Why is the G-Force so sad about his penultimate Munro?
On reaching the summit of the G-Force’s penultimate Munro (yes, that’s right, just one left to go now!) I was the more excited of the two of us. Perhaps after walking more than 280 Scottish mountains of at least 3000ft the novelty has worn off. Maybe the G-Force felt he had been there, done that and almost got the t-shirt and maybe now he was a little bored of walking to the top of hills.
And, certainly, on the summit of Meall Buidhe I was grinning much more enthusiastically than Mr Almost Done The Round. After some discussion, however, it was revealed that the G-Force feels a little sad. He’s been working towards his goal for a few years and he’s enjoyed pretty much all of the hiking and exploration of so many areas of Scotland and now he is wondering what he’ll do to replace this hobby.
Munro bagging is a great way to explore Scotland on foot giving you plenty of excuses for visiting different parts of the landscape and discovering new sights and landscapes. Before meeting me the G-Force would head off solo every weekend to walk Munros. “It got me fit and gave me a goal every weekend,” he says. After meeting me he continued his solo walks and walks with friends, but his Munro bagging also gave us lots of joint weekend adventures and opened up to me so much more of Scotland’s terrain.
The G-Force’s Munro bagging has taken me to places I’d never even heard of, seen me complete a couple of navigation courses and even found me walking my first solo Munro last month. I have discovered just how mentally and physically therapeutic mountain walking can be.
So perhaps while I am still to walk my first 100 Munros (and I’m not really even counting! Yet!) I am still discovering the absolute wonder of escaping for days and weekends into Scotland’s great outdoors. On the other hand, the G-Force has grown used to his regular outdoors escapes and I can see why he might feel sad about the prospect of actually reaching his goal.
Fortunately there was more to think about than Penultimate Munro Sadness during the Meall Buidhe ascent. This is a fantastic walk with stunning views, a variety of terrains to cross and enough challenges to really make you feel as though you have worked hard enough in the day to eat a massive dineer and consume a few pints of beer!
There are three Munros in total in Knoydart, a remote and wild estate in the north-west of Scotland. Knoydart can only be reached on fot or by boat. Last year we walked two of the Munros during a hiking-wild camping weekend. This time, instead of walking into the estate, we caught the small ferry boat from Mallaig to Inverie and stayed in a lovely B&B.
Inverie is much famed for being home to mainland Britain’s most remote pub, The Old Forge Inn, where we enjoyed two lovely evenings with food, drinks and lots of chat from other walkers and visitors.
Staying in a super lovely and friendly B&B, Lochside, for two nights gave us plenty of time for walking Meall Bhudie, which we managed in about seven hours, but could easily take up to nine of 10 hours. Our route followed a long and fairly gentle ascent on a well-trodden trail through a stunning glen with views behind us over to Inverie and the glittering sea beyond. This was followed by a tough, steep climb from the bealach up to the ridge on which you first come to a false summit and then the summit proper. I’ve made the walk sound short and easy-peasy and although it wasn’t the hardest I’ve walked it was tougher than we had expected.
Instead of descending the same way we chose to follow the mountain ridge taking in a few more ups and downs before a long and extremely muddy descent back to the original valley track. We saw quite a number of other walkers and one big group including a couple who were walking their last Munro, and a very plucky and cheerful girl of around 10-years-old.
The weather was on and off rain to start with before turning into a gloriously sunny later afternoon and evening. This was despite a forecast for day-long torrential rain. According to the couple, Elaine and Paul, who run the B&B (and have only just moved from Bolton to Knoydart) the weather in this part of Scotland is often the opposite of the forecasts. So Elaine and Paul claimed they enjoyed a lovely summer filled with lots of sunny days, while the rest of us were drowned for months. The “Opposite Weather” claim certainly happened during our weekend on Knoydart and continued the next day when we made the ferry crossing back in t-shirts and under a hot sun.
Er, so back to the descent of the Munro. Although it was muddy and hard work, the views were utterly spirits lifting. This is a truly beautiful part of Scotland and I urge anyone who hasn’t been to make the trip.
The warm sun kept us going, too, on our long, long plod back to Inverie. It always amazes me how much further the walk out to a Munro seems to be compared to the walk in!
As we were walking the ridge and descending the Munro the G-Force pointed out the other Munros we had summitted the previous summer, and a Corbett or two that we had not walked. “When I come back to Knoydart,” he mused. “I will probably walk that Corbett as well as some of these Munros again.”
“You’re keen to walk a Corbett?” I asked.
“Well, yes, I would like to walk some of the Corbetts,” he answered, with a flicker of a grin.
“Like that might be your next challenge? To walk a round of Corbetts?” I asked.
“Hmmm. I might. Not sure yet,” he replied with a big, cheeky grin.
I knew he would never stop walking the Scottish mountains once this first Munro round is finished!