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]|
|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|
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.