Cheesecake & Lug More!

This is where it all began, my first Munro trip, April 2011. Sarah had recruited me for a mission to ‘tick’ two of the most remote Munros, Bidein a’ Choire Sheasgaich (aka ‘Cheesecake’) and Lurg Mhor, part of the Loch Monar hills. Well equipped for a night in a bothy & one in the tent we were certainly lugging more!

From the parking spot at Craig in Glen Carron, the walk begins up the track into Alt a’ Chonais. The first ‘obstacle’ was a very interesting wire bridge. Sarah was able to balance across, I failed the balance test after about the first metre and found myself wading, holding what should have been the foot wire for support.

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From here a good track leads up into the Belach Bhearnais. The track ends in the belach, leaving us bog hopping for some 4 km to the bothy; Sarah serenading me with old folk songs & pop songs from childhood as we went. The bothy comes into sight, a grey shape against a brown landscape. Arriving at the bothy:

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Looking back from whence we came:

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Inside all is fairly tidy, we cook up some supper, have a quick read of the bothy book (discovering the use of ‘Cheesecake’ for the unpronounceable mountain), and in my case a hot chocolate, then its straight to bed. I sleep well, snug in my bivi.

The first task the following morning, is to cross the river. I figure with it having snowed a bit in the night & wet heather & miles of bog damp feet will be the order of the day regardless & just get on with wading. Sarah takes her boots off.

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We ascend cheesecake by the broad southwest ridge, zig zagging gently. Arriving at a small lake below the south face we climb more steeply, over patches of snow & finally a short walk along the summit ridge to reach the summit cairn. All is white & cloudy around us!

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We retrace our steps to the lake and stop of a bite to eat. then descend into the col between cheesecake & Lurg Mhor, where we exchange ‘hellos’ with a trio going the other way. Ascending Lurg Mhor the cloud begins to rise & fall, giving us glimpses of what lies around us.

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Descent back the way we have come, and then to the north east from the col beings us out of the cloud, and reveals a rainbow.

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We pick our way down alongside a waterfall, once in the valley we cross the stream and climb up & over the end of the ridge that leads up to Beinn Tharsuinn, arriving into Allt Bealach Crudhain, where we find a flat, non boggy spot for the tent with water nearby & a view down to Loch Monar.

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The next morning its raining, and very very windy. We’d had Sgurr a Chaorachain in mind but somehow when we arrive once more at Bealach Bhearnais neither of us really fancies it. Sometimes you are just ‘done’. Sarahs weather forecast was going on about thunderstorms too! So we headed back down to the bridge of doom. Sarah balances, I wade. Slightly scary moment after the bridge. Sarah has ‘hot aches’ making her nauseous which alarms me both for her well being (I never saw anyone get hot aches like that before); but also for my own as I feel myself getting chilled to the bone as soon as we stop moving. I suggest putting the tent up for some shelter, and having a proper stop to get sorted out, but Sarah is adamant that she’d rather try to keep moving. Fortunately her hot aches do ease relatively soon. It amazes me how welcoming the forest and signs of ‘civilisation’ seem after a relatively short time battling the elements.

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This trip was the first wild camping I’d done in several years, and it really reminded me how much I enjoyed it. I find it refreshing to walk out into the wilderness, with everything one needs on ones back. To forget for a few days about money and all of the stresses of modern life and focus only on the basics of survival: staying warm & dry & fed & watered. This trip also opened my eyes to all the possibilities hiking in Scotland had to offer, all this (semi) wilderness relatively close to home. and thus my Munro bagging obsession was born…

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