Monday, 31 January 2011


Munro Bagging TGO 2010

I have been told that some of the TGO Route Vetters occasionally swing by this blog and so I shall be all sweetness and light in my appreciation of their sterling efforts.

Theirs is a thankless task of trying to decipher the illegible scrawlings and horrendous mis-spellings of unpronounceable Gaelic hills and place names all written down by the illiterates of the walking world. The only reason the Challengers go hill-walking is to avoid holidays that include museums (that would only reinforce their cultural deficiencies amongst polite society) and fancy French restaurants (that would finally prove that they were utterly hopeless at mastering a foreign language, let alone their mother tongue.)

I of course include myself in this band of brothers. It’s the glue that holds the Challenge together, coupled with the social whirl of the inevitable soirees along the way. Lying in your Wendy-house, staring into the misty bog whilst reading the contents of your packet of freeze-dried food is infinitely preferable to gawping at a Mondrian and wondering what Cervelle d’Agneau could possibly be.

It was with deep shock that I received an email from Uncle Roger, the Lord High Protector of the Challenge, earlier in the week, letting me know that my Vetter, the aptly named Mr Grumpy – the Brutal Roundhead Captain of the Challenge - “had been so complimentary” about my route! I had to re-read the email several times to check if I had read that correctly: Sarcasm isn’t one of Uncle Roger’s traits.

Not only that but upon reading Mr Grumpy’s notes on my route I was surprised and pleased to learn that he was concerned that I might not be well rested enough with just the two days off in Braemar. He suggested that should I have an upstairs room I should make every effort to hold myself back in order to conserve my energy for the last gasp effort to haul my sorry carcase up to my resting place.

Of course there was the usual helpful guff about torrents and river crossings, missing bridges, terrifying snow and ice fields that will require a team of Sherpas to carry me up or down: In fact all the usual stuff that you think “I must write that down on my maps” and then promptly forget to do so until you remember it when facing a horrendous river crossing with imminent fear of death and crushed skulls as you are flipped over the teetering waterfalls a few months later in May when all hell is going on in the icy wind with hail like grape-shot peeling your face away from its fine high aristocratic cheek-bones.

And not content with supplying these pearls of wisdom he goes on to tell me that someone has stolen one of my Munros! Apparently some thieving bastards have made off with Car Ban Mor in the night so it is no longer a noble Munro and has been demoted to a slightly more prosaic “top”.

But Good Ol’ Mr Grumpy is nothing if not helpful and has very kindly suggested I bag Sgur Gaoith in it’s stead.

All heart, are our Vetters.


  1. Ah, Sgor Gaoith, was my first I believe!
    Hope you have a day like we did last May, the views go on forever!

  2. Those SMC chaps should leave them lists alone! What hope is there for us ever ageing peakbaggers. Good luck with Sgor Gaoith and the rest of your challange route.

  3. I was a bit taken aback by the loss of Carn Ban Mor - then I looked it up and... you must have a very old list of Munro's... phew.

  4. Nice to read all is well with you and Grumps. As for me I have nearly sussed my route. Be off to Roger this week it will. Lots up bits and rivers to cross. I doubt my vetting will go so well.

  5. Sgor Gaoith - a great alternative. We did it on a fabulous May day a couple of years ago. Great view down to Loch Einich !

  6. Louise: Sgor Gaoith seems to be remembered as well as your first lover...

    Al: You are right, of course. my book of Munros was good enough when I was a lad of seventeen, so why should I change it?

    Pieman: My maps are almost as old as my Munro book and I marked all the Munros, Tops and Corbs on them years ago and see no reason to change them. Nature doesn't go sodding around with mountains too much, does she?

    Martin: A tip: Always be nice to your Vetter. They buy you drinks at Montrose... (But you have to ask)

    Janet: Hi - A few years back Lord Elpus and I clambered up to the lip of Coire Dhondail before being defeated by a particularly nasty sludgy on top, icy underneath, snow bank with a drop down to a dead body in a bivybag. The views down to the loch were more sobering under those conditions. Let's hope for some sunshine this time!

  7. You really should keep up to date Alan.

    It is a nice view from Sgor Gaoith - first hill I visited wearing my new varifocals and the first time I had worn glasses all day. The view sort of came...and did my balance.

    Look forward to seeing the route - as I recall from previous years attempting to cross Scotland via every bog on the way.

  8. Cervelle d'agneau, isn't that lambs' brains? I don't know what they call it in God's Own Country, but it'll be as unpronounceable as many of the hills you'll be encountering on your route. Anyway, I'm sure several sachets of freeze-dried cervelle d'agneau will make for excellent Challenge fuel.

    What's with all the Cromwellian references, Alan?

  9. Hi Ken

    There's still quite a bit of bog on this year's route but there are also a few more toppy bits than normal - I have been promised good weather, you see, and thought I would see what Scotland's like from above...

    I'll put some maps of my route up on the blog once all the routes are in to be vetted at the end of the month.

    Hi Pete: Your culinary French is indeed impressive. I wish mine had been all those years ago in Vichy when my wife ordered that particular dish for the children, aged ten, eight and four years old in a smart restaurant for lunch...

    We only told them years later...

    That was the same holiday when I thought I was to be served a beautiful poached fresh water fish and a white tripe sausage turned up the size of my arm...


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