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It doesn’t matter where I walk!

Written by Fiona March 11 2012

Walking the Munro Beinn Chabhair (944m) yesterday, while chatting to the G-Force, Green Jude, Big Stevie, Oil Finder Scott and Oskar the Dog, the usual topic of “how many Munros have you climbed” came up. This conversation is never far away when walking in Scotland because so many people are aiming to bag all the Munros (Scottish mountains with a summit of more than 3000ft, 914m).

The G-Force and Big Stevie on Beinn Chabhair

The G-Force and Big Stevie on Beinn Chabhair

The G-Force had the right to his smug silence. He compleated (the technical term for finishing all the Munros)  his first round of all 282 (or 283) Munros last year. He smiled a big smile when I revealed this to the others! Big Stevie is at the 90 Munro mark, while Oil Finder Scott is at 30 Munros.

My Munros tally is somewhere above 70 but most likely not quite 100. To be honest, I’ve no real idea! The G-Force finds this hilarious. While he religiously ticked off his Munros as he walked them over the period of a few years, I simply followed him to wherever his next Munro was. When I had time out from being a mother I was happy to climb a Munro, but it didn’t bother me where it was. I just love the challenge of walking.

Now that the G-Force has finished his first round (he says he’s not pursuing a second round but I bet he is!), he is assisting me to tick off Munros that I haven’t yet walked. I have no strong intention of ever walking all of them but if we’re planning a hill walk it’s always good to go somewhere new. But I don’t mark down what I have walked and without the G-Force to tell me, I wouldn’t have the ability to be sure which mountains I had walked. I keep thinking it would be a good idea to sit down and make a list but somehow it’s not a priority.

For the meantime I’m happy to walk new Munros and visit new places – and with around 200 Munros still to go (or thereabouts) I’m not going to run out of new mountain adventures any time soon!

To be honest, it’s all about the fun and enjoyment of being out in Scotland’s fantastic landscape and going off to new places. Walking all the Munros so far has taken me to locations I would never have thought about going to and I have witnessed a stunning range of scenery (and weather conditions!).

Walk to the top of Beinn Chabhair

I admit I laughed at Big Stevie's inflatable lunch stop cushion!

I admit I laughed at Big Stevie's inflatable lunch stop cushion!

Beinn Chabhair is located just north of Loch Lomond and begins at Inverarnan. We parked in the Driver’s Inn car park but we could have left our cars at the nearby campsite car park. This Munro didn’t look to difficult on the map. In fact, we were all looking forward to a leisurely-ish hike. The weather wasn’t too promising but it didn’t seem too evil for this time of year and with a steep initial ascent we all felt as though we were making good progress. But this Munro is very deceptive!

After the initial steep and rocky climb, the landscape flattens out and becomes a boggy ramble. Walking through and around sodden, peaty ground slowed our progress and frequent checks of the map (mainly to convince Big Stevie who hadn’t brought his glasses with him that we were on the right route!) slowed our speed.

Oscar the Dog was having a ball though. He continually run to the person at the front of the walking snake, then looked back for his master Big Steive, then rann back to BS, then ran to the person at the front again, then ran ahead and on and on. He’s a Staffie dog and very strong but it was funny to watch how many miles he was running!

An hour or so more and the walk headed steeply upwards again. The track offered all sorts of alternatives and with the cloud now descending we stopped regularly to ensure we were all together and walking in the right direction. It would have been great to have had a few amazing views to take in but the alternative of chatting to my fellow walkers and finding out about their lives and interests was actually just as rewarding. Some might call me nosey but really I am just interested and curious about other people (that’s the journo in me!).

The long Munro walk

Be warned, though, as this walk just never seems to reach a conclusion. Up and down and round and round we walked, heading over rocky outcrops and along short ridges and up and down again and around. By this point and height, the wind was also picking up and as usual my weedy frame was being buffeted about like an empty sack of potatoes. The G-Force kindly held on to my rucksack to keep my feet on the ground but walking in tandem made progress hard going.

And when we finally reached what seemed to be the top, none of us were convinced! Without being able to see through the clouds and mist it was difficult to judge if we were at the highest point. Thank goodness then for GPS. A quick glimpse at the G-Force’s iPhone confirmed our position at the summit of the Munro.

Is this a sarcastic smile as the G-Force hands me his extra jacket so that I can stay warm?

Is this a sarcastic smile as the G-Force hands me his extra jacket so that I can stay warm?

There was no desire to hang around in the cold and wind and so we turned around to follow the same track back down. The wind was even fiercer by that time and it took a lot of effort for me to stay upright and walking forwards. The descent seemed quite quick though and after a lunch stop behind a huge rocky outcrop we made quick way further downwards. (Thanks Big Stevie for carrying all those delicious Empire Biscuits for us! He was also smart enough to be carrying an inflatable seat so he had a warm bum while sitting on the ground!)

Once out of the windiest section of the descent, our group split off into twos and threes again and the chat started up once more. Walking is such a great occasion for long conversations. And while I had always assumed that it was girls who do the best, most varied and in-depth chat, yesterday I realised that some guys are just as great at this lovely past-time. The conversations were as varied as “Oh, I would have loved to have learnt to play the piano as a child” to “life with a Norwegian partner”, to “children and teenage angst” to “love and loss” to “travel” etc..

The clouds were lifting by the time we returned to the lower flanks of the Munro walk and as we headed back towards the Drover’s Inn I think there was a glimmer of sunshine. It didn’t really matter though because we all felt delighted by our achievement, having walked another Munro and enjoyed the company and the challenge.

The Drover’s Inn was too appealing to resist and we spent a lovely extra hour having a drink, eating and chatting some more. Guys can make great Munro walking companions!

My only regret was that we were heading home that evening and not staying in  a lovely Scottish pub and then walking again the next day.

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