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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

TGO Challenge 2015, Pt VII: Magnificent Monadh Liath

The Monadh Liath: A first glance at a map of Scotland suggests there's not much here; It's an empty place. There are few Munros, fewer Corbetts, not many soaring crags; Most guidebooks give this place a miss. I have walked the length of Scotland just once, and the breadth of Scotland twenty two times, and I know of very few places more precious to me than these fabulous hills.  

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We rejoin our walk on the afternoon of the fifth day. We're the Tail End Charlies of the Challenge today, and having taken the second boat across Loch Ness we now trundle along minor roads, with hail and showers rattling through on strong westerlies. Occasional sunlight blasts through tears in ragged clouds which for brief moments warms our chilled hands. We climb steadily, up a long Rover Road to a very new Estate shooters cabin, and fall inside to be out of the wind.

PHIL'S PIC OF A RATHER POSH SHOOTING CABIN. CLICK TO ENLARGE


RATHER SPLENDID MONADH LIATH SCENERY. CLICK TO ENLARGE


SMART SHOOTING CABIN ROGUES GALLERY. CLOCKWISE AROUND TABLE, FROM LEFT: PHIL, JAYME, [AND NO. I DON'T KNOW WHY HIS KNICKERS ARE ON DISPLAY] PETER, LINDY, BARRY, BROTHERS PETER & ROGER, AND GORDIE. CLICK FOR THE FULL HORROR.

It's great to be out of the hard, cold wind and soon stoves are hissing, brews brewing and snacks are snacked. Lindy has decided to stay, and there are a few waverers being won over to keep her company by the stove-side. One by one, our company dwindles, disappearing forever once the door closes behind them. 

The last time I was at this place I had a particularly nasty bout of food poisoning that was rife on the Challenge that year and Phil had to almost drag me through the bogs to Glen Mazeran. This year, however I am in rude health and up for it. Barry decides to join us, persuaded I think, that we had been this way before and know a route avoiding the worst of the gloopy bogs. And indeed, we miss the devils, and take a route up the side of a burn to the hilltop.


LOOKING BACK - WE AVOIDED THAT GLOOPY BOG, BY DINT OF GHASTLY PAST EXPERIENCE AND ACE NAVIGATION (AHEM)


At the top the going is wonderful and there is a fabulous view of the Monadh Liath stretching away to forever ahead of us: For me, this next picture encapsulates the Monadh Liath.


CLICK TO ENLARGE: THE WAY AHEAD ~ THE MAGNIFICENT MONADH LIADH

This is the weather; This is backpacking at its best. Ragged wet clouds ripping overhead, the wind rattling your overtrousers, the cold pinching at your fingers. The exhilaration.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: PHIL, ON TOP OF THE WORLD

THIS PICTURE DOESN'T DO JUSTICE TO THE INCREDIBLE WIND & COLD. CLICK TO ENLARGE

EASY GOING ON MONADH LIATH TOPS. CLICK TO ENLARGE

BARRY, HEADING DOWN TO GLEN MAZERAN

EVERY NOW AND THEN NATURE PRODUCES A BIT OF MAGIC. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Nature puts on a light show to complete our joy. It's fabulous walking, down and down, and down, seemingly forever, until we hit an extended estate track which makes for easy, if somewhat more mundane progress.



PHIL'S PICTURE WITH CLUTTER IN THE FOREGROUND


CLICK TO ENLARGE: FABULOUS WALKING WEATHER. NO ONE CLUTTERING UP THE VIEW

Our shadows are lengthening as we find a perfect camp-spot, tucked secretly in the bend of the caochan, beneath a heavy snowbank and wonderful  flaring sunlight. 

CLICK TO ENLARGE: A MAGNIFICENT WILD CAMP HIGH UP IN GLEN MAZERAN. WITH BARRY CENTRE SHOT


This, really, is as good as it gets. Seemingly miles from anywhere, high up in the hills, sunshine blasting between torn black clouds, the wind whistling overhead as flasks are passed between us, warming our lungs.

Try the Monadh Liath. There's nothing there, but happiness. 

15 comments:

  1. Brilliant backpacking country. Like Dartmoor on steroids! Love it.

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    1. Indeed, Sir. But with hidden bothies, hills that are like Atlantic breakers rollings away into the distance...
      Oh. Hang on.

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  2. Alan, your words and pictures have captured the very essence of the wonderful MonahLiath perfectly. 'Your' favourite picture is superb. An equal, in my opinion, is that of Barry heading down Glen Mazeran.
    Very well done :-)

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  3. Wonderful backpacking country and weather! :-). I shall miss the Monadh Liath next year as I have a southerly route planned from Oban. I'll have to include them again in 2018!

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    1. A southerly route? Will you be able to make the Cocktail Party?
      :-)

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    2. I think so :-). I'm looking at approaching it via Pitlochry over Ben Vrackie and Ben Vurich. Are you planning on being there?

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    3. Should I clamber aboard from the Standby List I am hoping to be there, but it might be a struggle as Phil's thinking of a northerly start point, but still do-able.
      :-)
      I need now to work on my cocktails.

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    4. Does whisky and water from the nearest burn count as a cocktail? ;)

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  4. I have “waked" the length of Scotland just once. That’s a new one on me, is it southern slang for walking with your eyes wide open?

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    1. A good spot, Al - one that Spell-checker would not have noticed. Mind you, it could have been far worse...
      Corrected now, thank you.
      :-)

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    2. I thought it best not to go there.

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  5. Brilliant post Alan and I note that your 22nd crossing is not to be your last after all:-) Good.

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    1. Hi Gibson, and thanks.
      :-)
      Those twenty two include twenty 'official' TGO full crossings, one full crossing in the Foot & Mouth Year that doesn't count in TGO reckonings, and one trip from Montrose to Strathcarron on my Lejog.
      I had decided that this year was going to be my last because of the rapidly increasing pace of wind farm proliferation, however, now we have a Conservative government that subsidies have been slashed - no more ROCs or LECs, effectively cutting wind farms' income by over a half. This effectively means that no more wind farms will be built than have already been built or approved prior to the cut-off date back in June.
      Now we need to start fighting the massive proliferation of shooting tracks that are spreading like wildfire.
      :-)

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  6. I quite like the Monadhliath. Had a fab stroll across last year with Laura, up the River E (track is now knackered, sadly) to Dalbeg, then along the Elrick Burn, over the watershed and round the side of The Unpronouncable Corbett to Kingussie. It was fab fun. This I nipped over into Glen Mazeran in wind, rain and sleet with Emma, Norma and John, then took a more northerly route to pick GW's road. Another fab day.
    Yeah, nice walking :-)

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