Monday, 8 November 2010

No Hiding Place.

Lonely Bealach

Well then. “Well then, what?” I hear you ask.


You see, once you have applied for the Challenge you do actually stand a fair old chance of being accepted to join Uncle Roger’s Ranks. Once accepted, your name is published on the List of Participants. There is no hiding place now. Everybody now knows about it. You have set out your stall, Very Publically. All of a sudden all that theoretical routelet scribbling has a real purpose. So now, you have to try to create a golden thread across Scotland that will hold your interest every step of the way. You want your Challenge to be utterly memorable.

Yes. The Fat Envelope arrived in the midday post and so:    I    Am    In   !!!!

So, it’s just not good enough to bimble eastwards along a nice little yellow road anymore.

Some choose the great hills and tops of the Highlands. Some pick out a vast plateau; others the wide open skies of the massive shaking bog. For some, greed dictates that every step will be on airy ridges or bounding downhill along mossy trods with the sunshine on their shoulders, distant vistas pulling them onwards.

However, my ‘thing’ is the lonely little bealachs in the middle of… well, you are not quite sure as the map doesn’t have much of a description of anything hereabouts. These are the places to visit. These are the places to discover. These are the old ways though the hills, when the weather was kinder, when the glens had families living and working the grazing, that now is the home of the wild deer.

I try to pick out the probable line through the hills, the break of slope, the large boulder – all identifiers in the mist and cloud. And sure enough, very often I do find the old path through the hills. A path that is no longer on any of the maps. A path long forgotten but now rediscovered for a hundred yards or so.

This is my sort of walk. So, it’s back to the maps.


  1. Google Earth Alan. Shows so much detail. It is a must in planning. By the way congratulations on getting on again. This time no reserve list.

  2. Yes, I can just hear all those lonely little bealachs shouting out, "Pick me, pick me uncle Alan" :)

    Out with the maps. How exciting!

    (and the word is bheado)

  3. Tony: You are not taking this seriously are you, young man? It's not big and it's not clever.
    Now - Stand at the back of the class and mend all the broken bits of chalk in this box.

  4. Well done Alan. See you on a lonely little bealach perhaps.
    Word = 'mander', as in 'Alan + P mandered up to join the lekking black grouse on the bhealach in the light of the full moon.'...
    ok that's enough..

  5. Nice one Alan. I am currently drooling over the Monadhliath and the Balmacaan forest. No excuse not to visit them now. I will probably change my mind next week when I discover another gem on the map.

    Its just dawned on me that I have to walk across Scotland now..........

  6. Glad to see that you are 'in'. Well done.
    Look forward to reading about your preparations.

  7. I kept my fingers crossed for you, see what happened! :)

    Happy TGOC preparations, looking forward to seeing more maps and plans!

  8. Congrats Alan, I hope I get THE envelope this time next year!

  9. You want your Challenge to be utterly memorable.

    So why is that large chunks of our challenges remain a complete blank?

  10. Martin: If you see me on a lonely little bealach it will be from way up on top of one of your hills. I'll take the Semaphore Flags.

    James: "Its just dawned on me that I have to walk across Scotland now.........." Yes - that's the size of it... :)

    Trevor: That does assume I am organised - I started the planning in an enthusiastic rush then life got in the way...

    Maria: There will be more maps and plans. Maybe a new start point and finish point at this rate too...

    Ken: You missed a trick there - Had you applied this year and not got in you would have been pretty certain of getting in next year...

    Lord Elpus: :"So why is that large chunks of our challenges remain a complete blank?"
    Now there's a thing. I put it down to that electrolyte drink we take in the evenings. The one with the peaty taste. Red Bull does the same you know. And falling over and banging your head. That might be it. Falling over and banging your head after the electrolyte infusions. Yes.

  11. Martin: From the vantage point of my pulpit I scan the assembled congregation. It's not a pretty sight: The N'ere do Wells, The Retired, The Illiterati, The Lazy, Wimmin! (who let them in???)... the list goes on and on. Most cause no trouble, fast asleep as they are at the back of the room, but every now and then there is the occasional snuffle, snort and retort as I touch a nerve.

    A Hundred eh? But we only ever hear from a handful. A right handful they are too...

  12. Don't forget us foreigners !

    Word = trase (which we don't leave)

  13. Theo! Good Lord! Furriners!. Quick - Fetchez les Border Guards! Vites! Vites!

  14. Martin: Sorry about the late reply - just realised I had your comment "awaiting moderation" - must have slipped through the net!

    If there is a really tricky descent off a hill (rocky slopes / cliffs etc.) I will sometimes use Google Earth for safety's sake. But generally I like to keep the discovery of the place for the day when I am there.

    I feel you can sometimes have Too much information!

  15. Just seen your "routelet via beinn Dearg - should give some real bog hopping. Did Beinn Bhreac via Bheinn Mheadhoin in Sept.: have a look at the SMC Corbett guide. Some good piches along upper reaches of the Tarf if you can't find your bealach

  16. Hi Jack
    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner - Yes - Bogs... Love 'Em!


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