But we only walked six Munros
Six Munros (Scottish mountains with a summit of at least 3,000ft) would normally be more than enough for one day’s walking. In fact, most people would tackle only one, or perhaps two or three, of the Munros in the Ben Lawers area in the southern Highlands.
But on Saturday, our intention was to walk seven Munros including:
Meall Greigh (1001m)
Meall Garbh (1118m)
An Stuc (1118m)
Ben Lawers (1214m)
Beinn Ghlas (1103m)
Meall Corranaich (1069m)
Meall Nan Tarmachan, (1043m)
The total ascent is close to 8,100ft because you need to go up and down repeatedly to reach each of the Munros. The final one, Meall Nan Tarmachan, comes after descending to the height of Loch Tay at 340ft.
The reason for walking this route is because the G-Force and I are taking part in the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon on July 12 (that’s in less than five weeks) and the Quad includes all seven Munros as well as a 0.8-mile open water swim, a seven-mile kayak and a 34-mile bike ride.
Now, having walked only six of the Munros and without swimming, kayaking or cycling, I am feeling even more daunted by the big – and looming – event.
Six Munros but not seven
The route heads from the shores of Loch Tay directly up the first Munro. This is not a difficult Munro when compared to many others that I’ve walked but a lot of our route was on tufty grass or soggy ground, rather than path, and with the thought of many more Munros to come I found it went on for too long.
Looking across to Munro number two, Meall Garbh, gave the impression of a quick saunter but this is rarely the case when walking a ridge of Munros. The descent and ascent is more than 500ft and what first looked like the summit proper turned out to be a false top. As the second Munro approached, the wind suddenly picked up and made it difficult for me to walk upright and in a straight line.
Munro three was not far away but the wind hampered my progress and dampened my spirits. I was thankful for dry conditions and sunshine but I really began to question my sanity at entering the Quad.
Munro four is Ben Lawers itself. This is an easy-ish walk from the car park high above the loch and many people had chosen to summit this Munro, and only this Munro. By now there was a constant stream of one-Munro-in-a-day walkers (some even wearing sandals on bare feet!).
The wind between Munro three and four was monstrous. Several times I found myself almost flat on the ground and progressing slowly on all fours. I am light and so walking in winds that gusted 60 to 70mph is tough but I could see that the heavier male walkers were also struggling to walk forwards.
We decided to approach this summit from the “wrong” side of the Munro so as to avoid some of the wind. This made the Munro a tougher claim. By now I was doubting whether I’d finish the six Munros let alone the planned seven – and seriously wondering whether I’d be fit enough for the Quad.
I kept thinking: “How on earth will I do all this and the other three disciplines? What am I letting myself in for? Why do I ever agree to these mad things? We will be doing the event for days!”
Munro five was a steep ascent. My quads were squealing with the effort and I found myself huffing and puffing to the top. But I kept on going.
Another steep descent over rough ground brought us (too far) down the bealach between the next Munro where we were then again forced to hike upwards. I was chanting: “One foot in front of the other” by this point.
For most of the day, Munro seven could be seen far in the distance and things were no different from the summit of Munro six. The G-Force and I have hiked the Tarmachan as a single Munro (we had planned a two Munros day a couple of years back but we were forced to turn back at the top due to fierce winds). I can recall that outing, with Super Pal Ellen, as being a fairly big day.
So from Munro six in the Artemis Quad event we will need to descend to a dam in the valley below, check in at a food station, and head back up to the Tarmachan. On Saturday, at 3.30pm and with the clouds about to burst with heavy rain, it seemed like a Munro too far.
We reckon we could have forced ourselves onwards and completed the seven Munros but I have no idea how, on the day, we will then be able to face the kayak and bike ride afterwards.
Two days after walking only six Munros
By the end of the six Munro day I was exhausted. I had not had a great deal of sleep for two days so I felt dizzy and mentally out of it. The ascent and descent of the six mountains had taken its toll on my leg muscles, too.
Sunday’s quick mountain bike ride from home felt tortuous and slow. My quads screamed at every turn of the pedals.
Monday I was due to take part in the GB Relay. My section from Dennyloanhead to Kilsyth was a mere 6.25 miles but on sore and exhausted quads the distance seemed impossible. I managed a fairly respectable 46 mins in terrible weather over a hilly route but later on I could hardly walk down the stairs without being in pain.
I am hoping my legs will recover stronger and more capable. Oh, and I won’t forget my walking poles next time we walk so many Munros. In fact, the next time could be the event itself.
Please, if you haven’t already, sponsor us and give us the extra motivation to give the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon all we have got.
There is absolutely no chance that we will have anything left physically and mentally by the end of the big event.