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Saturday, 4 July 2015

TGO Challenge 2015: Part II: Days like this


When it's not always raining there'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining there'll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this 

***

Today, the second day of our Challenge, is one of the most perfect days in twenty years of TGO Challenges. This is described in pictures, a couple of video clips, and a few words chucked in for good measure. You don't need me prattling on about it.

We start the day a mile short of our intended destination as the previous evening we had spotted a horde of the Great Unwashed camping at our intended stopping point. Lord Elpus and I are antisocial bastards and didn't fancy a rare sunshiney evening of R&R spoilt by all the hobbledehoys and ne'er do wells camped further down Glen Affric.

Here, then, is today's route, laid out for you, care of those Most Magnificent Men at RouteBuddy. Don't be frightened, but do hold on to your seats, as there are elevation profiles.involved as well. [You can click on the maps and pictures on all these posts and they will blow up to a larger, more blog-reading friendly size.]



As I'm sure you already know, Lord Elpus and I have lived most of our lives on the edge of Fenland. This is a place where the highest points in the landscapes are the bridges over the dykes, a place where you can walk almost all day below sea level. This day, then, is a big one for us Southern Softies, with two whopping great climbs. 


BROTHERS JOHN AND PETER

PHIL LOOKING BACK. TAKING PICTURES ALLOWS US A WELL-EARNED REST. WE HAD ALREADY WALKED A MILE!


VIEW FROM STRAWBERRY COTTAGE

LOCH AFFRIC FROM THE STALKERS' PATH [c/o PHIL]

GLEN AFFRIC

PHIL'S MAGNIFICENT PICTURE - STRAWBERRY COTTAGE AND ALL THINGS WEST

A SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED PIECE OF ALL THINGS WEST

It is as we are coaxing our heavily burdened carcases halfway up the first brutal climb that we hear the beat of a helicopter coming our way. Surely Phil hasn't called out Mountain Rescue already? He does have form in this respect, having organised a big yellow taxi for Darren in 2007. Do I really look that bad? I think I've done well stifling the sound of my wheezing lungs!

PHIL'S CHOPPER PICTURE - NO, REALLY!


YES! A (BAD) VIDEO OF THE HELICOPTER. IT TRANSPIRED IT WAS CARRYING PAT DOWNIE, A FIRST TIME CHALLENGER, OUT FROM AFFRIC YOUTH HOSTEL WITH A DISLOCATED SHOULDER

PHIL, GOING WELL

PHIL, ALMOST AT THE CREST OF THE FIRST RIDGE

A TRIUMPHANT LORD ELPUS ON THE CREST OF THE 1ST RIDGE 

THE STOPPING IS ALL. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. THE 1st LUNCH [c/o PHIL]

HORRIFICALLY, DROPPING INTO GLEN GARBH, WE WERE CONFRONTED BY THE CORRIMONY WIND FARM
This really is a deeply unpleasant shock. We are in the heart of wild land, just a day's walk from the west coast! Some money-grubbing bastards in the tiny community of Corrimony have taken the developer's bribe, and in doing so have trashed one of the most beautiful places in Britain, if not the world. They disgust me.



Fording the burn we come across this extraordinary folded rock. I could spend quite a while mooching about here; it has a wild, remote feel to the place.

MAGNIFICENT SERPENTINE FOLDING

SO GOOD, YOU GET ANOTHER LOOK AT IT!

TREES FROM A MUCH WARMER PERIOD IN SCOTLAND'S (COMPARATIVELY) RECENT HISTORY 

PHIL'S PICTURE


We'll draw a veil over our struggle up to Bealach an Amais. Suffice it to say it is a running bog at a fortyfive degree angle. Rests are taken. Every thirty steps. Then every twenty steps...



BEN NEVIS GLIMPSED FROM BEALACH AN AMAIS

BEALACH AN AMAIS, AND LUNCH No. 2 [c/o PHIL]

The climb up the western ridge of Aonach Shasuinn is dry and easy going, if a bit grunty-steep, but is it worth it! The views opening up just get better and better!

CLAMBERING UP THE WESTERN RIDGE OF AONACH SHASUINN: BEN NEVIS ON THE RIGHT

MAGNIFICENT SGURR NAN CONBHAIREAN FROM THE WESTERN SHOULDER OF AONACH SHASUINN

LOOKING DOWN GLEN GARBH TO AFFRIC FROM WESTERN SHOULDER OF AONACH SHASUINN [c/o PHIL]

PHIL, WITH AN ELRIC BEHIND

LOOKING SURPRISINGLY CHIPPER NEAR THE WESTERN END OF AONACH SHASUINN [c/o PHIL]

WESTERN TOP, AONACH SHASUINN. GLEN AFFRIC IN DISTANCE [c/o PHIL]

LOCH BEINN A MHEADHOIN, GLEN AFFRIC [c/o PHIL]

PHIL & THE AFFRIC HILLS FROM AONACH SHASUINN

LOOKING WEST FROM AONACH SHASUINN

BEN NEVIS FROM AONACH SHASUINN

DISGUSTINGLY, THE MILLENNIUM WIND FARM, SEEMINGLY WITHIN TOUCHING DISTANCE

HEAVILY CORNICED COIRE, AONACH SHASUINN, WITH AFFRIC HILLS BACKDROP

CLAIMING AONACH SHASUINN [RIDGE OF THE ENGLISHMAN] FOR THE ENGLISH!
And now, for your edification and complete delight I give you a video clip of an unknown Englishman claiming Aonach Shasuinn back for the English!


YOU CAN VIEW THIS ON YOUTUBE AT A RESOLUTION & SIZE OF YOUR HEART'S DESIRE!

To me, the next three images are completely heartbreaking. They demonstrate the SNP Scottish Government's complete disregard for wild land. This government is single-handedly responsible for steam-rollering ugly, useless and incredibly expensive wind power stations in the heart of some of the most achingly beautiful landscapes in Scotland - if not the world. They have destroyed a wonderful environment for the foolishly mistaken belief that by building wind farms they will earn a fortune from the hated English (often described by the trolling internet ScotsNats as "Westminster Tory Scum," by the way) to replace the income from North Sea fossil fuel revenues after winning the Independence Referendum.

Well, they lost the referendum (badly, even after lying about future income from the North Sea by a factor of eight) and have fucked up Scotland's wild land. Well done Alec Salmond. Well done Fergus Ewing. Well done Nicola Sturgeon. May you each rot in hell.

CORRIMONY WIND FARM: TO GAUGE THE SIZE OF THE TURBINES, THE GREEN AREA IN MID-DISTANCE IS A MATURE FOREST. CORRIMONY IS A TINY WIND FARM COMPARED TO THOSE IN THE MONADH LIATH

MILLENNIUM WIND FARM & MONADH LIATH, FROM AONACH SHASUINN

MILLENNIUM WIND FARM & MONADH LIATH FROM AONACH SHASUINN


The walk along Aonach Shasuinn is quite wonderful and we drop down into a snow filled Choire Bhuidhe for a longish plod down to our campsite. This is actually quite hard work, as neither of us is 'hill-fit.' 


DROPPING INTO CHOIRE BHUIDHE

PHIL & CHOIRE BHUIDHE

All in all, a magnificent day. 

However, the SNP Scottish Government should be held to account for the criminal damage they have inflicted, quite needlessly, on this fabulous wild place.



26 comments:

  1. Great pics Al & Phil, you picked a fine track up to the hill, stalkers knew the easier way up.
    stormin'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Sweet Thing!
      There were two reasons we went this way:
      The First Reason (ahem!, Chris!) was Lord Elpus' insane desire to clamber up the stalkers path he had spied on a recce the previous year with Miss Whiplash. (I believe Miss W egged him on, think the grunt "would do him good").
      The Second Reason was that we were going to link this route with a hill alongside Loch Ness that the evil duo had clambered up on the same recce expedition. It was obviously so ghastly they thought I should have a bash at it as well.
      The Third Reason (did I say there were tow reasons?) was that it would lead us up onto the "Ridge of the Englishman" - and let's be honest - which Red Blooded Englishman could pass up an opportunity like that?

      The Fourth Reason: No... Wait...

      Delete
  2. Wonderful photos. It all reminds me of Rum Doodle: "expected to go high...had been high...may go high...had never been high" etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Conrad! A magnificent Tale!
      I've always had Phil down as a bit of Jungle, myself. Whereas I see all the ghastly traits of Binder buried deeply within my psyche...
      Now you're here, and it's cosy, tell me about your girlfriends...

      Delete
  3. There are some very fine photos in that collection Alan. What a cracking hill day you got in. High is a must on fine days. Scotland is best seen from a high hill. Hurry up with the next part.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah - 'High' is indeed a fine state to find oneself in, Dear Thing.
      We did quite a bit of 'High' this year (and last year, and the year before that, come to think of it) even in some dodgy weather.
      I think it's because We're 'Ard (as Croydon would say)
      But Never, Never miss out a good sloppy bog. We spent all day up to our oxters the following day, examining the flora, face down on many an occasion. You need to get to know all of Scotland's Intimate Little Places every now and then, to come away completely satisfied, Sir.

      Delete
  4. My day 3 was planned to be similar but weather and snow kept me low. Perhaps with those views of wind turbines, it was for the best :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must admit to heaving a whopping sigh of relief that we had good weather for this day, Robin. With Phil having carried that flag all the way, there was no way we were not going to get to the summit of England's Ridge!

      In fact, we're thinking of annexing this particular part of Scotland, and governing it properly, as the Scots seem to be fucking up their landscapes. We would be there, ready to repel any nasty Carpet-baggery Wind Farm Spiv Types and give them the taste of Sheffield Steel right up 'em, Sir. They don't like it up 'em!

      But I see that awfully nice Mr Osborne has done that for us Sir, by abolishing Onshore Wind Farm Subsidies! What a sound fellow!

      Delete
  5. Superb :-)
    - except for the visual pollutant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, James.
      We had a jolly fine day.
      We were awfully tired at the end of it - It's not like us to go clambering up bigguns on the second day.

      Delete
  6. Great words and pictures, as always, Alan. I am looking forward to the next episode!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good Lord.
      Another episode?
      But I'm still worn out after this one! - It's a lack of fitness... softy southerners.... fenboys.... rant fatigue,,,
      I'll have a think.
      Thank you Emma.
      x

      Delete
  7. Good stuff! (...mostly)
    Did I ever mention how impatient I can be. Waiting is not a strong point.
    Crack on dear boy, crack on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Righty Ho.
      I've now selected and fiddled enough enough with the pictures for the next post, where you feature, Larger Than Life, Missy!
      I'll have to dream up some words now...
      :-)

      Delete
    2. Right.
      Ummm...take your time then, please!

      Delete
    3. Yes. Part III is now up and you play a starring role!
      :-)

      Delete
  8. Ah yes. Aonach Shasuinn. The phrase "peak too early" was never more apposite. I thought it couldn't get any harder than this ... then came day three.

    Oh, the horror ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Day three?
      It's funny, but my mind has gone completely blank. It's a self preservation mechanism, I think...

      Delete
  9. A nice few days those, and lovely hills.

    BUT.. Hooray, Mr Osborne has stopped subsidies.

    Shame they can't take the ****ing things down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andy.
      I've been doing quite a bit of research on Renewable Obligation Certificates. As far as I can make out, these have varying day-to-day values. Currently they are worth more-or-less the value of the electricity generated by conventional means.

      But with far fewer turbines being built these days (across the world) we may well find wind turbine manufacturers going bust. This will mean that a those manufacturers would no longer make the parts for installed turbines.

      I'm not sure how valuable the ROCs would then be, as turbines have a habit of breaking down and needing new parts on a regular basis. I'm still looking into this, but who in their right minds would want to own and be responsible for servicing wind turbines with no spare parts? The value of the wind farm will plummet. This *could* have a knock on effect on the value of the tradable ROCs. They could become worth sod-all.

      I'm not sure about this and am still digging around on it.

      BUT: If the wind farm is no longer producing electricity the site owners have a legal duty to reinstate the land to how it was before the wind farm was built.

      Delete
    2. Interestingly there are already problems being reported by farmers who are having problems getting their turbines maintained - manufacturers are clearly struggling:
      LINK

      Delete
  10. Cracking photos Alan. Sadly some truly heartbreaking ones as well with wind farm developments. Further East, for me at least, the Fetteresso has been trashed as a finishing route for the Challenge by the massive industrial wind farm erected there in 2013/4

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Alan
      I gave up on the Fetteresso when they were building that wind farm. Phil & I finished at Johnshaven this year - and had to walk past another ugly wind farm on the way there from Fettercairn. It was deeply depressing.

      Delete

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