain  is a cracking high level traverse and a good way to finish the peninsula.
I was happy to cycle away the next morning though, it felt like I had reached a turning point and I was cycling into the sunshine..............................