Three Beinn a’Chlachair Munros bagged
The G-Force says I have changed! He reckons the change came on the In Pinn. After that, he reckons I have suddenly discovered an overwhelming desire to walk more Munros.
He might be right.
For most of the last six or seven years I have always said I am not that bothered about walking a full round of the 282 Munros. I enjoy the outings (well, most of them!) and having different Munros to bag offers a great way to explore new areas of Scotland.
I know, for sure, that I would not have travelled so widely and seen so many amazing views if it wasn’t for the list of Munros.
Realising I’d walked more than half the list was the first watershed moment. After that I thought I might be in with a chance of bagging them all at some undefined point.
Since then there have been other exciting achievements, such as when I had 100 to go; less than 100 to go; and when reached the 200 mark.
At the start of this weekend I was close to walking 75% of the full round. Now I am more than 76% of the way there and have bagged 215 Munros. The finish line seems a great deal more achievable now.
I might even be thinking about planning a time to finish my first round.
Munros 211 to 213
After the Brothers Ridge walk on Friday, the G-Force had agreed to walk a few Munros with me on the Saturday. He has already walked a full round and prefers to climb these days so I am not always fortunate to have his company.
We looked at the weather forecast (kind of dodgy!) and decided that the Spean Bridge area looked best. We spotted a trio of Munros, Beinn a’Chlachair, Geal Charn & Creag Pitridh, that were possible in one long hike. WalkHighlands reckoned an 8 to 10 hour day of 26km and 1275m of total ascent. (It took us less than seven hours.)
As we parked at the start of the walk on the side of the A86 we spotted a group of walkers (four women and one man) with mountain bikes. The G-Force said he wished we’d brought our bikes, especially for the walk back from the hills. But we hadn’t.
The walk along a wide trail does feel like a long way. It’s about 6km and the mountains never seem to get any closer. The trail rises only gently and winds backwards and forwards. However, the views of the mountains are beautiful.
We had to watch in envy as the mountain biking walkers made relatively easy work of this section.
Once they had left their bikes behind we managed to catch them up and we joked that we would “borrow” a couple of bikes from them on the return! We could only fantasise!
From this point there is a marked change in the slope and as the path heads upwards and to the south it gets steeper and steeper. At a bealach we decided to leave our bags for the final ascent. I thought this would be a quick hike up and over the craggy mound in front of us but it turned out to be a much longer approach.
As it turned out, I was pleased we’d eaten some of our lunch and drunk lots of fluids before leaving our bags.
After the steeper boulder section there is a long saddle that goes up and down and along until the final hike up. The terrain is quite testing because it’s a mix of grass and boulders and is not ideal for walking.
As we reached the top, two women were coming away from the summit. We met them later on Munro three (they had missed out Munro two because they had walked that on a previous occasion). What was notable was that over the day’s walking we saw far more women than men.
Munro 2: Geal Charn
After retracing our steps to the bealach and stopping for something more to eat and drink we headed to wards the second Munro of the day, Geal Charn. It doesn’t look to be too far away from the bealach but don’t be fooled! There are few Munros that are super easy and if you imagine that a Munro is going to be bagged quickly you are always wrong.
The path heads back down the glen for a short while before you reach a junction to take another path north and then north-easterly. (If you follow the WalkHighlands route you’ll do more of a circuit route, we simply decided to walk to a bealach further along the glen before heading up to the first Munro.)
There are a few false summits on the route to the top proper of Geal Charn and the terrain is a mix of rocks, boulders and grass. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
Again we stopped for a snack and a drink at Geal Charn. The weather had turned out to be fine and warm and we found we were thirsty for a lot of the day.
Munro 3: Creag Pitridh
At 924m, Creag Pitridh only just qualifies as a Munro. Having already walked two Munros (and three Munros the day before) my legs felt weary but I expected this third Munro to be quite easy.
However, there is a long-ish descent from Geal Charn and the lower we walked the taller Crag Pitridh loomed above and so I felt increasingly mentally beaten.
But the G-Force predicted the summit would come far quicker than I thought. He was right. A path wound up the side of the mountain and although steep it didn’t feel too arduous.
And then, suddenly, there was the third Munro of the day and my 213th Munro in my first round.
We chatted to the two women who we had seen before. I commented on how many women there were on these hills and one said: “Yes. Unusual. But really nice to see.” It is! I have definitely seen an increase in the number of women walking Munros in recent years.
The walk off the mountains
I swear the walk is longer on the way out. Every single time. Of course, if you are walking the same route in as out it is the same distance. It’s just that with tired legs and the strong desire to sit down, the walk out always seems twice as far.
By now we were really, really wishing we’d had the forethought to bring mountain bikes. We passed the five bikes left by the group earlier and trudged wearily on along the trail.
It is not a tough walk out and is mostly downhill but it felt like a very, very long hike.
The G-Force seemed to be suffering more than me. His boots had not been as comfortable as my trail shoes and he was feeling both physically and mentally exhausted.
We both found that our lightweight Leki walking poles were a big bonus by this stage of the walk. If you use them properly, like Nordic walkers, you feel a benefit from the forward motion that they provide.
Then, finally, we passed a few landmarks, including two diggers (used for removing stones form an old river bed) and headed through a gate in a fence to walk the final 500m to the campervan.
The G-Force said the taste of his chilled beer had rarely been so good! We sat for a while next to the van in a remarkably midge-free layby, chatting about the day and what to do next.
I was very keen to walk more Munros the next day while the G-Force said he preferred to head home to go climbing. We agreed to stay overnight in the area and see what the weather brought the next morning. (I am sure G was hoping for torrential rain!).